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First Long Haul for a Long Time - What to expect?

First Long Haul for a Long Time - What to expect?

Old May 24, 22, 12:07 pm
  #1  
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First Long Haul for a Long Time - What to expect?

So new job means that next week I am off to Austin for a week about which I am very excited (I have never been to Texas before). However this does mean I am going to be taking my first LH trip since pre-Covid and I'm wondering what to expect in terms of service. I will be in WT+ (mainly because business class to Austin is horrifically expensive).

From reading on here it sounds like catering and ? bar have much declined since "before times". I'm not overly fussy about food but getting almost business class grub for the main meal and a decent second meal on a 10 hour flight would be welcome... I also like to have quite a few glasses of red wine along the way... Do the bars remain open after service still?

Another (related) enquiry... I am flying to Pisa on the same day I get back from Austin. Land at 0950 and then depart at 1555. I live about a 25 minute taxi from Heathrow. I'm currently thinking that if everything is on time then I will go home and come back. Get a bath and a decent breakfast in. However if I'm delayed and decide to stay at the airport (will have luggage with me) then will I have access to the arrivals lounge at T5 (Austin flights are T3) as a GCH? If not, what are the showers like in the departure lounge at T5? I will have a case so will need to land myself and then travel between terminals that way, is the tube the best way?

I feel like a real n00b again having come from a place of flying long haul most weeks and knowing the process inside out!
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Old May 24, 22, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by flyingmonkie View Post
...a decent second meal on a 10 hour flight would be welcome.
Althought the main meal is decent the second 'meal' is half sandwich and 2 fingers kit kat in a brown bag. On my last LH flight with BA i made sure i got a few muffins and bags of crisps from the lounge. I would suggest you do the same.
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Old May 24, 22, 1:22 pm
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Originally Posted by ermis177 View Post
i made sure i got a few muffins and bags of crisps from the lounge. I would suggest you do the same.
Aren't they or similar available as treats/snacks anyway onboard ?
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Old May 24, 22, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by gw76 View Post
Aren't they or similar available as treats/snacks anyway onboard ?
Not as good as the ones in the lounge
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Old May 24, 22, 2:07 pm
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My two WTP experiences since December 2021 have been largely positive. Itís basically the same as pre covid, apart from the second meal as already mentioned. They wonít pro-actively offer drinks after the main meal, but they should be happy to bring you drinks if you use the bell or you should be able to collect them from the rear galley. Top tip is to keep hold of your glass from the initial drinks round/meal for later drinks if you prefer that to plastic.

ps. I totally appreciate where youíre coming from re going home between flights, however Iíd view it as a bonus. My last three flights in May have all been over 1.5 hours late. Delays are going to be part of travelling in summer 2022.
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Last edited by Joshm300; May 24, 22 at 2:17 pm
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Old May 24, 22, 2:28 pm
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As said provided your expectation is for one main meal and limited service afterwards you'll be fine. I was pretty annoyed at my 'breakfast' on an 11 hr JNB flight as a veggie being 30 g banana loaf and kid sized yogurt, less than 200 calories. So be prepared to take some snacks and be prepared to walk to the galley for drinks or water.
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Old May 24, 22, 2:31 pm
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As a GCH you could also use the AA Arrivals Lounge at T3. From looking at aa.com it does seems to be open: https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/...als-lounge.jsp

Tube or Heathrow Express are the recommended landside transfer options. Not sure which would be better though as it's been a while since I have transferred other than via the airside bus.
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Old May 24, 22, 2:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Joshm300 View Post
My two WTP experiences since December 2021 have been largely positive. Itís basically the same as pre covid, apart from the second meal as already mentioned. They wonít pro-actively offer drinks after the main meal, but they should be happy to bring you drinks if you use the bell or you should be able to collect them from the rear galley. Top tip is to keep hold of your glass from the initial drinks round/meal for later drinks if you prefer that to plastic.

ps. I totally appreciate where youíre coming from re going home between flights, however Iíd view it as a bonus. My last three flights in May have all been over 1.5 hours late. Delays are going to be part of travelling in summer 2022.
On my flight they were very pro active actually but that is based on the crew. I sent a thank you email after the flight as the crew were excellent.

Regarding the delays i could not agree more. From my last 4 flights, the 3 were delays but only around 20-50 minutes and one was cancelled. It is almost impossible to run a flight one time nowadays.
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Old May 24, 22, 3:07 pm
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WT+ food these days is pretty reasonable for the main meal, rather economy for the second meal. It's always an option to get one of those little picnics from one of the posh food places in Heathrow if you want a small fancy meal as the second meal, but honestly the second WT+ meal will keep you alive. Food in Austin is varied and good so you could wait to eat after arriving.

I was in Austin last week. Note that Austin airport is busy, rather hot in summer, and the lounge is even busier and hotter. The lounge (Admiral's Club) is basically undersized and overcrowded in the evening. AA warned me to get there early because of possible long security queues, but in the late afternoon I had no problem at the airport. A friend who left next morning sent photos of very long queues for everything. There is a priority security line which you should be able to use, as a gold card holder, but it's not at the main checkpoint. There is a main checkpoint with general and TSA Pre security and another smaller checkpoint with general and priority security (and a sign saying no TSA Pre). Note that the traffic to the airport will be busy at the time you will be going towards the airport, so allow enough taxi time - it took me half an hour or so as I remember.

In Austin there is a bus from airport to centre but also taxies/ubers/etc. Within the central area, I found the buses quite usable (combined with a bit of walking); $2.50 for a 24h ticket, Google Maps produces correct routes and timetable information. Restaurant suggestions: Chuy's Tex-Mex, Texas Chili Parlor for genuine chili (only choose the hot option if you're a serious spice fiend, it's at least Vindaloo-strength).

It can be vey hot (37˚C when I was there) but 30˚C in June is common. Hydrate, and prepare to be somewhere not outdoors in the mid to late afternoon. Morning and later evening is OK.

If you've got some leisure time and want to know more about the history of the place, the Bullock state history museum (centre, near the Capitol) is actually quite good and mostly devoid of "rah rah" exceptionalism. Also thoroughly air conditioned.
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Old Jun 3, 22, 5:34 am
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Sitting in the Cathay lounge about to have lunch but I have to say whilst Austin is a lovely city, as flatlander alluded to above the airport is horrible.

Flight out was actually very good, very generous with the red wine. Food was OK and I was prepared for the half sandwich disappointment. On arrival you have to collect your bag before clearing passport control which is combined with customs. Getting into town in an Uber is very quick and easy.

Austin is delightful. Hot, but delightful.

Getting back to the airport took a long time not because of overly heavy traffic but because the drop off area is very badly designed and all basically one long lane that crawls along. Once inside the real fiasco started. There was an issue with the app not issuing boarding passes for US to UK travel. Thanks to advice on here I had managed to email one to myself but most people hadn't and so almost the whole flight needed to visit the check in desk. I unfortunately had to check a bag. Initially somebody tried to insist I join the horrifically long Economy queue but I eventually managed to persuade him that I was allowed to use the business class check in. Which is a different queue squashed into a place where people exit the check in area. This queue was about 15 - 20 people deep already and barely moving. There were initially only two check in staff for the whole plane (one for business, one for everyone else), this later increased to three. They were extremely slow, very friendly and chatty but that is not what's needed when you have a plane load of people to check in. The check in agent also got very confused between the difference between being allowed to use the "Premium Passenger Line" which I think I should be entitled to as a GCH but don't know (hence I asked) and TSA Pre. This confusion on her part resulted in her shredding my boarding pass and having to repeat the whole process which I found mortifying knowing the queue that was behind me.

Security (used the standard lane in the end after the above confusion) was fine. The lounge (as warned above) is small and cramped but I managed to get a glass of wine and a taco before being scared out of there by a very pushy announcement on the dot of boarding time "If there are and BA passengers still in the lounge then please go to gate immediately for boarding". Not having travelled through the US for many years I didn't know how punctual / strict they were so schlepped off to the other end of the terminal to get there to find (predictably) nothing happening. Went for a stroll around for 20 minutes and came back as they were boarding Group 2 and boarded. We then sat on the tarmac for close to two hours whilst we waited for passengers who were still stuck at check in!!

Departed > 90 minutes late and made up no time on route. Food on the way back was much worse than the way out, although the desert was the best I've had! Landed at Heathrow around 11 and then had to wait for an alternative to a broken guidance system. Luckily my PSA flight leaves from T3 so no need to change terminals just land side and back again into the Cathay lounge for a shower and about to have some lunch. So all in all, could have been a lot worse but I have to say, I haven't missed the long haul flying process!
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Old Jun 3, 22, 6:42 am
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You're visiting the wrong city to truly enjoy Texas. Visit Houston and try their BBQ. Austin is overrated tbh. Too many techbros.
Originally Posted by flyingmonkie View Post
I am off to Austin for a week about which I am very excited (I have never been to Texas before). !
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Old Jun 3, 22, 7:00 am
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Originally Posted by flyingmonkie View Post

...
Food on the way back was much worse than the way out, although the desert was the best I've had!
...
What was the dessert, out of interest ?
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Old Jun 3, 22, 7:09 am
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Recently done 3xLH, but in Club.

First & third flights, crew were brilliant, on the third flight they were 3 staff short on the flight, so they worked harder to try and deliver a good service
Second flight, miserable unhelpful crew
Food OK, nothing special, everything on a single tray
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