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(Semi-) LIVE TR: BA and AA, F/J LUX-LHR-IAD-LAX-HNL-LAX-JFK-LHR-LUX with photos

(Semi-) LIVE TR: BA and AA, F/J LUX-LHR-IAD-LAX-HNL-LAX-JFK-LHR-LUX with photos

Old Nov 30, 14, 3:27 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: LUX
Programs: BA Gold GGL, Hilton Diamond, FB Grey, Amex MR, Trop Plus Gold
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(Semi-) LIVE TR: BA and AA, F/J LUX-LHR-IAD-LAX-HNL-LAX-JFK-LHR-LUX with photos

Please bear with me, for my first trip report. It’s always something I’ve been meaning to get round to, but never quite have.

So it was coming up to the expiry of another GUF2 voucher, and the start of a new membership year, so I thought I would get my balance off to a healthy start by planning a quick TP run with a HNL fare (not as cheap as in the sale, but still pretty competitive). It was the end of the calendar year, and I had vacation to burn, so HNL seemed like a good option. I’ve done that route a number of times for business and pleasure, but this time I wanted to take full advantage of the 24hr layover rule, and enjoy myself.

The itinerary was LUX-LHR-IAD-LAX-HNL-LAX-JFK-LHR-LUX. I realise that I could have optimised this by throwing in a LCY-JFK, or flying from LAX to a different East Coast station, but I wanted to fly First, and try the Concorde Room at JFK for the first time (all my work trips book into CW, and I’ve never fallen on an op-up back from JFK), and I love spending time in DC, where I have several friends.

1 – Introduction
2 – LUX – LHR, Club Europe, BA417 (A319) and Hilton London Islington
3 – LHR – IAD, First, BA217 (A388) and Washington Hilton
4 – IAD – LAX, Domestic First, AA263 (B738) and Hilton LAX
5 – LAX – HNL, Domestic First (International Business cabin), AA31 (B763) and Hilton Hawaiian Village
6 – HNL – LAX, Domestic First, AA162 (B752)
7 – LAX – JFK, Transcon Business Class, AA30 (A321 Transcon)
8 – JFK – LHR, First, BA174 (B744)
9 – LHR – LUX, Club Europe, BA418 (A319)

Last edited by Royce; Dec 1, 14 at 11:37 am Reason: Added link
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:28 pm
  #2  
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The journey started in epic glamour with the 10:42 Number 16 bus (for a 12:30 flight) from Luxembourg Gare to Luxembourg Airport. It was incredibly efficient, even a walk-up fare is just €2, and on this occasion I had a seat pair to myself, plenty of room for my roll-aboard. Catering selection was non-existent, and there was no separate J cabin. However it’s only a 20 minute ride, so I didn’t mind spending it in Y.

Luxembourg Airport is always reasonably quick at security, despite the fact that the security staff usually want to do everything in their power to slow the line down. I didn’t visit the check-in desks, but ET was about 8 or 9 deep, CE about 2 or 3 deep. The Luxembourg Airport lounge is a contract lounge on the security level, and is pleasant enough, despite feeling a bit like an Ikea. G-EUOB was pulling onto stand as I walked into the lounge. A recent improvement to the catering has been the addition of smoothies, which will probably happen on the next business trip, when I have to be sensible. Today was a mimosa, because it doesn’t violate the noon rule if it contains orange juice (this tactic is employed as a running theme in this TR). Standard cremant and orange juice from concentrate combo perked me up no end, and I headed down to passport control. The queue was about 9 people long, but it moved quickly, and the passport control guy barely glanced at my passport before handing it back.



Boarding commenced about 10 mins after I reached the non-Schengen holding pen (poorly timed, I’m usually much more accurate at estimating boarding starting), and priority boarding was semi-enforced, with kind of a scrum that diverged into two separate queues for the last 5 metres of tensabarrier. Fortunately I could see this forming, and shamelessly gateloused until boarding commenced. Take-off was from 06, turning left over Junglinster.

EUOB is just poking out from the top of the terminal building.


EUOB still has old CE seating, which is refreshing for LUX, on this occasion 2D was empty, so plenty of room (load was 8/12 today). Lunch was the usual pathetic CE catering, today’s delight: prawn salad. Three tail-on prawns (which are a significant undertaking to eat elegantly on an aircraft – note, one had been eaten before I remembered to take a photo), 3 quarters of an egg, some leaves, green beans, and two olives. The dessert didn’t even get opened. A can of London Pride, once around at BIG, and down onto 9L.



T1 really is a dead terminal these days. We arrived onto a bridge at least in the 20s-gate range, swift (read: long) walk to Immigration, which is a ghost town. I was first into the immigration hall, and I had to do an endless zigzag through the tensahell to reach the only passport officer working the EU/EEA desks. e-gates were switched off, and look to have been permanently disabled. There were two desks for non-EU passport holders manned. Walking above the departures level, there were signs saying “goodbye Terminal 1”, and a lot of closed shops. I can’t wait to say that for the very last time, some time in June. Anyway, on this occasion it was very efficient (not sure how it would have been if you were last off), six minutes from plane to HEx platform.

I ubered a vehicle from Paddington to the Hilton London Islington, where I checked in, and had been upgraded to a King Hilton Exec on the third floor. This Exec was a bit smaller than the previous one that I’d stayed in before on the 4th floor, but it was fresh and clean, with stylish touristy shots of stuff like 30 St Mary Axe and the back of a Yeoman Warder.

The Islington is rapidly becoming one of my favourites in London, due to the room upgrades, pleasant staff, and location. The bar’s a waste of space (but there is a Byron and a Five Guys within a 2 minute walk, so I don’t see why anyone would eat in the bar), never managed to get to the lounge yet, and there is no fitness centre (but apparently they do have a special rate with a gym near Angel – I’m not motivated enough to pay to exercise).







Rainfall shower:

Last edited by Royce; Nov 30, 14 at 3:49 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:28 pm
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View from the hotel in the morning sunrise:


I ubered a cab the next morning, and headed off at about 0730 to the airport. Or at least I would have done, had the uber driver not driven past the hotel twice, and then told me (when I called him) that he couldn’t turn left at the junction coming from The Angel, just as a string of cars did that supposedly illegal manoeuvre. The driver eventually did show up, didn’t pull onto the forecourt, but parked on the mini-roundabout and loaded my bags there. Finally underway somewhere close to 0750. He also took me all the way past Northolt and round the M25, this seemed a bit convoluted to me, but I’m not a regular cabber on that route – can anyone comment?

I arrived at T5 and proceeded to F check-in to pick up my BP. There was a queue of about 2 people waiting, and the lady at the desk seemed quite embarrassed that people were being kept waiting. Almost immediately, as I just had hand luggage, she took me to the desk on the back of the welcome podium and printed my boarding pass there. It then involved going round to the front of the podium to do conformance, then off to security.

Security was a zoo. It’s embarrassing that this passes for a premium security lane, the standard Fast Track moving slower than Slow Track was in evidence. 15 minutes from getting out of the cab to conformance, 40 minutes from cab to CCR. Nobody on the podium for the CCR, so I just strolled in, the door was wide open anyway. Quick BP check at the desk inside, and off to the bar. Quick mimosa, then spa treatment that I’d booked the day before. The treatment was as fine as normal for a 15 minute back rub, good technique and very friendly masseuse. Back to the lounge for one last mimosa before the traipse over to T5C.



I didn’t have time to eat, but the menu was:

Breakfast Menu 5.00am to Noon

Simple
Freshly baked croissants and Danish pastries
Toast, bagels, muffins and brioche
Selection of cereals, muesli and granola
Traditional porridge
Yoghurt selection
Fresh fruit
Fresh fruit juices
British jams, preserves and honey

Cooked
Traditional English breakfast featuring:
A choice of poached, fried or scrambled egg, grilled British bacon, Dingley Dell Cumberland pork sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans.
Boiled egg with toasted soldiers (v)
Cured kippers with poached egg
Eggs Benedict

Beverages
Traditional and speciality teas
Freshly ground bean to cup coffee
Hot chocolate



Right, off to take the train to T5C. Timed it impeccably, arriving at C64 just as pre-boarding was finishing up. Fast Track was a scrum, and they started processing Fast Tracks at all four desks. The FT boarding announcement seemed reasonably well obeyed. Boarding was via Door A for F, the signage was very clear (despite this fact, many many pax managed to screw it up, using Door A (1L) for the Upper Deck, or Door B (2L) and had to be dragged through the F cabin to get upstairs.

I was the only one in F for a very long period, we were booked 14/14, we departed with about 11/14, I believe. The gent working 1L was excellent, we chatted for a long time after we’d boarded. A wash kit and sleeper suit (still in the plastic) arrived shortly after from another crew member (actually all the negatives of this trip were generally from this one crew member, who was just not very polished).

Champagne arrived, inexplicably breaking my rule about morning drinking detailed previously. In order not to waste it, I had another 2 before take-off. Today’s flight was operated by G-XLEA, which is already looking a bit tatty, if I’m honest.





Take-off picked up quite a bit of a delay, due to a bag truck being stuck to the forward cargo hold, and unable to engage reverse gear. Unfortunately for us, the bars had already been sealed and cabin secured, so we ended up sitting there for an age, with a perishing, perishing thirst. Anyway, the captain kept us updated, and we were soon underway.



Poor attempt at a panorama from 1A:


The wine list was:

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines
Kir Royale
Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle
Champagne Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs Millésimé 2007
Champagne Michel Forget Grand Rosé Premier Cru

White Wines
Pouilly-Fuissé Vielles Vignes 2012, Domaine Pierre Vessigaud
Pouilly-Fumé Les Cris 2012, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin
Cline Cellars Marsanne / Rousanne 2012

Red Wines
Château Haut-Bergey 2004, Grand Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012
Particular Garnacha Centenaria 2010

Dessert Wines
Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2007, Sauternes 1er Grand Cru Classé
Warre’s 1999 Colheita Tawny Port

The lunch menu was:
Tasting Menu
Our set five-course tasting menu gives you the opportunity to sample a selection of seasonal specialities and local fresh produce.

Poached lobster with Japanese vegetables, wasabi caviar and yuzu dressing
To be enjoyed with Cline Cellars Marsanne / Roussanne 2012, Sonoma Coast, California, USA

Beef, root vegetable and tarragon consommé
Just enjoy the intense flavours on their own

Dover sole with scallop and truffle mousse, asparagus, girolle mushroom and chervil cream sauce
Try this dish with Pouilly-Fussé Vielles Vignes 2012, Domaine Pierre Vessigaud, Burgundy, France

Pressed pork and wild boar with popcorn pork crackling, smoked potato fondant, rhubarb chutney and Tellicherry black pepper sauce
Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012, Santa Lucia Highlands, California, USA should work perfectly with this dish.

Lemon verbena cylinder with raspberry sugar mesh and jelly
Enjoy with a classic Château de Rayne-Vigneau 2007, Sauternes 1er Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France

À La Carte
Starters
Terrine of goose and old-style mustard, Port glaze and compressed pear with root vegetable and hazelnut salad
Somerset Brie and red onion twice-based soufflé with pickled red grapes, kohlrabi, radish and fine herbes salad
Parsnip and nutmeg soup with chopped chives
Fresh seasonal salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing (Due to a very small element of risk, this dish is not suitable for pregnant mothers and those whose systems may be immunocompromised)

Main Courses
Seared fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with grain mustard and herb sauce, beef hash croquette, Romanesco cauliflower, celeriac and carrots
Fillet of Scottish salmon with orange and dill beurre blanc, carrot, potato and ginger mash, char-grilled baby cucumber and leeks
Chicken malagueta with biro biro rice, roasted peppers, okra caruru and chimichurri sauce
Warm seared prawns with cherry tomatoes, pomegranate, parsley, coriander and mint sauce

Desserts
Chocolate and orange dome with nut brittle and a glazed kumquat sauce
Spiced pear and cinnamon crumble with custard
Madagascan vanilla ice cream

Cheese Plate
Traditional French Brie
This soft cow’s milk cheese is one of the world’s most popular cheeses.

Old Worcester White
A Cheddar-style cheese with creamy texture made from cow’s milk.

Saint-Nectaire
This French cheese features a soft, supple texture and earthy, fruity flavor.

Blacksticks Blue
A soft, blue veined cheese with an outstanding creamy, smooth yet tangy flavor.

Fresh fruit

Chocolate selection by Hotel Chocolat








The first thing that struck me about the menu was that it seemed much more elaborate than any previous F menu I’ve seen from BA. The wine list is still majority average, some stunners. And I’m a massive white Burgundy fiend, so that was excellent. I went for the tasting menu, the tasting menu and the salmon seemed popular in the cabin. It was not offered at which time you would like to take your meal. I wanted to eat immediately and get some sleep anyway, but I expected at least to be asked.

The CSD came round to greet me, and gave me a really lovely welcome, we chatted for a good 10 minutes, and it was refreshing to chat with her, I never got the impression she wanted to get on and do other stuff. My table was laid by the poor crew member, who repeatedly messed up the table layout, and I was still on my champagne when the amuse bouche was served (cured salmon). Presentation, in general, was impeccable.



Then the lobster arrived with a “there are your prawns, sir”. I never did find the prawns. §The wasabi caviar was tasteless, and the yellow thing they were sitting on was weird. The lobster itself was pretty tasteless. The wine was decidedly Threshers quality.



The thimble of beef stock arrived. I’m not sure if I should be drinking it like a cup-a-soup, but I did because the thimble was ramekin sized, so probably not big enough for a spoon. It was actually really really excellent.



The Dover Sole arrived, and it was a bit watery, but generally not bad. The porcelain was chipped. Note that I’d eaten half of it before remembering to take a photo. The asparagus was limp, but the sauce was lovely. The wine with this course was very high on the lovely scale.



The pressed pork was a little burnt, but in the middle still moist. So tasty, and not a morsel got left, even the crackling popcorn which had me dubious at the gimmick was fantastic. Could have eaten it once over. Wine with this course was bin-end £7.99 quality.



The lemon verbena cylinder was next up, as was the lovely Sauternes. Note again that I took a bite before remembering to photograph. The dessert was very tasty, but I just felt it was a kind of average ending.



As you can see, on the most part, impressed. I retired with a glass of Sauternes and kicked back, before asking for my bed to be turned down and changing into pyjamas (normal F pyjamas, not A380 ones, disappointingly). Yes, I’m watching I’m Alan Partridge here.



Sleeping off some of that drinking was the next step, and I slept comfortably and deeply until we were over Labrador. Standard IFE waking-up shot:



In general, I like the F cabin, although the traffic around 1A is reasonably high due to the proximity of the lavatory (which is quite small) and the bedding storage cupboard below the stairs. It’s probably higher towards the back though, due to the location of the galleys. The A380 F suite is brilliant, that storage pod got a lot of use, as did the suitor, which is of a size to be really useful. Although it’s location is a bit of a pain to reach from the seat. As always, when reclined slightly, it’s a Krypton Factor round to get in and out of the seat.

I was offered Afternoon Tea, but declined. Here’s the menu:

Sandwiches
An individual selection of sandwiches featuring:
Wiltshire ham with grain mustard
Asparagus and radish with cream cheese
Ploughman’s Cheddar cheese with caramelized red onions
Severn and Wye smoked salmon tartare with wasabi mayonnaise

Pâtisserie
Chocolate Opéra cake
Vanilla Madeleine
Passion-fruit and raspberry tower

Scones
Buttermilk or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves

Beverages
Teas: (some bull about Twinings that I couldn’t be bothered to type)
English Breakfast, Decaffeinated English Breakast, Earl Grey, Mint Humbug, Honeycomb Camomile, Red Berry Fool and Jasmine Pearl Green Tea

Coffee: Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Liquid chocolat: This is not hot chocolate as you know it, this is an exquisite drink made from grated flakes of 70% dark house chocolate. Designed to be less creamy and sweet than the usual drinking chocolate, comforting and full of authentic cocoa flavours.



Crew were fantastic, except the one poor member mentioned. I settled down for the rest of the flight with some more champagne, only to find at T-38 that the bars had already been secured, and I couldn’t get a top-up. Oh well, down in IAD, onto stand a little bit late and priority disembarkation onto the stupid mobile lounges. It’s good though, as you can stake out a good spot in the crossover behind the driver. Arrived just after a Qatar Airways flight, so immigration was a bit annoying, about 1hr from 1A to cab seat, where I just used a Washington Flyer.

I forgot to take any photos of the Washington Hilton, but here’s a summary.

Check-in staff uninterested. Upgraded from a standard King to an Executive King. Executive Lounge closed, so was given a voucher for an appetiser at the bar, and breakfast from the main buffet. The room was a little small, but very functional. The bathroom was tiny. The fitness centre was very well equipped, big tick for that. The fitness centre was a nightmare to find, with the signage contradicting each other, and the final route seemed to be down a poorly signed emergency exit stair, with associated industrial pipes.

The bar (McClellans or something) was rubbish. I went in there to use my voucher, I ordered a drink, the guy poured half, it kicked, he just took the handle off the pump and walked off, never to be seen again, leaving me sitting there without a drink, and half a pint of Goose Island 312 sitting there on the bar back. After a profuse amount of complaining, another beer was forthcoming. The manager came over and tried to tell me that I was at fault for some reason, all I can think of is that I’m in charge of stock control at their bar, and I didn’t get the memo. Anyway, they comped my drinks for the screw up (eventually) and I left without spending the appetiser voucher.

The breakfast buffet was excellent. Plenty of choice, and an omelette bar. Drinks weren’t even allowed to go 1/3 empty before being re-filled. In terms of free breakfast, this gets a 10/10.

So it’s off back to Saarinen Circle for leg #3

Last edited by Royce; Nov 30, 14 at 4:07 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:29 pm
  #4  
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I arrived at IAD, and there was a short delay while they tried to arrange a wheelchair for an elderly bloke at F check-in. Boarding pass procured, then off to security. Turned away from West security, for no apparent reason, so it’s down to East security, traipsing through an entire Emirates flight checking in, but I was through quickly. No queue at either ID check lane, but I used fast track. Train was a bit of a wait, then to sit at the gate, because there is no lounge any more.

The flight to LAX was completely full, including moving people at the last minute to accommodate standbys. The bins were full, and it took a while to get the bins prepped and door closed. Gogo wifi was working well. One crew member was a bit moody, but the other was absolutely superb. Water or orange juice only before take-off, but after take-off, I was kept furnished with screwdrivers, despite the fact that my glass seemed to have a problem, as the liquid was escaping from it far too quickly (hic).

The food was the worst I’ve ever had on an aircraft, and I’ve flown KLM. I’d apparently pre-ordered the beef, which I couldn’t remember, but that’s not a metric. The meal arrived as the last on the flight, the salad was full of pine nuts, fake feta, and a strawberry (why?). There was a side of chicken with luminous green sauce. The beef was cold, and I mean stone cold, the macaroni cheese was warm and edible, the broccoli was likewise stone cold.



There were various snacks forthcoming on the flight, though, and the wifi was fast enough to distract me. The screwdrivers kept flowing, naturally. The lady cabin crew person was excellent at refilling the screwdrivers, and it was very very fun to watch the mister cabin crew person getting more and more annoyed at Y pax using the F bathroom, and increasingly aggressive closing of the curtain by him. Mints were distributed before landing, I always like to assume it’s for those driving, rather than the descent, and we touched down in LAX a few minutes behind schedule, having gone out over the ocean and landing on 06L. This was followed by the longest taxi ever, having rolled out right to the end, and subsequent crossing of 06R and taxi round the back of the TBIT.

Standard legroom shot:



Somewhere over Texas:


The airport situation was a nightmare. Once out of the terminal, I went to the hotel pick-up, and waited a good 20 minutes for a shuttle to arrive, despite me calling and finding out that it was at T1 at the time. The scene outside LAX was worse than the normal carmageddon, and it took a very proactive police officer to get things moving. In fairness to him, without him, there’d have been no hope. The ride was reasonably swift, at least we were moving. Arriving at the Hilton LAX was easy, as I was first off the shuttle, although by this time, some passengers were getting irate. I checked in first in line, and got a room on the 14th floor, unfortunately without a runway view. The wifi was a bit confusing, given that it tries to charge you two prices, and doesn’t allude to the fact that only the cheapest is free for Diamonds, glad I checked with reception.

The room was reasonably large, and functional, but the bathroom was tiny and dated. I headed up to the Exec Lounge for appetisers, which were plentiful. Next stop was to pick up glow sticks and torches - between 1am and 5am there was to be a total power outage to the hotel, which meant emergency lighting only, limited lift service, and no hot water. The worst thing was a lack of wifi, given I’ve been waking up about 3am due to the jet lag. Anyway, off to bed for an early night, before the 8am flight.









Awoken by a call from American at 23:30, to tell me that my flight was delayed. Actually, TripIt had picked it up around 20:30, but I was already asleep then. The flight was rescheduled for 11am. Managed quite a leisurely lay-in, as I could now change my alarm from 4:30am to 7am. I woke up early due to the jet lag anyway, but I could lounge about, and go to the gym once the power came back on. Breakfast in the lounge was just breads, pastries, and porridge. The lounge was pretty busy, the man sitting next to me had a whole hard boiled egg floating in his porridge, but entirely sure why. Passed the next while in the lounge, watching the RWYS 25 departures and arrivals before heading back to the airport.

The view from the lounge during the day:

Last edited by Royce; Dec 1, 14 at 11:34 am Reason: Adding content
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:30 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:31 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:31 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:32 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 3:33 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 5:19 pm
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Old Nov 30, 14, 8:11 pm
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Interesting read so far, very enjoyable. 1 question though:

1 - With the uber driver, wonder how he got to the M25 from Angel? Did he go through Central London? I would have thought going up through Highgate and East Finchley connecting onto the A406 would have been faster but then again, that time of the morning traffic would be heavy all over London.

Lastly, the two times I have had breakfast in the First class lounge the food has been lukewarm. Really annoying to be honest.

Cheers for the TR! ^
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Old Nov 30, 14, 10:21 pm
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They should have given you a tea spoon along with the Arabic coffee cup soup, but no big deal.

The crew may likely be on his/her first or second first class service

Thanks for the report!

Last edited by JALlover; Dec 1, 14 at 12:01 am
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Old Nov 30, 14, 10:53 pm
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Great TR so far. Enjoyed reading it.

Just replied to your PM. See you in HNL tomorrow.
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Old Dec 1, 14, 4:42 am
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Is this a frayed seat belt?? If so, that's not just tatty but, surely, unsafe?

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Old Dec 1, 14, 4:53 am
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I was on the same flight to IAD! Though I was CW in forward upper cabin and agree with your comments about the crew, the staff working my cabin were among the best that I have ever encountered on BA recently.

I stayed just beside your hotel in the Jefferson and thought it was fantastic.

We could have shared that Washington Flyer Cab!

I turned around straight away and came back last night/this morning and it was the same crew operating the return, the giggles and welcome back onboard Mr Noniron when they seen me was genuinely touching.

Enjoy the rest of your trip Royce, I am going to plan a TP run for next Autumn so have been enjoying the recent TR's.
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