Ba f pos-uvf-lgw

Old Jun 29, 19, 4:05 pm
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: London
Posts: 4
Ba f pos-uvf-lgw

24th June 2019


I visit relatives in my home country, Trinidad, twice a year. Since moving to southeast London the BA 2159/2158 777-200 service from Gatwick to Port of Spain has been the most convenient option. Others that Iíve tried include AA from LHR via MIA; VS/BA from LGW to BGI with a transfer onto a CAL or LIAT turboprop; and UA from LHR via IAH/EWR.

Latterly Iíve been taking WTP outbound and CW inbound, a choice I wish more airlines offered. The cost of a return in this configuration ranges from £1200-£1400 in June to about £3000 at Christmas. With the recent refurb of the Gatwick based 777s plus lounge access on the outbound through BAEC itís a cost effective formula (I donít have hotel costs on the island) that Iíll probably stick with for a while.

I should declare from the outset that Iíve always liked the BA service to the Eastern Caribbean (liberal with the drinks and pretty responsive in all cabins). Passengers tend to be a 40:60 ratio of Caribbean origin vfm and business travellers and affluent Europeans on holiday.

For my last trip I was offered the choice of upgrading from J to F on the inbound for just over 20,000 avios, which seemed reasonable. Iíd been on BA First a couple of times before (my ex was rich and liberal about holidays) but never from the Caribbean and was curious to see how it compared with LHR ops. This seemed a cheap way to do it. The outbound trip in WTP was fine and memorable for the cabin being quite empty.


Ground Service

Following a fun 10 days catching up with folk I got to Piarco Airport at 1515 for a 1730 departure. I was startled on reaching the desk to be asked if I was Mr Soodeen as Iíd not yet handed over my passport. I guess with relatively few F passengers boarding at what is a relatively remote station they sometimes make educated guesses. It was a nice touch.

After the customary farewell drink with my dad and stepmother at the open air refectory at the side of the terminal building I went airside around 1615. Security was quick (no fast track) and I went straight to the VIP flyers lounge that BA uses to pick up a newspaper. The lounge is perfectly adequate (think 1980s AA Admirals Club) but has no views of the tarmac so I headed to the gate where G-VIIV was waiting.

Boarding for the 100 odd passengers (a third of whom I estimate disembarked at St Lucia (UVF) was done by group. I deliberately held back once group 1 was called so as to not be snared by the tedious secondary bag check but was still the third non-special services passenger to board. At POS boarding is through an air conditioned air bridge attached to door 1 meaning everyone must pass through the F cabin.

Despite the heavy foot traffic the crew were good about offering drinks and nuts to the four passengers and the CSM introduced herself personally to everyone seated. I took water as I was planning to crack the wine list later on. This route is not the easiest on BAís network. Crew start on day 1 by working LGW-UVF. On day 2 they operate the UVF-POS/GND-UVF sectors and on day 3 they return to LGW. Moreover the BA rest hotel on St Lucia is a 90 minute drive from the airport so itís a trip characterised by a lot of stops and starts. But I got the sense from their poised performance that many were regulars.

Boarding was quick and so when she came to 2A to say hello I asked the CSM if I could visit the flight deck to kill some time before push back. She seemed surprised (most requests come from 10 year olds apparently) but gained the captainís assent. The youngish pilots were friendly and offered me the chance to sit in the left hand seat to have my picture taken. We bemoaned how terrorism had made jumpseat rides impossible and after thanking them I headed back to my seat.

Flight 1

Push back and take off were on time. For the 40 minute hop to St Lucia the plane flies at around 24,000 ft so you get good views of the sea and the late afternoon sky. To take advantage of this I perched on the footrest for most of the first sector (the windows are at an angle which makes seeing anything from the seat proper almost impossible). I was surprised to be offered a couple more drinks as well as three elegant amuse bouche in small bowls with garden/seafood themes given the short duration.

We soon landed and parked at the remote stands reserved for heavies. It was still daylight. Next to us was a VS A330 preparing for the marathon back to England. The UVF passengers got off quickly after which there was a 15 minute lull while we waited for the new crew to board. I used the time to stand at door one (UVF uses old style steps rather than air bridges) and soak in the last of the humid Caribbean air laced with jet fuel.

Flight 2

Once the new crew were on the introductions with the new CSM and others started again. There followed an exercise to match the remaining passengers from POS to the hand luggage in the overhead bins. Once this was done the UVF origin passengers were permitted to board and amenity kits and pyjamas handed out. It was now dark. I asked the young bloke handling my aisle to call me Frank which seemed to set us up well for the trip.

Pushback was on time and there was another drink run before dinner. I went for a prawn starter, a rum seasoned beef rump, and an orange marmalade bread and butter pudding. The wines - a 2018 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with the starter, a smooth Beaujolais with the main and a fun Hungarian dessert wine were all awesome. I passed on my compliments to the guy plating up in the galley through the aisle attendant and he made a point of coming through to thank me for the feedback. Which just confirms that with aircrew as with every other facet of life you get back what you give.

Once dinner was cleared I tried watching the new Kidman arthouse flick (Destroyer) but couldnít get to the end. I decided to change into my pyjamas and returned to a made up bed. I canít sleep on planes so spent it trying to meditate lying flat.

About 90 mins before landing breakfast was served. I always make the mistake of ordering the full breakfast. Unlike dinner it tends to be well below the on ground standard and will stop doing so after this trip. The best thing about F at this point in a flight is thereís less competition for the loos as everyone starts to change back into their clothes. Twenty minutes before landing the automated window shades went up.

Once on the ground we parked at gate 37 (ie the rotunda for those who know Gatwick). We were let off first and I got through the E-gates quickly. The priority tagged bags for the POS passengers came off the belt well after the UVF equivalents, presumably because our pallets were deeper inside the belly of the aircraft having been loaded first. That said it wasnít much of a wait.

Conclusions

This was a nice experience from a polished crew made all the better for not having paid all that much. I also didnít detect much difference with BA First LHR ops. Furthermore my last intercontinental overnight F experience was on an AA 777-300ER between MIA and LHR in a cabin exactly half the size with the same crew compliment. I detected no disadvantage from being seated in a bigger first cabin and suspect the comments about BA F being a glorified J are a tad overdone. Thanks for reaching the end!



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