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martinfoss Apr 6, 09 9:00 pm

My bags were packed, and I was ready to go: How to celebrate your 25th birthday..
So, some might have seen my previous trip-report here, called "Riding on a British Airways Plane, pt. 2". If you havenęt, check it out ;)

I just decided to dig out an old trip-report. Over at the norwegian messageboard Scanair (, I always write about my trips, and I always do it while travelling, live, from hotel rooms and airport lounges, hell, sometimes even on my iPhone, onboard an "soon-to-be-cancelled" flight!

This trip-report, started out as what would become my annual "getting-away-on-my-birthday"-trip, a "tradition" that started by me, coincidentally being away on my big day, a couple of years in a row.

After quite a few attemtps of finding someone to go along with me, I ended up deciding to go alone. I seem to remember that this trip was booked less than two weeks before departure, and it all happened kind of spontaniously.

I started my live-report after doing OLCI, simply providing the information that I was going away, on a "bus" (that's airbus), to thr hub og the airline that operated the bus, and the next day, I would continue to somewhere else in First Class! Actually, I travelled in both Economy, Business and First Class on this trip! Off course, people started guessing, but nobody seemed to get it right :D. It was however, fun to watch all the guessing.

Anyway, the trip started by me leaving home, on the 23rd of September, 2008. Check in had been done online the day before, and I had seat 10F, onboard a British Airways Airbus 320, carrying the registration G-EUUL, in their economy class, called Euro Traveller. The flights had been booked in economy on the outbound, and Business (Club Europe) on the return, simply because there were no restricted business class ticket available on the outbound flight. Went to the self check-in machine, and printed my boarding pass. Waited in line for a couple of minutes, and was allowed to check in my suitcase. Went smoothly through security, ans headed straight for the gate, and waited there.

Boarding started some 25 minutes before departure, and we were all set to go, and pushed back 5 minute before the scheduled departure time. It was even a whole minute left when we started to taxi towards runway 01L (which is about as far as you can get from gate 50 at OSL). An Avro from Brussel Airlines was allowed to go before us, and dissappeared into the skies, on it's way to BRU. Ou flight crew, made a slightly wiser decision, and decided to wait untill that big 747 on final had landedn (Korean Air Cargo, flies through OSL 4 times a week, and is the only regular 747 there..). After the jumbo had left the runway, we entered it, and took of, made a few turns, and were on our way to LHR.

Well up in the air, a sandwich was served, and I chose chicken, and a coke.. Now the great thing about BA, is that they actually give you free food, even in economy. On their main competitor on the route, SAS, you have to pay for even a glass of water, while on BA, even the vodka is free ^.

We landed, and after a while, I was off the plane.. Walked about a kilometer, and ended up at the UK border, where I was lucky enough to end up behind a passenger who obviusly couldn't "just enter" the UK.. It was a little wait, but at last, it was my turn. The girl looked at my passport, looked at me, and gave me a "Cheers".
Your sincerely in an escalator at LHR T5

Then to baggage claim. I had travelled in economy, and had absolutely no kind of frequent flyer status to qualify for a Priority Tag. Still, the bag was on the belt when I got there . Picked it up, and headed for the Heathrow Express.

The thing about this train, is that it arrives at the platform, then arriving passengers are let of, some HEX-employees, or security guards, or wathever, go through the train, and then people are let onboard.. I was not too sure if I could board or not, but noticed the other people waiting, so I waited as well. The one lady thought she could board, so she did. Then a voice came on, on some kind of PA-system, saying: "Do not board this train!! This train is not ready for Boarding!! If you have boarded the train, please leave the train!!" It was kinda funny to watch, to be honest :D

Got to Paddington, and tried to navigate to my hotel, which was the Park Inn Hyde Park, found through a Google search, using the keywords "Hotels near Paddington". Now thanks to the GPS on my iPhone, I managed to find it, and got checked in, and was given a room in - the basement!

After a bit of relaxing in my room, I went out, had a nice dinner at Angus Aberdeen Steak House, did some shopping at HMV, before a couple of drinks in the hotel bar, before calling it a day, and went to bed, to relax before my First Class trip the next day..

martinfoss Apr 6, 09 9:45 pm

The next morning, I woke up, on my first morning as a 25-year old :D.
Had breakfast in the hotel, which was nice.. I always eat hot breakfast in hotels, and this was no exception. In my original TR, I can also read that the scrambled egg "tasted better than they looked"..

The only negative side of the breakfast, was when I was finished eating. I had some tea left, so I decided to go and get a waffle, a chocolate muffin, and another glass of orange juice. However, when I came back, they had "cleaned"my table, and I suddenly had no tea :(. I finished the juice and the waffle, ans took the muffin to my room..

Checked out right after 11, and headed back to Paddington station. Got directions from the Front Desk-lady, and I found out that hadn't exactly taken the easiest way the day before.. Now, well...

Back at Paddington, I was really looking forward to travel First Class!.. Did I mention it was by train, by the way??

Found a ticket machine, and printed out my tickets for a return trip to Cardiff, First Class both ways.. I then proceeded to WH Smith, and got something to read, and something to drink, as well as some chocolate..

We, were after a while, allowed to board, and I found car H at the rear end. I remember having seat 7F.. I too me a little while to understand, that of the two seats called 7, I had the one with the Face in the "driving direction".. Here's a picture of how it looked like:

Picture taken from my seat, with a table between me and another seat, that remained empty..

Had a nice journey, and I think we arrived in Cardiff on time. Got off the train, and decided to try my iPhone again for navigation, but couldn't quite figure out where to go, so I asked a taxi-driver if he knew the hotel (Park Plaza), and he could tell me that it was on the other side of town.. (Thank you Google Maps, for making it look so close to the railwaystation :rolleyes:). I then decided to let him drive me to the hotel, and that's when I learned that the town itself wasn't that big, and I guess it took less that 5 minutes before we arrived at the hotel. He wanted £4.30.. Now me and foreign coins... Found the 4.30, and grabbed a couple of other coins as a tip, and that brought a big smile to his face! Proceeded indoors, where a lovely girl managed to check me in.. I can also recall, that her name was Martine. Quite funny, as I always thought of that as a norwegian name.. Plus, it's just really a nice name ;).

The room was nice, and the minibar was stocked, so I started unstocking it.
Later, it was dinner time.. Cardiff has a Hard Rock Cafe, and i always visit them, if i'm in a town where they have one I haven't visited before.. So, walked down to the HRC, which by the way was almost back at the railwaystation.. Was greeted and seated, and was served by a lovely, female waitress. I had this:

HRC Bruschetta
A new twist on bruschetta. Freshly toasted
French baguette bread brushed with olive oil,
fresh garlic and herb cream cheese. Topped with
balsamic marinated diced tomatoes and grated
Romano cheese.

Smoked Bar-B-Que
Beef Brisket Sandwich
Our slow hickory smoked thick sliced beef brisket
topped with Hickory Bar-B-Que sauce
and crisp fried onion straws. Served with
seasoned fries, ranch beans and fresh coleslaw.

Ice Cream
Our Hard Rock signature ice cream
offerings are Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry.

Had never seen those bruschettas before, and I must admit I liked them.. Too bad they were a bit too much for one.. All in all, a great meal at the HRC, and a lovely service! However, now I had had too much to eat, so the only logical place for me to go, was my bed, to rest a bit..

I also decided to try out the hotel bar, so after a while, i went down, and sat down at the bardisk, and ordered a Gin Tonic.. I then wanted another one, but it was simply impossible to get the attention of anyone workng there.. Now, I don't like to disturb a busy bartender, but they seemed busy all the time. i would however escpect, that when they see a guest with an empty glass, they would ask if he wanted another drink? Well, not here, so I went back upstairs, and continued the unstocking of the mini-bar..

The next morning, I woke up, and headed for breakfast. I was asked if I wanted the continental or the full buffet, and since i prefer hot breakfast at hotels, I went for the full, ad most expensive one.. Brakfast was obviously not included, so he would add the extra charge to my bill. Well, alright..

Had an even better breakfast than in London, and in addition to the tea, also toast was served by the table.. Also managed to get that chocolate muffin, with my table being cleand while I was out getting it ^.

After breakfast, it was time to check out. Was asked if all the charges from the minibar were correct, which I sais they were. Next question: Did you have an extra breakfast? No, just one.. Turned that the breakfast was included, and I had been charged for another one.. No problem though, as she quickly "un-charged" it..

Went back to the railwaystation, this time by foot, and sat down and waaaaaaited.. The train arrived on time, and the journey back to London was just as comfortable and uneventful as the previous one.

At Paddington, I made a quick pit-stop at Garfunkle's across the road, for a quick lunch, before heading out to Heathrow on the express.

At T5, check in and security went smoothly, and that was about the last thing that actually went smoothly on this trip..

martinfoss Apr 6, 09 10:35 pm

After a quick look around Terminal 5 (it was my first visit, except the arrival two days before), I headed for the lounge, which really impressed me.. Sat down with a coke, and relaxed for a bit.. Then, the messages started to appear on the PA, that "all short haul flights with a departure between 17:00 and 18:30, had been cancelled", and all flights after that (including mine), were "pending".. Then, it showed a departure time for my flight, 02:15 :(.
This did however, turn out to be some kind of ATC equipment not working, so they could not handle as many planes as normal, and long-hauls were gioven priority. I even think it affected whole England, and not just LHR:

Then, as i got up to see if I could find another place to sit (needed a seat with some power outlets), and noticed that my flight was cancelled as well.. Hooray!! i gathered my stuff, and went to the lady behind the counter i the lounge, who directed me to Flight Connections Center (FCC), and I would find it at gate 14 or 16.. Oh well, off I went, and there i did find a BA service center, for rebooking.. However, someone were shouting out that passengers with cancelled flights should proceed the the FCC (I was still no quite sure where and what this FCC was - I though I had found it, but obviously not), through gate 14. At this gate, we were led down a couple of floors, and ended up at the FCC (ah, there it was ;)).

I was told to get in line, and that line was looong :rolleyes:. Did however find out, that I should aim for the Club/Silver/Gold desks to the left, so I found the end of the correct line, and started waiting. I think I stood there for three hours ot so. Was a bit annoying to see that some staff members suddely left, as they were obviously finished for the day, and went home.. At one point, I think the desks for the premium customers, were served by only a cople of agents, while the "regular"desks were fulle staffed (meybe 10 in total?), and the line for the economy-travellers seemd to move much faster..

It did however become my turn, and as soon as that happened, things went a bit smoother again.. I was asked which flight I wanted to go on the next day, and since the first one left quite early (08:somethin), I went for the second flight, which didn't leave untill somewhere around 13:00.. I was also given a voucher for a hotel stay, which included dinner and breakfat, and free tickets for the Hotel Hoppa, to take me to the Holiday Inn (MFJ4, or something). I thanked the gentleman, and proceeded through the UK border, found my bag at baggage claim, and then found the correct bus, on which I was about the last person to be allowed on board..

Arrived at the hotel a few minutes later, and was checked in quite effeciently, in a seperate desk provided for those who were not realy supposed to be at Heathrow at the moment.. I also learned, that Air India uses the hotel for their crew.. Got upstairs, and found my room. And by the way, some very clever person had managed to put me in room 669, meaning that everytime I opened my door, the first thing I would see, was the number "770" on the door opposite mine.. 770 was the flight number of the flight I was supposed to be on :rolleyes:

Dinner: Was a buffet, so it meant "eat all you can, on BA's expence". However, I had to pay for drinks myself.. I then told the waitress that I needed to get money from the ATM in the lobby, which was no problem. I did, and when I got back, she never did.. I was actually finished with my entire meal, before I had a beer in the table.. Not good.. and neither was the beer..

The room however, was quite ok.. A sofa and a table in addition to a double bed. Do also seem to recall that the internet was rather expensive. Another thing that anoyed me a bit, was that they actually phoned me from the front desk in the morning, to remind me to pay for the internet.. Did they really have to do that?? Now, the rest of the £20 bill I had used to pay for my beer the night before, was exactly enough to pay for the internet..

After check out, I went back to T5, checked in again,and went the lounge again however, I tried the other one this time.

After some time in the lounge, I went to find my plane. The gate was 10b, and i quickly learned that it was a bus-gate.. We were put on the bus, and taken out to the plane, and everyone was onboard on time.. However, due to traffic or somehing, we had to wait a bit longer. I think we left an hour late, or so.. Went up, and the service onboard was great, es excpected..

Landed at OSL, then had to wait approximately forever, to get my bag.. (I think there were four different flights sharing that baggege belt, resulting in what seemed like 1000 people trying to stand as close to the belt as possible at the same time..). Did however get it, and walked down to where I work, picked up my car, and went home after a nice, and different trip..

avkillick Apr 7, 09 1:28 pm

Thanks for the report. So was the Paddington room quiet - given that it faced an interior courtyard below street level?

Alinlondon Apr 7, 09 1:29 pm

Great report....why Cardiff? Were you being ironic about the Aberdeen Angus Steak house?

semsem Apr 15, 09 10:35 am

Very funny. The room actually looks quite nice and quiet.

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