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HEL-LHR-BOS on BA Y & J, including a mini-DO in LHR T5 and a dash of Bolly (PICS)

HEL-LHR-BOS on BA Y & J, including a mini-DO in LHR T5 and a dash of Bolly (PICS)

Old May 7, 09, 6:16 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: HEL (and regularly BOS & PWM)
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HEL-LHR-BOS on BA Y & J, including a mini-DO in LHR T5 and a dash of Bolly (PICS)

*** UPDATE ***

Scroll down for the inbound trip report, including photos and videos from the LHR T5 BA Arrivals lounge and T3 BA Galleries Club!

*** UPDATE ***




This trip report begins a month before my planned trip. After my first ever TATL Club World flights from London to Boston in February and some miles in the pocket, I wanted to experience BA's Next Generation Club World business class again on my next work trip to the US (Maine). This time I'd fly on a 747-400 instead of the usual 777 operating between LHR and BOS!

My plan was to get maximum experience without spending as much as I did on the last trip. Therefore I made a separate booking for a HEL-LHR round-trip in economy (Euro Traveller), and another booking for LHR-BOS in BA's premium economy (World Traveller Plus). The 3 hour flight from Helsinki to London is fairly short, and irrespective of the class, it is never too comfortable anyway, so I decided to save and travel in economy. After booking my short haul flights, it was time to figure out the transatlantic flights. I couldn't resist the temptation to upgrade the travel class of my outbound flight with cash as it was only 195 GBP / 215 EUR. That flight would also take me to British Airways Executive Club Silver level, because I was only 80 Tier Points short. Sadly I'd lose 40 TPs in the process, but I was willing to accept that. I finished booking the flights, and was ready to upgrade my inbound flight to Club World with miles, only to find out that BA.com's Manage My Booking wouldn't let me do that due to fare rules. I gave a call to BAEC Service Center, and after some investigating, I was upgraded to CW with miles. I was impressed by the service, especially because I was able to get service in Finnish! ^ Didn't really expect that to happen even though I did call the number for Finnish BAEC members.

Since I purchased completely restricted discount flights and I was still BAEC Blue, I couldn't choose my seats. A quick look (and later almost compulsive daily checks) at the seat situation on ExpertFlyer.com revealed that while World Traveller was almost empty, WT+, CW and First were fairly busy. There was still seats left on the Upper Deck and I was ready to settle for ANY seat there, as long as I could fly on the second floor of an airplane - a first for me. Sadly 64A/K were already reserved, but 62A seemed to be the perfect choice for me with direct isle access and longer pitch due to the seat being next to an exit.

Monday, the day before travelling arrived finally and I was able to do OLCI. For the HEL-LHR leg I chose seat 8A which should be on the CE side but was sold as an ET seat due to moved curtain. Apparently HEL is not that popular destination for CE pax right now... I then waited for the LHR-BOS flight to open for OLCI and since I was rather obsessive about choosing a seat, I was not even a minute late with securing a seat that I wanted. Upper deck still had free seats left, whoo! (I actually knew that since I refreshed the seat map on ExpertFlyer constantly that morning. ) And best of all, 62A was still free.

I packed my bags, slept for a few hours and woke up at 5:30 the next morning. I never seem to pack in time, so my night's sleep prior to travelling is rarely long enough. I was lucky enough to get a ride to the airport from a friend, so I didn't need to worry about bus schedules or taking a taxi. I arrived at the airport at 6:35, breezed through check-in (got boarding passes for both HEL-LHR and LHR-BOS), security and passport control to the non-Schengen area (no queues, even though landside was fairly busy with pax that had just arrived at the airport), and proceeded to grab breakfast.

Some photos from HEL:


Finnair's A319 in retro livery.




Automatic passport control gates in HEL. Hopefully without attitude!


Non-Schengen side was quiet in the morning.


Our gate, 32.

Tuna sandwich and a soda set me back 8,30 EUR. Compared to the rather simple breakfast offerings of the Finnair long haul lounge that also BA uses, I was happy to pay the price. Sat down to eat rather quickly as departure was in just 40 minutes. Judging from the amount of pax waiting in front of the gate, flight didn't seem to be too full. And speaking of the gate, I appreciate the fact that BA's flights to and from HEL usually use a gate - Finnair use buses way too often in moving pax to and from the aircrafts.

Last edited by speedymac; Jul 2, 09 at 5:16 pm
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Old May 7, 09, 6:18 pm
  #2  
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HEL-LHR and T5, including a visit to the CCR


Our bird, Boeing 757-200.

BA 795 HEL-LHR 07:50-09:00, Euro Traveller Seat 8A->6A, Boeing 757-200

I boarded the aircraft and found out that CE was completely empty! There were lots of suits and ties in the cabin, though, so apparently business travellers have to settle for cattle class these days for obvious reasons. My row 8 was full, so I decided to move to row 6 which was empty.

Shortly after takeoff at 8:05 and reaching cruising altitude, breakfast was served. When asked for drinks, I opted for white wine. Yes, it was only 8:15 in the morning, but who cares. Apparently the FA thought it was the wrong answer because she replied with "Are you serious? At this time of the day?" Yes, I was serious, and thanks to that comment, I was also red-faced and embarrassed, thank you very much! I didn't really say that out loud apart from the "I'm serious" part, but I felt like a criminal for ordering alcohol early in the morning. After tasting the white wine (some NZ Chardonnay 2008) I also felt like a fool, the wine tasted like juice. Bleugh. Maybe she knew better, but I'd still preferred if she had minded her own business. Bacon and double cheese roll was nothing to write home about - CE's English breakfast is superior to what ET has to offer. I hadn't noticed it before, but BA does not offer ET breakfast on trays, but instead all items are given separately, including a folded plastic bag which is then used for the trash.



Flight itself was uneventful. I flipped through Business Life and High Life Magazines and noticed a rather positive article about Finnish cuisine (including the obligatory notes about reindeer and bear meat). I also checked the movie listings for my LHR-BOS leg, wrote the beginning this trip report on my laptop and just relaxed.

Closer to London the captain announced that we'll have to wait for landing due to heavy traffic in LHR. We circled around for a while and landed 15 minutes late. It looked like that we were going to a gate, but no such luck! Door 2 left was opened, meaning that my plans to leave the plane amongst the first ones was ruined. We were then bussed to the terminal, which was luckily nearby.

I then walked quickly towards Flight Connections, because I was supposed to meet two fellow FTers, timol and pcflyer213. Bus to T5 left only a minute after I stepped on board, and I thought I'd be in the lounge in no time. I proceeded through passport control Fast Track which was fast this time, and took the escalators upstairs only to meet long queues to security control. Since this was my second time travelling through T5, I had no idea if there was a security control Fast Track, but I didn't bother looking for it as it looked like every single queue was long.

After some good 15 minutes of queueing I finally reached the security control. Computer out, liquids out (this time I had a see-through Muji washbag). Didn't have to remove shoes, which probably made the metal detector beep. A security guy gave me a body search unlike I've ever experienced before. Instead of lightly patting my torso and limbs, he made sure not an inch was left unsearched and was very thorough, even though at some point I was suspecting that he was hugging me rather than just doing a body search, because there were more parts of him touching my body than just his hands! I got over it, though, and saw that timol was waiting for and waiving at me a few meters away. I guess a Finn can spot another Finn easily...

We greeted each other and then proceeded to the... *drum roll* ...Concorde Room! Woo-hoo! Timol was about to fly in First and had offered to guest me because he had noticed on ba97.com that we'd be in T5 at the same time. The receptionist greeted us in front of the the CCR door and wrote "1K Gust" on my boarding pass. Yes, Gust. Maybe that was supposed to mean guest? Had no time to wonder about that, though. We left our bags in the cloackroom and there was only one thing on my mind: Bolly. Timol didn't mind the idea at all, so we both asked for a glass of Bollinger and went to see the boardroom.


I've now sat on the Concorde... seats.


FlyerTalk and Bolly.

Timol also suggested that we'd order strawberry milkshakes, and then went to see the terrace. After a while, a waiter brought the shakes and it must've been one of the best milkshakes I've ever tasted. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to spend in the lounge as we were also supposed to meet pclyer213. We met him outside the CCR and timol asked the lounge dragon if he could host another person in the CCR - no problem, so I went upstairs to Galleries Club while the other two fellows went back to the CCR.


The CCR terrace.


Bolly and strawberry milkshake.



Now that I've seen both GC and CCR, I must say that they're not worlds apart. Yes, the CCR is fancier with better materials and furniture, but the decor isn't that much different from GC, which already is very nice. It's the service, drinks and food that sets the CCR apart from GC, but sadly I didn't have enough time to experience it all. Needless to say, I was very grateful to timol for the invitation, and enjoyed my stay in the CCR a lot.


The obligatory horse lamp shot.


The obligatory "ever changing thing" shot.

Pcflyer213 was going to be on the same flight to BOS with me, so we agreed to meet outside the CCR 40 minutes before departure. That turned out to be a bit tight, but we managed to reach gate 10A on time. The screens were showing that the gate (erm... bus door) was closing, but after being picked randomly for bag search at the gate (which took a while) and waiting in the bus for 5 to 10 minutes, it was clear that we hadn't been the last pax they were waiting for.

Last edited by speedymac; May 8, 09 at 6:35 am Reason: Typos
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Old May 7, 09, 6:19 pm
  #3  
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LHR-BOS in CW Upper Deck

BA 213 LHR-BOS 11:25-13:35, Club World Seat 62A (Upper Deck), Boeing 747-400 52J configuration

We drove to a stand next to T5C and boarded the plane. Pcflyer213 found his way to his seat downstairs, while I was, in my mind, already climbing up the stairs to Upper Deck. Upon presenting my boarding pass to a FA, she noticed my "1K Gust" note on it and for a while thought I had been upgraded to First! She asked a colleague about it who knew better, and guided me to climb up the stairs. Sigh.



I found my way to my seat 62A which I had been fortunate enough to choose when online check-in opened. Many say that 64A/K are the prize seats, but I actually enjoyed not being completely isolated from other pax. I had plenty of legroom, I didn't have to hop over anyone to get to the isle, and I had lots of storage room which isle and lower deck pax can only dream of. The only downside of the Upper Deck is that the overhead lockers are smaller than downstairs, and I had to take some things out of my camera / computer bag before it would slide in.


My seat, 62A.


View from my seat towards the rear of the cabin.


Plenty of storage space.



As usual, coats were collected and champagne, water or orange juice was offered. I really had no choice but to ask for champagne and sit down, and most importantly, calm down. This was my first time in CW on a 747-400, and first time travelling in the Upper Deck, so I was pretty fired up. We finally departed around 11:40, or 15 minutes late. Lunch orders were collected briefly after the seat belt signs had been switched off. Our cabin was served by two friendly, if a bit impersonal, FAs. Luckily I was topped up all the time!

I chose asparagus for starters and roasted fillet of salmon for the main course. Asparagus was fresh and nice, but salmon was way too hot. I watered it down with A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris 2007 and had ice cream for dessert.





I then wandered downstairs and went to chat with pcflyer213 for a while. After that I walked through other cabins (I did ask a FA if that was ok; I got permission to walk about as long as I stayed away from the front cabin) and found out that both CW and WT+ on the lower deck were almost full, and WT was almost equally occupied. Club Kitchen looked barren, but pcflyer213 told that they'd restock it soon.


CW, lower deck.


WT+


One of the WT cabins.

I then went upstairs, fired up AVOD and watched an episode of The Office (US) and the Simpsons. I also knew I had to work a bit, so I finally got to it. Without work I probably would enjoyed a few more glasses of champagne, but working on the computer on the wobbly CW table was difficult enough even without extra glasses of champers.

At some point I went downstairs again and had a drink with pcflyer213, and I must say that I enjoyed the flight more because I didn't have to spend the whole trip alone. Here's to you, timol and pcflyer213 - thanks for the mini-do at T5 and the company on board. I had a great time with you!

Afternoon tea was served an hour prior to landing. The sandwich selection was new, and this time I also remembered to ask for scones (regrettably I forgot to do that during my last trip). After the sandwhiches, two scones and overly sweet piece of cake I felt sick, but in a good, comforting way. I knew I wouldn't have to eat soon after landing!




Scones! They look suspicious and taste delicious.

We arrived in rainy Boston half an hour late, and I was sure I'd miss my bus that was about to leave to Maine in less than 20 minutes. We queued to immigration only for a minute or so, but an immigration officer grilled me for not having my ESTA number with me. I later learned here that it's not required, only registering is! He finally let me through and I rushed to see if my luggage had arrived yet. Lo and behold, it had! I'm suspecting that because I checked in in HEL as an economy passenger and didn't get a priority tag for my bag, I didn't get screwed. I've heard enough stories of priority tags actually slowing down retrieving your luggage!

I ran outside to see if I had missed my bus and was shortly followed by pcflyer213. He continued to downtown Boston and luckily my bus arrived only 2 minutes later. I arrived in Portland on time in late afternoon, ready to sleep for 11 hours (which I also did). Work would be murder.

To be continued...

Last edited by speedymac; May 7, 09 at 7:31 pm Reason: Typos
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Old May 7, 09, 7:06 pm
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Great report, speedymac
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Old May 7, 09, 8:28 pm
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Sensational pics.. Thanks so much...
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Old May 8, 09, 2:51 am
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Your trip reports are always great to read. You should travel more!
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Old May 8, 09, 3:21 am
  #7  
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Quote:
"http://www.tuohimaa.net/tr/P1000660.jpg
Scones! They look suspicious and taste delicious."

You crack me up... you really do...!

Fantastic TR...! Upper Deck and 62A! How fantastic!
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Old May 8, 09, 5:54 am
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Very nice report and pics! Did you purchase a horse lamp for yourself?
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Old May 8, 09, 6:43 am
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Thank you for the comments!

Originally Posted by sobore View Post
Very nice report and pics! Did you purchase a horse lamp for yourself?
No I didn't, but I posted some of these photos on Facebook and one friend said with a straight face that if/once he moves into a bigger flat, he'll buy one of those horses.
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Old May 8, 09, 8:52 am
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Really liked this TR... can't wait for the return!
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Old May 8, 09, 10:03 am
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Thank you once again for sharing your travel experiences. Your style of writing combined with excellent, sharp & artistic images set a new level for TR's. I look fwd to your return report.
Well done ^
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Old May 8, 09, 2:17 pm
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I noticed there was no plastic bag around the sandwiches. Did you just not have it in the picture, or are they now serving the sandwiches without the bag? Some people complain about them being wrapped in plastic, but I think it helps keep them fresh. And it would be a pain the read for the FAs to have to unwrap the sandwiches and plate them.
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Old May 8, 09, 2:58 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by AGSF View Post
I noticed there was no plastic bag around the sandwiches. Did you just not have it in the picture, or are they now serving the sandwiches without the bag? Some people complain about them being wrapped in plastic, but I think it helps keep them fresh. And it would be a pain the read for the FAs to have to unwrap the sandwiches and plate them.
Oh, I staged the situation and just put the plastic bag aside.
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Old May 8, 09, 9:32 pm
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great report!

I really enjoyed reading this and looking at your photos. thanks for sharing this!
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Old May 12, 09, 7:30 am
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Nice report, well done ^ 62A/K is the way to go I'm 189cm tall so they are the seats for me.
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