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AS/BA F SEA-SFO-LHR-BKK-SYD-SIN-LHR-SEA plus LDH (long, with pics)

AS/BA F SEA-SFO-LHR-BKK-SYD-SIN-LHR-SEA plus LDH (long, with pics)

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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:23 pm
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gba
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Join Date: Dec 2002
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Programs: Alaska MVP Gold, Marriott Lifetime Gold, Hilton Diamond
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Smile AS/BA F SEA-SFO-LHR-BKK-SYD-SIN-LHR-SEA plus LDH (long, with pics)

AS/BA F SEA-SFO-LHR-BKK-SYD-SIN-LHR-SEA plus LDH

Last summer, Alaska Airlines announced it was discontinuing British Airways awards to Australia. I’d been saving up my miles for a trip down-under the long/fun way since I’d first read about these awards on this forum, and had just reached the 300,000 miles needed for the two tickets a few months earlier. Although I had hoped to hold off on the trip for a bit, circumstances being what they were, and given that Alaska gives its MVP Golds fee-free changes, I decided I’d best book a trip and then later make any changes necessary to ensure I was able to take it!

Those who are regulars to this forum will surely recognize the routing made famous by the travels of Seat 2A. It truly was one of the great frequent flyer awards available, for a mere 150,000 miles—a value of nearly 18 cents per mile if that’s how you’re counting—and $150 dollars per ticket (far less in both miles and money than the same award would have cost using BA’s own Executive Club), we would enjoy six long-haul first class flights, spend an afternoon in San Francicsco and two days in London on layovers, get to enjoy the British Airways first class experience, and spend two and a half weeks down under.

Before getting to the report, I’d like to thank the many agents I dealt with at the Alaska Airlines Award desk who patiently helped me get this trip exactly how I wanted (while no doubt chuckling behind my back at why anyone would want to go the “wrong” way), as well as those of you on the Alaska, British Airways, Qantas, and Australia Travel forums who provided answers to my numerous questions on the various components of the trip. Lastly, a thanks to those of you who’ve written trip reports on BA First Class—I think I’ve read all of them in anticipation and hope this report provides an informative look for those planning a similar trip in the future!

With that said, my first International First Class trip begins on an August morning at SeaTac…

August 10, 2009
Alaska 310, SEA-SFO
737-700, N619AS
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 10:30am (10:38)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 12:45pm (12:39)
Duration: 2:01 Seat: 2D


SeaTac seemed surprisingly quiet for a Monday morning when my girlfriend and I arrived, the longest line in the place may have been the First/MVP Gold check-in line. Fortunately it moved reasonably quickly and quickly the friendly check-in agent was printing out bag tags all the way through to Sydney (surprisingly, the routing didn’t even seem like it was at all unusual to her).

After breezing through security, we were soon plopped down on a comfy seat in the Alaska Airlines boardroom. Generously, Alaska allows passengers traveling on paid and award (but not upgraded) First Class access to its Board Room. Although I’ve been an MVP Gold for a several years, I’d never been in the Board Room before. The lounge itself is relatively modestly sized for a lounge at an airline’s main hub, it’s pleasant enough for a domestic lounge, with enough food to cobble together a modest breakfast and an open bar. The highlight for me was the Golden Samovar they have on display from the days of service to the Russian Far East.

Although I had the option of booking the SEA-LHR nonstop, I elected to drop down to San Francisco before heading across the pond for two reasons: first, traveling out of SFO meant I’d get to fly on the preferred 747, rather than the 777; second, I knew I’d drive myself crazy during the day if I had to wait until the evening for my trip to start and an afternoon in the city by the bay would be just the thing to keep me pre-occupied.

The flight was departing from the distant N gates and about 45 minutes before scheduled departure we made our way out there only to find that the aircraft had not yet arrived. It appeared soon enough and after a reasonably quick turnaround we were on our way south.



Service was as to be expected from a short, domestic first class flight. Due to the competition from Virgin America we at least got a plate of rabbit food which consisted of carrot and celery sticks with spinach dip and a side salad (I love veggies to go with my veggies!). It was nothing exceptional, but better than a snack basket.



Fortunately, despite a slightly delayed departure we were able to make up time en route and pulled into the gate a few minutes early. We had about six hours before our flight to London departed and, as our bags were checked through, we quickly made our way to the BART station and headed into San Francisco for the afternoon.

August 10, 2009
British Airways 286, SFO-LHR
747-400, G-BNLD
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 6:50pm (6:54)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 1:00pm+1 (12:56)
Duration: 10:02 Seat: 4E


After a pleasant afternoon riding cable cars up and down the hills of San Francisco, we were soon back in the International Terminal of SFO looking for the British Airways check-in counters. They could be easily identified by the presence of a line. Fortunately, there was no line at the First Class check-in counters and after a brief wait for the folks in front of us to get checked in, we soon had our British Airways boarding passes all the way through to Sydney as well as a pass for the express security line and directions to the lounge. Unfortunately, upon our arrival at the security checkpoint no express line was to be found but it was under a ten minute wait in the general security line and soon we had found the small door between gate A4 and A6 and were descending the elevator to the British Airways lounge. The Fist Class lounge is small but quite pleasant with two sets of couches, a tv viewing area, internet terminal, a selection of tea sandwiches and other light snacks, and a variety of pour-it-yourself beverages. The staff were quite pleasant and worked to ensure that our suitcase had made the handoff from Alaska to British Airways as hoped (it did). The most notable part of the lounge is the proximity of the aircraft to the windows, which provided a great opportunity to view our home for the next ten hours.



Despite having four or so other folks in it, the first class lounge was somewhat uncomfortably quiet (I felt bad clanging glassware while getting myself a drink). Amusingly, the one sound in the lounge was the television which was tuned to MTV (at reasonably low volume, and two gentlemen were watching one of the trashiest show on American television, Parental Control and quietly laughing as if it were the greatest thing they’d ever seen. For those unfamiliar with the show, it involves a teenage girl with parents that don’t like her boyfriend and go and pick out other boys for their daughter to go on dates with. Truly First Class.

Boarding was announced in the lounge on schedule, and we had the unique experience of boarding directly from the lounge. After more than a year of planning, before I knew what had happened I was walking into door 1L of the 747 and being shown to my seat by the cheerful purser. On the seat when we arrived, we found two pillows, a smallish couch-type pillow and a larger bed-type pillow, a sleeping bad, blanket, and a pair of slippers. Since we were among the first to board (just after the gentlemen who had been watching Parental Control and seated in 2A and K) I quickly snapped a few photos of the cabin to send off to friends as a quick “you think I fly too much but look what I got with my miles” before departure.



I know there have been complaints that some of the first class cabins on BA 747s are starting to show their age but, at least to the first class virgin, they’re still quite impressive. The seat controls on a few of the seats I had on the trip were slightly warn but I did not encounter anything that was out of order. The one slight “problem” I ever detected with the seats on this trip was that on a few of the aircraft we flew the lifejacket wouldn’t stay stored in its drawer and would occasionally flop out.

Soon after we were seated, a flight attendant appeared offering Amenity Kits which we graciously accepted and another appeared soon after to offer us a choice of beverage. We requested champagne which was served with a small bowl of macadamia nuts.



Boarding proceeds remarkably quickly when you’re sitting away from the action and before I knew it we were moving backwards and on our way to London. The captain came on the p.a. and announced that we would be arriving in London “on shedule” and soon we were airborne and climbing north over San Francisco Bay. One of the more unique things about sitting in the nose of the 747 is the sounds, despite the enormous power of the aircraft takeoff is shockingly quiet, and you are treated to an especially interesting symphony on takeoff and landing courtesy of the landing gear.

Within ten minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants were up and about distributing menus and warm towels and taking drink orders. We’d noticed that one of the other passengers in the cabin had been given pajamas but we had not so we inquired when placing our dinner order and were soon presented with two pairs of comfy, dark blue, 100% cotton pajamas, with the BA First logo on the left breast. My girlfriend and I are not exactly the same size but we were both given medium pajamas. They fit me fine but were a bit large on my girlfriend, I had recalled reading that small pajamas are seemingly non-existent and, indeed, in all our flights we never saw any smaller than medium. In fact, on one flight all they had was large!

Only 11 of the 14 seats in the cabin were full this evening and I was fortunate to have the window seat to my left (4A) open and used it on occasion to store my belongings. I also got to enjoy the view of the sunset over the U.S. west coast (I know sunset pictures are somewhat cliché but I took a lot and they’re nice so I’m putting them in the report…but know that if I were reading this report, I’d be skipping over them and looking for the food pics…fear not, dear reader, they’re coming up).



Our drinks were presented with a plate of four canapés. Although these are rumored to be on the way out we had some form of canapé on each of our flights. On this particular leg, the four items included grilled ham and cheese sandwich, shrimp on toast, fried shrimp, and kiwi, cream, and strawberry on toast. While they weren’t bad, when my girlfriend offered me hers I only took another fried shrimp.



During this time the cabin services director came around and introduced himself and distributed UK landing cards and fast track passes for T5 arrivals. We were told that although fast track is supposed to close at 1:00 we were expected to arrive early at 12:40. As luck would have it, at 1pm we would we wandering through the longest jet way in T5B but I was confident I’d be able to find a good home for the fast track passes on flyertalk.

I was looking forward to a pleasant dinner before turning in for the evening. There’s few better ways to pass time on planes than eating, and I had high (perhaps too high) expectations for the food on board. With six flights, I’d get to experience my share of British Airway’s cuisine including six dinners, four breakfasts (one continental), and two afternoon teas. With that said, here’s the dinner options for our first flight. This menu is for 8/09 for flights 48, 52, 192, 194, 196, 206, 208, 226, 268, 278, 282, 284, 286, 288: 121F002 – ROT2

Dinner

Starters

Poached lobster and celery root salad
Mascarpone risotto with Portobello mushrooms
Butternut squash soup
Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or creamy Greek dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
French-cut lamb chops with fig rhubarb chutney and spring onion and goat’s cheese mashed potatoes
Moroccan salmon with pearl couscous and paysanne of vegetables
Statler roast breast of chicken with truffle butter served with mashed red skin potatoes with goat’s cheese, and brussel sprouts with caramelized pancetta
Warm crab cakes and apple endive salad served with orange Andalusian aioli

Dessert
Vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote
Warm bread pudding with vanilla ice cream

Cheese Plate
Sweet Marion Bleu – A rich creamy cheese with a mild, sweet cream flavour and light blue veining.
Herb Brie – This soft cheese has a bloomy rind and features fresh herbs with garlic.
Kilchurn Estate Aged Cheddar – Aged for fifteen months in century old caves, this unpasteurized cheese has a distinctly sweet flavour.
Unpasteurized cheese may pose a health risk to certain groups of people including pregnant women, the elderly, the very young and those whose systems may be immunocompromised.

A basket of fresh fruit

Snacks
Goat’s cheese and caramelized onion tortelloni with olive tomato sauce
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Wines (624W222 8/09)

Aperitif
A sparkling aperitif combining Crème de Cassis (a blackcurrant liqueur) with Champagne, creating a refreshing cocktail.

Champagne
Pol Roger Brut 1999, Vintage Champagne

Pol Roger, founded in Epernay in 1849, is one of the truly great names of Champagne and is one of the very few proudly independent family houses left. They reserve their Vintage declarations for those rare years in which all the climatic and winemaking conditions come together in complete harmony. This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, which contributes intensity of flavour and body, and Chardonnay, which provides fragrance, delicacy, and finesse. This is a real treat!
or
Bollinger La Grande Annee 1999
Founded in 1829 in the village of Ay, Bollinger is one of the great names of Champagne—synonymous with the finest quality. This wine is sheer class—rich, complex, intense, and rounded. Powerful flavours of toasted nuts, wild fruits and crème brulée abound, balanced by a lively acidity. La Grande Anneé is Bollinger’s prestige cuvée and is only made when an exceptional vintage occurs.

White
Billaud-Simon Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons 2006

Very aromatic with white flowers and a touch of honey on the nose. This state-of-the-art winery allows careful temperature control and this, together with the lengthy lees maturation, results in the finest and most concentrated unoaked Chablis. It is already delicious.
or
Meursault Narvaux 2006, Domaine Michelot
We are proud to offer a domaine-bottled wine from this hugely popular white Burgundy village, and a fine vintage it is, too. Narvaux is a specific vineyard just above the Premier Cru Genevrières.

Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen 2007
Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s signature white wine grape, is increasingly fashionable in top restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic. Like Chardonnay with herbs and spices, Grüner has the body to stand up to food but is refreshing enough to drink as an aperitif.

Hahn SLH Pinot Gris 2007
This Pinot Gris is a ripe, aromatic, fairly full-bodied California white with opulent peach and tropical fruit notes and some honeysuckle overtones. The wine comes just from the Lone Oak Vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands (SLH), an area on the western hillside of the Salinas Valley in Monterey. The Highlands was granted AVA status in 1992, and Nicky Hahn, owner of Hahn Estates, played a key role in this.

Red
Chateau Batailley 2002 Pauillac

This wine is a classic red Bordeaux from a vintage that is maturing nicely. It is very dry and deep ruby in colour, with elegant blackberry and truffle flavours, and cigar box notes.

Chateau d’Esclans Rosé 2006, Cotes de Provence
Sacha Lichine used to strut his stuff as the owner of Chateau Prieure-Lichine, one of Bordeaux’s top estates. But since 2006 he has been in Provence—and what a good job he’s doing. At Chateau d’Esclans he found a patch of eighty-year-old Grenache vines and is making a superb range of rosés from them. The lovely pale colour hides a wine of real depth and concentration that is packed full of fruit.

Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir 2006
Saintsbury makes some of the most “European” California pinot. This answer to red Burgundy was grown in the Carneros AVA, just north of the San Francisco Bay, where cooling breezes off the Pacific Ocean couple with shallow clay soils to provide a perfect environment for growing fine Pinot Noir.

Dessert
Chateau Coutet 1998, Premier Cru Classe, Sauternes-Barsac

Chateau Coutet is one of the oldest estates in Sauternes and prides itself on its exalted history—its buildings date from the end of the thirteenth century. The winemaking follows the same painstaking traditions—grapes are not harvested in bunches but individual berries are picked, as they are ready. The harvesters have to go through the vineyards numerous times and a harvest can last several weeks. The result is a sumptuously sweet wine that combines superbly with the expensive French oak in which it matures.

Warre’s 1992 Colheita Tawny Port
Complex, sweet, nutty flavours offer an admirable after-dinner glass.

Spirits, Digestifs and Liqueurs
Gonzalez Byass Sherries
Smirnoff Black Label Vodka
Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky
The Glenlivet 18-year-old Single Malt Whisky
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Whiskey
Camus XO Cognac

Soft Drinks
A selection of traditional and modern drinks
Highland Spring still or sparkling water

Yum! I decided to start with the risotto and then have the lamb main course. My girlfriend wasn’t enamored with any of the listed starters so she asked to start with the tortelloni snack and the salmon main course. It was already an hour and twenty minutes after takeoff our places were set and soon starters were presented along with wine and warm bread from a bread basket:


Mascarpone risotto with Portobello mushrooms


French-cut lamb chops with fig rhubarb chutney and spring onion and goat’s cheese mashed potatoes.

Neither the risotto nor the lamb chops were particular overwhelming. The risotto had a good texture but wasn’t particularly flavorful, the lamb was somewhat fatty for my tastes (although this had the side effect of helping the dish avoid the dryness that often plagues airline meals) but the sides were good. My girlfriend’s tortelloni was quite good but I didn’t get the sense that she was particularly overwhelmed by the salmon. After finishing my entrée I was offered dessert and took both the panna cotta and the cheese plate. The cheese plate was probably the highlight of the meal with a great chutney that partnered well with the cheeses. For reasons I’m not entirely clear on, the flight attendant served me a box with more crackers in it than I could eat in a week, let alone after a full meal. My girl friend got the bread pudding and I’d say it was likely the superior desert if only because it’s warmth complimented the ice cream well.


Cheese in foreground, panna cotta in middle, trough of crackers in the back.

The service was highly individualized, but not particularly leisurely, it seemed like passengers were generally served their next course just as they finished the previous one. We were among the slower eaters in the cabin and after our desserts were cleared (we declined tea/coffee) much of the cabin was already settling into bed. I arose and went to the restroom (with a window!) to brush my teeth and when I returned my seat had been reclined into a bed and a bottle of water had been placed next to the seat. There was also a basket of fruit, a box of chocolates, and bottles of water on the table in front of row 4 at the center of the cabin. Having heard that the chocolates were on the way out due to cost cuts, I was sure to try one, but can’t say it tasted the best when mixed with the BA toothpaste.

Per the advice of many on this board, I elected to sleep on top of both the mattress pad and blanket, as the cabin was plenty warm. For some reason, I went to sleep thinking that the problem of cabin warmth would go away, but alas it would keep me from sleeping as well as I would’ve liked and I arose several times during the night to get more water and ice. I’ve seen it speculated on the BA board that cabin temperature is kept warm by the crew in order to try to get people to sleep and was afraid that this problem would plague my trip. Fortunately, on my subsequent flights, although I several times had to ask for the cabin temperature to be turned down (there are no individual air nozzles), it did not disrupt my sleep.

That said, I was still manage to grab at least five hours of off-and-on sleep and probably could’ve managed a bit more had not a peak at the IFE moving map revealed we were a mere two hours away from London. Our routing for the flight had taken us just south of Godthab, Greenland but north of Ireland before flying south down the length of the United Kingdom. We were about an hour and twenty minutes out of London when the blue mood lighting in the cabin was turned on and the breakfast service began for those who were awake. Here’s what the BA chefs had cooked up for us this morning:

Breakfast

Starters

Chilled Fruit Juice
An energizing fruit smoothie
A selection of yoghurts
A selection of cereals
Fresh seasonal fruit plate

Bakery
A wide selection of warm bread and breakfast pastries
Warm bacon roll

Main
Traditional English Breakfast of freshly scrambled eggs, bacon, bangers, mushrooms, baked beans in tomato sauce and roast tomato
Smoked salmon and potato frittata with Hollandaise sauce
Blueberry-stuffed French toast with blueberry compote

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Or you can enjoy a quick Continental Breakfast to maximize your sleep time onboard

Once the service started, I was promptly asked what I’d like for breakfast and decided on to go with the ever-popular full English. My table was set and soon a heaping plateful of breakfast food appeared. Whoa! I didn’t realize I was expected to request starters individually (and perhaps they should’ve been offered). I needed something to warm up my taste buds before digging into the full breakfast and requested a side of fresh fruit. So here’s what I ended up with for breakfast:



Breakfast was pretty ordinary. By the time I’d eaten my fruit, the hot items weren’t as hot as they could be. I enjoyed the tomato, mushrooms, and sausage but the scrambled eggs tasted like airplane food and I think I’m just too American to enjoy baked beans for breakfast.

After breakfast dishes were cleared, I changed out of my pajamas and cleared the remaining bedding off my seat. We were sent through two laps in a holding pattern before descending through the summer clouds over London to Heathrow. After a long, slow taxi we pulled into a gate at the far end of T5B. Following a lengthy walk, we arrived at immigration to find fast track closed so it was a ten minute wait to get our passport stamped. We finally arrived in the arrivals lounge about 1:30 and had time for a shower and a cold drink before getting kicked out when the lounge closed at 2:00.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 11:24 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:24 pm
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gba
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: USA
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Posts: 757
August 11, 2009
British Airways 9, LHR-BKK
747-400, G-BNLL
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 10:00pm (10:05)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 3:20pm+1 (3:25)
Duration: 11:03 Seat: 1A


With a nine hour layover, we had plenty of time to venture into Central London for a bit of sightseeing before returning to the construction site better known as LHR Terminal 4 about 8:30 at night. We’d been given boarding passes in SFO and after a bit of nosing around found the fast track security line and were quickly in the Gate 1 lounge. The lounge is well-equipped but reasonably crowded around the time of the late night BA/QF flights to Asia and Australia. We sought quiet (and a bite to eat) in the First class dining area. Genius1 has a great selection of photos of the T4 Gate 1 lounge in his recent report for those interested.

The process for gaining admittance to the first class dining area seemed unnecessarily complex (after entering the lounge, you had to get a pass from the customer service desk which was busy serving customers, to present to the staff in the dining area) and, in retrospect, wasn’t worth the ever. Even by airline standards, the food was non-descript. As my girlfriend observed, “What’s the point of eating on the ground if they’re just going to serve airline food?” but it did tide us over until the dinner service on board. After a quick shower, it was time for us to head down to the gate which, as luck would have it, was at the opposite end of T4 (gate 12). We were able to skip one queue by using the “fast track” line to have our boarding pass checked but the there was only one jetway in use and it was a bit of a wait before we made it to door 2L and were shown to our seat.

We were fortunate enough to have been able to grab seats 1A and 1K at the 72 hour prior to departure mark and were not disappointed with the quality of the seats. Unlike the middle seats in row 4, there’s far more room to place items (beverages, camera, headphones, note book, amenity kit, etc.) on the shelf between the seat and the window. The curvature of the front of the aircraft provides a high degree of privacy, as well as panoramic views, and my girlfriend and I had no trouble talking back and forth without disturbing others (or at least, so I think). Though for dining we decided to make use of the buddy seat, I far preferred having the nose of the aircraft to ourselves, especially on a flight where sleep is of the evidence, to the relatively exposed and well-traffic seats in row 4 or 5. Some have complained that persons accessing the closet cause a fair amount of disturbance but this didn’t really bother me as it was only briefly at the beginning and end of the flight and personally I liked being able to store my own things in the closet as needed without bothering others.

This seems like as good a time as any to give my two cents on the BA seats. Although they’re by no means cutting edge, especially in terms of width or privacy, if I didn’t know that the grass was greener on the other side (SQ, EK, QF A380), I’d have nothing bad to say about them. I had absolutely no trouble sleeping due to seat comfort, and all of the seats I sat in worked perfectly. While 4 and 5, especially in the middle, seemed somewhat exposed because of the amount of foot traffic they get passing by, rows 1 to 3 were well secluded (although have none of the fancy door things that many of the newer first class products have). My biggest complaint would have to be that the table is difficult to access and, while it’s nice to have a big surface area for meals, a smaller, easier to access, working surface would be nice to have for setting things on during the flight. One nice item which was available on this flight, and all our subsequent flights, but not SFO-LHR was the new BA pashmina which my girlfriend made frequent use of.

Soon after arriving at our seats, we were offered a choice of drinks as well as amenity kits and pajamas (without asking), and our beverages were again served with a small bowl of macadamia nuts. Having had a moderately substantial snack in the lounge and knowing that dinner would be served as soon as we were airborne I didn’t eat any of the room-temperature nuts but did re-arrange them a bit so it didn’t seem like a total waste (note to BA: save costs by cutting, or reducing the number, of the ordinary nuts rather than chocolates or canapés; or, better yet, serve a nice hot nut mix). Menus for the entirety of flight BA9 LHR-BKK-SYD were also distributed. We pushed back just a few minutes behind schedule and the flight attendants had to do a manual safety demo due to a problem with the sound on the normal one which was a bit odd. Soon enough, we were airborne but not before I’d caught my first glance of the A380 (Singapore Airlines) which would also be waiting for us when we arrived in Sydney two days later.

Although the first class cabin was completely full for the LHR-BKK leg, service was more personable and no less attentive than we’d experienced on SFO-LHR. Soon after takeoff, drink orders were taken and hot towels were distributed. I went to the lav to change into my pajamas and was disappointed to find that the sink in one of the two first class lavatories was inoperable. This would (fortunately) be the biggest snafu we’d encounter on our BA flights: although it’s not worth delaying a flight to fix a sink, given that BA doesn’t seem to turn their 747s that quickly it’s the kind of problem that should be identified and fixed. To my disappointment, this problem wasn’t even fixed during our two and a half hour ground time in Bangkok— I think the problem had to do with the sensor rather than the plumbing, so perhaps the problem is more complex to fix than I fully appreciate.
Upon returning to my seat, drinks were served with a pleasant selection of canapés.


Canapes, seat controls, and my foot

The canapés were a tasty assortment including Yorkshire pudding (my favorite), lobster with a little bit of caviar garnish (Hah! BA F does have caviar!), and Waldorf salad (too much mayo, not enough apple). Meal orders were taken and my girlfriend and I made our selections and asked to dine using the buddy seat at 1A (which means you get to see pictures of twice as many food items!). Here’s the menu for the BKK-LHR dinner on BA 9 for 8/09 (190F001 - ROT2):

Dinner

Starters

Shawn Hill’s English asparagus with pea and basil dressing and shaved Pecorino (V)
Warm crab and crayfish ravioli with wilted baby spinach and lemon cream sauce
Cream of sweetcorn soup (V)
Fresh summer salad French dressing or orange and tarragon cream dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
Lamb rending with sesame-coated vegetables and jasmine rice
Catch of the Day – Roast cod with brown shrimp and dill sauce Loch Fyne Fisheries offers a selection of wild fish from sustainable stocks. They supply us with the freshest prime fish daily.
Seared filler steak with Choron sauce, matchstick chips, watercress and herb-crusted field mushroom
Nicoise-style summer vegetable salad (V)

Dessert
Eton mess with shortbread biscuits and raspberry coulis
Chocolate and orange cadeau with Seville orange syrup

Cheese Plate
Fleur du Maquis – Also known as Brindamour, this cheese is encrusted with dried herbs.
Traditional Normandy Camembert – An unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese, Camembert features a creamy texture with a full flavour.
Gevrik – Made in Cornwall, England, Gervik is an award-winning goat’s milk cheese with a soft texture and a mild flavour.
St-Nectaire – This unpasteurized cheese features a soft, supple texture and earthy, fruity flavour.
Unpasteurized cheese may pose a health risk to certain groups of people including pregnant women, the elderly, the very young and those whose systems may be immunocompromised.

A basket of fresh fruit

Snacks
Chicken tikka masala with lemon rice
Smoked haddock kedgeree cakes with celeriac rémoulade
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino
Chocolates

Wines (654W555 8/09)

Aperitif
A sparkling aperitif combining Crème de Cassis (a blackcurrant liqueur) with Champagne, creating a refreshing cocktail.

Champagne
Pol Roger Brut 1999, Vintage Champagne

Pol Roger, founded in Epernay in 1849, is one of the truly great names of Champagne and is one of the very few proudly independent family houses left. They reserve their Vintage declarations for those rare years in which all the climatic and winemaking conditions come together in complete harmony. This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, which contributes intensity of flavour and body, and Chardonnay, which provides fragrance, delicacy, and finesse. This is a real treat!
or
Bollinger La Grande Annee 1999
Founded in 1829 in the village of Ay, Bollinger is one of the great names of Champagne—synonymous with the finest quality. This wine is sheer class—rich, complex, intense, and rounded. Powerful flavours of toasted nuts, wild fruits and crème brulée abound, balanced by a lively acidity. La Grande Anneé is Bollinger’s prestige cuvée and is only made when an exceptional vintage occurs.

White
Meursault Clos De Meix Chavaux 2007, Burgundy, France
A rich dry white Burgundy with a complex nutty flavour and crisp apple finish. A third of this wine has been aged in new oak to give it a delicate creaminess to the palate. The Burgundy village of Meursault is the home of some of the most famous white wines in the world. The 2007 vintage was saved by a glorious autumn that created fresh wines of longevity and style.

Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Leyda Valley, Chile
Amanya is a family-owned property founded by the Garces family in the San Antonio-Leyda Valley. One of only two wineries in the valley, Amanya was launched from the 2003 harvest. It has a very modern, gravity-flow winery set in a sheltered valley between coastal mountain range and the Pacific Ocean, just fourteen kilometers from the sea. The cooling breezes from the sea make this a perfect site for Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and dry, with tropical fruit and ripe citrus flavours, it is well-balanced and fuller than most Sauvignons, and has a fresh citrus finish.
or
Lindberg Reserve Gruner Veltliner 2007, Kremstal
Austria’s signature white grape variety, Gruner Veltliner, is extremely fashionable with high-flying sommeliers the world over, and the 2007 is drinking very well now. Full-bodied, aromatic, and dry, this wine has hints of herbs and white pepper.

Orlando Saint Hilary Chardonnay 2006, Padthaway, Australia
Flagship Australian Chardonnays such as this one have slimmed down enormously over the past few years. From South Australia’s cooler region of Padthaway, this wine is surprisingly elegant with rewarding richness and just a hint of oak. It brings lift and life, and it is very appetising, with great balance and complexity. You could keep on returning to this wine.

Red
Chateau Trotte Vieille 2002, Saint-Emilion

A Grand Cru Classé, this wine is rich and velvety with a hint of ink and juicy fruit on the palate. A relatively easy wine, with very fine, chalky tannins on the finish and a texture that is user-friendly, but with potential. Full, sweet, and lip-smacking.

Clos de I’Oratoire des Papes, Chateanueuf-du-Pape, 2006
A rich cocktail of a wine from a lovely, juicy vintage for the southern Rhone. A deep purplish-red in colour, the wine has a complex nose full of spicy, red-berry aromas and a hint of dried fruit.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Pinot Noir 2007, Marlborough, New Zealand
This elegant Pinot Noir from one of New Zealand’s most celebrated winemakers shows a round, full palate with well-balanced acidity and abundant ripe tannins. Aging in new French barrels provides warm, savoury notes leading to a full, lingering finish.

Dessert
Chateau Coutet 1998, Premier Cru Classe, Sauternes-Barsac

Chateau Coutet is one of the oldest estates in Sauternes and prides itself on its exalted history—its buildings date from the end of the thirteenth century. The winemaking follows the same painstaking traditions—grapes are not harvested in bunches but individual berries are picked, as they are ready. The harvesters have to go through the vineyards numerous times and a harvest can last several weeks. The result is a sumptuously sweet wine that combines superbly with the expensive French oak in which it matures.

Warre’s 1992 Colheita Tawny Port
Complex, sweet, nutty flavours offer an admirable after-dinner glass.

Spirits, Digestifs and Liqueurs
Gonzalez Byass Sherries
Smirnoff Black Label Vodka
Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky
The Glenlivet 18-year-old Single Malt Whisky
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Whiskey
Camus XO Cognac

Soft Drinks
A selection of traditional and modern drinks
Highland Spring still or sparkling water

Interestingly, despite this being a flight to Thailand, there didn’t seem to be many accommodations to Thai palates (and, not to spoil the surprise, but all the breakfast options were western also). I suspect that BA’s passengers are dominantly western, given not only the lack of food choice but also the fact that all announcements on the flight were exclusively in English. There seems to be a consensus that BA food out of London is considered to be better than the catering from outstations and this meal did not disappoint. See for yourself:


Sweet corn soup in foreground, asparagus starter in background, with hands of girlfriend trying to ignore the fact that I’m taking pictures of airplane food


Salad in foreground, sweet corn soup in background


Steak in foreground, catch of the day in background

We enjoyed all of our starters, I was especially a fan of the sweet corn soup (note to self: soup is always a good option on airplanes) which I would happily eat on the ground. The mains weren’t quite as popular, but it was probably the best steak dish I’d ever had on an airplane. Although it was a bit well-done for my general taste, it avoided the usual dryness so common amongst airline steaks and both of the side items were tasty. My girlfriend enjoyed her fish, noting that it was better than the food we’d had in the lounge before the flight, despite the somewhat anonymous potato cake on the side. For dessert, we elected to try one of each item (our flight attendant recommended the Eton mess):


Eton mess in front, Chocolate and orange cadeau in back. My girlfriend thinks taking pictures of chocolate is ok, so you can see both these items pretty well.

Both my girlfriend and I are big fans of chocolate, and the cadeau was our favorite dessert of the trip. In general, though we were somewhat disappointed by the dessert selections. Perhaps it’s a British vs. American thing, but the general model for BA menus, both on the ground and in the air, seems to be one “solid” dessert and one “soft/pudding texture” dessert. The “soft” desserts (like the Eton mess) were never particularly impressive (although the Eton mess was the best of the bunch). Personally, I think that dessert menus should have one chocolate dessert, and one non-chocolate dessert. I concluded the meal with a cheese plate and a glass of the dessert wine:


Wine and cheese

We were two and a half hours out of London when the meal finally concluded and at that point my body clock was totally messed up and I was ready for a bit of a nap. Beds were promptly made up, and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Since I was so tired, it was a much better night of sleep than the previous flight, although I did wake up once and obtain a glass of ice water but was pretty out of it until breakfast time. When I awoke, I noticed that our routing had taken us north of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (so no Iran flyover) then south over Afghanistan and Lahore, Pakistan before cutting across northern India at a height of 37,000 feet (at least when I was looking). Breakfast service began about 90 minutes out of Bangkok, here’s the menu:

Breakfast

Starters

Chilled Fruit Juice
An energizing fruit smoothie
A selection of yoghurts
A selection of cereals
Fresh seasonal fruit plate

Bakery
A wide selection of warm bread and breakfast pastries

Main
Traditional English Breakfast of scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, Cumberland sausage, tomato, sautéed mushrooms, and Irish potato cake
Eggs Florentine
Blueberry French toast with crumble top and blueberry syrup (V)

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Or you can enjoy a quick Continental Breakfast to maximize your sleep time onboard

I’m not the biggest fan of breakfast food generally, especially on airplanes, and given that the flight was to arrive in Bangkok in the middle of the afternoon, and that the breakfast options were pretty similar to what I’d seen on the first flight, I elected to have the fruit starter and then the chicken tikka masala off of the snack menu instead of a breakfast entrée. The flight attendant warned me that the chicken would take about twenty minutes to prepare but this was no problem given the flight time remaining and it allowed me enjoy a nice leisurely meal:


Fresh fruit with orange juice and energizing fruit smoothie and moving map


Chicken tikka masala snack

This was a quite refreshing snack. The chicken tikka masala had a very nice flavor (or is it flavour?) although it was a bit less saucy then what passes for chicken tikka masala state-side. The Naan bread was disappointing as it had not been reheated particularly well but a selection from the breakfast bread basket provided the necessary carbs.

Forty minutes out of Bangkok the captain came on over the PA to announce our progress and landing preparations began in earnest. Fast track cards for Bangkok were distributed (including a coupon to the infamous King Power duty free store), although they weren’t needed, service items were cleared, and passengers were reminded several times that they would have to disembark in Bangkok and take all their belongings off the aircraft before the flight continued down to Sydney. Soon, the whizzing and the whirring of the landing gear were heard in the front cabin (I’m pretty sure that the voice of R2D2 was recorded here) and we’d arrived in Thailand. As we taxied to our parking spot at the other of the airport the cheerful captain came on over the PA again to welcome us to Bangkok and provided some interesting trivia about our flight—we burned 115 tons of fuel and reached a maximum speed of 625mph—which was a nice touch. We disembarked through a crowd of employees who each seemed to be holding a sign, or passing out a sheet of paper, reminding passengers of the gate and departure time of the continuing flight (this is somewhat useful since the boarding time of the second leg of the direct flight is not printed on one’s boarding pass). After a five minute walk, we were welcomed into the joint BA/QF First Class lounge.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 10:50 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:24 pm
  #3  
gba
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Location: USA
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August 11, 2009
British Airways 9, BKK-SYD
747-400, G-BNLL
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 6:10pm (6:20)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 6:05am+1 (6:10)
Duration: 8:50 Seat: 1A


The BA/QF lounge in Bangkok is not particularly large but was generally peaceful and pleasant with a decent view of our aircraft, a good selection of packaged and fresh snacks, and magazines, and was very well staffed. I took a relaxing shower and grabbed a cold beverage and a magazine while sitting in a somewhat jet-lagged fog trying to decide whether this actually counted as visiting Thailand (it doesn’t).

Boarding was announced in the lounge and we proceeded back towards the gate, through a normal security check and a “take liquids away” security check past several staff members carrying signs that said “BA 9 final call” but when we arrived at the gate boarding had not yet begun. It would only be a few minutes, however, before we were greeted at 1L by our new purser and lead back to the nose of the 747. We were offered a choice of water, orange juice, or champagne and the surprisingly tasty orange juice was served with the usual macadamia nuts. Neither amenity kits nor pajamas were re-distributed and when my girlfriend enquired as to whether pajamas were available was asked “Didn’t you receive a set on the flight from London?” When she said that they didn’t have a set her size, the flight attendant offered to look but returned empty handed.

For reasons that were unclear, we pushed back about 20 minutes late and the safety demo was done using the video screens. Prior to take off, we were treated to the insecticide spray required by Australian authorities. After a very short taxi to runway 9R, we took off into the Bangkok evening.


Sunset in BKK

Quickly, drink orders were taken, hot towels were offered, the CSD made a personal introduction to F cabin passengers, and menus (the same as were offered on the first flight, including all meals LHR-BKK-SYD) were distributed. Drinks were served with canapés:


Surprisingly tasty but non-photogenic canapés including salmon, quail egg, samosa, beef satay

Meal orders were taken and we were asked if we’d like to we woken for breakfast. I think I’m incapable of sleeping through meals on planes, so I said “yes” knowing that I’d be awake anyways. But first, there was a dinner to enjoy and here’s what was on offer out of Bangkok:

Dinner

Starters

Tiger prawns with rocket salad with a chili and garlic dressing
Warm sweetcorn cakes with avocado salsa
Crab bisque
Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or Dijon mustard dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
Seared cod with a rost red pepper cream sauce, fresh asparagus and potato cake
Beef Stroganoff with roast vegetables and steamed rice
Pork medallion wrapped in bacon with a balsamic onion sauce, carrots, yellow squash, and potatoes au gratin
Char-grilled chicken Caesar salad with garlic croutons

Dessert
Strawberry trifle
Brioche bread and butter pudding with vanilla custard

Cheese Plate
Cheddar - A full flavour and buttery texture are hallmarks of this classic cheese.
Double Brie – This soft, ripened cheese is made from fresh cow’s milk.
Blue Cheese – A semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, distinguished by its blue veins and strong aroma.

A basket of fresh fruit

Snacks
Toasted club sandwich
Warm bacon roll
Penne pasta with arrabbiata sauce
Vanilla ice cream
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Wines were the same as LHR-BKK. For this email, I elected to sit in my girlfriends buddy seat which was a bit more cramped than I realized, but we did get to enjoy an extended tropical lighting storm off of the “K” side of the airplane as we made our way south. We’d lost 3 passengers in BKK so the cabin had only 11 of 14 seats occupied. Service was prompt, but not rushed, as the crew knew that most passengers would like to get as much sleep as possible before the early morning arrival. That said, the food preparation process takes a fair amount of time so there was a bit of a wait before starters were presented:


Tiger prawns in foreground, penne pasta from snack menu in background


Caesar salad in foreground, cod in background

My tiger prawn starter were excellent and surprisingly my spice, my girlfriend went for the penne pasta off the snack menu for her starter and enjoyed it. Having eaten breakfast only a couple hours earlier I wasn’t particularly hungry and went for the Caesar salad option which was pretty basic while my girlfriend had the cod. The highlight of the meal was the warm garlic bread from the basket the flight attendant brought around. Again we went for one of each dessert, unfortunately there was no chocolate option:


Bread pudding in foreground, strawberry tifle in background.

The bread pudding was fine but the strawberry trifle was a bit boring even for a non-“solid” dessert. Once dinner dishes were cleared I returned to my seat for a cup of decaf coffee before retiring for the evening. The cabin lights were turned off as passengers finished dinner about two and a half hours out of Bangkok. Soon I nodded off to sleep and did a pretty good job getting as much sleep as possible given that it was my third overnight flight in less than 48 hours. To their credit, the flight attendants did a good job delaying breakfast as long as possible to allow people to sleep for as long as possible. Since this was a “short” flight there were no hot breakfast options, service didn’t even start until about an hour out of Sydney and as people arose the flight attendants quickly stopped by to offer food. Here’s the last meal from the BA 9 menu:

Breakfast

Starters

Chilled Fruit Juice
An energizing fruit smoothie
A selection of yoghurts
A selection of cereals
Fresh seasonal fruit plate

Bakery
A wide selection of warm bread and breakfast pastries

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

I opted for fruit and yogurt, as well as orange juice and a pot of breakfast tea:


Continental Breakfast with moving map. Note plastic silverware.

But wait, there’s more! As I was polishing off my fruit, the flight attendant enquired if I would like a warm bacon roll. This was a brilliant use of the snack menu on behalf of the crew to offer a more “full” breakfast to those who wanted one. Having spent many hours on the BA forum, I knew to never say no to a bacon buddy.


Bacon buddy with HP sauce. Yum!

Alas, I was not disappointed. In truth, I wasn’t at all hungry and really just wanted to see what all the hype was about. Thus, when I consumed the entire sandwich before knowing what happened, I knew that I wouldn’t be hungry again for some time.

The meal concluded with a second spraying of insecticide, landing cards and fast track passes (which, unfortunately, were for Bangkok, not Sydney) were distributed and we landed in Sydney from the south as the sun rose over the Pacific Ocean three calendar days and more than 50 hours after leaving Seattle.

So after my first three flights, what’d I think of BA First? Did I regret giving up a day of vacation for a day in the nose of a 747? Did my girlfriend leave me after seeing a United 747 on the ground in SYD that had left the states a full 24 hours after we did? Many people on this forum have warned that the best way to enjoy a flight the most is to come in with the lowest expectations, and I agree fully with that sentiment. I probably spent more time than I should’ve reading about BA F on flyertalk and knew of both the common compliments and complaints. I probably would’ve been better off if my expectations were slightly lower: the crews were good, but none were amazing, and 3 days in British Airways first class isn’t like spending 3 days in a five star hotel with a five star restaurant. That said, by and large our time flew by. Between eating and sleeping, I never even felt like I needed to make use of the ample IFE library. If a trip of this magnitude is a reward for several years of generally monotonous domestic travel, I was glad to have the opportunity to savor the high quality product BA offers, and think I would’ve been disappointed had the experience ended after *only* 14 hours. Although by the time we arrived in Sidney, it came as a shock to finally get off of an airplane without another flight to board, by the time we’d depart two and a half weeks later I was definitely looking forward to the upcoming flights.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 3:53 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:25 pm
  #4  
gba
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In our time in Australia, we visited Sydney, Lord Howe Island, Darwin and Kakadu National Park, and Melbourne. Our flights were all in coach travel on a mix of Qantas and Virgin Blue. While there’s plenty of existing material on what to do in Sydney and Melbourne, and inter-Australia coach travel, I’ll focus this post on sharing my thoughts on Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay in Sydney, Darwin, Kakadu National Park, and the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne for those who may plan on visiting those locales, and my next post on the lesser-known Lord Howe Island. Feel free to ask for more info if there’s anything that catches your interest!

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

There are two Marriott properties in Sydney and I elected to go with the hotel at Circular Quay because of its close proximity to public transportation, positive reports on the executive lounge, and the possibility of an upgrade to an opera house view room. At the end of the day, these three reasons alone make the hotel a great option for those seeking to earn or burn Marriott points, but these three reasons alone don’t make it a great hotel. Perhaps my expectations were too high going in, but at the end of the day it’s a good Marriott, but no better. While public areas, and the executive lounge, are nicer than many other Marriott properties, the room amenities were the same as you’d expect from the brand if maybe slightly more dated. The executive lounge had a great selection of hot and continental breakfast items, as well as several evening munchies (generally with an Asian influence), and pour your own adult beverages. On the downside, it was often busier than would be ideal, soft drinks were served in glass bottles, and water was only available in pitchers which prevented grabbing a bottle for the day. For the location alone, I’d probably stay here again with points, but if I were paying for the room, I’d think about saving the money and staying at the other Marriott, or staying at one of the higher-end hotels in the Circular Quay area.


View from executive level, opera house view room. Gotta love platinum status!


Platinum amenity: ice cream and bottled water. Very generous portion.

Darwin

Anybody trying to visit the northern part of Australia’s Northern Territory will likely end up in Darwin at some point in time, but despite the numerous sites worth visiting in the area, the city itself felt a bit like a backpacker hang-out and wasn’t particularly interesting. In Darwin, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza which from what I’ve read is the nicest non-resort hotel in the city. It was more of a business persons (and airline crew) hotel than most of the town’s tourists would probably choose, but the rooms were pleasant and its well located near the heart of the CBD. The highlight of our time in Darwin was a visit to the Mindil Beach Night Market. It’s a large crafts and food market that occurs on Thursdays and Sundays in the dry season, in addition to a wide variety of wares and more variety of asian dishes than I can name, and has a great communal feel, and the views of the sunset make a great end to the day.


Sunset at Mindil Beach


Night market

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted not only for its natural uniqueness but also its cultural importance to aborigines is located about three hours east of Darwin. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth the trip, especially if you are interesting in birds or crocodiles. I’m sure it is easy to find better explanations of the park’s significance than I could provide here, so I’ll just share a few pictures.



View of Nadab floodplain from Ubirr



Yellow River cruise


Funny sign

Hilton on the Park Melbourne

Although this property gets mixed reviews on the Hilton forum (something to do with people’s tubs backing up into the next room), my girlfriend and I were both quite impressed. We were upgraded to the executive level and the room was much nicer/newer than our room at the Marriott in Sydney. Additionally, the hotel had a few nice, little touches which we really appreciated such as complimentary bottles of water in the room and free internet terminals in both the executive lounge and lobby. The executive lounge offered a better variety of breakfast items than the Marriott and the evening spread was no less impressive, also the lounge attendant would offer to make coffee and tea for you to go with your breakfast which was a nice touch. The location isn’t extraordinary but it’s a short tram ride or about a ten minute walk to the edge of downtown Melbourne. As long as I’m able to keep Hilton status, I’d definitely stay here again when in Melbourne.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 7:30 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:25 pm
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gba
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Lord Howe Island (airport code LDH) was the highlight of our trip. Roughly an hour and a half flight from Sydney, LDH is a small island with 350 residents and a maximum 400 tourists. Since we were there in the off-season there were only about 75 other tourists on the island and many of the residents were on vacation so it felt like we had our own, personal island paradise. Among the notable highlights, are a well-protected lagoon, the cleanest beach in Australia, and mountains rising straight out of the ocean. Since the water was a bit cold I only snorkeled briefly but those in the know say it’s comparable to, if not better than, the Great Barrier Reef. From my experience, I’d say that there’s a better variety of interesting fish but that the colors may be somewhat more impressive further north (cool bit of trivia: Lord Howe Island is home to the world’s southern-most coral reef).


Lagoon of Lord Howe Island on approach to LDH


View of Mount Gower from edge of LDH lagoon near CBD


Ned’s Beach, the cleanest beach in Australia. Snorkel and wetsuit rentals are available on the honor system.


View of island from Kim’s Lookout, lagoon is clearly visible and you can appreciate how narrow the island is in the middle, less than one kilometer.


View of Ned’s beach from Malabar Hill

The island has about 20km of paved road (maximum speed limit, 25kph) and it’s fairly easy to walk or bike almost anywhere you’d want to go. If I had to do it over again, I probably would’ve rented a bike as soon as I got there in order to make getting around a bit easier but we did just fine walking everywhere. There is a bit of a hill in the center of the island so you’ll want to take that into consideration when determining where you need to go. We stayed at Lorhiti Apartments on the top of the hill near Ned’s Beach and it was about a ten minute walk to the “CBD” downhill and maybe a few minutes more uphill. Most restaurants offer return transportation to your accommodation in the evening and there are also a few rental cars for those who don’t like to walk or bike.


One of the main roads through the island

I used some orphan AA miles for our tickets to the island which I felt was a pretty good investment given that tickets seem to start at about AUD330 one way from Sydney. Flights are offered by QantasLink Dash 8-200 series aircraft. Be aware that there is a one bag, 14 kilo limit for checked baggage and that passengers and bags are often weighed when leaving LDH due to the short runway (this did not happen to us, probably because our flight was only half full).


LDH airport, note solar panels, and lack of security, baggage claim, etc.


QantasLink Dash 8 arriving from SYD to take us back to the mainland

Be warned, that unlike many higher-end destinations, people on Lord Howe don’t bend over backwards to accommodate to tourists. Business open at odd hours and will occasionally close if they’re not as busy as they’d like. Since it was the off-season, there was rarely more than one or two restaurants open for dinner any given night and books were essential to ensure they’d be open when you wanted to eat. For those who prefer a more luxurious experience, the island has several all-inclusive properties which I suspect provide their guests with more pampering than those of us who try to go it alone receive. So be warned, but don’t think about not going!

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 7:53 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:26 pm
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gba
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August 25, 2009
British Airways 16, SYD-SIN
777-200, G-YMMJ
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 3:30pm (3:24)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 9:45pm (9:36)
Duration: 8:12 Seat: 2E


Our two and a half weeks in Australia ended in Melbourne. I like to live dangerously so I booked a separate ticket on Qantas from Melbourne to Sydney the morning of our flight out of Sydney. Fortunately, I allowed for a wide margin of error as our scheduled 9:30 flight out of Melbourne was delayed, then cancelled, and we were re-accommodated on the 10:30 flight (if I had to guess I’d say Sydney and Melbourne have as many seats flying between them as any city pair in the world). On the downside, this delay would mean more time in the non-distinguished Qantas domestic business class lounge in Melbourne and less time to enjoy the impressive Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney.

When we finally arrived at the BA check-in counters in Sydney, it was past 12:30 in the afternoon but it was only a few minutes delay before we were sent towards the lounge with boarding cards in hand as well as fast track passes for immigration and security on our way out of Sydney. After a brief stop to burn our last Australian dollars at duty free, we were walking past the wall of vegetation that marks the entrance to the Qantas First Class lounge. There’s plenty of reports out there already that have pictures and menus of the lounge, so I’ll keep my descriptions brief. It was definitely the nicest lounge I’d been in up to that point although less intimate/exclusive than the Concorde Room (read on!). We immediately went to the spa to enquire about the availability of treatments but were informed that, unfortunately, the first opening wasn’t until 4 and our flight was due to leave at 3:30. We retreated to the dining area and had a leisurely (perhaps too leisurely) lunch—I had an excellent calamari appetizer and a solid club sandwich, my girlfriend wasn’t a big fan of the piece of fish she got—for me the highlight was when the server referred to my girlfriend as my “wife,” unfortunately for me, and fortunately for him, she was out of earshot at the time.


View towards downtown Sydney from the First Class lounge

My favorite thing about the lounge was the presence of numerous, retro, flip-style flight status boards and after a quick shower I spent the remainder of my time in the lounge gaping at the departure board until our flight flipped to “Boarding.” The piano music in the background was also a nice touch. We had a bit of a walk to the gate but were able to board quickly and were promptly shown to our seats 2E and 2F in the middle of the 777 first class cabin.

This would be our only flight of the trip on a 777 and while the 747 is probably a more attractive first class cabin, there’s nothing wrong with the 777. The typical 777 bins are an improvement over the boxy overhead bins on the 747 and I didn’t notice any more foot traffic than one would get in row 4 on the 747. What was a bit awkward, however, especially for two people sitting together in the middle section is that for one flight attendant to serve both of us they would either have to walk all the way around through the galley or reach over the other person.

Quickly, amenity kits were offered and pajamas were presented. Drink orders were taken and beverages were served with macadamia nuts. It was good to be back in BA F! We pushed back a few minutes early and took off immediately before a Singapore Air A380 which, presumably, would be flowing us on our way north. After takeoff, menus were distributed, drink orders were taken, and hot towels were offered by name (“Mr. gba, would you like a hot towel?”). Impressively, and for the only time on the trip, the flight attendant wasn’t reading off a manifest when addressing us by name. This was going to be a good flight!

Drinks were served with a canapé of antipasto-type items. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a downgrade from the normal style of canapés (generally tiny sandwich-type creations), but it was quite tasty and seemed fresher, but less interesting, then the sandwich-type things that had been offered on the outbound flights.


Canapés, plastic fork, and diet coke

Meal orders were taken but I’d say half the cabin, including us, elected to delay our dinner until closer to dinner-time in Sydney. In the meantime I decided to watch the movie Sting with Paul Newman while my girlfriend enjoyed Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. At one point, she was feeling peck-ish and asked if they had potato chips. The flight attendant appeared with three different varieties (including Chicken!?!) presented on a silver tray for her to choose from. Did I mention this was going to be a good flight? Later in the flight I would discover that the galley chef on this segment was none other than Tits McGhee who recognized my FlyerTalk bag tags. Alas, all was not perfect at one point the IFE required a resetting which took about 15 minutes but fortunately that solved whatever problems people were having (our systems always worked fine). Unlike the flights through Bangkok, announcements and IFE on this flight and the subsequent one were bi-lingual and the menus had options that reflect Asian tastes. Perhaps this says something about the relative affluence of Singapore vs. Thailand.

Dinner service started as requested at 6pm Sydney time. Like on the outbound, the menus distributed listed all four meals for the SYD-SIN-LHR flight. Before we get to the pics, lets take a look at what the options were. This is the menu from BA 16 for 8/09 (191F002-ROT2):

Dinner

Starters

Chilled crab lasagna on tomato and basil coulis
Wild mushroom risotto
Roast tomato soup
Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or creamy Parmesan and black pepper dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
Grilled fillet steak with Port wine sauce, chanterelle mushrooms, Vichy Carrots, broccoli and olive oil mashed potatoes
Baked salmon with dill sauce, wilted spinach and new potatoes
Thai green chicken curry with fragrant rice
Parma ham, salami and Mozzarella salad with extra virgin olive oil

Dessert
White chocolate cheese cake
Warm almond tart with double cream

Cheese Plate
A selection of cheese (editors note: oddly, on all the other menus they told you what the cheeses were)

A basket of fresh fruit

Snacks
Penne pasta with creamy Gorgonzola sauce
Ice cream
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Wines were the same as LHR-SYD. I’d read mixed reviews of the catering out of Sydney so I made my meal choices carefully but was generally satisfied with the food on this leg.


Crab lasagna, reading material


Chicken curry, Bose headphones (I really ought to pay more attention to what’s in the picture at the time I take them)


Warm almond tart

The crab lasagna may have been a bold pick. The lasagna itself could be best described as interesting, maybe a little cheesy for me, but by dipping it in the tomato and basil coulis and getting some greens on the (plastic) fork as well, made for a fairly refreshing dish. My chicken curry was reasonably tasty and paired well with the beer and the warm almond tart tasted as it should but, alas, there was no chocolate dessert option (no, white chocolate cheese cake doesn’t count as chocolate). Fortunately BA redeemed themselves when, along with my post-dinner pot of tea, I was presented with a nearly full box of scrumptious chocolates which would remain on my seat until the cabin was prepared for landing. My lucky day! Did I mention this was going to be a good flight?

The lights in the cabin weren’t dimmed until we were finishing our dinner, roughly three and a half hours out of Sydney as the sun set in front of us and most of the cabin drifted to sleep or to enjoy a movie in a mostly reclined position. Since this wasn’t really an overnight flight, the flight attendants didn’t proactively provide a turndown service, although we were equipped with the usual bedding.

It was only about a three hour rest break before the lights in the cabin began to come up again, about an hour and a half out of Singapore, and the refreshment service began. Was it really time to eat again? The menu for the second service on this flight is somewhat underwhelming but I’ll reprint it here just so you can all see how uninformative it is:

Refreshments

Snacks

A selection of reception sandwiches

Patisserie
Afternoon tea pastries

Beverages
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Yep, that’s it. Sandwiches and pastries, type unknown. As the meal was served we climbed up to FL400 from FL380 and encountered a fair amount of turbulence which made sipping on my tea that much more fun. With skill, I made it through two pots in the hopes that the caffeine would keep me awake through dinner on our flight out of Singapore.


Sandwiches: vegetable, beef, crab salad, chicken salad


Pastries

The refreshment was pleasant enough, but given that many passengers are going to have another dinner just a few hours later on the continuing flight to London, it may make more sense to offer an expanded menu of snack/anytime options rather than bother with catering for a whole second service which doesn’t have any choices.

As seemed to me the standard, the captain came on the PA 40 minutes out of Singapore and preparations for landing began. Within an early departure from Sydney and a reasonably quick flight we made it to the gate in Singapore a few minutes ahead of schedule, which I appreciated because I wanted to shower and visit the lounge before departing again, but any time savings were lost during the search through the busy terminal for the poorly-signed lounge. The lounge itself was rather busy due to the number of BA and QF flights passing through Singapore at that hour, and a bit warm, but the shower was refreshing and the beverages were cool and before we knew it we were heading to the gate for our flight to London.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 9:14 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:27 pm
  #7  
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August 25, 2009
British Airways 12, SIN-LHR
747-400, G-BNLR
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 10:55pm (10:55)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 5:10am+1 (5:10)
Duration: 13:15 Seat: 1K

Rather than continue onto Heathrow on the continuation of flight 16, frequent flyer award availability dictated a connection to British Airways 12, the daily SIN-LHR flight (not that I minded the switch to the 747). This left us with a somewhat shorter layover in SIN and a slightly earlier arrival into LHR than would be ideal, but as soon as we were shown to the nose of the 747 I was glad we’d taken the connection.

As soon as we were onboard, we were promptly offered yet another set of pajamas and an amenity kit as well as a choice of water, orange juice, and champagne (which, curiously, were not served with nuts). As boarding continued the captain came over the PA and amusingly welcomed passengers on board, announced a flight time of 12:50, and specifically called out a honeymooning couple, and the first class purser who was retiring after 45 years with BA. Wow!

We pushed back exactly on time and after a lengthy takeoff roll on runway 20C were airborne. As we climbed the standard welcomes were offered over the PA, and drinks were served along with a prosciutto and melon canapé:


Canapé, bitter lemon, amenity kit, and moving map

Soon thereafter the CSD came around and introduced himself and the purser took meal orders. The cabin of the 747 was completely full which I found surprising given that only two seats were assigned when I looked online the day before the flight. Although there may have been a couple of op-ups, I think that others may have been filled by people who came in from SYD and switched from the direct BA 16 service to the earlier SIN-LHR flight (BA 12). The menu for BA 12 was, not surprisingly, the same as for the SIN-LHR leg of our inbound BA 16. Although it was after midnight Sydney time, BA said it was time for dinner and I was in no position to disagree:

Dinner

Starters

Smoked salmon terrine with crab and coriander
Rocket and goat’s cheese tart with a balsamic reduction
Butternut squash soup
Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or sour cream and chive dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
Roast veal fillet with lemon, garlic, and parsley
Thai prawn curry with jasmine rice
Steak and mushroom pie with peas and mashed potatoes
Char-grilled chicken Caesar salad

Dessert
Tiramisu
Warm peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream

Cheese Plate
A selection of cheese

A basket of fresh fruit

Bistro Selection
Something light and tasty served quickly to maximize your rest time.
Thai-marinated beef fillet on long young broccoli, bok-choy, and spinach

Snacks
Warm bacon roll
Penne pasta with fire-roasted red pepper sauce
A selection of biscuits
A selection of reception sandwiches
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

My girlfriend came over and sat in my buddy seat for dinner and, like out of Bangkok, we enjoyed a great tropical lightning storm before dinner was served.


Smoked salmon terrine in foreground, penne pasta snack in background


Shrimp curry in foreground, chicken Caesar salad in background


Warm peach cobbler in foreground, Tiramisu in background

The salmon terrine to start was a bit unique but the kind of dish I enjoy, so I did. I would have liked to have had the bistro selection as my main but, unfortunately, it had not been loaded. I lucked out, however, as the shrimp curry was excellent and well complimented by the rice and vegetables. Again, there were no chocolate desserts but two good alternatives: the warm peach cobbler was especially tasty. When we finished, coffee and tea were offered and chocolates were presented.

At this point I was pretty exhausted and requested that my seat be made into a bed. I was soon sound asleep and, fortunately, managed seven hours without budging a bit. Unfortunately at this time we still had four hours to go and it was only 1am London time. Even more unfortunately I was plagued by a strange feeling which I hadn’t felt in some time: I was hungry.

I walked back to the galley and requested the reception sandwich snack which was identical to the sandwiches that I had been served on the second service from Sydney to Singapore. They cured the hunger problem for the time being and I spent the next two hours resting and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to sleep. Around two hours before landing, the cabin crew started moving through the cabin offering breakfast to those who were awake, but did a good job letting those who were asleep to remain asleep. Since I was basically awake, I began to peruse the menu:

Breakfast

Starters

Chilled Fruit Juice
An energising fruit smoothie
A selection of yoghurts
A selection of cereals
Fresh seasonal fruit plate

Bakery
A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls

Main
Scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomato, sausage and bacon
Mushroom omelette
Oven-baked cod fillet with a light soya sauce

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Or you can enjoy a quick Continental Breakfast to maximize your sleep time onboard

I’m always skeptical of airline breakfasts and since we were on a flight out of Singapore I figured the Asian option would be tasty. And I was right. The cod was served on a bed of pleasantly gummy noodles with a side of stir-fried vegetables. Unlike many BA meals which are described in the fanciest terms and then fail to meet expectations, this was one dish which was under-sold and over-delivered.


Fresh fruit starter with orange juice


Cod, with fruit yogurt and toast

We were almost directly over Amsterdam when the captain came over the PA to make the 40 minutes to landing announcement. After a final hot towel service, preparations for landing began. We approached Heathrow from the west flying over a foggy Central London before gliding onto runway 27R. Amazingly, on this, the longest flight in the BA network despite the probability of any number of possible delays, variable wind speeds, inconsistent taxi times, unique routings, etc. we pushed backed from Singapore and arrived at the gate in London exactly as scheduled.

We practically woke up the immigration officer and were quickly through customs and looking for the bus over to T5 Arrivals. It was about a ten minute wait for the bus to arrive plus maybe a 15 minute drive over to Terminal 5. The arrivals lounge was quiet when we got there but would soon begin to fill-up. Upon our arrival we made a spa booking for after breakfast before heading towards the showers. After rinsing off, we headed into the completely empty Concorde Breakfast room (invitations had to be requested from the entrance). The breakfast room isn’t anything special but is somewhat more private, and quieter, than the general lounge. I wasn’t particularly hungry but got some fresh fruit and tea hoping it would wake me up and my girlfriend, who hadn’t eaten as much on the plane, enjoyed the waffle. Service was somewhat disorganized but quite friendly. As we left breakfast for the spa, we realized how lucky we were to get there early because they were only set up to provide one treatment at a time, and persons arriving at about 7 were told they’d have to wait until after 9 if they’d like a massage. I had a 7:20 booking and got a shoulder and scalp massage while my girlfriend claimed the 7:40 timeslot and got the same treatment. While waiting for her, I partook of the internet terminals available for a quick check of email and, of course, FlyerTalk. The forecast for London was for rain and we were both feeling fairly low-energy so around 8am, after partaking of all the arrivals lounge had to offer, we exited and made our way upstairs to T5 departures.

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 10:07 pm
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Old Sep 6, 09, 1:27 pm
  #8  
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August 26, 2009
British Airways 49, LHR-SEA
747-400, G-CIVE “Historic Chatham Dockyard”
Scheduled (Actual) Departure Time: 3:15pm (4:30)
Scheduled (Actual) Arrival Time: 4:45pm (6:04)
Duration: 9:34 Seat: 1K

After coming up the escalator to the departures level we quickly made our way to the fast track land at the south security checkpoint. This was a mistake as we spent at least twenty minutes waiting in line, while the regular security lines would have gotten us through twice as quickly. Oh well, we still had six hours before our flight. Although we had the option of turning right immediately after security and going into the Concorde Room, we elected to stroll the long way through the shops of T5 and spend the next couple of hours working our way up through the Galleries lounges before settling into our pre-booked Cabana.

The first stop on our lounge itinerary was Galleries Club. I was pretty impressed by this lounge. Although it seemed busy, it was big enough that we could find a quiet corner to plop down in without being disturbed. Beverage stations were well distributed throughout the lounge, the food on offer was inviting, and the different zones each seemed to have their own feel. I especially enjoyed a historic BA advertisement in the “coffee bar” section of the lounge advertising afternoon tea over Central London for a pound and a half. Next, we made our way downstairs to the Galleries First lounge. This lounge felt a bit more open than the Club lounge and, despite being more exclusive, felt somewhat less intimate. What it did have, was a very pleasant patio complete with comfortable couches but a somewhat irritating television.

I’d seen pictures of horse-lamps before but I’d never realized how many there were in the lounge complex. I’m not sure if anybody is still reading at this point but, if you are, I will offer a complimentary Terminal 5 Fast Track pass to anyone who replies with the best (as judged by me) explanation of why there are so many horse lamps in T5 and what their purpose is.

Finally, we made our way to the Concorde Room and were invited in. We went directly to the quintessentially desk and were shown to our Cabana and given a brief tour to what was available to us there. We requested some additional towels and pillows and quickly opened the bottles of still and sparkling water that were already in the room.


Cabana

My girlfriend laid down to rest while I ventured out to explore the rest of the lounge. At this time, it felt surprisingly busy and most, but not all, of the computers in the Board Room were in use. I ventured out to the patio and enjoyed the view of the various wide bodies coming and going. Although those who use it regularly will probably disagree with me, I’m more than willing to tolerate all of Heathrow’s quirks in order to enjoy the great selection of aircraft on display.

Rather than eat in the Cabana, which would’ve been somewhat difficult for two people, we headed into the Concorde Dining Area about 11:30 just as lunch service was beginning. None of the lounge food I’d had on the trip up to this point had been particularly exceptional , but this meal was quite satisfying. Like the breakfast room, service was slightly disorganized but the waitress was very friendly and personable (I found this to generally be the opposite of the in-flight service which was generally crisp and professional but not extremely personable). We started with the tapas platter (not pictured) which was solid—my girlfriend request and received additional artichoke hearts beyond the one served on the platter. Then proceeded onto our mains and dessert:


Spaghetti with seafood in foreground, chicken and tarragon pie on the right


Custard on the left, treacle tart on the right

Both entrees were good, my girlfriend especially enjoyed the savory pie dish. For dessert, we were only intending to get the treacle tart but the server insisted we try the custard. I appreciated her insistence, but we knew our taste better than she did, as we thoroughly enjoyed the warm tart with ice cream and left most of the custard. After lunch, we retreated to the Cabana for a bit before making our way to the departures spa for another massage, the girlfriend especially enjoyed her foot massage, and by the time we were finished our flight had been posted as departing from T5B so we made our way out to the satellite lounge, completing our London tour-de-lounge (we missed Galleries North ). Despite our best efforts, we were unable to finagle another massage from the T5B lounge which, while I generally understand the policy, seemed a bit unduly strict given that the lounge, and the entire satellite, was basically deserted.

Soon our flight showed as “Boarding” on the departure menu and we made our way to gate. After quickly going through the fast track security line, we proceeded to wait in the jetway for a bit because only one of the two jet ways was in use (what’s the point?). Soon enough, we were again directed to the nose of the plane and given a final amenity kit and set of pajamas. Pre-departure drinks orders were taken and beverages were served with, drumroll please, cashews! The plane was boarded on time but as boarding was wrapping up the captain came over the PA and announced that we’d have a bit of a delay because one of the crew members was stuck on the motorway due to an accident. The flight deck did a good job announcing updated departure times every so often and while we waited the crew up front distributed canapés and offered beverage refills


Canapes on the ground, same as we were served on LHR-BKK

We finally pushed back about an hour late at 4:30pm local time and taxied to 27L and were soon airborne after a somewhat bumpy takeoff roll we were climbing through the London clouds and into the sunshine. Soon, hot towels were offered and drink and meal orders were taken. The CSD came around and introduced herself and apologized for the delay. The menu for this flight was similar to what we got on LHR-BKK, as expected, but it’s slightly different so I’ll re-post it here. The wine list was the same as for SFO-LHR, so I won’t bother posting it again. This is the menu for BA 049, 067, 087, 093, 099, 113, 175, 177, 185, 189, 207, 209, 213, 215, 217, 227, 265, 295, 1053 for 8/09 (120F003 – ROT2):

Lunch

Starters

Shawn Hill’s English asparagus with pea and basil dressing and shaved Pecorino (V)
Warm crab and crayfish ravioli with wilted baby spinach and lemon cream sauce
Cream of sweetcorn soup (V)
Fresh summer salad French dressing or orange and tarragon cream dressing For a limited period we also have ‘liquid gold’—olio extra vergine di olive from castello monte vibiano, a very special olive oil from hand-picked olives, pressed at low temperature and bottled within six hours.

Main
Seared filler steak with Choron sauce, matchstick chips, watercress and herb-crusted field mushroom
Catch of the Day – Roast cod with brown shrimp and dill sauce Loch Fyne Fisheries offers a selection of wild fish from sustainable stocks. They supply us with the freshest prime fish daily.
Balsamic and mint-crusted rump of lamb with aubergine, spicy potato, and tomato fondue
Nicoise-style summer vegetable salad (V)

Dessert
Eton mess with shortbread biscuits and raspberry coulis
Chocolate and orange cadeau with Seville orange syrup

Cheese Plate
Fleur du Maquis – Also known as Brindamour, this cheese is encrusted with dried herbs.
Traditional Normandy Camembert – An unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese, Camembert features a creamy texture with a full flavour.
Gevrik – Made in Cornwall, England, Gervik is an award-winning goat’s milk cheese with a soft texture and a mild flavour.
St-Nectaire – This unpasteurized cheese features a soft, supple texture and earthy, fruity flavour.
Unpasteurized cheese may pose a health risk to certain groups of people including pregnant women, the elderly, the very young and those whose systems may be immunocompromised.

A basket of fresh fruit

Snacks
Chicken tikka masala with lemon rice
Smoked haddock kedgeree cakes with celeriac rémoulade
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino

Chocolates


Crab and crayfish ravioli in foreground, asparagus in the appetizer


Lamb in foreground, catch of the day in background


Chocolate and orange cadeau (version 2) in foreground, fresh fruit in background

This would be a great, last (BA) meal for us. We ate at my buddy seat on the “K” side of the aircraft. My crab and crayfish starter was solid, and my girlfriend enjoyed the asparagus so much she asked for, and received, a second portion. I would’ve been happy to eat the lamb entrée on the ground, the meat itself was quite tasty and both the vegetable and the tomato/potato side were yummy and interesting; the entire plate was enhanced by the drizzle of balsamic around the outside of the plate. And what better way to end the meal than a second round of our favorite dessert?

By the end of the meal, a lack of sleep had started to catch up with me and I made the seat into a bed and quickly drifted to sleep. At one point I stirred thinking we were somewhere in the middle of the flight. Much to my surprise, a glance at the moving map revealed we were a mere 1:20 from Seattle. Where did all the time in BA F go? Fortunately, I had one more meal to enjoy and it was my favorite meal of the day: afternoon tea

English Afternoon Tea

Snacks

A selection of sandwiches featuring –
Smoked mackerel with horseradish dressing
Char-grilled Mediterranean vegetables with basil soft cheese
Chicken with mayonnaise
Free-range egg with baby watercress

Patisserie
Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam

Chocolate éclair, cherry tartlet, lemon drizzle cake, and chocolate brownie

Beverages
We offer you a selection of the following:
Twinings Teas – Traditional English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey or Pure Green
Twinings Fruit and Herb Infusions – Pure Camomile, Pure Peppermint, Lemon and Ginger or Blackcurrant, Ginseng and Vanilla
Coffee – Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated, espresso or cappuccino


Tea sandwiches, first pot of tea


Scones, jam, clotted cream, second pot of tea


Desserts, third pot of tea

Perhaps against my best judgment, I felt like I had to get my money’s worth out of the final service, and I did thoroughly enjoy it. The sandwiches were made better than the ones I’d had on previous flights by the presence of mackerel. In general, I think tea sandwiches on airplanes suffer a bit because they’re either served unnecessarily chilled straight out of refrigeration or, if they’re given time to warm up to room temperature, are slightly stale. The highlight of the tea, like most teas, was the scones and clotted cream. If anyone knows where to get a reasonably priced afternoon tea, with clotted cream, in the states, please let me know. By the time I reached dessert, I was stuffed. I consumed a pot of tea with each course (pouring the tea into milk as my statistics professor taught me) and was well hydrated and caffeinated for landing.

Our routing for this flight was fairly northerly, well above Hudson Bay, before turning south towards the United States. We began our descent near Everett and flew down Seattle’s eastside before making a U-turn over Tacoma and landing to the north on the center runway at SeaTac. After a bit of a taxi to the South Satellite, the engine’s whirred to a stop and we were home.


After arrival in SEA

It was a long trip, and a lot of flying, which means a long trip report, and a lot of writing (over 16,000 words…longer than any academic paper I ever wrote). If you’re still reading, I hope you enjoyed it.

Happy travels!

Gba

Last edited by gba; Sep 6, 09 at 11:19 pm
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Old Sep 7, 09, 2:01 am
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I’m not sure if anybody is still reading at this point
I am! And I'm enjoying it. Thank you! (No explanation on the number of horse lamps, though...)

What's the explanation on the plastic cutlery in and out of SYD?
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Old Sep 7, 09, 2:33 am
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Sensational.....loved it. Enjoyed every paragraph plus photos.
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Old Sep 7, 09, 4:16 am
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Thanks for the detailed trip report. Very enjoyable!
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Old Sep 7, 09, 8:46 am
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A fantastic read that captures the readers interest and maintains it through six long sectors.
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Old Sep 7, 09, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by seat_1a View Post

What's the explanation on the plastic cutlery in and out of SYD?
From what I heard the plastic cutlery is required on flights out of Australia per Australian regulations. I don't think it's required on flights into Australia because it wasn't used for the first meal BKK-SYD but due to catering by the time they got to the second service all they had was the plastic.
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Old Sep 7, 09, 9:11 am
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this report. The photos, details and insight enhanced it marvelously. Needless to say, I'll be looking forward to your next report, even if it's only a domestic flight to LWS.
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Old Sep 7, 09, 9:17 am
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Originally Posted by Seat 2A View Post
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this report. The photos, details and insight enhanced it marvelously. Needless to say, I'll be looking forward to your next report, even if it's only a domestic flight to LWS.
Thanks Seat 2A, it's a real compliment coming from the master!
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