Part 1: Mother BA and Good Karma
I am firm believer that T5 is one of the best terminals in the world, and I will argue this with anyone. This continues to be one of the main reasons why I keep using BA (for short haul) On journeys within Europe I use Ryanair frequently, but I cant really abide by STN all the time so Iím find myself at T5 more than BA deserve on short haul.
99 times out of 100 I'll drive to UK airports. Driving in the south of the UK is so traffic dependent and I live up in rural Lincolnshire, which is fairly centrally located but the roads in and out are Ďless goodí, but improving a lot. Home to Heathrow I have driven door to door in 2 hours 12 minutes but it usually takes 2 hours 30 minutes and allow 3 hours minimum when driving. My nearest airport is HUY, and Iím praying one day BA (when a certain 3rd runway is build) will operate a service to LHR, but in the meantime Iíd prefer driving than having to connect at AMS and use KLM.
The drive down is fairly uneventful, in the early part of the journey the combine harvesters that take up 2/3 of the both roads slow me down, but once I get to 3 lane roads itís plain sailing the whole way and I arrive at T5 at 8pm and off to park the car. On a shorter trip my favourite parking is the POD parking, but trips over 10 days it's not available to book. I have tried the valet but for what less it costs my go to parking is the meet and greet. The valet checks are more laborious and I find itís just as quick and sometimes even quicker with the meet and greet with itís less formalities.
Itís first day of September and fast track security is empty, the travellerís dream. Iím though the X ray in 25 seconds flat but the man checking my bags certainly has the Friday feeling and I wait whilst he lazily screens them through, picking up my bags and walking, I place my finger on the light green button, the full smiley face missed out due to the monitor manís leisurely pace. I usually try to schedule no travel though the last two weeks of July and all of August, just for sheer sanity at security and passport control and besides one quick two day trip to Romania I managed it this year.
I always find that no matter the time, day or night or month T5 seems to have the same buzz of people. the walkways between the shops have the steady flow of passengers of all creeds. Tonight the inhabitants of airside land are mostly families catching a quick trip away before schools return. Children proudly pull their own wheeled bag behind them. When I was young the last thing you wanted to do was move luggage. Itís a sign that times are changing, but if my children want to pull their own I wont complain.
I look at the board and see the flight will depart from B. I head for the lift and push the button for -4. I always get an oddly smug feeling when everyone else gets out and leaves me by myself. I find the walkway somewhat therapeutic. Its has a gently hum, you are usually on your own and it gives me time to think and contemplate my trip ahead. Will everything go to plan? Will I make the deals I want? Will BA disappoint me?
My contemplation zone
I head up the escalators to the lounge and right at the top is what looks like cardboard, resisting suction into the conveyor. I pick it up only to see itís a Canadian passport. I hand it in to the lounge dragon and enter feeling Iíve done my good deed today. This is good Karma for the start of the trip, perhaps a sign of things to come?
My rule on the BA Galleries lounges is thus, flying from satellite B & C? Always got to Galleries B lounge. Itís the quietest lounge. Flying from A and are pressed for time? Go to Galleries North, itsí access is much quicker and you can be in and out, grab some food and drink without going off route to the gate. Flying from A and have time? Go to Galleries south, it has more room, you can usually find a quiet space with some interesting views looking down into the hustle and bustle of transit shuttle area.
British Airways BA247
Club World seat 15K
Departure 21:50 (scheduled) 21:53 (actual)
Flight time 11h 22m
I was flying from gate B35 so a quick 30 second walk from lounge stairs to gate. Boarding is fairly swift and I seat myself down at 15K. A seat oft discussed on this forum. I made a beeline 24 hours before to grab the seat, and for BA it doesn't disappoint. Im 6í3 so the extra legroom I sense is going to help when I lay down, unfortunately Iíve already failed as I forgot to take a picture of the legroom in this seat.
I love to create scenarios in my head for fellow passengers, My seat staring buddy, is a post retirement business man wearing a table cloth for a shirt. He has a face that would scare a bulldog and at first he gives off the air of a man who's funding plenty of mistresses back in Brazil, supported by a hotline supply of the magic blue pill. However I can sense heís a business traveler at heart as no sooner does the wheels leave the ground he pushes the divider button with the ease of a man who's done it blindfolded and lies down for the sleep.
BA IFE on this aircraft must be steam powered because the choice of films and the speed of it is frankly ridiculous, perhaps Iíve been spoilt with the likes of Qatar and Finnair's A350 but I can barely find anything watchable. I go through my reading material and contemplate the menu. I ate quite a bit in the lounge and nothing jumps out at me. I can't trust BA to produce a decent piece of beef so after a glass of water, I change to my Qatar PJís and move to lay flat to find myself surprisingly comfortable. With a few wake ups here and there, I find myself getting a solid 8 hours sleep, very respectable for a BA 777-200.
As a traveller business or leisure the hard product always drives me first. Whilst the CW product has itís strong points, the privacy in a window seat and the bottom storage tray and this seat the leg room. Those positives aside it just feels to much like a abattoir in this 777, The plastics make the space very narrow and having someone in your peripheral when the screen is down, detracts greatly from the privacy that you did have before. Putting my business head on, itís great piece of revenue maximisation and for many of BAís travellers who travel with them long haul that have been booked by their companies travel department. It seems a world away from WT but comparing it to the competition, itís now behind.
However seats like 15K and the upper deck on the 747 do have benefits, these little quirks in BA seat design give the knowledgable flyer that extra benefit which you may not get on other airlines. I slept as well on this plane as I ever have on a plane, this was in due only to the extra leg room. If I were flying regular TATL and could get myself that seat every time. Iíd probably take it, even over AA product which can be variable, however it would need to have the modern IFE.
My opinion on airline soft product has always been very nuanced. I canít say that Iíve ever had a meal on a plane that has wowed me so, Iím not a big eater on planes and food good or bad would never put me off an airline. Whilst the BA crew might not have that same deference or a more butler style service that you get from an airline like Qatar. There is a lot to be said about the ďGood BadĒ service you get from BA, however this may only appeal to Brits. The humour and British style is for me a positive and I would prefer that over crew with a forced smile from a ME3 airline. There was a number of Brazilian staff on the plane, to be honest as I spent most of the flight sleeping I had minimal contact with them.
I woke up 1 half hours before landing and prepared myself for arrival in Sao Paulo. I nibbled on the pastries and fancied the omelette. Alas when they got to me they were all gone. Although a proud Brit Iím not a big fan of English breakfasts, so I decline the other options and carry on my reading. The captain tells us proudly weíve landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule and I deplane for the next stage of the journey.