This second part will cover my journey back from Paris to London Heathrow, and then onwards to Wasington. For those that might have missed it, the first part of the series can be found here:
A few days before departure, the seat map for the first sector opened right up and I managed to bag seat 5A, therefore having the middle seat free.
However a day later I was unexpectedly moved back to 7A, and the middle seat was no longer blocked, despite being the first row behind Club. Oh well. Of interest, the BA website said the aircraft type was the scheduled A319, despite it being a seatmap for an A320.
The onward sector to Washington remained pretty full throughout:
My morning started at 5am. I checked out of the hotel and headed over to the CDGVAL to terminal 2, arriving a few moments later.
Upon arrival, it was a pretty long walk over to the BA check in desks that were hidden in a basement.
When I got there, I was met with a pretty long queue however my BA status meant I could bypass this and head for the Club Europe check in where there wasn't anybody waiting at all. There were a few problems upon checking in - first off, they said my api hadn't been completed - which it had, and then when presenting my visa card for verification, they said this wasn't the card used for payment... Yeah because the card I had used for payment had expired. Eventually everything was sorted, although I was a little upset I didn't get given one of those transferring at T5 booklets!
After this it was through security. Reasonably busy, but not too slow. Basically the opposite experience of T5! As usual it was then straight into a duty free shop.
I wanted to buy a couple of bits, however I was told it was closed. In fact pretty much the whole terminal seemed closed.
That’ll explain why this place is deserted!
The only place I could really find to grab anything to drink was a vending machine... So that had to do.
It was then a case of waiting around at gate A47 for boarding to commence. A few moments later the crew of four cabin and two fligh turned up, but as there were no ground staff around, they were forced to wait too.
Unfortunately, the views weren't brilliant, so couldn't really see much of the movements outside.
Boarding eventually started at 07:00.
As I was heading down the jetway, I finally found a small window to see the landing gear doors – ‘YL meant I would be on one of the more recent additions to the BA fleet having joined just a few days over 22 months ago. Turned out this flight had been subbed for an A320 rather than the A319.
4th April 2013
A320-232 / G-EUYL
Seat: 7A / Euro Traveller
Off Stand: 07:28
On Stand: 08:05
Once on board, I was welcomed back by name and I noticed I did actually have the first row behind club, however I did have two seat mates - so I guess on the odd occasion all three seats behind club are sold? Either way, the legroom in this row was very good – better than I had experienced in Club/Business on both BA and other airlines in fact.
Albino El-Al next door
Shortly after the captain was on the PA saying boarding was complete well ahead of schedule and thanking everybody for arriving on time. It was now just a case of waiting for our slot to come around so we could push back. He also mentioned we would have to be de iced - a new experience for me! A flight time of 44 minutes was given so he was still hopeful of an on time arrival.
Push back was a couple of minutes ahead of schedule, however having to taxi to the furthest runway and then be de iced, despite being ready well ahead of schedule we didn't actually lift off until 08:00 – a thirty minute delay.
This one followed us pretty much all the way – despite being on tow.
And a further ten minutes or so later, we pulled away, the flaps were extended, flight controls tested and made our way to the runway. Luckily we were allowed an intersection departure rather than having to taxi right to the threshold, which would no doubt take even more time.
Once we had departed, it was a few turns in the direction of the UK.
Once through the cloud layer the breakfast service started. Quite a tasty salami and cheese roll and a cup of tea. I didn't actually ask for the OJ, but was handed it anyway. Nice and pro active there.
Not often you get two windows in economy on an A32X!
While breakfast was going down, descent started. The crew made the round clearing the cabin – one guy being very cheerful indeed – whistling away and humming to himself for pretty much the whole flight! This was handy as I knew when to hide my camera as I could hear him coming from a few rows back! Once over the UK there was quite a few cloud layers.
This aircraft didn't seem to have any drop down screens, so no way of tracking our progress. The flight was your typical short Euro hop really – takeoff, thrown a meal and a drink, have the rubbish snatched away shortly after and then land. As the skies were overcast throughout, there weren’t even any decent views to be had. Pretty non descript flight really – much like my sector over to MUC last year.
Unsurprisingly, we were placed into a hold for around ten minutes or so. The flight crew also mentioned that it was pretty chilly down there.
VS A330 also flying around in circles above us.
After a good few minutes in the hold above my house, we were ushered onto finals, although there wasn’t a huge amount to be seen. The cabin crew didn’t get the ‘seats for landing’ instruction until quite late into finals – pretty much as we passed Windsor actually.
We landed on to 09L at around 08:00, arriving on to stand a few moments later.
The AA 77W is a pretty common sight at LHR.
Once into the terminal, it was a case of following the signs to flight connections.
I had my boarding pass scanned, welcomed back by name and asked how I was doing. I love how a little bit of status makes people so much nicer!
I was fine at that point, but then it was up to security. Now I'm not totally sure of the logic of making transfer passengers clear security again, but it was very slow, despite not being very busy. Very poor planning. Having spoken to my auntie who spent many years working for BAA over at T4 a week or so later, she said it was the same deal there too. Yet pretty much every other place I’ve transferred at I could just go straight to my next gate. I’m led to believe that even coming from another terminal at LHR avoids this extra security check. Very strange.
Soon after clearing security I paid another visit to the South end of the terminal
The problems getting out of Paris meant the aircrafts next mission had a 30 minute delay
Nice choice of location for this one!
As it turned out, it would be G-BYGA operating today's flight, one of the newer 747's in British Airways fleet, although I use that term loosely as the aircraft in question was delivered in 1998 wearing the Chelsea Rose world tail scheme.
Pre boarding was announced at 09:10, but that didn't stop a huge group trying their luck anyway.
They were promptly told to sit back down again though. Boarding proper started at 09:20, although there wasn't any pre boarding for World Traveller Plus - one major difference from VS. It was finally my turn at 09:30 for my first BA longhaul flight for sixteen years.
4th April 2013
747-436 / G-BYGA
Seat: 30K / World Traveller Plus
Off Stand: 09:58
On Stand: 12:47
The legroom was good, however the IFE boxes were awkwardly placed.
The load in World Traveller Plus was pretty good. In fact I'm not sure I saw a spare seat.
The entertainment system was switched in from boarding, a new experience for me.
During boarding, the menus were handed out. Neither options really jumped out at me.
Safety demo in progress
Pushback was more or less on schedule, however upon reaching 09R there was a bit of a hold up.
Around ten minutes later, the flight deck were on the PA stating the hold up was due to the runway being inspected, and that we should be underway shortly although there was nothing to worry about as this is standard procedure. Around 10:25, we took to the air, making an immediate right turn and then into cloud. The captain had previously mentioned our route and it seemed we would be taking quite a northerly track.
Around twenty minutes after departure the drinks service began. This was a much better option than experienced with VS last year, as I'm not a fan of eating lunch at 11am! Doubles were dished out without asking.
Cabin overview shortly after departure
Once things outside had clouded over, I took a proper look at the IFE system. It was either touch screen or operated using the controller.
We had company over Ireland.
Around 12:00 London time the lunch service began. As I'd previously mentioned, neither option really jumped out at me, but I decided on the beef. It was very good actually, along with the starter and desert. In fact I'm pretty sure this was one of the only occasions I'd given a tray back with nothing left on it – including the cutlery!! I had a sneak peak at my seatmates fish, and although it smelled decent enough I'd didn’t look as appealing. I was led to belive that Word Traveller Plus has the same meal service as Club World, however the trolleys were dragged from the back of the cabin and carried on into World Traveller (economy) once we had been served. Although the food and presentation did seem of a high-ish quality. Certainly higher than what I’d expect of your standard economy meal service anyway.
After this I settled down to watch a couple of films - This Is 40 and I'll Give It A Year. Typical plane movies really. Neither brilliant, but good enough to waste a few hours, along with a few glances outside.
Throughout the flight, the crew were pretty good with distributing drinks - about every thirty minutes or so.
Once the films had finished I'd, noticed we were passing a pretty cold area of Canada. The layout of the WTP cabin is a little awkward as the seats are set back from the windows, therefore making photography a little difficult. The fact row 30 is misaligned too didn’t help matters either.
Once the live IFE had finished, due to it clouding over, I went for a walk, and had a chat to the crew.
Pretty small economy cabin
Confirmation of the reg.
After I'd felt I'd outstayed my welcome in the galley, I returned to my seat. Luckily by this point the clouds had cleared and the views had returned. Just a shame I had a fairly important lump of metal blocking most of the view.
The final two hours of the flight were spent listening to music and watching the distance drop on the skymap. Final cruising altitude was 38,000ft
These had seen better days
With around 90 minutes of the flight remaining, afternoon tea was served. Very good also.
Slowly edging towards our destination
The flight was then winding down. The crew were tidying the cabin and at just before midday local, I felt us heading back towards solid ground so the iPod was switched off as things were going to get interesting again. We initially descended to 26,000ft and then around twenty minutes later descent started properly.
Touchdown was at around 12:45
We taxied over to the stand, pulling in alongside A KE 77W.
Disembarkation was pretty quick due to the dual airbridges I disembarked through L1 and it was on to one of the famous IAD moon buggies. There was a bit of a wait while it filled up, but then it was a pretty good tour of IAD, passing pretty close by a VX A320 just starting up – so close that it was actually too close to get a picture.
Immigration took around 30 minutes - not brilliant but still better than JFK by a long way.
Once through it was on to a bus for the thirty minute or so drive to Rosslyn station. The official bus was well signposted but there wasn’t a mention of any others. I eventually asked and was sent in the right direction
Once at Rosslyn, it was on to the metro to my hotel, the Doubletree at Pentagon City. Upon checking in, I was informed that I'd been upgraded to a suite and given two free cookies! Result!
The view from the living area of my room.
And the view from the bedroom.
After a couple of hours, I headed back out to the local mall to grab a bite to eat.
Looks good doesn't it Philip!
Wow, they’re accurate!
By the time I was done I was feeling pretty tired, so headed back, watched some awful American TV, watched a couple of arrivals into DCA and then went to bed.
The following morning, I headed out to see what Washington had to offer. Quite a bit actually – very nice city and everything was within a reasonable walking distance.
Shame this was closed off due to the earthquake a couple of years back.
Washington is also a good city for watching planes!
One of the locals
One of the many war memorials
American History Museum
Wish BA (or at least the franchise) still had these.
I never knew this one was here.
Replica of the Hubble telescope.
After an enjoyable couple of hours, I headed out in the direction of the capital building and back towards Crystal City.
Once back at Crystal City I headed off in the direction of DCA. I had done a bit of research before hand and saw there was a park that could be within walking distance at the end of the runway. It was a 20 minute or so walk, but worth it. Wish I’d had a drink with me though!
After this I headed off to get some dinner, and then back to the hotel for the evening.
The next day, I took a walk down to the long bridge park and watched a few of the departures from DCA.
This was about as close as I would get to the Pentagon
Once I was done I headed over to the pentagon city mall to grab a bite to eat and had a bit of a wonder. Oh and having a very attractive young lady trying to sell me some moisturizer for just $150. As a bonus she said she would throw her phone number and email in, but unfortunately for her I wasn’t born yesterday.
After this, I jumped on the Metro to the Arlington cemetery and had a relaxing walk around for the next couple of hours.
And on that note, I'll leave this part of the report. Look out for part 3 that will cover a frustrating experience at DCA and my flight over to Chicago that almost didn’t happen.