Mark\’s Rants, Raves And Other Things ;)

Rants and raves about things that interest me

Archive for the ‘Airports’ Category

Wait at Heathrow and flight to Edinburgh

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on March 24, 2008

Our flight arrived in Heathrow at Terminal 4 and our next flight was in Terminal 1. After a really long walk from the arrival gate, we hopped on a bus and proceeded to Terminal 1.

At Terminal 1, we went through security (which unlike in the US doesn’t require you to remove your shoes or take out laptops and video cameras). We then bought a lock for my camera bag and some deodorant (so we could refresh ourselves). We then headed off to the British Airways domestic Terraces Lounge where we both had a shower which was quite refreshing after the 7 hour flight over to London.

The Terraces lounge was much like the one in Seattle but larger and with big windows looking out over Heathrow. It also had a self-service bar with spirits and wine as well as a larder with sandwiches and snacks. Best of all there was real cheese which was something that both Craig and I miss as the US cheese generally isn’t very good.

The interior of the lounge:

Terraces Lounge

The self-service wine bar:

Self-serve wine bar

The self-service drink bar:

Self-serve drink bar

We ended up waiting for about 5 hours in Heathrow in the lounge as our flight to Edinburgh (and all other British Airways flights for some reason) was delayed.

Once on the flight we discussed that even though our boarding pass said we were in Business UK, there is only one class on a domestic British Airways flight and the main benefit of Business UK is access to the Terraces lounge. Still the one class on the flight wasn’t bad. BA domestic flights have free alcohol as well as provide meals (similar to the service that Qantas offers domestically) so we yet another meal (we had spent the afternoon eating sandwiches and snacks in the lounge). The meal was quite good and consisted on a chicken fillet on tabouleh with a roll and apple crumble for dessert.

Once we arrived in Edinburgh, we were met by our friend Luke and his finance Richard (whom we hadn’t met before). They had offered to pick us up and drive us to our hotel (Carlton Hotel). However, due to the number of suitcases and bags we had, they couldn’t fit the bags and us in the car so I took one suitcase and my hand luggage and caught the bus from the airport to the hotel (which only cost £3 points as opposed to at least £18) while Craig went off with Luke and Richard to try on his suit for the wedding.

Once at the hotel, I just relaxed until Craig arrived with the rest of the luggage. Once he arrived, we unpacked a little and then went to bed. One annoying thing about the bed though was it was a double bed made from 2 single beds. Given that there were 2 men listed for the room, they must have assumed that we didn’t want a double bed so they made the beds as 2 single beds with their blankets tucked in the middle between the 2 beds. This problem was easily solved by simply pulling the blankets out from the middle and voila we had a double bed again (albeit one with a little gap in the middle) 🙂

Posted in Airports, British Airways, Flights, Heathrow, Travel | 3 Comments »

A first class experience

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on March 24, 2008

For our first flight from Seattle to London we flew First Class on British Airways which neither Craig nor I had ever flown before. After flying it though, it will be difficult to fly Economy again.

Here’s a dissection of the flight:

The meet and greet

When you first arrive at the plane and show your boarding pass, you are personally escorted by one of the senior cabin crew members to your seat. The crew member then offers to take your coat which they place into a closet until the end of the flight.

Pre-flight service

Even before the flight takes off the ground (i.e. while taxiing), you are offered a glass of orange juice, water or champagne and a plate of mixed cashews and macadamia nuts. You are also offered a set of pyjamas and given a velvet boxed toiletry kit containing a velvet eye mask, eye cream, moisturizer, lip balm, mouthwash, ear plugs and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Seats

In BA First class on a Boeing 777 (which is used from Seattle to London), there are only 14 seats in the following arrangement:

I had seat 2A and Craig had seat 2E.

The seat also has a personal reading light, coat hook, laptop power outlet and a small seat at the end for another person so you can easily converse if you wish.

Each seat also has its own personal overhead bin. However, much like in a lower class, other people end up also putting items into your overhead bin unfortunately.

The seats have adjustable lumbar support and can be converted into a flat bed for sleeping.

A First Class seat:

First class seat

The seat controls:

 Seat controls

The seat as a flat bed:

Seat as a flat bed with pillow and duvet

Looking towards the end of the bed (which is also the small chair):

Looking towards the end of the bed

Food

In First Class, the food service is way beyond that offered in Economy Class. The service is effectively silver service with tablecloths placed on the table, personal salt and pepper shaker, side plates, cloth napkins, and white china.

Dinner place setting

The menu offers a choice of starters, a main course, and dessert as well other other things such a cheese plates and gourmet snacks like an asparagus risotto. There is also a wine list with a choice of about 10 wines to drink either during the flight or to accompany a meal.

The food is also presented very well as can be seen below.

Dinner

The starter was a oven-roasted tomato salad with endive and braised fennel:

Oven-roasted tomato salad with endive and braised fennel

Main course was Mark Edwards’ sake-braised guinea fowl with sansho pepper pineapple chutney:

Mark Edwards' sake-braised guinea fowl with sansho pepper pineapple chutney

Dessert was warm peach crisp with vanilla ice cream:

Warm peach crisp with vanilla ice cream

Personal pot of peppermint tea (and a creme brulee chocolate) to finish the meal:

Personal pot of peppermint tea

Breakfast

Breakfast started with a plate of fruit, personal pot of team and a choice of pastries:

Breakfast setting with fruit plate

This was followed by pancakes with maple syrup:

Pancakes with maple syrup

Toilet

Even the toilet in First Class is an improvement over those in lower classes. The toilet is more spacious (at least compared with an Economy Class toilet), has a changing seat which goes over the normal seat to make it easy to put shoes, etc. on and even has disposable real cloth hand towels to dry your hands with.

Staff

In First Class, there are about 4 cabin crew members to service the 14 seats which means that each person gets personalized service and there is always a cabin crew member available to help you.  Additionally, the cabin crew are the more senior members such as the pursers, etc.

Additionally, the staff have a no pressure approach and you are free to eat, drink, etc. at your own pace.

How to the confuse the cabin crew

According to our boarding passes, Craig has the window seat (2A) and I had the interior seat (2E). We decided to swap seats so that I had the window seat and he had the interior seat. This caused a bit of confusion amongst the cabin crew as they personalize the service so often Craig was called Mr Sztainbok and I was called Mr Clemo by various members. This was only a problem however momentarily until we had interacted with each crew member.

Arrival lounge

Normally there is an arrival lounge available in Heathrow where you can have clothes pressed, have a shower and a hot breakfast and even complimentary spa treatments such as facials and massages. Unfortunately for us, the arrival lounge and spa in Terminal 1 where we were had closed the day before in preparations for British Airways’ move into Terminal 5.

Posted in Airports, British Airways, Flights, Heathrow, Travel | 1 Comment »

Details of the flight from Seattle to London and the flight from London to Edinburgh still to come

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on March 22, 2008

I haven’t had a chance yet to write about our First Class flight from Seattle to London. Hopefully I’ll have one tomorrow morning…

Posted in Airports, Flights, Travel | Leave a Comment »

A bunch of singing hobbits

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on March 22, 2008

While at Heathrow Airport, I was looking at some leaflets for the various musicals currently showing in London and came across one for Lord Of The Rings The Musical. Yes, you heard me right. There actually is a muscial based around the story of Frodo’s quest to destroy the one ring before Sauron can use its power.

From the brochure:

The magic of the THE LORD OF THE RINGS comes to life in a stunning new onstage spectacle with over 70 actors, singers and musicians. An amazing life event, filled with jaw-dropping theatricality, that transports you to Middle-earth as breaktaking special effects, thrilling music and dazzling performances fill the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

IMG_0112

When I read the first quote, I thought it said “You’ve never seen a spectacle like it”. Yes, I’m sure I haven’t 😉

I do wonder though how well a story which took 3 films of more than 6 hours total to tell can translate well into a 2 hour muscial…

More information can be found at http://www.lotr.com

Posted in Airports, Travel | Leave a Comment »