I had a great flight. Very comfortable seats and excellent service. Very clean , well maintain, pleasant to be on the board of this kind of machine :) Very professional crew service provided with compassion and politeness
EDI - LHR (UK Domestic)
Booking and check in
I needed to travel from Edinburgh to London, and BA’s schedule met my requirements perfectly. Booking on www.ba.com is a relatively easy process, and I noted the option to book a “hand baggage only” fare. This is ideal for those who travel light, and I took this option.
As an Executive Club Silver card holder, I was offered the option to select my preferred seat during the booking process. Rows 1 to 5 were unavailable, presumably reserved for Gold members. I chose 6C, and completed my booking.
On line check-in is available from24 hours prior to travel, and I used this facility to print my boarding pass. This is a little restrictive compared to other airlines. Aer Lingus, for example, offer a 30 day advance check in facility which is very useful.
Arriving at Edinburgh airport about 2.00pm, I went directly to the security area. There is a FastTrack lane, and I asked a very pleasant lady if my Executive Club status granted me access. She scanned my boarding pass, and warmly invited me to proceed. The security area was very quiet and I was airside within a few minutes. The security staff were very pleasant also. Other UK airports could do well to learn from Edinburgh in this regard.
Edinburgh is quite a small, but quite busy airport. BA’s lounge is well signposted and is opposite the departure gates. The lady at reception was very welcoming. This lounge is large and bright with lots of natural light, but no views. Unlike most BA lounges, restrooms are outside and shared with other bars & cafes.
There is plenty of space and I selected a quiet corner to read. There is a business section with complimentary internet access, printing, etc.
Several months had passed since I last visited this lounge; just after the change in caterers. I was curious to see whether the high standards I experienced then remained.
The range of food was:
• Sandwiches (cheese & pickle, pastrami, prawn)
• Indian Curry soup, bread rolls,
• biscuits (in jars)
• crackers and oatcakes
There was a good range of savoury nibbles, cripsp and a full bar, with champagne served on request by very friendly staff.
The only differences I could see were the absence of cold cuts, and a reduced range of reading material. Neither would be a really serious issue, in my opinion. I found the sandwiches to be of a high quality, and staff were constantly replenisng
Boarding for the 4.50pm flight was called from the lounge with an invitation to use the fastrack lane.
The boarding gate for London Heathrow was directly across the concourse from the lounge, with the lane for BAEC Gold & Silver cardholders open, and remaining passengers waiting to board later.
An innovative way to manage boarding is in operation: once through the initial boarding card check, passengers seated in rows 1 through 15 were directed to the airbridge, those remaining boarded via stairs to the rear of the aircraft. Being a full flight, this minimized boarding time.
Cabin crew welcomed passengers, and directed passengers to their seats. The Airbus 320 was immaculate. Seats are upholstered in Navy blue leather with adjustable headrests. UK Domestic is a single class service and seats are configured 3-3 throughout the cabin. Unlike Club Europe, the middle seats are occupied, and it was a very full flight. Many passengers had taken advantage of the hand baggage only fare, and overhead storage was almost non existent for the passengers last to board. The cabin crew managed to find space for these few bags.
The Captain gave a brief welcome, and details of flight times, followed by a safety video shown on a drop down screen.
Given the short flight time (1Hour) the service is basic but quite acceptable. There is a full bar service and a choice of crisps, nuts or chocolate biscuits. The cabin crew delivered a service which was both efficient and very friendly.
The UK Domestic product is perfectly acceptable for such short flights. Given the full flight between Edinburgh and London, the travelling public appear to agree.
I transfered to this service to Tallinn in Amsterdam. I had checked in on-line for what was scheduled as an Embraer 190 service. Initially, the KLM system allocated me 19D with no facility to change. Via the OY website, I was able to change this to 3D, just behind Flexi/ Business. On approaching the gate, my seat was altered again due to an aircraft change, to 8C in the CRJ.
We were bussed back out to whence I had just come on my KLM flight and board reasonably quickly. I had a young mother with an adorable 9 month old lad next to me - he was perfectly behaved and did not upset my initial travel experience at all. Nonetheless, after take-off, the senior cabin crew member offered me theopportunity to sit in the Flex seating in order to give the young family more room. I took this offer up and moved forward to 5A, with the seat next to me free. As a result, I received the cold breakfast service of fruit and cold meat salad gratis - most passengers pay for their drinks and snacks on OY. The best of the lost was the regular refills of coffee during the 2 hour flight!
We landed in a snowy Tallinn on time and I was soon off the aircraft and, with no luggage to collect, was soon in a taxi.
Estonian Air's strategic and service revamp appears to work and their mix of new Embraer and CRJ aircraft make journeys a pleasure.
This was my first revenue flight with KLM for some while so I was looking forward to it, given the recent discussion on the merits of the carrier. Very oddly, KLM contacted me by e-mail in advance of my flight to obtain API which, when I filled it in, only related to gender and dob. Given that I have been Platinum with KLM for about 20 years, this is information I do think they already have so perhaps begs questions about their much-praised, joined up electronic communications. This concern was reinforced when, on checking-in online, the system requested exactly the same information as I had provided a couple of days previously.......
Despite an early morning taxi hiccup, I arrived at Glasgow Airport in good time and headed straight to security. I was connecting onwards to tallinn with Estonian Airways from Amsterdam, a trip I have undertaken on a number of occasions and, on 3 out of the last 4 when i have checked bags, KLM has failed the transfer test for what is, admittedly, a tight connection. So I packed carefully adopted for hand luggage only. I made my way to the disappointing Servisair Lounge which is locked in a time warp but did give the the chance of a coffee.
Boarding was from the furthest possible gate so I gave myself sufficient time to get there. The priority lane worked well and I was boarded quite quickly. Seating in Economy Comfort on the Embraer gives a bit more legroom than further back, which is welcome - as a Platinum member, this does not cost me anything but, for short flights, I am not sure of its value as a paid-for benefit. The luggage bins on this type of aircraft are really deep and I had no problem putting my wheel-along case up top.
We pushed back in good time and I was able to sit back and observe the safety routine and service. I had latched in to another reviewer's image of 'happy' KLM staff and was looking for the smiles and graces that usually single such joy. At 06.00 they were certainly absent in our two, very serious (but not rude) cabin crew - maybe it is a deeper, innner joy rather than superficial, external happiness which graces KLM Cityhopper crew members in contrast with their big siblings at KLM?
Service at 6.00 includes welcome coffee and OJ but the chicken sandwich (the best of yesterday brought over from the Netherlands on the last flight) is not really appetising at that time of the morning. Airlines really could do more to think about what folk actually want/ need at various times of the day. Not surprisingly, not many passengers appeared to take the sandwich when offered.
We landed about 10 minutes early - great! - but on the remote runway, somewhere Haarlem direction so with the taxi and then a bus into the terminal, First KLM smile of the day came from the beaming captain as we disembarked. I was left with just 30 minutes to negotiate Schengen Immigration and Security before hearding back to a bus gate for my next flight. Thankfully, my Platinum card allowed me to fast track what would otherwise have been a slow queue and i made it to the gate just as boarding commenced. My luggage certainly would not have joined me had I checked it!!
All in all, a great aircraft in which to fly and solid but serious service - pity about the sandwich, mind you!!
This review relates to a journey from Glasgow to Milan Linate with a connection through T5 at Heathrow.
It was the day of the 'Big Wind' in Scotland and I arrived at the Airport in good time for the early Heathrow service, making my way through Fast Track security to the excellent BA Lounge which is, in my view, a model regional lounge for short-haul services - good and varied cold breakfast, regularly replenished, wide range fo drinks and coffee.
Things looked OK to start with even though the LCY service had already been cancelled. Heathrow was delayed to allow them to try to move the aircraft to a more sheltered location to allow safe boarding - the weather was ferocious and the Gatwick snuck away just in time. Anyway, not too much later, all BA services in and out were suspended and, while a few aircraft parked favourably did get out, the majority were likewise wind marooned.
The Lounge staff were fantastic,helping folk make cancel/ wait decisions and providing as much help as their limited information (on the weather) allowed. The wind did abate mid-morning and the first flight away was to City. BA did excel in trying to sort out problems - Lounge staff offered switches to alternative London airports until outgoing aircraft were full but, at the same time, protected the seats of those booked on the early flight as this had never been cancelled.
We boarded our 07.00 flight at about 12.20 and were away quite soon after that - loads of explanations and apologies. Thankfully, they had not retained the breakfasts but did not carry any alternative snacks - understandable and fine for those of us who had waited in the Lounge - others received a voucher, I understand.
On arrival at Heathrow, there were many of us seeking alternative onward flights. Domestic transfers clearly could not cope - two staff and a mighty long queue and we were encouraged to exit and use the desks upstairs in departures. I did this and was soon rebooked onto an alternative Linate flight leaving within the hour, albeit with a rear seat. Fat track Security (when I was in a hurry) was, frankly, a pain with the gentleman determined to check every minutae in those bags chosen for extra checks (mine included), without any humour or sense for the impatience of those waiting.
Once through, I headed straight to the gate where boarding had commenced so walked straight on. No time for the lounge as a result. This onward leg was fine - a plane only 60% full meant plenty of room around me to work/ spread out. We landed on time and I headed out to meet my transfer car from Lugano and, very un-Swiss as it was, had to wait over an hour for the driver to arrive. As his English is on par with my Italian, I never did find out what delayed him - awful traffic around Milan, I suspect.
BA really did OK in circumstances not of their making - individual travel problems seemed to be solved in a practical and caring way.
Singapore – London SQ322 Airbus A380
My business trip and Mrs JH’s South East Asian shopping expedition at an end it was time to head for home. We had a late check-out from the Shangri-La where we had spent the last couple of nights at 20.00. On my own I like to use the taxis but with the additional luggage as a result of all the shopping I booked a hotel limo.
The car was driven by a very pleasant young man who we engaged in conversation throughout the journey. I doubt a Shangri-La driver would ever initiate conversation but if you chat to them they chat back and they are usually intelligent, educated people. Traffic was quite heavy even after we joined the PIE and the journey took about forty five minutes which IME is a long time for an airport transfer in Singapore.
The driver stopped at the first class check in zone of T3 at Changi and SIA staff were there immediately to open the doors and by the time we got out of the car our bags were already loaded on to one of their trolleys. It always seems there that the men do the lifting and the women do the welcoming and a very lady who had a very pleasant smile and manner wished us a good evening and invited us to come inside to check-in. While walking she asked where we were flying to and she made some well-informed comments about going home to the cold, it was 27C at the time and a very pleasant evening. We were shown to seats in the F check-in lounge, brought cold towels and offered drinks. Our destination of LHR only was confirmed and the lady took away our documents with the luggage porters following her. The lounge is light and bright and mainly decked out in light browns and creams. It is large and there is no sense that it is ever busy or crowded.
We sat back and enjoyed a lemon tea. In minutes our SIA lady returned with our boarding cards which confirmed our previously made choice of 3 C & D, passports and luggage receipts. I had been dreading the luggage check-in after all Mrs JH’s shopping as SIA can be quite strict at times regardless of the class you are travelling in but either they ignored the excess or we were covered by their newly increased allowances of 50KG and of course our *G cards covered and additional 20KG each. She asked if we were ready to move or we would prefer another drink, we chose to move and she escorted us through the outbound formalities of a passport check, security is all carried out at the gate at Changi. We were asked if we wanted to go straight to the lounge or did we want to do anything else. Mrs JH of course had a shop or two she wished to look at so we let our escort go and Mrs JH looked but this time did not buy and I had a bit of a wander. Terminal three is a nice building and it couldn’t be a bigger contrast to another terminal three which is much closer to home. I always find some pleasure in the butterfly garden.
Mrs JH joined me and we made our way up to the lounge. Our first class tickets gave us access to The Private Room, the inner sanctum of the first class lounge which you need to be flying in F to access. At the lounge reception point our boarding passes which said ‘suites’ and a gold colour in place of the red on the F ones were only glanced at and we were shown into TPR and asked if we would like to be shown round. We’ve both been there enough times before to know where everything is so we declined.
In no time a waiter approached and we both ordered a Singapore Sling, I don’t know how SIA make them but they are just that bit special and I always enjoy one when travelling with them. The drinks came accompanied by dishes of macadamias and rice crackers. The waiter asked if he should leave us the menu or come back, we took the menu and said we would call him if we wanted to order.
The oriental menu offered:
Spare Rib and Black Bean Soup
Pho with beef or chicken
A tofu dish – sorry can’t remember what
The western menu offered:
A range of salads
French onion soup
A US flame grilled burger stuffed with foie gras and topped with a quail egg
Wok Fried Lobster
There’s also a line on the menu which states that if you would like something different please ask and they will do their best to meet your requirements.
On the buffet was a large selection of sandwiches, spring rolls and the like as well as steamed rice, fried rice and noodles with a choice of hot accompaniments. There was also a good choice of cheese and fruit, a wide range of ice cream, sticky rice and mango and some sort of cake as well as biscuits which are wrapped in small packs rather than placed in large jars.
I don’t have the bar menu but suffice to say you can order almost anything you can think of.
I was predictable and ordered a generous portion of chicken satay which again is one of those things SIA get just right and a Tiger Beer which I drink freely in Singapore but wouldn’t want at home as it just isn’t the same, I also had seconds of the satay. Mrs JH had a bowl of beef pho which she said was excellent. As the flight to London is so long neither of us would eat heavily in the lounge and would choose to eat on board the later the better as at departure time it is still only about 16.00 in London and that’s far too early to settle down for the night if you want to combat jet-lag. We both prefer to stay awake for about six hours after departure and then sleep.
Time had moved on and we were now about seventy five minutes until departure so we both moved to have a shower and make ready for the journey. I had a very pleasant shower in a bright and extremely clean shower room and was quite relaxed at the end of it. By the time Mrs JH and I met up again the boards were indicating that the gate was open for our flight and also for FRA, CDG and ZRH all of which are served by the A380 and the staff were making their way round the lounge prompting passengers to start moving. We made our way out of the lounge with every member of staff we met wishing us a safe and pleasant flight with a smile.
Security is at the gate at Changi, there was no wait and we were through in less than a minute and again wished a safe and pleasant flight with a smile by the staff, security is thorough and you feel it is effective unlike some other places. Our boarding cards were checked and we were told the first boarding announcement would be made almost immediately. The lounge was fairly crowded but the gates used for the A380 are more than large enough to cope even if it is full. We went to take a seat but before we did the pre-boarding announcements started. SIA are very strict about boarding and the announcement made that clear, passengers in Suites, Business Class, PPS card holders and *G card holders were invited to start boarding the aircraft immediately or and I like how they put it ‘at any moment of your convenience once general boarding commences’. Passengers seated in economy class who did not hold PPS or gold cards were advised to remain seated and that if they approached the gate they would be sent back until their seat row numbers were called.
Mrs JH and I made our way aboard. At Changi the A380 is usually served by three jetties and this was no exception, the first one is on 1L and only for first class, the second one is to the upper deck for business class and the third to 2L for economy class. We were welcomed with big smiles and by name at the door by two members of the crew who asked if they could take our bags and they led us to our seats. They asked if we had flown in suites before and when we said we had they asked if we were happy with the operation of the suite and features or did we want them to go over anything. We declined the kind offer. Bags were sorted and things we needed were unpacked and we settled down and drinks and hot towels were offered, the suite passed Mrs JH’s wipe with a hot towel with flying colours. We both chose champagne which on SIA is of course Krug. A choice of nuts was offered and we both chose macadamias. I was in 3C and Mrs JH in 3D. The cabin remained quiet though there was a little noise from general boarding from 2L though the area is cushioned by galleys and lavatories. While we were chatting I looked up and noted that 1L was being closed and wondered if it meant that tonight we were the only two passengers in F and it was soon confirmed by the crew that we were.
We couldn’t believe our luck. Flying in F with SIA is always special but to be the only two passengers may be even more special. Amenity kits were offered along with Givenchy comfort wear and slippers and the menus were brought out along with a huge selection of newspapers and magazines. Drinks were topped up and I realised that we may have quite a bit of Krug to get through. We told the crew that we would like to have dinner about four hours after take-off and then we would hopefully sleep. All our requests were met with a smile and an assurance that our wishes would be met. They asked us if we would like to specify the lighting levels for the cabin whenever we wanted it changing as there was no one else to please other than the two of us, again assuring us that it would be their pleasure to do whatever we wanted. I couldn’t stop grinning, people complain that SIA crew are robotic, I’ve never agreed with that and these were three of the most pleasant and charming young ladies you could wish to meet, warm and spontaneous.
The In-Flight Supervisor came along and introduced himself, another very pleasant man and he assured us of his attention throughout the flight and if we had the slightest concern he would address it immediately. We chatted for a few minutes and he told us that tonight’s flight was full in the other classes and it had led to four economy class passengers being off-loaded to SIA’s second flight of the night which leaves about ninety minutes later . Very SIA I thought, they would have off-loaded even if it meant waiting until the next day as you get exactly what you pay for and upgrades even for status passengers happen about as often as there are two moons in the sky at night. It’s good to fly with an airline that maintains the integrity of its offering and when you book a flight, you know what you will get and you won’t be surrounded by people gawping because they are getting something for free.
Through the window I could see that the jetty had been taken from the upper deck and then the one moved from 2L indicating it too was closed. The pilot made his first announcement introducing himself and the flight deck crew. SIA still employs a number of ex-pats as pilots although the numbers seem to be decreasing but the announcement was in clipped, precise and perfect English worthy of the best BA has to offer. Flying time would be long due to winds over India and Central Asia, take off would be to the north and the routing would take us up the west coast of Malaysia before crossing the Bay of Bengal towards New Delhi, Kabul, Ashgabat, Baku, on towards Istanbul, Sofia, Zagreb, Munich, Frankfurt and Brussels before finally crossing the North Sea to London. He concluded by telling us that he expected push back within a couple of minutes and was not expecting any delays to departure.
Push back started and as the first Trent 900 came to life the safety video started. No matter how often I fly I watch it as does Mrs JH and what they say is right, even if you fly frequently you can never be familiar enough with the cabin should something go wrong. In the previous ten days I had been on a Qatar A330, a Qatar A320, an Emirates A380, a Thai A330 and a SIA A330, the possibility of being confused at a critical moment if you do not pay attention is, I think a real risk to my own safety and that of other people. By the time the video which is thorough finished the taxi was well under way and the crew made their final checks of the cabin.
From our parking position to the holding point for 20C took us about seven minutes and once there we fell in behind a SIA 77W which almost immediately entered the runway and was gone inside a minute. The brakes were released and the four Trent 900s spooled up with an ever increasing growl, a sound that in foreign parts makes me proud to be British. There was no further hold and as the turn was established the growl increased and the slow crawl had a major change of tempo as the A380 ate up the runway before a very smooth rotation and before we knew it the landing gear was up and the climb established. I’m always amazed how quiet the A380 is on take-off, I used to be impressed by the A346 and still am but it has been beaten.
We sat back enjoying the few minutes of the dimly lit cabin and what we could see of Singapore and Malaysia below. I always have mixed feelings leaving Singapore, at one level I like it and it’s a very easy place at least for me to do business. On the other hand the level of order can drive me mad, I mean, does nothing ever go wrong there? Over many years I’ve come to the conclusion that if it does, they keep it well hidden.
Meanwhile Mrs JH was planning the flight. She had determined that we should reset our watches to UK time which meant putting them back eight hours so it was now about 16.00 and she told the crew that was the timing she would like them to work to. She proposed we have coffee and a sandwich now, drinks about 19.30 followed by dinner and we would aim to settle down about 22.00. This is what I try to do on flights back from South East Asia overnight at any time but of course the received wisdom from most people is they want to get off to sleep as quickly as possible. I find that going to sleep later means that jet-lag never really takes hold and I’m fine within twenty four hours. Of course it’s rare you can do exactly as you wish but on this occasion we could. The service on this flight is designated as a supper service so although it is very close to a dinner service there is no caviar or satay service. Just as well I had topped up on satay in the lounge. The crew were very happy with the proposal and assured us several times that nothing was a problem. It really was service with a smile.
The sandwich choices were foccacio filled with roasted vegetables and blue cheese or a croissant filled with chicken and tomato. We had one of each with a coffee and they were very tasty and so filling that Mrs JH did wonder about the wisdom of having one of each. We sat and talked for quite some time about things that are coming up, so often we don’t get the time to talk that we would like to and this was an ideal opportunity. Coffee was topped up regularly and more food was offered, we had plenty more coffee but no more to eat. I decided to get changed and as ever, as I emerged from the lavatory one of the crew was waiting with hangers to take my clothes which she did with yet another smile. I then settled down to read and put the map on; Mrs JH had chosen a film.
One of the great things about the suite is that the seat and the bed are two separate items. The seat will recline into almost any position but the bed actually folds out of the wall when you are ready to use it. The only comparable arrangement I can think of is the revamped LH 744 F on the upper deck which offers a bed and a chair side by side though of course it doesn’t have the same degree of privacy. In the suite once you close the doors and blinds it is a very private space, you could just about look in over the top of the partitions but it would be a very inappropriate thing to do. The product is unmatched even by EK and EY although the cabins are not to everyone’s taste as I understand some people prefer an open cabin.
Time passed and the crew made regular passes of the cabin at times stopping to chat. There were never less than two of them present, there are normally three plus the In Flight Supervisor but I think one had been reallocated to another cabin and the IFS though he made frequent appearances covered the meal service in Business Class. As 19.30 approached we were asked if we would like a drink and at the same time brought a hot towel. We both opted for more Krug, the crew apologised that they did not have canapés to serve but a mixture of macadamias and cashews was offered which did the job nicely.
It was time to order dinner or as the menu said supper.
Seared Tuna with avocado cream, grapefruit and a chilli salsa or
Iberico Ham with roasted vegetables and a white balsamic dressing
Corn Chowder with peppers and fingerling potatoes or
Pea & Ham Hock
A warm beef sandwich with pickled onions, horseradish cream and vegetable chips
Singapore Chicken Rice
A choice of cheeses and seasonal fruit
Compared to the full dinner service the meal was light but it was as much as we would eat at home. Just to complicate matters we had both pre-ordered a Lobster Thermidor from the Book the Cook service. The crew assured us that they had the Lobster Thermidor and four of each other choice so we could order whatever we wanted.
We started out with the appetiser, Mrs JH had the tuna and I had the Iberico Ham, we found both to be excellent. Champagne was topped up and breads offered both then and at very regular intervals during the meal. The crew remained perfectly friendly even though I did realise by then that their body clocks were probably telling them it was 04.00 as in some ways were ours. We decided to continue to drink the Krug, so apologies, I have no recollection of the wine list.
Again with the soups we had one of each, my corn chowder was perfect and Mrs JH pronounced the pea and ham as good as her own which is praise indeed.
The lobster thermidor was served in due course. Throughout the meal two crew served us in perfect unison one from each aisle so just as in the best restaurants we were able to eat at precisely the same time. I often order the lobster when I travel on SIA, I’ve never yet been disappointed and on this occasion I wasn’t either, it was cooked to perfection as was the accompanying asparagus. I could have eaten two of them and while there was another lobster dish on the main menu I doubt I would have slept if I had eaten any more. Mrs JH had not had the thermidor before and only ordered it because I’ve enthused about it so much. Fortunately she approved of it so my life is still worth living.
Dishes cleared the cheese was brought out. I thought it was time to leave the Krug behind and move on to the Taylors 20 year old tawny port that SIA serve in first, it is one of my favourites. The cheese board offered brie, an emmental, dolcelate and a very strong Australian cheddar. The fruit on offer included grapes, bananas, oranges, kiwis, mango, dragon fruit and a couple of other things. The crackers were Arnotts which I think are some of the best you can get. I took a little of each cheese and some grapes.
Meanwhile the crew asked if we would like 2 C & D made up as beds or would we prefer two window seats to be made up. We opted for 2 C & D as we do like the centre seats when we travel together. The crew busied themselves making up the beds while we finished our cheese. We both declined coffee although there are about eight options to choose from but opted for a hot chocolate which is my habit at that point of the flight. That served, it was bed time and the cabin lights were finally dimmed and then put out.
We both settled down and slept very soundly. Although there were only the two of us, we closed the suite doors for the additional privacy and it was as always very cosy. I’ve never sat in a middle seat when travelling alone but there is a substantial partition in case you don’t know the person in the other seat.
Landing time was expected to be 05.50 so as agreed with the crew they woke us at 04.45 for breakfast which is a big improvement on the usual ninety minutes to two hours before.
On waking the offered a hot towel and a choice of juices, we both chose orange. There was also a choice of tomato or pineapple.
The breakfast menu was as follows (to the best of my memory as I didn’t record this at the time):
A fruit plate
A choice of cereals and yoghurts
Eggs either scrambled, baked or boiled with ham slices, tomatoes and mushrooms
Pancakes with maple syrup and autumn berries
Coffee or tea
Mrs JH opted for scrambled eggs with tomatoes and mushrooms and I had again booked the cook and had ordered Nasi Lemak. We were both more than satisfied with our breakfast and the crew were again attentive throughout.
Breakfast over it was time to get changed and with that intuition that SIA crew have one of them appeared with the hanger with my clothes almost exactly at the moment I wanted it. By the time we had changed 2 C & D were tidied away and we gathered up our belongings. The customary pilot’s announcement of thirty minutes to landing had been made while we were changing.
The seatbelt sign was already on when we returned to our seats and as we started to descend it was bumpy. We made a very usual approach over Clacton and down towards Canary Wharf and up the Thames, there was no delay on approach and barely a bump as we landed on 27L. Brakes were applied and we left the runway with just a short taxi to one of the T3 A380 gates. The usual arrival announcement was made and the crew came to say that 2L would be opened but not 1L because of an issue with the jetty.
Mrs JH and I were prepared when the engines stopped to gather our things together and with a final smile from the crew and good wishes for the day we left behind one of the most amazing travel experiences we’ve had. Economy class passengers were held behind the curtain and must have been for several minutes as we were well clear of the jetty before there was any sense of people behind us. Immigration was quiet but we now always use the egates as they are more pleasant than the LHR immigration staff, there was no queue and we were through in minutes.
We knew we were home because the baggage carousel wasn’t even listed when we arrived in the hall just SQ322 Wait on the screen. After some fifteen minutes a carousel was listed and as we walked towards it, it started. I have little faith in priority delivery at LHR but SIA do usually get it right and the first six bags out were ours so something worked that morning and with just a walk through customs our driver was waiting and we were soon in the car and on the way home.
SIA operate four times a day between London and Singapore using a mixture of A380s and 77Ws. The A380 offers what I think is the best first class inflight experience of any airline by a country mile, on the 77W it is way above average but not comparable though the 77W does offer the latest SIA business class seats which are only a matter of months old. The service is invariably perfect, the food and beverage options at the top of the range and the Krisworld, the inflight entertainment system is a match for Emirates ICE and the two lead the market. This flight, partly because we were the only two passengers in F was an unmatched experience and I’d quite like it to happen again sometime!
NBO to DXB
Slow check in at Nairobi - took 15 mins to get into the terminal through the X-ray. Checked in and it took another 20 mins through passport control. The airport has recently automated the departure system (using fingerprints instead of paper forms) but this takes about 3 times as long (not the fault of EK perhaps but they didn't seem to be doing much to help).
There is no lounge in Nairobi (due to the fire) and all that was available was a snack box served in an empty gate room from an airline meal cart. Chewy chicken sandwich and some crisps. Only hot drinks. Very poor and staff were clearly embarrassed.
Flight boarded on time, my boarding pass was checked 8 times between check in and getting to my seat. Check in, passport control, access to the gate, 3 times more in the gate area, bottom of aircraft steps, and top of steps. On three occasions I deliberately had my finger across the flight details and wasn't challenged - I suppose the reason for so many checks is that they are rarely done properly.
Priority passengers boarded first, I was in a G seat near the rear (chosen deliberately as you usually get an empty seat next to you). Halfway through boarding passengers the rear doors were opened and it was quite fun watching the chaos as people tried to get up and down the cabin.
The flight left 30 mins late due to a damaged baggage container meaning all the bags had to be switched to another container.
The food service was a total shambles. The choice differed to the menu they handed out. Also service was from three trolleys, meaning that the guy in seat D had finished his meal before the cart in our aisle had even entered the rear cabin. In the end I asked to see the cabin manager who said EK had implemented a new system on 1st Dec of serving drink and food from the same cart. With 6 staff and 3 carts this inevitably doesn't work (he also said the only training he had received was a booklet and a video).
There was then a sense of panic as the service became rushed, and the coffee service was missed, at the point I asked to speak to the Purser who, like the cabin manager, did a pretty good job of hiding away during the flight.
Arrived on time in Dubai and baggage was on the belt quite quickly, this was the only positive aspect of the flight (apart from the IFE). The plastic pen they gave me to fill in the feedback form came apart when I tried to use it which summarised well the overall experience on this trip.
Overall totally shambolic. I would not be kidding if I said a group of GCSE students would have had more idea.
last row, to find seat broken with arm rest removed, DTW-PHX-PANC 10.5 hrs sitting in the full upright position with the jagged metal and plastic from the removed arm rest. Should I ever be faced with this decision again I will deplane.
Check in at T7 was a breeze and the male check in agent friendly. I then headed for security which I usually find is the worst thing about travelling to and from the USA, but on this occasion the TSA staff were ok, made a nice change.
I went to the BA lounge which is a pleasant place to wait. Not much food but due to time of day as we were taking off at 17.15. There were plenty of drinks available including Champagne on request.
Boarding was easy and I was welcomed on board by the crew. On this flight I had chosen a seat in the front cabin which I preferred. The lie flat seats are configured 4 in each row and are 1-2-1 but are very spaced out. A pre take off drink was offered and amenity packs were handed out. The charming male purser came around and took dinner orders.
Once airborne I had hoped we would be offered a drink quicker than on the outward flight. It was quicker but still took an hour and ten minutes. Dinner was served and was very good. There were plenty of tops ups of wine offered and after dinner they served liquors.
The seat was comfortable but I didn´t sleep too much as take off was at 17.15 so I wasn´t all that tired.
Breakfast was served before landing and was average with a croissant, yogurt etc. The Purser came around to each seat and asked if pax had enjoyed the flight and gave out information regarding connections.
Overall, this flight was good. Iberia receives a lot of deserved criticism regarding surly staff but on this flight the crew were very good. The Purser in particular was very friendly and efficient along with a male member of the cabin crew who was working in my section. I did notice a couple of the older type of Iberia cabin crew but could tell they were making an effort which gives hope for the future. If they get rid of their “government employee” type of attitude and realise they need to up their game, things will get better.
I am due to fly IB long haul next in early February so will report back.
MAD/JFK IBERIA. I was connecting from ALC and transferred from T4 to T4S and made my way to the lounge. Nice welcome to the busy lounge with plenty to eat and drink and also an area for wine tasting. Made my way to board and was told where my seat was. This was a new A330 with the new business class. There are 7 rows in the front cabin and then another 2 rows in the next, after the galley, which is where my seat was. It is similar to Swiss but in this section felt a little claustrophobic, but I soon got over that. I mentioned to the stewardess it was exciting to be flying on the new aircraft but she couldn’t have cared less!
The lie flat seats are configured 4 in each row and are 1-2-1 but are very spaced out so a couple sat in the middle seats would find it hard to have a conversation. In fact the couple in the row behind me chose to have a window and isle which meant they were nearer to each other.
We were waiting for some time for others to board and I assumed that they didn’t offer a pre take off drink. We pushed back and we were then offered Cava, orange juice or water, meaning we had to be quick. How strange that drinks are not offered beforehand. Amenity packs were handed out, and although nicely designed, included unbranded moisturizer, after shave etc.
Once airborne I settled down and worked out the features of the seat. The purser came around and took lunch orders and I waited for a drink to be offered. I waited and waited and it took an unbelievable 2 hours before a drink was offered. This is totally unacceptable. I can only assume they forgot about the 2 separate rows and just served the front cabin. I didn’t want to appear to be an alcoholic but did ask at one stage and was told they would be coming through shortly, but it still took a long time. The crew were working in the galley so it wasn’t as if they were all on a break, but they did not come through the cabin at all. I spoke to a couple of others and they did say that the service on this flight was slow compared to others.
Lunch was served but was poor. 2 slices of beef and some garnish, the dessert of lemon tart was delicious though. Crew then did an about turn and constantly offered top ups of wine, which was very good.
The entertainment seemed fine with a clear picture but I prefer to read.
An afternoon tea of cured meats was served shortly before landing.
Once we landed, we were given a tour of JFK as according to the captain, another plane was in our space. It took about 40 minutes before we parked. No queue at immigration but bags took a while.
Overall, it was ok. The food was a letdown and the ridiculous waiting time for a first drink must be improved upon. The crew were ok, certainly not over friendly but ok.
Report on return to follow.