Creating a Photo: Back to New York with British Airways – PART 2 – BA1 LCY-SNN-JFK
Featuring the British Airways Airbus A318E.
Or – “World. Enough now. Stop it. Please. Pretty Please…”
- The Introduction
- To London
- BA 1 – London City Airport – Shannon – New York JFK – THIS SECTION
- One Time Exception: Apple Store, Grand Central Terminal
- Holiday Inn Long Island City Manhattan View
- A trip to a camera shop
- Time with Friends and back to JFK
- JFK T7, Pre-Flight Dining
- BA4 – New York JFK – London City Airport
- Radisson Edwardian and the Trip Home
- The wrap up
- The Photo
How good can a business class only flight be? This section will look at the BA1 experience – and how 3 children can make a person wish I was back aboard the back row of a 777 at some points…
BA001 – London City Airport to Shannon Airport
British Airways, Airbus A318 Elite, Seat 7K,
Club World London City (Business Class)
- BA1 London To Shannon, to New York (cameraphone photos) – http://www.photoblog.com/kevincm/2012/08/07/
- BA1 London To Shannon, to New York (DSLR photos) – http://www.photoblog.com/kevincm/2012/08/08/
Apologies for the lack of photos in this segment. A memory card decided it wanted to spend its life in an unknown part of New York rather than hang around with me…. grr…
I went up the airstairs and boarded the plane where the purser was greeting passengers as I boarded. In front of me there was not one… but two families.
I was greeted warmly, and pointed towards my seat the back of the plane. Now when I did check in the day before, this was as quiet as anything down the back – by this time now it had solidified down the back. I got to my seat and surveyed the situation.
- 1 young girl in 6A
- 1 very young child in 6K
- 1 older boy in 7A
- And where was I… 7K.
Dear readers – I’m sure you know exactly what words were going through my mind at this point. The fact I couldn’t say them out loud is besides the point.
It was now a question of how bad those wonderful children will be.
Boarding was completed quickly and the aircraft was buttoned up on time. The Captain and crew gave their introductory speeches welcoming up aboard BA1 and the menus were handed out.
The safety demonstration was given by hand (as there are no overhead monitors on this aircraft), and off a taxing the plane went.
Now as most of us know, London City Airport is a postage stamp of an airport with an equally sized postage stamp of a runway. Or to put it bluntly, we had to wait for other aircraft to vacate the runway before our little Airbus A318 (or for this airport, our big Airbus A318) could taxi down the runway before turning around and putting the power on.
The result is this for a take off:
A darned powerful takeoff…
The plane took a route over climbing out of the airport, then banking towards Stratford and the Olympic Park before making tracks to Shannon.
Once in the air, the passenger next to me extended his bed, and I put mine in rest mode, reading around and looking at the product. I also got to try out the Noise Cancelling headphone that BA supply on this route.
Trust me. They worked very well later on in the flight.
Climb-out continued, and the crew were released to conduct the first service. Firstly the two ladies doing the drinks run greeted me by name (something that was to continue for the entire flight) and I opted for a Kir Royal (with a glass of water on the side – it’s not good form to turn up drunk at the US Border after all).
Lets have a quick look around the cabin. It is starting to age a bit, with scuff marks here and there.
The bin over 7K… was yes…. over-sprung to say the least – still it kept family in surprise to me when their child wanted something from the overhead 😉
Also during the point, the purser made his first round, using his BA iPad, greeting me with two messages from Executive Club regarding my first times in the cabin and service, and a short discussion about my BA profile (which had me pegged as a European flyer as a transfer from BMI – nothing like a bad database after all). At this point my lunch order was taken… and I was having trouble choosing between the Concorde crab cakes and the Roast Chicken.
“Have both Sir”.
Now that’s a nice bit of service there.
After the first drinks service was complete, the purser came around again with the starters – a choice of beetroot with feta cheese or a ham hock compit and celeriac remoulde compote with melba toast.
Obviously it was the ham.
Now, you’ll forgive me that I go into nice terms about the food – this can be put down to the dicky stomach I had the week and a bit before.
The ham was light, along with the way it had been shredded and the celery worked with the combination.
The crew were in full pre-emptive topup regime, checking if topups were needed and delivering them when required.
I could get used to this sort of crew…
Soon enough it was time to clear down the plane as we approached Shannon, so glasses and plates were collected, and soon the screams began from 6K…
Touchdown was a much less spirited affair than take off, and soon enough we were taxing to the gate
The only other passenger aircraft around was a Aer Lingus Regional ATR (well there were other passenger aircraft around… a lot of ex-Spanair A319’s mainly). Soon enough we were heading to gate where all passengers were reminded of the procedures for transfer.
After the airbridge was attached, we were invited to disembark, where upon I made sure I was one step ahead of the families. Well one little bonus to speed up the journey a bit
After finding my way to the Luggage waiting area (where everyone else was waiting – it seems this was one of those LCY “leisure” flights almost), I realised I forgot to ring the credit card company up to tell them I was going away. A quick phone call, and that was dealt with, and at that point the Luggage delivery was completed – leading me to be one of the first people to be cleared for US Security and Immigration.
Security was quick and painless with no security arch, and US Immigration was friendly as I had 5 agents to choose from. Again, I’m a fan of clearing in Ireland on the way to the USA – so this was my sort of US immigration experience as opposed to waiting an hour in a switchback at O’Hare.
Once through security, there isn’t a lot to be honest. The duty free shop was closed, and the terminal was… well… deserted apart from 31 passengers rattling around.
At this point, I wanted to update myself with the world, so I decided to check my mail on the computer and dump the first batch of photos. And my Mac at that point decided to freeze. That’s something not unheard of on Mac’s, but something wasn’t right. I popped the computer back into the rucksack and hoped for the best as boarding was called at Gate 107.
Boarding began as I got to the gate. My boarding pass was torn, and it was back on the plane for me
BA001 – Shannon Airport to New York John F Kennedy International
British Airways, Airbus A318 Elite, Seat 7K
Club World London City (Business Class)
Making my way aboard the plane before the children got there was one of my better moves of the day as it allowed me to get all the bits I would need ready for the flight.
The plane was buttoned down quickly, with a change of flight deck crew at the front, and a quick reminder of the safety procedures.
Hints of signs to come begun when the plane began to taxi when mother of the child in 7A rushed to get up and get son’s take off sweets. Thankfully the purser was quick to 1) get the woman back into her seat and 2) get the child some raisins to suck on during take off.
Once again, the CFM engines spooled up, and our little Airbus A318 took the sky.
Once again in the air, the crew did a drinks run. This time I went with a Club World London City Champagne cocktail. (Kir Royal, Taittinger, Gin and something else). To say it was rather quaffable would be an understatement ;).
The amenity kits were also distributed at this point too.
Meanwhile, I decided to try to get my Mac working. And this is where my plan went horribly wrong when I got a Kernel Panic and flashing folder icons (for those of you in Windows land – think Blue Screen of Death).
The words that I was holding back were all impolite… but there were children around. The PRAM was screwed, and more importantly the Mac couldn’t access the hard disk. Not good things. In the end, the Mac became a battery charger for the iPhone, and my mood… was darkening.
At this time, the crew delivered the IFE devices – which are Apple iPads. The iPads were a custom configuration, removing the usual Springboard menu system that you have on am iPad/Phone with a custom menu solution with content.
iPad in case
And… it worked a dream. There were mounting arms inside the seats which could be extended, or do what I did – rest it on the side or the stomach when the bed is in the flat position. However, a good IFE system can only be a “great” IFE system when you have good and varied content. And British Airways got this correct with a good spread of World and British films, as well as TV programming. The only thing missing sadly is a moving map.
Still it’s a great solution for the need – and much lighter than a traditional IFE set-up that only some might use on a plane. Or lets put it like this: I didn’t resort to my iPhone for entertainment needs during the remainder of the flight.
Still at least the crew were livening me up when lunch was delivered. Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fussy eater – but the crew did a good job with the food service, with it plated and presented well. The chicken wasn’t tough at all with a lovely cheese inside, and the Concorde crab cakes were amazingly light. The vegetables to me were well cooked and seemed fine to me.
Meanwhile during dinner, the Kir Royals continued to flow. I think this crew had me figured out by now 😉
Desert was apple pie or cheese – neither of which I’m a fan of. Instead, I was pro-actively offered some fruit – and I took and orange and banana.
The purser went around to clear the plates, and spent time talking to each passenger to make sure the service was ok, and what was wrong with it (as 7B went to extol that the potatoes weren’t done well enough). Meanwhile the child in 7A was starting to get active and standing on the leg-rest on the seat.
Again, it’s the little details of the service.
After a very satisfying lunch, I decided to try to get a Genius Bar appointment on the plane using the on-board OnAir system.
Now I’m going to be blunt – OnAir runs at GPRS/EDGE speeds, so it’s slow as heck. It’s also very laggy and the ping times are frankly awful (so you can forget about using fancy webapps or anything that requires more than a few kilobytes of data. I wouldn’t want to use it for anything serious – least of all the costs for the small amount of data I consumed (10mb) was £30.
I was able to get an appointment at the Genius Bar at Grand Central Terminal for 8pm, and did a tiny bit of research on various Mac recovery methods (none of which worked… but at least I tried.)
So that’s my most expensive appointment ever.
At this point, I popped the seat into relax/bed mode, and watched the world go by.
Except I made the mistake of looking towards 7A. And that wonderful child who had never been told the word no in his life was using the back of 6A as a climbing frame and talking to the little girl in 6A. Were the parents doing anything regarding his behaviour?
What do you think? Of course not.
Meanwhile I tried to ignore them with the noise cancelling headphones – and I mostly did… until the kid reached near to my seat for my bottle of water. A loud “Excuse me?” warded him off me for the remainder of the flight.
I could write masses about the toilet – but I won’t – it’s a standard Airbus toilet module with some nice toiletries in it. That’s it.
I went back to seat and watch the day unfold over the Atlantic as we crossed into Canada. Meanwhile over in 7B, Mummy was asleep, Daddy was out cold in 7J, and 7A… was hyperactive bouncing up and down, and not being able to stay still – with both his own iPad and the BA iPad exhausting his entertainment, and trying to chat to 6A again.
But the question is this: Would you take your child on a business only flight? I’m not saying this to keep it exclusive – on a 777/747/767 you have an acre more space for them to play in, bigger galleys, and areas to keep children active in, rather than a much smaller plane with limited rest/space facilities.
The flight itself was very chop free – with one of the smoothest flights across the pond I’ve had in some trips (most of the flight recently I’ve had have been bouncy all the way there and all the way back).
A pre-arrivals service commenced with sandwiches, scones and cakes 1½ hours before landing in traditional style afternoon tea. The sandwiches were presented in an open plate, with fresh scones offered with jam and clotted cream – again nothing to fault the food here.
A small selection of little cakes followed to conclude the service which was done again with style.
The clear down followed as people begun to get ready for landing, with the captain informing us at 40 minutes to landing and 20 minutes when the seatbelt sign came on. Even the little brat in 7A was almost controlled at this point – mainly because he was now in 7B next to his father who was in 7J. That didn’t stop the brat removing his seatbelt more than once during taxing sadly.
Or to put it blunt – the parents were more interested in the kitchen supplements in a magazine and which one to cut out to take on their journey rather than the behaviour of the child.
Touchdown was gentle, and the plane was on the ground a few minutes early.
After a long taxi to gate 1 of T7, the seatbelt sign was extinguished, and everyone got up to race off the plane.
I made the point of thanking the crew (who all got ba.com/welldone’s for the service they did), and made my way off the babybus – now in the city of New York.
Overall: A great service by the crew – what I’d call a shining example of a crew working together. A shame it was mostly ruined by screaming and misbehaving kids… and less caring parents.
Next up: One Time Exception – Apple Store, Grand Central Terminal – Here, there be geniuses….