The return ticket booked in to P class and allowed seat selection at time of booking which was helpful.
At the Airport
I bypassed check-in and went to Security adjacent to the bmi normal check-in desks where there was no line and I was straight through. No shoes or belts off I am pleased to say.
I was tempted to go to the Star Alliance Lounge one last time as a bmi customer before the relationship ends but decided that the end of the Great British Lounge (as bmi call their International Lounge) might come with them being folded in to BA at the end of the summer. So I though one (almost) last visit. The lounge is a little walk from the main shopping area but is pretty nice once there.
There is hot and cold food. Bacon and omlette rolls, Porridge and Soup were all offered at various times. There were cereals, yoghurt, crisps, a salad bar and sandwiches on the cold front.
Plenty of hot and cold drinks for those minded that way. The bar is set up to help yourself to wine and spirits.
There are showers in the lounge, about 4 PCs to use and free WiFi. Major issue is that the seats no longer have power in the sockets. They tell me this is temporary and the result of people jamming various plug in the sockets. I had to recharge my machine some distance from where I was sitting with the attendant angst.
The lounge has views of the runway at Heathrow and I saw a slightly sad bmi Star Alliance plane.
Changes with BA acquisition
BA finished its purchase of bmi the day before but apart from a sign in sheet for BA Executive Club members at front of the lounge there appeared to be little difference from before.
We got a gate about 30 minutes before departure and when I went there you could physically get to our gate as the doors were locked. People did begin to wonder what was happening.
The best seat I could get was 2C at time of booking, but as left there was no one in 2A so effectively I had three seats to myself. There were only two rows of Business Class on the day. The legroom is pretty poor on this bmi A319.
There was one flight attendant working the Business Cabin, well at least that was the idea. There was some medical issue at the back of the plane and he was dealing with that for most of the flight. This made the meal service very fragmented and created a fairly poor impression.
There was a hot lunch, a choice of wine (red or white) poured from full sized bottles. Other drinks were available from the bar. The lunch choice was prawn linguine or butternut squash nocci. There was a small salad and a small apple tart for dessert.
We got a jet bridge at Casablanca and a short walk got us to the immigration hall. bmi did not hand out immigration cards, despite these being needed by all passengers. I grabbed one and then got in a queue. There is no separate line for Moroccan nationals and others, so it’s a bit hit and miss. After your passport is stamped your passport is checked before you proceed to the baggage hall. The bags were coming off as I got to the belt.
In the Arrivals hall is a foreign exchange bureau, where I changed my cash. Check carefully as the person serving me miscounted twice and as I gave him 5 * £20 notes I wondered about this. They give you a receipt which you must keep to change the money back when you leave.
The taxi driver and I agreed a fare of about $30 and about an hour later I was at the Hyatt. There was very heavy traffic and lots of diversions as they are installing a new tram system in the city.
About two days before the return home I received a text message from TripIt advising that my flight had been moved from 1555 hrs to 1405 hrs. Not a word from bmi!
At the airport the check-in desk opened about 2.5 hrs before departure, rather than the 3 hours shown on the bmi web site. Check-in consisted of two queues but only one agent.
Before you get to Passport Control to leave, you must tell a guard from Customs how much money you have on you. If you say very little he quizzes you, although seemed worse for Moroccan nationals. There are serious limits on how much Moroccan money you can take out of the country – about $100 maximum.
After Passport Control you go through security – no shoes off, no laptops or liquids out. A full body pat down for everyone after they pass the metal detector, but pretty pleasant and civil.
bmi use the VIP lounge at the airport which is nice, but small. The nice lady behind the counter explained that it did have WiFi ‘but it is not working at the moment’. I could not piggyback any other networks so just watched some movies on the iPad.
At about 1.30pm the gate was supposed to close, but in fact it had not opened. The displays around the airport showed the flight as 14.30. Then around 1.45 when the boarding started it changed to leaving 25 minutes early. All around this flight seems like the ugly step-child for bmi.
On Board Return flight
Much busier in Business Class on the A320 bmi operated we again had one member of staff looking after us. The meal choices were exactly the same as on the way out which makes me assume that the flight is fully catered in LHR.
The flight was uneventful with an on-time arrival at Heathrow. Of course my heart sank when we pulled around to the UK Domestic gates and I realised it would be a bussed arrival, with Business Class getting off last.
Iris was roped off at T1, and the queues were substantial for EU and non-EU passport holders. Luckily the automatic boarding crossing machines worked well and I was through in a couple of minutes.
50 minutes after gate arrival I was on the tube platform on the way home.
This flight at about 3.5 hours seemed treated as if it was a flight of 1.5 hours with nothing special on board. The crew seemed disinterested and the bussed arrival at Heathrow is a disgrace. Perhaps 2/5 if you are score minded.