Taking advantage of BA’s pre-Christmas seat sale I managed to snag a decent number of Tier Points last weekend with a short trip to San Francisco. Booking on the American Airlines UK web site allowed me to both (a) create a more complex routing than normal and (b) secure one of the domestic sectors in First Class. (If you book via BA’s web site you usually end up on the BA codeshare booked in to business, scoring lower Tier Points).
The ticket being one booked via American is not available for upgrade using Avios or my BA Gold Upgrade certs so I knew I would be booked in to my assigned seat.
Fast Track security can be anything but that these days as the airport becomes less and less functional. Luckily at the time I arrived there was no line, and after the mandatory passport check I was in to the new Fast Track queuing system. In order (I assume) to speed things up, Fast Track uses a single queue. An employee at the end of the queue directs you to one of 4 positions on each of 2 machines for you to grab a bin and start loading. This is how these machines were designed to work but this message never seems to have go to most flyers and so it is good that Heathrow are making it work, all be it at the cost of a full time employee. If you alarm through the metal detector you get the pleasure of a TSA-style nude-o-scope.
The shopping redevelopment has finished with a new Fortnum and Mason food bar at the bottom of the entrance to the BA lounges. It looks as if it has replaced the seafood and champagne bar previously nearby.
Quickly up the escalator and in to the BA lounge I noted how quiet it was. Almost no one there.
There was plenty of food and drink, and a hot and cold breakfast was underway when I arrived. Of course, plenty of champagne:
You can order from the menu – eggs Benedict and kippers for example, if you would prefer them. The food is average for an airport lounge. There is, however, plenty of it if you are hungry. There were also pastries, cheese and ham as well as large selection of drinks.
There was a BA 787 at a nearby gate
It was soon time to leave for the ‘B’ gates, a 10 minute trip by lift and train to the first of the two midfield terminals. There is a lounge here but I decided to go to the gate and we boarded fairly quickly after I arrived. Fast Track was in full operation for First and Club passengers as well as status card holders for BA and OneWorld partners.
Finding my seat upstairs, it was a few minutes before the other passengers appeared.
The window bins were ready for joining passengers:
The cabin filled and we waited…and waited. The captain explained that a passenger had not joined the flight, but had a bag in the hold. He expected 10-15 minutes of delay. Plus once located we might have to de-ice the underside of the wings due to ‘cold fuel’ causing a little bit of icing. The delay, inevitably, was much longer than suggested:
The crew gave out amenity kits and menus. The headsets, blankets and pillows were out at seat when boarding.
We left 45 minutes late, but with a decent connection at Miami I was not too concerned.
Whilst waiting at the end of the runway we had views of the new Qatar A380 taking off for Doha
My exit row seat 62K offers window access, plus direct exit to the emergency exit aisle removing the need to climb over other passengers. Popping up the dividing screen with the other passengers, I was watching movies – on a tiny screen – pretty quickly.
The food was tasty! Why I am surprised I am not sure but it was good – the beef was the sweetest most tender steak I have had in a very long time:
A had a couple of glasses of champagne with dinner and had a nap until awoken by a fellow passenger sitting on the window bins and chatting to her two friends in the seats behind me. It was audible through ear plugs!
I popped downstairs to the Club Kitchen and raided some goodies mid-flight:
I skipped the sandwiches and scone offered 90 minutes before landing.
The rest of the flight passed uneventfully and we landed close to the E gates at MIA that are used by BA. An agent met me at the top of the stairs with Express Connections folder. Oddly there were a group of men with buggies at the top of the escalator touting their service – ‘It’s a long walk’..but not making it clear whether the ride was free, chargeable or based on tips only. Weird.
There was no line at the Global Entry desk or Customs exit and I was back through Pre-Check about 30 minutes after landing which I count good news for Miami.
Overall a nice flight with decent food and it would have been great had the passengers behind me been a little more respectful of others.