BA Upperdeck Experience to New York





Once in a year my dad and I head out together for a weekend city trip somewhere around Europe. But for this year we wanted to indulge in a little bit of luxury and do something more special. How about a long weekend in the city that never sleeps, in New York City? Sounds good! And to make things even better, we decided to fly in business class over the pond. However to find a reasonably priced flight for this wasn't really easy, but then British Airways came to our rescue with a business class sale for the summer months. Nothing out of Germany though, but they had a pretty good offer with flights out of Dublin, first to JFK via LHR, and the return flight direct JFK-DUB with American Airlines. Not bad, would give us a chance to compare the two airlines (and LHR would be a new airport for me, yes, believe it or not I have managed to avoid Heathrow so far). I then booked a simple return flight FRA-DUB with Aer Lingus to get ourselves to Dublin and we were all set.

The BA flight to JFK was scheduled to be in a B747-400 and they have a part of the Club World cabin on the upper deck, of course I was eager to ride in this exclusive section, something I always wanted to do. However BA charges a ridiculous amount of 105,- Euro extra for a seat reservation on the upper deck per person! So I decided to wait till online check-in gets open and hope that there are still seats in this section available.

The return flight with AA was at first scheduled to be in a 767 but then got downgraded to a 757-200. Well, I really do like the 757, but on such a rather long flight I would have preferred something more bigger.
This report was originally published in the trip report section of airliners.net.

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper -
copyright © Karl L. Swartz


 

Flight 1:DUB-LHR

29.08.2015
British Airways BA 833
Dublin – London Heathrow
Distance: 450 km / 243 nm
Airbus A319 (G-EUOH)
Seat 2A
scheduled 08:50 – 10:10
actual 08:47 – 10:08
flight-time 08:58 – 09:58 (60 minutes)

After a pleasant flight with Aer Lingus and a night in the Premier Inn hotel near Dublin airport it was time to head back to the airport on this lovely morning. BA uses the older terminal 1 here:



After security (we were able to use the fast track lane, nice) we headed straight to the lounge, the DAA Executive Lounge where we got welcomed in by a quite friendly agent at the reception. It wasn't very busy there yet:



And they had a small, but nicely stocked buffet with snacks and sweets:


I got a coffee and a few nibbles:


The lounge was pleasant enough to wait for our flight, only the view out of the windows wasn't that spectacular:


Let's check the FIDS, all looks good for our flight to Heathrow:


Later on the way to the gate we saw this beautiful green 757, looks sexy with the winglets:


And our ride to London was already at the gate, here it is, the A319 as scheduled:


Turned out to be G-EUOH, built in 2001 and in service with British Airways since then. Boarding started just as we arrived at the gate so we directly headed into the plane. Good morning to the flight attendant and I settled down into 2A, with the middle seat blocked. But besides there wasn't any difference to a regular seat, even the seat pitch wasn't that good. I had expected a bit more room, but it was certainly enough for a short flight. My view out of the window:


And I liked how they put the BA logo on the bulkhead:


On time departure after a quick welcome by the Captain and we made our way towards the runway. Two AA planes were parked at other gates, a sign for things to come later on this trip:


And up in the air from runway 28:


After the turn towards the East we had this view over the airport:


And a little later over the coast of Ireland:


The airshow was on for the whole flight, always good:


Then the crew started with the service, they were apparently of the more senior and experienced type and very friendly on this flight. They distributed hot towels first, followed later by a hot breakfast:


The food was really nice, I had a warm croissant with it from the bread basket, together with an orange juice and a coffee. After the trash got cleaned up we had already left flight level 270 and were descending towards London. The Captain was on the mike again with another welcome, he told us about the lovely weather in London this day and that we would be put in a hold only for a few minutes so we would be on time in Heathrow. Good to hear.

We were flying past the Silverstone circuit:


I was sitting on the wrong side for the views over the city of London, instead I had this great overview over London City Airport:



Over the Southern suburbs with the Twickenham Stadium


Already over the airport perimeters on final approach towards runway 27R:


Touching down after exactly one hour in the air. On the way to the gate we saw this big bird coming all the way from Australia:


Nearing terminal 5 with a lot of BA planes, well, it's their base after all:


At the gate then perfectly on time, and with a seat this far in front of course we were out of the plane quite quickly, and for the first time I set my foot into London Heathrow airport:


We had a little more than one hour of connection time, so should be more than enough since our next flight leaves from the same terminal. We somehow missed the fast track entrance to the security check here. Their was quite a long line here at the regular check so I asked an agent there if we can switch lanes. He checked our boarding passes, 'Sure, of course', and let us pass to the other, much shorter line. Still it took a few minutes, but then we were through and into the main hall:


We made a quick dash into the lounge, but since our flight was departing from the B gates we only had a few minutes there and just got a quick drink.

Flight 2: LHR-JFK

29.08.2015
British Airways BA 173
London Heathrow – New York John F. Kennedy
Distance: 5554 km / 2999 nm
Boeing 747-400 (G-CIVV)
Seat 60K
scheduled 11:20 – 13:55
actual 11:20 – 13:46
flight-time 11:42 – 13:31 (6 hours 49 minutes)

Once we arrived at the gate boarding was almost finished and we were among the last passengers to get on board. Still enough time for a quick picture of our chariot of the skies, what a beauty:


G-CIVV would take us over the pond today, flying for BA since 1998. It was my first time in a 747 since almost 20 years and I was getting a little excited now. And yes, we managed to get a seat on the upper deck! During online checkin the day before there were still two window seats up there available and I was really happy to take them. So on board we were greeted nicely by the FA and guided to the stairs leading up. I took my seat 60K, made myself comfortable and a welcome drink was delivered quickly, I took an orange juice this time:



And I had three windows all for myself :-) :



Window seats here in Club World are rear facing, but for me this wasn't a big deal. It felt a bit strange during take-off roll, but later during cruise there wasn't a lot of difference. Let's checkout the seat, first impression was very positive. When the divider to the seat next to me was up it was like a small private cabin, very comfy. A lot of features:



The controls were simple and easy to use:



All in all a place where you could easily spent even a very long flight without any problems. Since we boarded quite late just after we made ourselves comfortable in the seat pushback already started, exactly on time. Bye bye BA land:



Good to see another airbus in the Dove livery:



On the way to the active departure runway we spotted a few nice big birds, like this A380 from Malaysia:



And another one from Abu Dhabi:



Lining up on runway 27L:



A slow, but yet powerful take-off roll and up in the air we go:



Great view over the main building of terminal 5 here:



And heading west over the green British countryside:



This looks like an old military airfield, but I couldn't identify it:



A little later the flight attendant came around to take orders for the meal service. But wait, let's have a look into the menu first to see what's on offer for this flight:





I opted for the mozzarella and the lamb chops. The FA warned me though that the lamb chops are a rather small portion, but I decided to take it anyway since the other choices weren't too much to my liking today. But first as an aperitif I took a lovely Kir Royal, a minor letdown here that the nuts were served in a bag (this felt sooo economy ;-) ) :



Yeah, live is good:



Later the FA made up my table for the meal and brought the tray with the starter (sorry for the dark picture) :



Mozzarella with roasted tomatos and a delicious pesto, together with a fresh salad, a warm bread roll from the basket, all accompanied quite well with a fruity Rioja. So far a good start to the meal.

The lamb chops with couscous for the main course, the portion wasn't actually that small and certainly more than sufficient after the generous starter:



The meat was tender and with the tasty honey rosemary sauce and the couscous it made for a very satisfying dish. For dessert I took the cheese which had a quite strong taste, but together with the pear chutney it was really good. The flight attendant asked me if I would want a glass of port with the cheese, well of course I didn't decline.


After the meal I just relaxed in my little cabin and played around with the IFE. I watched a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory and a couple of good old Monty Python sketches. But most of the time I had it on the airshow. Cruising over the Northern Atlantic:




Overview of the small and cozy upperdeck cabin during cruise:


Later in the afternoon a tea time snack was served, the choice was a sandwich combo or an antipasti plate. Took the sandwich combo together with a buttermilk scone and a selection of cakes and sweets. Everything was absolutely yummy, just one of the cakes was too sweet for my taste:


The Captain then was on the speakers shortly before descent with a friendly good afternoon and a few words about the flight. Our route of flight was over Ireland first, then across the Atlantic before making landfall at Newfoundland and then down towards the US, along Long Island and into JFK. Cruising altitude was FL370.

Already during descent, the general aviation airport of Groton (New London) in Connecticut:



And over Long Island, this is the Calverton Executive Airpark:



It's getting more and more built up as we got closer to New York City:



Moments before landing, with the skyline of Manhattan visible in the distance:



And with a smooth touchdown on runway 22L this nice flight was sadly coming to its end. The international terminal with a lot of colorful tails:



Taxiing was rather short for such a large airport and we came to stop next to this 777 from Hong Kong, it must have arrived just a few minutes before our flight:



The engines were shut down then and the Captain was on the mike again telling us that it will take another few minutes because we had to be towed in to the final gate position. Interesting, I had never experienced something like this before. Disembarking down the stairs again, I thanked the FA for the nice flight and we set foot into terminal 7 of JFK airport. Next was the probably most cumbersome thing when going to the US, the immigration procedure. There was a very long line and it was moving agonizingly slow. We stood in line for around 80 minutes. But then at least the officer was somehow friendly and we finally got the stamp in our passport.

The view back to the terminal from the station of the Airtrain, a little train that connects all the terminals with the nearest subway stations:



And another view on a BA 747, this is however not the one we had just taken:


This concludes the first part of this journey, stay tuned for more!




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