Him again! Yes, me. Perhaps I ought to warn you, I think you better brace yourself to have quite a few trip reports of mine coming your way over the next few weeks. Sometime towards the end of the last year I had the brilliant idea – a kind of preempted New Year’s Resolution if you will – to write a trip report of at least one flight of every trip I make in 2014. I’ve made a further resolution to travel less in 2014. So theoretically this is going to be a walk in the park. Or so I thought… but it’s still early days and who knows, things may calm down or I may simply give up trying to keep track of myself at some point.
And one more thing. As the camera I’m using the iPhone 5 because it’s s0 much more convenient.
So yes, three days after I return from Nicosia, I find myself heading for the airport again – this time, to catch a plane to London. I’m giving a course in Oxford.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Well at least I’m flying from Basel airport. The journey time from the main station to the airport takes 16 minutes to complete with the bus line 50. A ticket to the airport should cost you around CHF 5. The bus is not really full.
Two rows in front of me there’s a guy sitting with tattoos and piercings all over his face. I can’t help wonder what the metal detector at security will do when he tries to pass. He also reeks of stale cigarettes and alcohol. I certainly don’t envy the poor bastard who’s going to have to sit next to him. Luckily, it’s not me!
I checked in using the BA app on my iPhone yesterday evening. The app saves the boarding pass for you in the Passbook app. The reliability of Passbook has improved considerably recently, and so I wake up this morning to find my boarding pass already displayed on the lock screen. Ready for me to swipe.
Somehow it seems strange to think that I was in this lounge on a KLM ticket only three weeks ago on my way to Japan. Twelve flights later and I’m back in the same place again.
The selection of food and drinks really isn’t bad in this lounge. There are breads with cheese, butter and jams and there is also quite an interesting selection of hot items, such as scrambled eggs, baked beans and sausages.
Wifi is free in the lounge. In addition, they’ve recently also added an al fresco smoking area on the balcony of the lounge. But somehow it’s just a bit too cold for that for me today.
Boarding for our 11:30 departure starts at 10:50, which is rather early. I exit the lounge and head through passport control to gate 30, from where my flight will be leaving. Most passengers already appear to have boarded by the time I arrive.
There are six rows of Business Class in a 2 + 2 configuration. The on right-hand side of the aircraft, the middle seat in the row of three is kept empty. On the left-hand side however, the row of two is created by pushing the middle seat together. So in actual fact there is slightly less space on the left rows.
I must say, yet again I am impressed by the British Airways cabin crew. What strikes me upon boarding the plane is how dapper they look in their pin strip uniforms. It’s quite a contrast from the frumpy Austrian Airlines crew and their god-awful red uniforms.
Announcements are made by Cabin Service Manager, whose English and French are flawless and accent free. Moreover, there are recorded announcements in German. Funnily enough, the voice used in the recordings has a very strong Swiss German accent, which is a nice local touch I find.
The CSM also points out that although it doesn’t say so in the safety video yet, British Airways has changed its policy and now allows you to leave your mobiles on during the flight as long as they’re in flight mode.
We take off from runway 16. We execute a gentle right turn to point us in the direction of London.
Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, service begins with the distribution of scented hot towels.
There are two options on today’s flight. One is a plate of cold meats and salad, the other, which I choose, is a warm croissant with ham and cheese in it. There is also a small plate with fruit. A bred basket is also available. To drink I have a coffee, which is an abomination, and a glass of still water with ice and lemon.
We’re running 35 minutes ahead of schedule. We do one circuit in a holding before eventually turning onto the approach for runway 27Right.
We come in straight over the West End. And even with partially cloudy skies, ground visibility is good and I manage to get a glimpse of St. Paul’s and Westminster.
GETTING TO OXFORD
There are direct buses from Heathrow’s T5 to Oxford by National Express. The journey takes approximately ninety minutes, with buses leaving every thirty minutes or so. A single ticket will cost you £24.
In Oxford I am staying at the Remont, which is in fact a B&B but offers a standard of comfort and service that is more like a hotel.
I can highly recommend the Remont. It may perhaps be a bit far from the city centre, but there is a bus stop conveniently located about one minute away from the hotel. Take any line 2 bus and it will bring you to the centre in about ten minutes or so.