I spent all of last week commuting to the office by train. Every day, the same routine. Actually I thought it was quite exotic for a change. But today I’m back to the old routine. Exactly one week and one day after I return from London, I’m off again. This time, I’m heading for…eh…London again. In my defence, I shall only be changing planes in Heathrow this time. What’s more, at least I had the decency of picking another flight for the outbound than I did last time.
Getting to the Airport
Transport: BVB bus line 50
Departs from: Basel SBB railway station, by the main exit
Frequency: Every 8 to 10 minutes
Journey time: 16 minutes
Fare: CHF4.20, one-way
Link: Basler Verkehrsbetriebe – BVB
To look at the amount of luggage I’m carting with me on this trip, you’d easily be mislead to think I’m emigrating to Australia. Not this time. But I will be gone for two weeks, and it is a business trip after all.
I catch the 05:35 bus. The passengers are mostly travellers with small carry-ons, gazing absentmindedly into their iPhones through tired eyes. Right opposite of me is a young couple. They look so sweet. I have no idea where they’re heading, but he is obviously very excited about the journey they are about to embark on. While she tenderly strokes his hand, quite obviously finding pleasure in relishing in his excitement.
Location: Departures level on the first floor, Swiss side
Facilities: Self-service check-in machines and baggage drop counters
Counters: Dedicated British Airways counters
I enter the terminal and head straight for the British Airways counters. Somewhere in the back of the building I can hear a man laughing. But it’s not a normal kind of laugh. More like the insane, evil laugh of the Über-villain in a James Bond movie. And he won’t stop either. The check-in agent simply rolls her eyes and explains that he’s a regular. Charming!
Incidentally, the check-in agent is a competent young lady with excellent manners. She’s French and speaks very good English. She checks my suitcase through to my final destination, gives me instructions to the lounge and sends me on my way wishing me a pleasant flight.
There’s quite a queue for security this morning, but fortunately for me the priority lane is open and empty.
The Skyview Lounge
Location: Airside on the second floor, in the Schengen sector
Type of Lounge: Skyview contractor lounge operated by Swissport
Facilities: Washrooms, showers, public computers
Internet: Free, unlimited WiFi; no password required
There are two young American gentlemen ahead of me as I enter the lounge. Apparently they’re travelling on the KLM service to Amsterdam. One young man is granted access to the lounge while the other is informed that he will not be allowed to enter without a status card. The two young men deliberate what to do next, seemingly oblivious to me, waiting behind them. Eventually the guy who has access to the lounge simply says: ‘Okay buddy, I’ll just grab a bite to eat here and I’ll be outside in about 25 minutes. See you at the gate. Bye’. Well that’s not very nice.
I only have a cappuccino in the lounge, in anticipation of another one of those delectable British Airways breakfasts.
Separate queue for status and Business Class passengers
Boarding starts exactly on time. I exit the lounge, turn left to the non-Schengen gates and passport control. I don’t know how British Airways does it, honestly. The cabin divider is pushed all the way back to the row behind the emergency exit, which makes ten rows of Business Class with a total of forty seats. And from what I can tell, there are no empties this morning.
There’s a bit of a hold up for departure. It’s quite misty this morning so arrivals and departures have had to be slowed down.
Configuration: 2 + 2
Seat: Standard European Economy Class seat with the middle seat left empty
Pitch: 34 inches
Width: 19 inches
Facilities: Overhead video screens, no audio outlet
I’m becoming rather fond of these BA seats, I must say. So much better than those horribly thin seats most carriers seem to have on short-haul these days, that have your back aching and your butt going numb within minutes of sitting down. I still don’t know how I managed to fly all the way from Vienna to Larnaca in one of those. Yes, this is definitely so much better.
There are two cabin crew working the Business Class cabin this morning – the male Customer Service Manager and a young lady. Initially I don’t much like the CSM because his smile looks kind of put on. Later on though I realise I must revise my impression of him. It’s just the way he smiles and he seems in fact genuinely friendly and very customer oriented.
Hot Towels Before the Meal: Yes, slightly scented
Choice: English breakfast or a plate of cold cuts
Delivery: Tray service from trolley
Appearance: Metal cutlery, crockery and glassware, hot meal served in tinfoil
Type of Meal: Breakfast, hot meal
Menu: No menu distributed
- Scrambled eggs
- Cumberland sausage
- Grilled tomato
- Bread and butter, marmalade
- Cereal bar with cherries
- Tea or coffee, a selection of juices and soft drinks
British Airways recently revamped their catering concept and there now appears to be a choice of two different dishes for every meal service. Of course I go with the English breakfast, which hits the spot nicely. The scrambled eggs in particular are really excellent, with a rich, creamy texture and a sinful buttery taste. The coffee is still an abomination though…
Outside it’s a beautiful day for flying. Just as we reach the French coast the trays are removed and we begin our descent into Heathrow. Time to sit back and contemplate…
Terminal: 5A, British Airways terminal – this is where most European flights arrive and depart
We’re treated to a beautiful approach into London this morning. We reach the city from the south east and then to a sharp left turn. As we come out of the turn I can clearly see the illuminated billboard on Piccadilly Circus. We then to another left turn to point us in a southwesterly direction, passing due south of Heathrow. We then execute a series of very gentle right turn until eventually we are lined up for a 09Left arrival.
As we touch down I spot three Cathay Pacific Airways Boeing B 777-300s. One of them is wearing the infamous and absolutely stunning Asia’s World City livery. Could this perhaps mean…hush my heart…hush…hush….
What a babe…