Trip Report: London – Vancouver on British Airways BA85, A380 (August 2016)

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Previous components to this trip:

Singapore – London on British Airways BA12, A380

I have always thought that I would love to move there to live and work. My role and my industry make it difficult for me to to make that leap, so I would have to either go back to school (to attend UBC or Simon Fraser) or would have to change career. Since neither of these seems likely, I will just have to make do with the once a decade trip. Maybe it is because I only spend short periods of time there, that I get a rose tinted view of the place.

When I first booked this, I think the plane was a 747. But by the time came to travel, it was an A380. As some of you would know from my previous SQ 321 report I like the a380; a lot. So I was pretty happy that this was the equipment that had been deployed to this leg. I love the fact the cabins feel bigger than the older jets.

The journey to the Heathrow Terminal 3 was quite slow due to various accidents, and traffic jams. There was one major incident at a cross roads, which really clogged up the roads. Unfortunately the traffic police started the road block right next to the accident so people were slowing down to look at it, and a three lane road had been narrowed to one lane. There were a number of emergency services on the scene so hopefully they were able to get those involved to hospital quickly.

As the taxi had arrived early, there was no real rush. Despite the accident, we got to Heathrow about 2 hour beforehand.

First gripe of the journey, the lack of trolleys in the drop off area. I needed to go inside the terminal before heading back out with a trolley.

Check in for the Vancouver flight is a slightly strange affair. This BA flight checks in in zone C, while all other BA flights check in takes place in zone D. Not sure for the reason. Maybe this is a one off or maybe someone can explain this slightly bizarre occurrence.

After check in came the delights of security. One thing I find a bit odd again is that immigration seems so casual. There doesn’t really appear to be anyone checking any documents. Why is that? They are happy for people to leave?

Security is a pain wherever you go. But in Heathrow they seem to take a bit of a perverse pleasure in it. I always try to prepare myself by taking my electronics out before I get to the security but for some reason people don’t know that they need to take it out. Maybe I travel far more and know that this needs to be done, but surely people know that they need to take out their electronics.

And of course Sod’s law is that I end up with the shortest queue, but takes the longest time. Not only did the 5 people in front of me not unpack their electronics early, the scanning crew took this opportunity to do a change over. This was no musical chairs — they really took their sweet time. I must have spent at least 20 minutes waiting behind 5 people.

After unpacking all my electronics, I then spent a couple of minutes packing them all back up again. I guess this is the world we now live in.

We got to the lounge knowing that the plane was already delayed. I saw on my app that the plane had arrived late from Vancouver and was set for boarding about 30mins late.

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I had about 2 hours in the lounge so decided to stuff my face a bit. There wasn’t a huge amount of choice, but I had chicken tikka sandwiches and some cakes and then spent some time reading stories on my phone. When the gate number appeared, I decided to grab a few more sandwiches before heading off to the gate – what a piece of foresight this would be.

BA85 LHR-YVR
August 2016
A380
Class: Premium Economy
Estimated duration: 9hr 40mins
Scheduled Departure: 17:15
Actual Departure: 20:09
Scheduled Arrival: 18:45
Actual Arrival: 2053
Plane registration: G-XLEJ

When I did finally get to the gate, it was already swarming with rodents, I mean passengers.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of the plane as it was hidden behind the gate. Peekaboo!!! Slightly disappointed that I didn’t get the full bird before we took off as that’s usually when I take a photo. More so disappointed due to the time we ended up arriving in Vancouver … more to come about that

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When boarding was finally called, I was impressed that the ground staff appeared to enforce the notion of priority boarding; and also that people were willing to abide by these rules.

Despite being such a large plane, and using 3 boarding bridges, the whole process is pretty painless and quite swift.

 

Putting the premium in economy

Having being upgraded on the Singapore London flight on BA12 earlier this journey, this was an opportunity to scope out the World Traveller Plus product.

So I travel in World Traveller Plus, aka Premium Economy to the rest of the world. What do you guys think about this? Should they call it Premium Economy? I don’t know about this naming products for naming products sake.

I do like the Premium Economy product, especially when compared with the normal World Traveller option. And if the plane has the new WT+ I have been pretty impressed. The older WT+ product is definitely not as good, and the sooner they can get rid of those the better!!

The new cabin is available now on the newer aircraft. A380, Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER. Apparently there is refurbishment going on on Boeing 777-200 and 767 aircraft. What you may notice is that 747s are not included in that list. I hope they do go ahead and include the 747s in the upgrade.

The seats are wider and have greater leg room. What I especially like about the WT+ cabin is that it is quite small. So 2 easy benefits; 1, the cabin is generally quieter as there are fewer people. 2, the chances of upgrades to Club World is higher!

When you get to the seat, it usually has a cushion, a blanket and as small amenity kit which includes toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks and eye mask. I have never opened it to be honest.

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The doors were closed and it was looking like we would have an “on time” departure. I was thinking of what to eat when I arrived in Vancouver.

However, my dinner dreams were dashed when it turned out that there was a technical hitch. The problem it turned out was down to the front luggage compartment which wasn’t closing properly.

The team of engineers was called in to try and get us on our way but after trying to fix it from the outside they also went into the hold via the access point in the cockpit.

Unfortunately it took a good 2 hours before the problem was finally fixed and we were finally on out way.

With the doors closed, there was not much the rest of us could do other than sit there and wait. Fortunately the cabin crew came round once with a drink, or else I would have been parched as a desert.

Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, the cabin crew began the drinks service. I chose a ginger beer – a little guilty pleasure of mine when I fly.

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For dinner I had chicken tikka masala and dal makhani and jeera pilau rice. The alternative was a beef option, but I don’t normally eat beef, as I’ve mentioned before.

Curries are usually a good option as it tends to have stronger flavour (doh!) which is better than the normally bland options.

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They served a light snack before. The sandwich was pretty tasty, but scones are never tasty when they are cold!

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As we arrived so late, everyone (myself included) was very keen to get off the flight and get going to wherever we needed to go. In my rush to get off the plane and through immigration, I totally forgot to take a photo of the plane and as I had only a tail photo pre-departure that was the first time I hadn’t managed to get a full body shot so to speak.

 

Fortunately there wasn’t a huge queue at the immigration. After a few pertinent questions “how long will you be here?” “what will you be doing?” “why are you doing that?” before a “enjoy your stay” ended the interrogation and off I trundled off to the baggage carousel. After the problems closing the hold doors, I was just keeping my fingers crossed that there wouldn’t a problem with the hold on once we arrived.

The wait ended up being only 10 minutes or so, which did feel like an age given the delay. However, nothing could be done other than grab a taxi and head into town.

Also, landing 3 hours late kind of of ruined our plans for the first evening in Vancouver, but couldn’t really complain too much – we had arrived safely.

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