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Leaving the Bermuda triangle on 'Speedbird 2232'

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  • Leaving the Bermuda triangle on 'Speedbird 2232'

    This is my first trip report so please bear with me!

    Date: 2nd March 2008

    Airline: British Airways

    Flight number: BA2232

    Aircraft type: Boeing 777-236(ER)

    Load factor: Y: 86 W: 9 C: 38 F: 5

    Assigned Seat: 22K

    Actual Seat: 1A

    Registration: G-VIIC

    C/N: 27485

    Departure airport: Hamilton Kindley Field – TXKF – Bermuda

    Arrival airport: London Gatwick – EGKK – United Kingdom

    Departure time (local): 20:05

    Arrival time (local): 06:40

    Flight time: 6hrs 35mins

    Departure weather: Partly cloudy, light winds from the east, high of 21C

    Arrival weather: Misty, partly cloudy, light winds from the west, high of 11C

    I would give you a rundown on the outbound sector but it wouldn’t have been hugely interesting as I was asleep for most of the flight, so ill just give you a quick rundown on the homeward flight.

    After an impromptu decision to grab a few days away I booked myself a return ticket to Bermuda as id never been and was fairly interested to see what the island was like as a holiday destination. Although not barmy this time of year, the temperature was pleasant enough and I made the most of my time exploring the town of Hamilton and walking along the golden beaches that Bermuda has to offer. Anyway soon enough Sunday came around and it was time to head home. Arriving at Hamilton Kindley Field is achieved by crossing a thin spit of land whereupon you can see the airport ahead of you and the quaint terminal building, which in my opinion was not designed to handle anything as large as a 777. This was somewhat obvious as our aircraft could be seen towering over the terminal building from say way away, looking majestic silhouetted against the pink dusk sky with her tail light illuminating the modern design of the British flag on the tail.

    As we pulled up at the small terminal I noted that with my late arrival time at the airport I had foregone the lengthy queuing associated with airports of this size when an aircraft like ours due to leave. I later learned this was mainly due to the relatively light loads on tonight’s flight back to London but I was pleased at the time to be able to walk straight up to the desk and check in. This in itself was a relatively painless experience as I was greeted with a warm smile from the agent, (this I had come to expect from the residents of this island) asked the usual security questions and given my boarding pass for 22K which was in the World Traveller Plus cabin (Premium economy). The nice check in agent told me that the loads on W were pretty light tonight so she blocked the seat off next to me for more personal space. A nice gesture I thought. As this was a quick trip for me I just had hand baggage with me which is always nice as you can get out of the airport on arrival with speed and ease and don’t have to wait around after a long overnight flight for eternity for your bags to appear.

    Unless you’ve been to Bermuda, me describing walking through the airport won’t do its size justice. But ill give it a go anyway. After my speedy check in I went straight to security as, well there really wasn’t anything else I could have done to pass the time. All passengers have to go through one security channel, through a single file doorway and into another small room where the lonely security scanner is. Again with minimal queuing I was through security within minutes (although forgetting to take cologne out of the case as it went through the scanner resulted in a little embarrassment lol). After a quick browse of the tiny duty free shop (yes I did say duty free ‘shop’ as in just the one!) I made my way to the departure lounge and took a seat where I finally found all the passengers waiting to board.

    About fifteen minutes prior to boarding time the gate agent made a tannoy call for me to approach the desk but intercepted me as I got up and handed me a new boarding pass with a change of seat allocation to 1A. Now it was me who had the smile on my face.

    Boarding soon commenced once the aircraft had been fuelled and catered for the flight to London. We were to use air stairs with them being positioned at doors 1R and 2R. Rows 1-15 using 2L, while 21-41 using 3L. The 777 did look rather impressive as I walked up past the huge GE90’s and in through door 2L where a flight attendant greeted me, and introduced me to one of the First class cabin crew who took me to my seat and hung my jacket for me. I didn’t waste any time in ordering my pre-takeoff drink of champagne, which for those of you that are interested was a 1996 Lanson Noble Cuvee Blanc de Blancs and very nice it was to!

    I've never seen so much wood panelling on an aircraft before lol

    I was a little worried that the noise from the proximity of the galley may have become bothersome during the flight but noticing the hugely thick and plush curtain in front of me put my mind to rest from this issue. What I did find amusing was that they lay a different kind of carpet in the F cabin on BA, its dark blue and very soft. Odd thing to notice I know lol. Soon my drink was brought over on a silver tray with some warm nuts and canapés. Leaving the nuts as im not a huge fan, I tucked into the delicious canapés and quickly finished off my champagne whereupon the very kind F/A (who im beginning to get to know quite well) refilled my glass and asked if I would be wanting to sleep on this evening’s flight. To which I replied I was not sure, and did I have to make my mind up now? She laughed and said no, but ill bring a sleep suit just in case you change your mind. With this she brought a very nice amenity kit and toped off my glass once more. By this time the cabin had filled up and 5 out of a possible 14 seats were taken. With 4 cabin crew for the F cabin present I sat back with the knowledge of a great flight ahead.

    After the captain and the cabin manager had made their usual welcome aboard announcements and the doors were closed and ‘Speedbird 2232’ began her push back and pre taxi checks. As it was already night there was little to see around us and I gave up on trying to figure out where we were on the airport as we bumped along the taxi ways towards the active runway tonight. With few international flights departing at this hour we had clear traffic all the way to the hold and as we turned on to the active I had a sense of worry as the runway edge lines became rather close to my window as we lined up but remembered this was due to my proximity to the front of the aircraft. After a brief pause on the piano keys the huge GE90’s were spooled up to 60% N1 and a couple of seconds later pushed up to takeoff thrust whereupon I was forced back in my seat as the familiar sound of the gear bumping along the centre line lights with increasing speed was audible in the cabin. Rather sooner than expected we lifted off the runway encountering some light chop on the initial climb as gear was retracted but soon this smoothed out and the twinkling lights of the island could be seen falling away from us as we continued our climb out through some light cloud layers with flaps ever retracting on our assent.

    With the ‘bing’ of the seat belt sign being turned off, cabin crew were in the cabin handing out menu’s and wine lists and having a chat with the passengers about their holiday and plans while in London. This evening’s menu and wine are shown below:

    As this was quite a short flight the option of a express dinner was offered so passengers could make the most of the seat and catch up on some shut eye. I choose not to do this, as well its not everyday you get to fly up front and I wanted to make the most of it! Soon my lovely flight attendant was back enquiring if id like to continue with the champagne or try something else? I opted for another glass of champagne, why not? My order was taken for the meal service foe which I chose:

    To start: “Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette or cream pepper dressing”

    And for main: “Grilled fillet of beef with green peppercorn butter, seasonal vegetables and layered potatoes with cream and cheese” with a glass of “Chateau Nenin 1996, Pomerol”.

    And desert: “Caramel cheese cake” with a glass of the “Chatuau des Eyssards 2005” desert wine.

    And to finish: “Cheese platter” and a assortment of chocolates with a small glass of “Camus XO Cognac”.

    After feeling thoroughly stuffedfrom a faultless meal service (apart from an ever so slightly overcooked fillet steak – just one of my grips) I got my laptop out and tried to get a bit of work done. By the time the dinner service was over though we only had just over three and a half hours of the flight left and so I quickly gave up on work (I can never seem to work on trains or planes, to many distractions!) and watched a film while I enjoyed an espresso and almond biscotti biscuits. I chose to try a film called “The Darjeeling Limited”, which I found pretty amusing although this ‘may’ have had something to do with alcohol coupled with altitude….who knows

    At some point during the film the seat belt signs went on and we were informed that we may be heading into a little bit of ‘unsettled weather’. Sure enough a couple of minutes later I had coffee in my lap and biscotti launched around the cabin. Ok maybe a slight exaggeration but it did get quite choppy with that lovely feeling in your stomach of being on a rollercoaster being felt. I found this rather amusing, my fellow passengers not so.

    After a couple of minutes of this lovely weather the sound of the GE90’s purr became much more like a low growl as we climbed up above the layer of clear air turbulence and levelled out a few thousand feet above our initial cruising altitude. With this the now calmer layer of air the seat belt signs were switched off and the crew came around making sure everyone was comfortable. Once thing I had noticed when we entered the turbulence was that I turned on the moving map and noted we had a 197kts(?) tail wind that slowed considerably to a more reasonable 77 with our increase in altitude.

    With just two hours left of the flight the crew came around and for those who not in the land of nod enquired as if we would be requiring breakfast before arrival. I was starting to feel a little sleepy but as we only had a couple of hours left I pushed on through and besides, I could start to feel the mightily strong espresso taking effect. So I opted for a light breakfast of:

    To start: Chilled fruit juice, An energising fruit smoothie, and a Fresh seasonal fruit plate” with a glass of the Lanson Blanc de Blanc champagne (Nothing wrong with a champagne breakfast is there?)

    Main: “Warm American pancakes with pancake syrup and blueberry compote”

    The pancakes were fantastic and I was half tempted to take the huge bottle of maple syrup home with me, but I thought better of it. Soon my breakfast was cleared away and my white linen table cloth and silver cutlery removed. With my film finished, the food service finished and not much to do until landing I half thought about trying again to get a little work under my belt so got my laptop out, but somehow found the lure of a Tom Clancey shoot ‘em up more appealing. Odd that.

    With our position now just off the coast of Cornwalll the captain made another announcement to let us know we would be starting our decent in the next forty minutes. With this I could picture the usual madness down the back of everyone trying to run to the minuscule wash rooms to freshen up prior to arrival. Funny how people only think of this on the dot of forty minutes to landing. Must be the lack of oxygen in the cabin or something…

    With one last top up of that lovely champagne and another glass of ice cold orange juice I put away my huge table and made my surrounding area tidy for landing. Shortly after this I could feel the aircraft dip its nose as it started its initial decent into the London area. As it was still very much dark outside there was not much to see apart from the odd group of lights far below visible through the breaks in the cloud. There was the smallest glimmer of red on the horizon as dawn raced towards us as we descended through FL200 and the ‘twenty minutes to landing’ call came over the tannoy. Cabin crew came through the cabin making sure seats were in the proper position for arrival, and seat belts were on. At this point I asked for a warm cookie and a cup of tea prior to arrival. This was quickly brought out to me on a nice china plate with a big mug of tea to go with it. Landing cards were given out for those non residents and the cabin crew said they’re thank you’s and wished each passenger a safe onward journey.

    As we broke through the broken cloud layer at about 8-10,000ft the sun was just peaking over the horizon and it was obvious I wasn’t going to see much in final decent as the mist was particularly dense with the sun yet to burn it off. This seems to be a regular occurrence around the Gatwick area. After making a few shallow turns we set up for the APR to 26R and the whine of the leading edge flaps became audible with the wind noise increasing fairly dramatically. You don’t realise how stream lined these aircraft are until something changes the natural surface airflow. A thud sound indicated gear down with the wings dipping from side to side as we were buffeted by cross winds in the last few thousand feet as the auto throttles could be heard changing the engine pitch to cope with the varying wind speeds. As we descended through the last couple of hundred feet the ground became visible with field rushing past us and the airport perimeter fence passing underneath. At this point thoughts of BA038 came into my head but were quickly pushed out as we passed the threshold and the engines were cut to idle, sinking us down with a barley audible double bump as the main gear planted itself on 26R with the nose gear lowering, speed breaks extended, and reverse thrusters opened.

    With a low rumble we decelerated on the active closing the thrust reversers at around 60kts and taking a high speed taxiway off towards the terminals. Again the whine of the flaps being retracted was audible as the flight deck came on the intercom and welcomed us to London Gatwick which was now bathed in a warm dawn light as we taxied towards our gate clear of traffic as we were one of the first arrivals after curfew. There was a fair few aircraft in for night stops with most of the remotes occupied. A couple of interesting overnighters were a Royal Jordanian Cargo A310, and a Amiri flight BBJ at remotes.

    We pulled onto stand a few minutes early and disembarked the aircraft through 2L with my flight attendant wishing me a pleasant onward trip and thanking me for flying with British Airways, commenting that she hoped to see me again soon. Rather sooner than some of you may think…

    This was my third experience with BA in First and although the cabin could use a makeover it still offers one of the most comfortable seats in the sky in my opinion, and although could benefit from the ‘pod’ like construction airlines like SQ and EK offers exceptional service, with a very ‘British’ flare. Something not everyone appreciates, I certainly do though. With news that BA plans to re-design this cabin in the next year, it should remain one of the better options in the industry in my opinion.

    Thank you very much for reading.

  • #2
    Giggity...isn't non reving great?


    • #3


      • #4
        I second Emu

        Last edited by Will M; 2008-03-07, 20:55.


        • #5
          Nice report Dan, very informative. It sounds though the crew were very attentive through your flight and looked after you very well .


          • #6
            Very nice report... flying for free in the front cabin must make it all the sweeter.
            Trump is an idiot!
            Vote Democrats!!


            • #7
              Thanks for the comments guys. I had a pretty nice ride


              • #8
                When you say "ride" your not referring to the flight attendant are you? lol


                • #9
                  Tut tut tut. Of course not, I was referring to my 'First class experience' of course...


                  • #10

                    Awesome flight review, I really need to check out BAs first class sometime.


                    • #11
                      Loved the ride, nice report, given the number on board, should have been a comfortable ride for everyone
                      Thanks for visiting
                      *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *


                      • #12
                        Excellent trip report. I like the presentation of the menu. The beef looks delicious, though to me it looks like a small mignon. Nice..Hmmm Yummy.
                        Inactive from May 1 2009.


                        • #13
                          As this was a short overnight flight the meal service was the 'express menu'. Not a complete menu, somewhere around 75% of the standard offering, but still excellent.


                          • #14
                            Great report
                            BH Airlines A319