Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
I’ve recently got quite into doing video reports as well as the written ones. It would appear 25,000+ people agree with the principal in the case of the Dreamliner video for this trip! So the video reports for this trip can be found via the following links:
BA A319 LHR-ARN: http://youtu.be/R1u1r7gc4CU
BA 787 ARN-LHR: http://youtu.be/sVSKJwdMLyU
For the fans of my written work, no need to worry – I still plan on writing my reports up and sharing the pictures too.
Back in June 2013, British Airways took delivery of the first two of twenty-four Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft it had on order. The first planned arrival was G-ZBJA, however as there was a minor technical issue with this particular jet, G-ZBJB actually arrived at Heathrow first, followed by ‘JA a couple of days later. Less than a week later, the airline also took delivery of their first Airbus A380’s. For a number of months, the various forums were a buzz with rumored training flights that the airline would send their new toys on. It was widely believed, but not confirmed that the A380 would be sent off to Frankfurt, while the 787 would be going to Stockholm. Once the aircraft had been delivered, there was still no official confirmation as to where, if anywhere BA would be dispatching these aircraft. That was until the end of July, when the A380 appeared in the BA booking system to operate the BA902 to Frankfurt just a couple of days later. I had considered getting myself a seat for the second service a couple of days after this, but at £250 it was just to much, considering I had already been on two A380’s so far in 2013 and had another three coming up. My attention shifted to the 787 instead. On the 9th August, the Dreamliner was confirmed to operate the afternoon rotation to Stockholm. I looked at the dates the aircraft would be operating, but again prices were sky high – in the region of £300 return. Too much, so I gave up on the idea.
Towards the end of August, one Saturday morning where I didn’t really have anything planned at all for the whole weekend, I woke up, had breakfast and sat down in front of the computer and browsed my usual selection of websites. Airliners.net, BBC news, Autosport and then flyertalk – a website that I go to for the latest news, but rarely delve into with any great detail. There just happened to be a link to the British Airways section, and I decided to take a look at that. Within that section there was a link to a trip report from the 787. I decided to take one last look at BA.com to see if the 787 was operating the flights the following day and if there were any reward flights available. And it had to be the following day – weekdays are no good for me due to work commitments, the following weekend I had a trip to Edinburgh planned (which you can read about soon), and the weekend after that the Dreamliner would start its long haul services. So it had to be the following day, or not at all. I typed in the desired route and date, selected the pay with Avios option and bingo! Almost perfectly, there was a flight out to Stockholm at 07:40 on the A319 and the 787 operated flight back, at 18:10 both with reward availability. Even sweeter was that the return flight only showed availability in Club Europe. Needs must… Without hesitating for a second I clicked on the book now button and my quiet weekend had suddenly got a whole load more interesting!
As check in was already open for the outbound flight, instead of being taken to the booking confirmation page, I was directed straight towards online check in.
The default seat I was given was fine.
However, I was pre allocated seat 3D on the Dreamliner. This wouldn’t do and I changed it to something much more suitable:
As I like to arrive in plenty of time, my next move was to book a hotel at Heathrow for the coming evening. The Renaissance was the selected choice, as if I was lucky I’d have a room with a great view of the runway. Following this, I booked a ticket on the Arlanda-Stockholm city bus.
I then packed an overnight bag, and headed off into town to grab some cash. It was then a case of waiting around for the afternoon.
So after my quickest booking to flying time, I set off at 18:15, in order to catch the 18:35 coach.
Amusingly, another passenger asked the driver which side is quicker to exit from… Does it really make that much difference? Why do people spend their entire lives in a rush? She then spent the rest if the journey ripping pages out of her newspaper and dumping the remains all over the coach. I’m assuming to save weight, thus speeding up her journey through the airport? Very odd.
The coach arrived at a few minutes past 7, and I headed indoors to grab my souvenir boarding passes.
Although I was told this wasn’t possible as I was travelling tomorrow… Even though it was no hassle at all at LGW last year. I told the three guys this, and they said they would give it a go. And guess what? Two boarding passes popped out of the printer! I then asked if the return flight was still the Dreamliner, to which the guy replied ‘no’. Oh arse! Although after a bit of typing, he changed his mind, and said it was.
I then made my way downstairs to catch a bus out to the hotel.
I remembered in the past, local buses were free around the Heathrow area, and a poster in the travel center confirmed this. A staff member came over and asked if I needed help, and I replied I was just looking for which bus went to the Renaissance hotel. He said I needed to buy an expensive ticket for the hotel hoppa –
‘No, I’ll take the free service thanks.’
‘Oh no sir, that’s from T1 and T3.’
‘But it says here the 423 goes there from T5’
‘No, no, that’s from erm….’
‘Yeah, T5 look – it’s right there, see’
Do I really have to tell everybody how to do their job this evening?! I made my way outside to wait for the bus.
During construction, this area was home to a massive workers canteen.
Once at the hotel, I was checked in and I made my way up to my room. I had asked if there was a room with a view available, but the hotel was fully booked due to a (noisy) Indian wedding taking place. The guy on the desk asked where I was from and when I told him just twenty to thirty minutes away, he asked why I didn’t just get a taxi… well yeah that’s a good point actually. Lucky he’s not a salesman.
To be honest, the place could do with a bit of a refurb – not really worth the £85, although you’re probably paying for the location, despite there being plenty of competition about. The soundproofing wasn’t brilliant either. I was glad when the night curfew kicked in. My evening was spent watching the old TV and reading the latest Airliner World.
The following morning, my alarm went off at 04:50 and I was on to what seemed like the fastest bus in the world at 05:25.
I arrived at T5 ten minutes later and headed off to the South security. The fast track lane today wasn’t too busy, but I was still held up by a family of four taking no less than nine carry on items between them – wow! Once through, I headed up to the North lounge to grab some breakfast.
BA’s other new toy in the distance
At pretty much the time boarding was due to be announced, a fifteen-minute delay flashed up.
The gate was announced at 07:15, and I made my way down to A11 – where there was already a long queue – why do people queue up before boarding is even announced?
Boarding was called at 07:25, and I made my way on board.
18th August 2013
A319-131 / G-EUPV
Seat: 08A / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 07:40 / 11:05
Off Stand: 07:58
On Stand: 11:24
This flight seemed pretty full – surprising how there were still some reward tickets left so close to departure really.
The captain welcomed everybody on board and announced a short flying time of an hour and fifty-five minutes. He also apologized for the delay – due to the aircraft coming in late from Brussels. As this sector was shorter, I was hoping that would mean we had a tail wind, therefore having a headwind on the return thus making that flight a bit longer. We pushed back and I had the feeling of ‘here we go again’. The number one engine spooled up… And then back down again. Then the lights flickered a bit, the engine once again spooled up and back down. Around ten minutes passed, with the pushback guy (anybody want to fill me in with the official title) still plugged in. Eventually around fifteen minutes later, the engine fired into life and we were on our way out to runway 27L. Close call or me being paranoid?
We made a pretty speedy taxi and were airborne at 08:25.
Out past the BA farm
Then the VS farm.
And finally passing the A380 farm
Soon after departure, the breakfast service started. A cheese and ham croissant, washed down with tea and water. Much tastier than I thought it would be actually.
Whilst gazing out of the window, I noticed we had a screw loose.
I made my way to the rear galley, and showed the picture to the cabin crew. She went and informed the flight deck, returning a few moments later. She said that it probably wasn’t an issue, as the crew had already done one sector already without any problems but they will mention it to the ground crew once we land. I figured as much, but better safe than sorry – especially after the flight a few weeks back that lost its engine cowlings.
We also had a bit of a chat and I mentioned I was heading back on the 787 this evening. She asked if I had seen the A330 taking off earlier… Erm don’t you mean the A380? And yes I did.
The rest of the flight was spent watching the sky map and making sure the engine stayed firmly in place – not that I was concerned at all. The captain had everything under control.
As the cabin crew passed through with the duty free run, the crew member I was chatting to earlier handed me a couple of bits – thanks!
Descent started shortly afterwards, passing the city before heading in the direction of Arlanda.
Touchdown was at around 11:15, and we made the way over to a pretty empty terminal 2.
There was hardly any wait at all to disembark and then it was on to a busy passport control – mainly because there was only one guy on duty. On my way I noticed a DL CRJ in the distance. As it had a VP reg, I figured it was in the process of being transferred to another owner.
Handy info for later
I asked for a stamp in my passport, which was refused but I was given one on a separate sheet of paper instead.
Once through, it was out to catch a bus into the city for the next couple of hours.
A busy bus arrived within a couple of minutes and we made the 45-minute drive into Stockholm.
Shortly after leaving the station, I found a tourist information shop – finding something very useful. Due to my late booking of this trip, I didn’t really have any time to do any research of what the city had to offer.
And of course, I couldn’t leave Scandinavia without having a Max Burger!
My final stop was a brief look around a shopping centre and the local Saturn
After a few hours taking a look around the city, I headed back to Arlanda, on the 15:20 coach, arriving at just past 16:00.
I had a brief look outside but there wasn’t much to be seen – apart from a hotel familiar with a few a.netters.
Upon arrival at the pretty small terminal, I could bypass check in as I already had my souvenir-boarding pass and head to the tiny security. It still had a priority lane though, so I was through in seconds.
I then had a bit of a look airside, but there was next to nothing there, so I headed up to the lounge.
Although it was pretty good on the eye, I think they went a bit too far with the garden theme – garden furniture is hardly luxury! The food and beverage options weren’t brilliant either. A few slices of meat, a few slices of cheese and some crisps.
PlaneHunter would have been alright
As previously mentioned, I know this lounge was going for a garden theme, but the garden furniture didn’t exactly scream premium at me. Luckily once the earlier British Airways flight left, there was a bit more room and I could move to something a bit more comfortable.
View from the lounge overlooking check in.
Nevertheless, I waited here for a while before heading down into the basement to gate 71. I just couldn’t wait any more – I felt like a kid at Christmas!
Not noticed pre boarding for OW emerald members only before?
First glimpse of the 787’s distinctive nose.
Boarding was called at 17:40 and I made my way on to the bus. Myself and a flyertalker were taking pictures on the ramp, and we got slightly told off… Neither of us paid much attention though and the ramp agent seemed to give up in the end!
The massive Trent 1000
I’ll soon be occupying the two windows in front of the blocked window.
18th August 2013
Boeing 787-8 / G-ZBJA
Seat: 07A / Club World (Club Europe Service)
Scheduled: 18:10 / 19:45
Off Stand: 18:12
On Stand: 19:54
I made my way up the stairs, was welcomed back by name and took my assigned seat. It appeared I wouldn’t have a seatmate, but right at the last minute a BA engineering member sat themselves down in the seat next to me. We had a brief chat and he asked me weather I preferred the 787 or the A380. I told him the 787 and he agreed, saying that the A380 was giving him a few headaches where as the 787 was performing well on these training flights.
We pushed back a couple of minutes behind schedule and made our way over to the active.
During taxi, one of the crew members came and spoke to the guy sitting next to me. It would appear BA were having a few issues with the boarding music and the engineer was running short of ideas on how to fix it. Although I guess that’s nothing compared to the issues some of the airlines are having.
The flight deck came over the PA and announced a flying time of two hours twenty minutes and welcomed everybody on board British Airways’ newest aircraft. Although this particular jet has since lost its record to a further two 787’s another two A380’s and an A320.
Also of note is that this Dreamliner didn’t have any of the mains hum / electrical/ avionics noises that I had experienced on the LOT example back in December. I know a couple of other a.netters had noticed this on other airlines examples so wondering if there’s been a bit of an update to the later ones, or BA just operate theirs differently?
A very quiet and smooth takeoff was made at 18:25.
Shortly after departure, the hot towels were handed out.
This was followed by the drinks service. This is where I was especially impressed with the crew. The crewmember addressed me by name and asked what he could get me to drink. He then asked how I was enjoying the Dreamliner experience so far – I was loving it! He said he had seen me take plenty of pictures and that if I would like to see the flight deck after arrival, it would be his pleasure to escort me. I’ve flown in Club quite a few times now, but to be addressed by name during the service was something new. It appeared to me that this was a handpicked crew chosen to operate the Dreamliner especially.
Relaxing over a drink.
Unfortunately the IFE wasn’t working on this flight, so I just had to make do with the speedmarque for the duration – not even a skymap to look at.
Messing with the windows. One button operated both window dimmers.
IFE controls – although a few of the buttons didn’t work – such as the overhead light. The lights were built into the suites and controlled independently.
The previously mentioned light – the rear switch acts as the dimmer where the one closest to the lamp is the direction. It was very stiff however – probably due to it never being moved before.
Around thirty minutes later, the meal service began. There was a choice of lamb, some sort of curry or salad. Those of you who followed my flight to Dubai earlier in the year will remember I’m not a fan of lamb or curry, so salad it was. It wasn’t too bad – considering it was a salad.
Tasty, but pretty poor for a desert.
Followed by tea and biscuits.
After this I took the opportunity to grab a few more shots of the cabin.
Forward CW cabin:
Washroom – BA haven’t planted a rose like LOT. At least not yet anyway.
As my seat was right at the rear of the cabin, I didn’t have to worry about stepping over anybody else to exit my seat – one of the flaws of the BA cabin layout. So a rear bulkhead seat definitely seems the way to go.
The only downside of this seat (and possibly others?), was that there was a bit of a step from the main cabin floor to my seat – which I managed to stumble on every time. Another complaint was the pretty flimsy feeling arm rests.
At just before 19:00 local time we took a definite dive back towards earth… Already?! I figured now would be a good time to give the fully flat seat a bit of a test drive.
As predicted by the flight deck, we did quite a few laps of North London, seeing a pretty good sunset through the crystal clear windows.
We had company…
We planted down on to 27L at 19:45 and made our way over to T5C.
As we pulled on to stand, the ground crew seemed to pay quite a bit of attention to the number one engine.
The crew member made good on his promise, and I had not only a pretty comprehensive flight deck visit, but was granted access to the crew bunks too. I asked the flight crew about the lack of avionics / electrical noises, although having only flown the BA example they couldn’t really comment. I thought those noises really gave the 787 a bit of character myself. The crew also mentioned that they had transferred over from the 777 fleet.
First officers HUD. I wish I’d used manual focus.
It was then a brief look in the crew bunks above the forward Club World cabin.
It was then over to the main terminal and the mission was then to make the 20:45 coach.
My hopes were soon dashed though.
However, the queue moved pretty quickly and I actually made the coach after all, arriving back home at 21:15.
Less than 36 hours previously, I had no plans for the weekend, now I was arriving back from Stockholm on the Dreamliner in Club! And what an experience it was – the crew went the extra mile and I could quite happily take a flight over to Toronto, Newark or Austin in Club World.
The crew were also great. The crewmember on the outward flight that took the time to chat and gave me the souvenirs and the even better one on the return were the highlights. I sent an email to BA complimenting both on my return.