British Airways | Boeing 737-400 | LGW-SZG-LGW | Club Europe

 photo map-2.gif
 photo map-3.gif
Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
This report will take me to Austria for the first time, more specifically Salzburg.
One Saturday in early March, I was starting to feel the effects of not jetting off for the whole of February and nothing scheduled for the whole of March either. I set out to rectify this problem. Still needing most of my disposable income to fund my upcoming trip (details of which will follow at the end of this report), it had to be on a real budget. With more than a few Avios burning a hole in my virtual pocket, I logged on to There was reasonable reward availability, however I really wanted to avoid the LHR/A319/A320 combination. So I studied options from Gatwick. Even so, its now increasingly likely that an A319/A320 would turn up on quite a few routes. I clicked around but nothing really jumped out at me, until I had a brainwave. I remember seeing PalmJet post photos on Facebook from his trip to Salzburg in January and I checked that out. It ticked all the boxes. A 737, from LGW with decent flight times. A further incentive was that a return in Club Europe was only a few thousand more Avios and around £15 in taxes more – so I selected that option. Although it was a tough choice to make. I really fancied a flight on a BA 737 behind or over the wing – for whatever reason, all the flights I’ve taken on them have been no further back than row 5!
 photo SLZprice.png
The seat map for the outbound flight was the pretty standard 3 rows of club, but the return stretched all the way back to row 8, despite the load not being that heavy. I selected something conservative rather than right at the back of the cabin, just in case it got shifted forwards and I ended up in an aisle seat.
 photo SLZseats.png
Check in was made 24 hours before departure. Unusually, I was able to get my boarding pass for the return flight too.
 photo szgcheckin.png
On the morning of departure, I made my way to the station for a train to Clapham Junction and then on to Gatwick, arriving at around 09:50.
 photo SZG001.jpg
 photo SZG002.jpg
Once out of the station at Gatwick, rather than the two right turns for the shuttle over to the North terminal it appears the station has had a bit of a redesign. You now end up where you need to be. I made my way to the Club Europe desks to grab a souvenir boarding pass and then through the premium security lane.
 photo SZG003.jpg
 photo SZG004.jpg
 photo SZG005.jpg
 photo SZG006.jpg
 photo SZG007.jpg
Upon exiting, I saw some windows, which will be useful if you don’t have lounge access.
 photo SZG008.jpg
On this occasion, I did, so I made my way upstairs to a typically busy lounge.
 photo SZG017.jpg
Due to the food selection at LGW not being as impressive as the lounges at LHR, I made do with some pastries and some coffee.
 photo SZG009.jpg
 photo SZG013.jpg
 photo SZG010.jpg
 photo SZG011.jpg
And some champagne…
 photo SZG012.jpg
Once the BGI and MCO flights were boarding, the lounge cleared out, and I was able to grab a seat by the window.
 photo SZG015.jpg
 photo SZG016.jpg
 photo SZG014.jpg
At 11:00, gate 101 flashed up, which would involve a trip over the bridge. So I made my way over, just as a VS A330 was being towed underneath before heading over to LHR later in the afternoon.
 photo SZG018.jpg
 photo SZG019.jpg
 photo SZG020.jpg

Todays ride

 photo SZG021.jpg
 photo SZG022.jpg
 photo SZG023.jpg
 photo SZG024.jpg

Still think this hybrid livery looks questionable

Boarding was called at 11:30, and it was announced that it would be done strictly by row number, with Club Europe and status passengers going first. It wasn’t that strictly enforced as it turned out.
 photo BAlogo.jpg
March 2014
Boeing 737-436/ G-DOCF
Seat: 4F / Club Europe
Scheduled: 11:50/14:40
Off Stand: 12:00
On Stand: 14:51

I took my seat and almost immediately my seat mate turned up. They decided that the free middle seat would be their dumping ground. The load in Club was pretty reasonable with all but one of the 5 rows full.
 photo SZG025.jpg
 photo SZG028.jpg
Flight time was estimated to be 1h25. The rags disguised as hot towels were dished out whilst we were still on stand.
 photo SZG026.jpg
 photo SZG027.jpg
We pushed back behind schedule, and it was a little interesting. I noticed that there were a pair of EasyJet A319’s approaching fairly rapidly. Luckily, so did the wing walker, and he made a frantic gesture to the tug driver to stop, which we did fairly rapidly. Luckily, the two approaching aircraft were pulling on to the adjacent stands, but best to be safe than sorry.
 photo SZG029.jpg

The offending EasyJet’s

We then made our way over to 26L where there was a bit if a hold up due to numerous arrivals and departures.
 photo SZG030.jpg
 photo SZG040.jpg

I would have thought these would be gone by now

We were finally away at 12:20 to some pretty good views of LGW as we passed it.
 photo SZG031.jpg
 photo SZG032.jpg

Our shadow was chasing us

 photo SZG033.jpg
 photo SZG034.jpg
 photo SZG035.jpg
 photo SZG036.jpg
Soon afterwards, it clouded over.
 photo SZG042.jpg
The champagne brunch service was started after this. It seems as though BA have ditched the Pommery champagne and gone for something a little better instead.
 photo SZG038.jpg
 photo SZG039.jpg
 photo SZG037.jpg
 photo SZG041.jpg
After this, there wasn’t too much of the flight remaining. As descent started, the captain gave an update of our progress, and the weather, saying it was due to be a little bumpy on approach.
 photo SZG043.jpg

Retro Overhead

Just as descent proper started, the purser came and asked if I wanted another drink. I declined. Descent and approach was a little bumpy, mainly due to the poor weather.
 photo SZG044.jpg
 photo SZG045.jpg
We appeared to pass the airfield before swinging around and landing. At first I thought it was the worlds least spectacular go around, but nothing was mentioned, and everything seemed under control.
 photo SZG046.jpg
 photo SZG047.jpg

Lining up to land in the other direction

 photo SZG048.jpg
 photo SZG049.jpg
 photo SZG050.jpg
 photo SZG051.jpg
 photo SZG052.jpg
A few moments later we were on stand and heading off on a bus to the terminal.
 photo SZG053.jpg
 photo SZG054.jpg
I ventured upstairs to the viewing terrace where I would spend the next hour or so until it got just too wet.
 photo SZG055.jpg
 photo SZG056.jpg
 photo SZG057.jpg
 photo SZG058.jpg
 photo SZG059.jpg
 photo SZG060.jpg

Seemed as though arrivals/departures were made in either direction.

 photo SZG061.jpg
 photo SZG062.jpg

G-DOCF ready to head off somewhere sunnier…

 photo SZG063.jpg
 photo SZG064.jpg
After a good soaking, I made my way downstairs to jump on a trolley bus to the centre, where my hotel was just a few steps away.
 photo SZG068.jpg
 photo SZG066.jpg
 photo SZG067.jpg
Despite the constant rain, I still made the effort to go out and see what Salzburg was all about. As it turned out, my hotel wasn’t too central so it involved a thirty minute or so walk along the river to reach the old town. If the weather had been nicer, it would have been more pleasant.
 photo SZG069.jpg
 photo SZG070.jpg
 photo SZG071.jpg
 photo SZG072.jpg
 photo SZG073.jpg

This was when the heavens really opened

 photo SZG074.jpg
 photo SZG075.jpg
After a while, enough was enough and it was a case of diving into the first place that served food for something to eat. But the more pressing issue was finding anywhere that was dry. As it turned out, I got lucky as I ended up having a great meal. The only downside being the fact that I was quite literally dripping wet by this point so it wasn’t the most comfortable experience.
 photo SZG076.jpg
 photo SZG077.jpg
On the walk back to the hotel, I stopped at a supermarket to grab some essential supplies.
 photo SZG078.jpg
Luckily the weather cleared up slightly the following day, and I set out to explore in the dry.
 photo SZG079.jpg
 photo SZG080.jpg

Castle on the hill

 photo SZG081.jpg
I also had a look at the Red Bull Hangar 7 – basically a museum featuring pretty much everything Red Bull had stuck a sponsorship logo on.
 photo SZG082.jpg
 photo SZG083.jpg
 photo SZG084.jpg
 photo SZG085.jpg
 photo SZG086.jpg
 photo SZG087.jpg
 photo SZG088.jpg
 photo SZG089.jpg
 photo SZG090.jpg

Good view of the departures from SZG too.

I took the bus back to the airport, being dropped more at the entrance to the site rather than the entrance to the terminal.
 photo SZG094.jpg
 photo SZG091.jpg
I arrived at the terminal and made my way across to check in.
 photo SZG100.jpg
There wasn’t a separate check in counter for Club Europe, just a bag drop and check in assistance, so I went to the check in assistance as there was no queue. I’d read there isn’t a lounge in SZG and that refreshment vouchers were given. When it appeared that the agent was done without mentioning anything, I prompted her by asking about lounge access. She replied no, shortly followed by ‘oh, hang on’. She then shuffled through a pile of refreshment vouchers until one was found with my name on. Good job I’d checked that out, and hadn’t just relied on my E-boarding pass.
 photo SZG099.jpg
 photo szg097.png
 photo SZG101.jpg

Not too much landside at SZG

I made my way upstairs to grab something from the self-serve cafe, before spending the next hour or so on the viewing deck. There wasn’t an awful lot going on until my aircraft arrived.
 photo SZG102.jpg
 photo SZG092.jpg
 photo SZG095.jpg
 photo SZG096.jpg
I used the free airport Wi-Fi to check what aircraft would be operating my flight.
 photo SZG093.jpg

Another new one for the log.

Around thirty minutes later, my aircraft landed.
 photo SZG103.jpg
I then made my way through a pretty slow security. As expected there wasn’t much airside – so don’t go through too early! I sat and waited for boarding to begin.
 photo SZG105.jpg
 photo SZG106.jpg
Boarding began a few minutes later, but there didn’t seem to be any specific order to it – just a case of the information display changing to boarding and that was that. It was a short coach ride over to the jet I’d seen land just a few minutes previously.
 photo BAlogo.jpg
March 2014
Boeing 737-436 / G-GBTA
Seat: 6A / Club Europe
Scheduled: 13:30/14:30
Off Stand: 13:29
On Stand: 14:25

 photo SZG107.jpg
 photo SZG108.jpg
I’d like to say I was welcomed onboard, but the crew member at the door barely acknowledged anybody. Once onboard, my seatmate was already looking fairly comfortable, and seemed a little reluctant to move. I thought about apologising, but it wasn’t my fault I was the last off the bus… Ok maybe it was.
 photo SZG104.jpg
Once the final coach loads were on board, the first officer welcomed everybody and announced a flight time of one hour forty five minutes. The flight seemed pretty full, including all 7 rows of club. The engines were started and we pulled off stand pretty much on schedule.
During the taxi the crew performed probably the fastest safety briefing I’ve heard, although it still didn’t help. We ended up waiting at the end of the runway for a good few moments while the cabin was secured.
 photo SZG111.jpg
Once the crew were ready, we made a pretty powerful blast into some bumpy and cloudy Austrian sky.
 photo SZG112.jpg
 photo SZG113.jpg
The crew distributed the hot towels shortly after departure.
 photo SZG115.jpg
And then the clouds finally cleared.
 photo SZG109.jpg
Shortly followed by lunch. It was a choice of chicken and couscous salad or chilli con carne and rice. I went with the chicken.
 photo SZG110.jpg
 photo SZG119.jpg
Once I’d finished eating, I made my way to the washroom and then for a chat in the galley. This didn’t last long though, as it was mostly one word answers from them followed by ‘right, I’ve got to go and do some work’, before making a hasty exit. Never mind then.
 photo SZG120.jpg
I spent the rest of my time reading an E-book on my iPad and gazing out over endless fields. I’m assuming that they were in France. The lack of any overhead screens in these older 737’s mean no sky map. Descent began just as we passed the French Coast.
 photo SZG125.jpg
 photo SZG116.jpg
As it was such a great sunny day in the UK (a rarity for March) there were some great views to be had on approach.
 photo SZG117.jpg
 photo SZG118.jpg
 photo SZG126.jpg
 photo SZG127.jpg
 photo SZG128.jpg
We touched down on to 26L at 14:20 and left at the other end whilst still going at quite a rate of knots.
 photo SZG129.jpg
We made a quick taxi over to our stand, arriving alongside a trio of company 737’s.
 photo SZG130.jpg
 photo SZG121.jpg
Within just a few minutes, I was off to complete the formalities, and make my way over to the station.
 photo SZG122.jpg
 photo SZG123.jpg
 photo SZG124.jpg
What did I make of BA on this occasion then? Well I didn’t think the 737’s are in too bad of a condition compared to some of the LHR shorthaul fleet. The crew on both flights were a bit anonymous it must be said – the first time I’d experienced this from LGW. Normally they seem a little friendlier than at LHR. Guess it’s down to the individual though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *