After a relaxed few days in Abu Dhabi, it was time to head back to the British winter. As British Airways only daily flight out of Abu Dhabi leaves at 02:05am, this meant a bit of a long wait. Luckily the hotel was able to extend my stay until 11pm, at which point it was a good enough time to leave for the airport.
- British Airways World Traveller Plus, B777, LHR-AUH
- LeMeridien, Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi: In Pictures
- British Airways World Traveller Plus, B777, AUH-LHR
- BA Galleries Arrivals Lounge, Heathrow T5
Abu Dhabi – London Heathrow
Boeing 777-200ER G-VIID
After a twenty minute taxi journey, I arrived at the airport.
Unlike on a couple of previous departures from this region I was able to download a mobile boarding pass. Therefore I skipped check in and headed airside.
Clearing security took a little longer than anticipated due to there not being any fast track available. But luckily it wasn’t too busy, so could have been worse.
After this, I made my way up to the lounge. It was your typical third party lounge really – busy and not overly spectacular. I’ll leave a couple of images here, but won’t say too much about it. Mainly because there isn’t too much to be said!
I made my way down to the gate a little earlier than needed. And I’m glad I did, as seemingly everyone had to go through a random check. This involved opening all bags and having them swabbed for explosives.
The gate area was segregated into two halves. One for groups 1, 2 and 3, the other for groups 4 and 5.
Boarding began 35 minutes prior to departure. The ground staff did call for group 1 to board, but the huge queue that had formed over the past 30 minutes or so moved forward anyway. Must have been an awful lot of BA Gold card holders on tonight’s flight…
I won’t go into too much detail on the seat, as I already covered it in the first part.
This time around, I did have a seat mate, although he seemed reasonably well humoured initially- his first words to me were “I’ve ruined your f****g night mate, I bet you were hoping nobody would be sat here”.
You’re not wrong there pal, especially as it would appear he’d had a drink or three and he was more than a little chatty. Ugh.
Luckily, the guy across the aisle took his attention and he left me alone for the most part.
Once boarding was complete, drinks were handed out – either juice or water. This didn’t please my seat mate however… he was after something a little stronger, but was told only once up in the air.
Ready and waiting on each seat was the same as on the outbound flight. A pillow, blanket, amenity kit and noise cancelling headphones.
Everyone was on board early – in fact the captain mentioned that we had one extra person on board. How does that happen?! Once they had left, we were on our way a few minutes early.
Although for some reason we then sat on the taxiway for a good ten minutes before the engines fired into life. I can only assume this was to prevent us having to hold for too long at Heathrow, as it officially doesn’t open until 6am.
Departure came at 02:20am. We did a U turn and set course for London. This resulted in some good views of the lights below us.
The service began with hot towels, which I think could be part of the recently enhanced World Traveller Plus service? I don’t recall them being handed out on previous trips, although I could be wrong.
This was shortly followed by the snack service. Due to the late (or early depending on which way you look at it) departure, Abu Dhabi is one of the few routes on the British Airways network that offers the light refreshments first and the main course before landing. The light refreshment consisted of a chicken schwarma wrap and a choice of drink.
Not too long after, it was lights out.
As I’d seen pretty much everything I’d wanted to on my flights this year, I didn’t really pay all that much attention to the IFE. Instead, I relied on my own.
WiFi was available on this flight, but much like the seat back entertainment, I didn’t bother with it.
The lights came on again over Germany. This meant the main meal service would be getting underway shortly. The choices were omelette, omelette or a slightly different type of omelette. Nice variation there.
Unfortunately by the time the trolley reached my row, they had run out of pretty much everything, so I went without. Guess that’s the downside of choosing the last row of the cabin – you get a guilt free recline, but you’re the last to be served.
As I was tucking into the delicious bread roll I was handed as a token gesture, the crew member appeared once more. Luckily they had managed to find a spare omelette around the back.
The usual announcement was given from the flight deck 40 minutes prior to arrival. Not much was said, other than a weather update.
As expected, we did end up having to hold for a few minutes North East of London.
There wasn’t an awful lot to be seen on approach, due to it being more than a little cloudy.
Touchdown came at at a minute or two past six, meaning we were likely to have been one of the first to arrive once the floodgates opened. I’ve seen this from the terrace at the BA lounge and it’s quite something!
As a side note, there are arrivals before 06:00 at Heathrow, but only a handful that are pre scheduled. Anything else has to wait. As we were scheduled to arrive at 06:15, but actually arrived in the London area around 05:45, this meant we had to wait until the curfew was lifted.
Arrival on to stand at T5C came 06:15, five minutes ahead of schedule. As it was early and I wasn’t in a particular rush, I asked to visit the flight deck on the way out. As is nearly always the case, this wasn’t a problem and I was able to get some good pictures. By coincidence, the captain mentioned he was in charge when the APU broke on the aircraft that flew me over to Abu Dhabi. He also mentioned there was a minor brake issue with this particular 777 too. I guess they are getting on a bit now. The planes, not the pilots.
Not the best of flights I’ve had if I’m honest. Nothing particularly to do with British Airways, or the World Traveller Plus cabin, but more to do with some of the passengers on board.
As I alluded to earlier, my seat mate was not in the best condition right from the off. Once airborne, he was drinking doubles throughout – and the crew were more than happy to bring them pro-actively in the end. And there wasn’t too much point in complaining as it was an IBM (Inflight Business Manager) dishing them out. I guess as he wasn’t being abusive they were happy enough. Although he did spill more than a few, kept fidgeting around and waking me up and generally being a pain.
Then there was his friend across the aisle behaving in a very similar way. Fair enough on a daytime flight, but an overnight one?
The final moan from me came from whoever thought it was acceptable to play music/a video/whatever from their phone through the speakers. No idea where it was coming from, but I certainly could hear it.
The breakfast issue was a minor annoyance, but not the end of the world as I could just as easily eat in the lounge. It was rectified without too much fuss though.