Hello everyone ! I am back with my first series of FR in English (a very short series of only 2 FRs actually)
For this trip, I needed to get to Sheffield, England from my home airport of Marseille. However, arriving at Doncaster Sheffield Airport was a bit of a challenge, as it's quite poorly served. I could have considered a transfer in Dublin with Aer Lingus, however their website does not seem to offer France to UK trips, for some reasons.
So for the first time in my short frequent flyer life I could use my BA Avios to get there. I considered flying to Leeds, however the friend I was meeting in Sheffield informed me that it could be difficult to get from Leeds Airport to Sheffield as there are no bus links between the two. The last option was to fly to Manchester via LHR.
Here is the very simple routing, note that I did not report the LHR-MAN flight as it was during dark hours and the LHR-MRS flight for the same reasons. However the service was exactly the same inbound and outbound so it's still a good sample of the BA short haul international and domestic offering.
Marseille-Provence - London Heathrow / BA369 / A319-100 Here
London Heathrow - Manchester Airport / BA1402 / A320-200 No FR
Manchester Airport - London Heathrow / BA1375 / A319-100 Later
London Heathrow - Marseille-Provence / BA370 / A320-200 No FR
I tried to check in online 24 hours before the flight, however after entering my booking reference and the number of luggage I was checking-in, the website indicated that online check-in was not available and that I should check-in at the airport. I have no idea if it is linked with the fact I didn't have any luggages to check-in, or perhaps due to the recent tragic attacks in Paris… Or just a computer glitch.
So off I went to the airport and arrived there about 1:45 early. I proceeded to the check-in counters, which were divided in three lanes : general check-in which was quite busy, bag drop only which was empty, and Business Class plus other priorities. Given the fact that I had no luggages I didn't want to queue so I went straight to the Bag drop counter.
The employee was professional (I won't say warm), and I told her I just needed my boarding passes. She asked if I had been rebooked from a cancelled flight, which I was not, and then proceeded to give me my two BPs to MAN. She then asked me to go to the gate as soon as possible. - You mean right now ? I asked a bit surprised. She said yes.
I still waited a bit landside as the security lane for non Shenghen flights was almost empty and I did not want to wait for nearly an hour airside.
Security was still empty, and while I was walking in the lanes from left to right all the way to the control area, the man behind me laughed at how ridiculous we looked zig-zagging around this empty hall.
The gate was empty as I arrived, and the plane landed at around 14:25, which made me believe we were not going to leave on time.
As the Airbus rolled towards the gate, I realised the expected A320 had been switched to a smaller A319.
G-EUPS was delivered new to British Airways in October 2000, so it's definitely not a recent bird.
Boarding was called at 14:45, with priorities followed by all passengers. Some passengers had to had their BP changed because they had checked-in on an A320 cabin so the seat plan was different.
I grabbed a copy of the Independent in front of the jetty, I think the other newspaper available was the Daily Mail.
I was warmly welcomed on board by the female purser and walked the short distance that separated me from row 4, where my two neighbours where already seated.
A RAM 737-800 was also boarding next to us.
The legroom just behind the Club Europe cabin is nothing to complain about (I'm 1.82m)
The cabin is the new standard one (probably three years old), it has with new seats, curtains, and walls.
The captain welcomed us through the PA, and announced an on-time arrival, although we pushed back late at 15:15.
The RAM 737 pushed back at the same time, but we let it pave the way to the runway, for a westbound take-off.
We let this HOP! Embraer 135 land before aligning…
And take off !
It only took 10 minutes to the cabin crew to start the service. A Chinese steward who looked 20 distribited the snack down the aisle while his colleague followed with the beverage trolley. I had a Gin and Tonic.
The snack consisted of a Smoked ham and Picadilly sauce roll, with a Glazed chocolate and orange marmalade filling bun. I actually enjoyed it. You can't say BA doesn't bring a British touch to its catering, plus it's a much better offering than what you would find on an Air France or KLM flight.
The rest of the flight was smooth, and we did circle a couple times above London as usual. We landed at 16:24 at LHR, so 20 minutes late. I still had two hours to connect and change terminals, so no worries for me.
Landing at LHR. The taxi time was amongst the shortest I experienced, the gates at Terminal 3 being just in front of the exit taxiway.
I deplaned and walked all the way to the shuttle bus to T5. Connecting at LHR isn't such a bad experience, but the walking distances and corridors can be stressful if you're on a tight connection.
Marseille - MRS
London - LHR
Overall a good experience on BA. The crew was friendly and efficient, and the captain spoke to us several times, which is always pleasant. The catering is just what I would expect for a light snack, although I might have been less generous if it was served as a proper lunch (which is probably what they do for mid day or evening flights). The moving map on the screen is nice, altough I couldn't see it properly as it was behind the Club Europe curtains.
See you soon for the MAN-LHR flight and thanks for reading !
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