This flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30 when booked, but got switched to 8:50 about a month beforehand. We got up early and arrived at Heathrow's terminal 3 at 6:50, exactly 2 hours before (following instructions!) the scheduled departure time. We entered a seemingly short bag drop line at 6:52, but a couple with two small children at the front of the line were trying to change seats and other complicated matters, taking almost 20 minutes before they were redirected so someone else could deal with them. Bad line choice. We completed check in at 7:14. After a short walk upstairs, we joined another seemingly short security line at 7:15. The standard security procedures took place (everything out of bags, all bulky clothing and shoes off, etc.), but everyone went through a metal detector, not the full body scanners. However, someone had decided to bring a full sized stroller through security, which would not fit through the baggage screener, no matter what the staff tried. After 5-10 minutes, it got carted away to who knows where. Bad line choice x2. We completed security at 7:28.
Moving into terminal 3, we followed a snake of duty-free and other shops to get to the departure lounge. There was no gate posted at 7:30 when we arrived at the departure lounge, so we got settled and waited. Hot chocolate from Cafe Nero - not as good as Costa, but there wasn't one :(. More shots of the massive departure area. At 7:50 our gate was posted, number 21, and we went straight there. However, after the 10-minute walk, there was already a big line. Inside knowledge?
Our plane of the day, G-VWIN Lady Luck, about 10 years old. Once checked in, we didn't get on the plane, but into a mini gate area, with nothing more than a few vending machines and some newspapers/magazines. (Sorry, I thought I took a picture here, but I didn't).
Down the HSBC jetway we go… A look at the premium economy seats as we passed by. Economy seats. Settling into seat 57K at 8:05, one of the disadvantages of sitting in the back, lots of waiting. Our captain announced the flying time of 7h21m, and that there were 298 passengers aboard this fantastic Airbus A340-600!. I like this captain already. Christmas music started playing, and I knew we were in for a bad flight (just kidding). Seat width and legroom. Also, much larger seat pockets than G-VFIZ (Check out my VS10 report). IFE and remote. Bonus points if you spot what's missing versus my report on VS10! (Keep reading for the answer) Tray table. Amenities waiting on every seat. Parked next to us was G-VGAS. The weather was dreary and I didn't feel like taking out my camera, so my iPhone had to suffice for spotting. British Airways 777-200ER, A380, 747-400. We pushed back at 8:50, right on schedule! Taxiing to runway 09R, past terminal 5 (British Airways). We waited for one airplane to take off, and then it was our turn at 9:06, only 16 minutes behind schedule. I hadn't noticed this on the flight out, but I can now confirm that the A340 really does have a very slow rate of climb.
Oops, I guess I'm on the wrong flight, we're going to Newark! (Just kidding, but it did say EWR for the entire flight - whoops) The menus were distributed at 9:30. Good selection here, but reading the small print, it was still the December menu. I chose Ted 2 to watch while I waited for food. I went to get my USB wire to charge my phone, and then realized…there was no USB port! What changed in 5 months VS? (My outbound plane 5 months younger and had one). Oh well, the screens were still the same dreadful quality. Pretzels and drinks came around at 9:55. Food! Reaching row 57 at 10:50, I chose the Spaghetti and Meatballs. This was the best meal I had on a flight this trip. The pasta was really good and had a decent ratio of meatballs to pasta. The salad was a good attempt but didn't have any dressing, which was a big minus. Dessert (Gu) was heaven, and having cream cheese for the crackers instead of plastic wrapped in cheddar (we've all been there) was really nice. My mom got the vegetarian option, which also got good marks. I'll now take some time to discuss the crew and the seat, two big disappointments from the last flight.
The crew on this flight was horrible, especially compared to the great one I'd had the previous flight. Every member seemed very fed up and had a very obnoxious demeanor. We asked for things multiple times (drinks that weren't on the cart, etc.), they said they would get it, and then never did! It's very unpleasant to have such a negative crew.
I'm not sure whether I didn't notice it on the previous flight because I slept most of the flight/it was shorter, or that the seats were different, but the seats on this flight were super uncomfortable. The odd shape of the seats had your upper back further forward than you lower back, which made for an extremely uncomfortable 7 hours. The pillows provided helped a bit.
I got up from my seat over the ocean and went to the bathroom. Also, a look at the cabin. Note the shift from 2-4-2 to 2-3-2 due to the narrower cabin in the back. I also found the crew staircase to the basement (no picture, sorry!). I went to sleep for a while and woke up to be informed that I had missed another round of drinks and a popsicle. I attempted to get a popsicle, but an (obnoxious) crew member stated that they had all melted. ??????, they'd been on the flight 6 hours and not melted beforehand? Ok…oh well.
All of our IFE screens died around 15:10, and stayed off for about 30 minutes before they rebooted. You can see my unamused face in this picture…haha. At 15:20 our afternoon tea came around, I went for the chicken and bacon wrap, which was delicious! Also included: Mints, Chips, and Chocolate. Can't go wrong. Before we began our descent, I got up for one more walk around the cabin and found something very interesting. A guy was watching a movie/tv show on his iPad, but similarly to built-in IFE, it had 'VS' printed along the top of the video in faint lettering (you know what I'm talking about, right?). This confused me, as there was no wifi available, and VS doesn't have an app for streaming. Thoughts, anyone? We began our descent over Rhode Island at 15:54. Landing on runway 31R at 11:24 local time, 36 minutes ahead of schedule, nice! You can see the recently resurfaced 22R and demolition of the old triple hangars in this video.
We taxied around the airport on A and pulled into the ramp. The control tower at JFK. We hooked up to the gate at 11:33, and were off to passport control. Immigration went very smoothly. T4 (not sure about the rest of JFK) has automated passport control, where you scan your passports into a machine, and it print out a receipt for an officer to quickly check. Super efficient with no lines, although there are tons of machines and about 50 officers working.
However, the customs line was very long and took a while to get through, only to find 5 or so officers working. Oh well.
I hope you enjoyed this set of flight reports and thanks for reading them!
Comments are welcome, I love reading and responding to them!
Future Trips to look out for reports for:
In April, I'm off to Sint Maarten (airplane heaven) with jetBlue in economy and AA in business (my first flight in business!), and in August, I'm off to Africa, details aren't finalized yet, but some unique reports should entail. See you then!
London - LHR
New York - JFK
LHR Terminal 3- Nice departure lounge, but odd not having anything at the actual gates
Seats- Super uncomfortable
Food- Very good, menu is a plus
Crew- Unenthusiastic, unhelpful, and unwelcoming
IFE- Good selection, low quality
JFK Terminal 4- Efficient immigration, inefficient customs (balance the two?)
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