This flight report concludes a trip from Toronto to Warsaw via Istanbul, made mostly to try out the business class offerings on Turkish Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines. In this exciting episode, your humble flight-reporter goes home aboard LOT’s Dreamliner, direct and non-stop from Warsaw to Toronto.
After a good night’s sleep and much of the morning working at my hotel in Warsaw, I grabbed a cab back to Chopin mid-afternoon. Arriving at WAW, I found it had a modern airport feel to it, although it’s quite a compact facility.
LOT offers a nice little business class check-in area, complete with a gatekeeper and a meeting point. In about two minutes flat, I was checked in and on my way to security.
Fortunately, Fast Track security is clearly available for premium cabin passengers and Star Alliance Gold pax.
Security was quick and painless, and I made my way upstairs to LOT’s Business Lounge Polonez, to the best of my knowledge, the only Star Alliance lounge at WAW. A quick scan of the boarding pass and I was inside to explore.
The lounge is primarily a long, thin hallway with some seating on both sides. It feels quite small for the flagship — and only — lounge for an airline that largely runs its operations out of this airport, but it does have a nice feel to it, with some interesting additions like a “green” wall, and some hanging seats.
There are two buffets, near opposite ends of the lounge, both with pretty much the same offerings, including light snacks, soup, a few hot dishes, and vaious cold items, including cold cuts and a decent variety of cheeses and desserts. There’s also a self-serve bar.
I also found some of my old friends from my flight to Warsaw, although this time, I did not sample them.
I took some of the chicken and a couple of potatoes to start my snack. Both were pretty good.
Then I follwed up with some of the cold plate meats and cheeses. This was probably more enjoyable — the sausages in particular.
Internet was fast and reliable, but was the airport’s WiFi service, nothing specific to the lounge. Not that this is particularly good or bad in and of itself. I just found it interesting that they gave you information on how to connect to the Internet in the lounge, and it basically said “connect to the airport’s free WiFi system.”
After about an hour of hanging out in the lounge, I made my way to the gate after a quick stop at passport control. When I arrived down at the end of the terminal, I found a scene of considerable chaos. In the immediate area, there were flights for Toronto, New York, and Chicago getting ready to go, all on Dreamliners (as, of course, are all LOT longhauls). There were various LOT staff directing people which ways to go, with varying degrees of success.
Interestingly, they had a special “holding area” for business class, premium economy, and Star Alliance Gold customers, and this appeared to be shared amongst the flights, as bunch of people in the same area I sat in, which was gatekept most vigorously, got up when Chicago was called.
Adding to the confusion here were the nearly non-stop announcements for the flights, about 90 per cent of which were LOT asking — almost pleading — for people to come ask them how they can upgrade to premium economy or business class on their flight today. I’ve seen last minute upgrades on a variety of airlines, but I can’t say as I’ve ever seen an airline offer LMUs at the gate, or with quite this level of repetition.
Eventually, they called the flight to Toronto, and the gate agents seemed to struggle to get people in the right places. I made my way into the right line, more or less through dumb luck, but others around me weren’t quite so lucky, and some were getting quite miffed at the gate crew, as different agents seemingly gave different answers.
Flight: LO45 From: Warsaw Chopin (WAW) To: Toronto Pearson (YYZ) Date: 12/11/2015 Aircraft: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Registration: SP-LRC Seat: 2F ATD (STD): 17:15 (16:50) ATA (STA): 19:56 (20:20)
Nevertheless, I was quickly scanned on board and off down the jetway, where I stopped to grab this pic — the only quarter-decent (and barely at that) picture I could get at my ride, due to the configuration of the gates on the terminal building.
On board, there was just one other passenger in business class already, and I found myself in what must be one of the smallest business class cabins on a 788, with 18 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Air Canada, by comparison, manages to get 20 in the same space between doors 1 and 2, with a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats are very similar to those offered on my Turkish flight across the Atlantic the day before, although with less wear and tear.
I was seated in 2F for this flight, the starboard window seat in the middle row of business class. Unlike any airline I’ve flown on before, LOT doesn’t skip letters in seat positions in premium classes to match economy position by position. Instead it’s AB-CD-EF across the plane.
The seat comes pre-equipped with a pillow and blanket set, an amenity kit, and… is that a tablecloth? It’s damned sure not a blanket? Maybe a sheet? I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it feels like a linen to me.
Needless to say, legroom is just fine, as it always is for a flat-bed seat facing forward.
I’m joined by a seatmate — I end up being the only window seat “blocked in” by a passenger who’s not my travel companion, but that’s okay. And the cabin starts to fill up eventually.
Service begins with a… well… a “refreshing tissue.” Not exactly hot towel service, but okay.
The IFE screen mounted in the back of the seat ahead is a good size, the interface is relatively easy to use, and the quantity of content loaded is decent. All in all, LOT did a pretty good job here.
A remote for the IFE screen is located under the console between seats. As are power and USB ports, and headphone jacks. Headphones themselves are located between the ottomans. Seat controls, though not pictured, are located on top of the centre console on either side.
Service continues with pre-departure beverages offered. I choose a glass of champagne.
It’s accompanied by an amuse bouche, a nice touch on the ground. In this case, a small prawn on a dark bread base with some herbs. A nice little treat.
Business class eventually fills to about half of capacity, despite the hard-sell at the gate and offering the opportunity to bid for upgrades at online check-in.
We push back into the winter night, and pass another LO 788 getting some de-icing done. Apparently, we don’t need any.
A few minutes later, we’re up and away, into the night sky over Warsaw.
After enjoying the takeoff, I continue to explore. The headset offered aren’t bad, but I quickly decide I’d prefer to use my own noise canceling set, so I put them aside. I put on The Hangover Part 3 after finding it in the IFE and realizing I’d somehow missed seeing it thus far.
Menus are offered, and orders are taken. I choose the soup, and the chicken.
Here’s a look at the LOT amenity kit — pretty much what you’d expect.
Service begins with a hot towel, a vast improvement over the previous refreshing tissue.
About this time, they make their final pitch for onboard upgrades — although it’s also mentioned in the pre-movie commercials on the IFE system. It kinda feels like desperation on the part of revenue management at this point.
Then drinks are offered, accompanied by cashews. I have some more champagne, and a glass of water.
A tablecloth is then offered — so clearly, that wasn’t a tablecloth on my seat when I boarded — and the table is set for dinner. Notice, no tray. A nice little touch.
The salad is nothing special, although the seeds and the olives at least gave it some presence.
But the soup — oh, the soup! It helps that I really like lentil soup to begin with, but this was a really good, satisfying starter, with an nice bit of garlic toast and some arugula. What is it about soup on an airplane that’s so good?
The main course doesn’t remind me of any peri peri chicken I’ve had in the past, but it’s okay. I wouldn’t give it stellar marks, but it wasn’t bad either. Just not a top-notch experience.
After the main course, cheese was offered from the trolley, and I take some cheddar, some goat cheese, and some smoked cheese, presented with a bit of dark bread, dried apricot, and prune. There was also a blue cheese, which I declined. A very good cheese course.
For dessert, I selected a simple cherry cake kind of deal. Nothing special, but pretty good.
A decent port was offered with cheese and dessert, which were offered together from the same trolley.
And shortly afterwards, the flight attendant made her way around offering a sample of a Polish black currant liqueur as a post-meal drink. I liked it.
With dinner over, we’re about two hours into the flight, starting out over the Atlantic. I put on a movie called Life As We Know It, with which I was not previously familiar. Disappointing.
In the lav against the starboard wall, a rose up against the mirror. A nice touch.
I reclined my seat all the way to bed mode at one point and found it comfortable, but quickly decided I wasn’t very sleepy and was better off not sleeping prior to a nighttime arrival home. So I went back to watching the end of the movie. Not sure why I didn’t turn it off.
I continue lounging in relative comfort through the rest of the flight, also watching Terminator Genisys and Missions Impossible Rogue Nation, films that had long been offered on Air Canada’s IFE, but with which I have not bothered to date.
The seat is comfortable enough in lounge position, and a bottle of water is offered. Every now and then, a flight attendant makes her way around with water, although not often. Overall, service on this flight was decent, but nothing outstanding. They certainly didn’t knock my socks off.
About 90 minutes out of Toronto, as I started watching Trouble With The Curve again because I was out of interesting new-to-me options for which I still had time, they started the pre-arrival meal service with another hot towel. Note the pre-flight “refreshing tissues” were still where they had been offered. I guess in case we ever wanted to refresh during the flight, or something.
This time, the meal was offered on a tray.
I enjoyed both of the starters — the goat cheese and cherry dish was an interesting bit with very colourful flavours, and the couscous salad was also very enjoyable.
But the main fell a little flat to me. The mushrooms were tasty, but otherwise, this pasta was lacking. Perhaps its because most of the flavour came from blue cheese, and I’m not a big fan, or at least wasn’t in a blue cheese kind of mood at that moment.
The Lindt chocolates for dessert were decent, although I didn’t bother with the fruit salad,which was very citrus-heavy.
After dinner, a Polish chocolate was offered from the box.
The table was cleared, and we began our descent into Toronto. Flights on 787s with those big beautiful windows just aren’t the same when you depart in darkness, fly all the way your destination in darkness, and land in darkness.
But land in darkness we did, pulling up all steamed in much the same way as this trip began – next to an Air Canada 767 at the end of the hammerhead terminal.
Thanks to my Nexus card, it was a quick trip through customs, and I was quickly off, grabbing the new train back into Toronto, and putting a wrap on my flying adventures for another year.
Thanks for reading!
LOT Schengen Polonez
Warsaw - WAW
Toronto - YYZ
A nice experience on the LOT Dreamliner. I didn't feel like LOT was outstanding in any particular aspect of the flight, but was pretty good all around. Aside from the near-constant attempts to get people to fork out some dough for an upgrade.
If I'm keeping score correctly, I think this means I just have UA and NZ Dreamliners to try in the current Star Alliance fleet. NZ is nearly impossible to get on awards, so I doubt very much that will happen.
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