This series covers a recent trip out to Geneva for the weekend. See Part 1 for the full background. As a reminder, the routing was:
Part 1 – LAX-LHR [AA 108, Boeing B777-300ER, Main Cabin Extra] – Here Part 2 – LHR-GVA [LX 355, Airbus A320, Economy] – Here Part 3 – GVA-LHR [BA 725, Airbus A319, Euro Traveller] – You are here Part 4 – LHR-LAX [BA 269, Airbus A380-800, World Traveller] – Here
This report will cover the flight from GVA to LHR aboard an A319.
Seat selection through AA or BA is of course an impossible task, so I went over to the QF website to pick my seats for this flight. The flight didn't look too crowded 72 hours before departure. I just picked an aisle/window combination hoping for an empty middle seat.
Weighing up breakfast at the hotel or breakfast in the BA Galleries Lounge at GVA, we opted to just eat breakfast at the hotel and skip the lounge at GVA. I think most of the hotels in Geneva offer free transit passes during your stay, so I’m not sure what the fare is for the 6-minute train ride from Gare Cornavin to GVA. The trains are frequent (>5/hour) and drop you off at the airport. We head towards the check-in area.
Lots of construction at GVA. Based on the age of the airport and the overflow of passengers inside, I would say a lot of work is needed to expand/modernize the airport.
Inside, we check the FIDS to find out where the BA check-in counters are.
Despite having flights to LGW and LHR, there were few passengers at the counters. An agent approached us as we entered the line and tagged our cabin luggage before letting us proceed to an agent. The agent was slow since she had to replace the paper on the boarding pass printer. She did thorough document checks and handed us our 2 boarding passes. She also told us that there was no priority screening today since they didn’t have any more of the slips? I don’t really know what that meant.
Upstairs, security was a mess. The line was wrapped around at least 4x. It took us about 20-25 minutes to clear security.
Through the duty free zone.
Our flight is already listed so we didn’t bother going to the lounge and went straight towards the B Gates to clear immigration.
That was probably a mistake since there was absolutely nothing in the B Gates. There was a single shop and the bathrooms were located back downstairs in the hallway. There wasn’t even a water fountain in the terminal.
There was also a lack of seating in this area, we eventually found some seats in the corner by the placard graveyard.
Despite being a circle with floor to ceiling windows, spotting was difficult since you couldn’t get close enough to the windows.
EI A320 in retro livery.
Our plane arrived on time from LHR, but we suddenly were alerted that due to a maintenance issue, we would be delayed until 10:50.
British Airways, BA 725 Equipment: Airbus A319 [G-EUPK, delivered May 2000] Departure: 10:35 (ATD: 11:41) Arrival: 11:30 (ATA: 12:10) Flight time: 1:29
The announced departure time of 10:50 passed and masses were hoarding around the gate. No other announcement of a delay was announced, but on my phone I saw that BA had delayed it further to 11:05. The ground staff made no effort to convey that information on to us. When boarding was finally called, there was a mess in front of the gate and we couldn’t tell what group was boarding. I went to board once I heard OW Sapphire called. I scanned in, but Ms. NGO85 was stopped and told to wait since they don’t allow guests to board with status holders. This is the first time I have seen priority not transferred to all passengers on the same PNR.
A view of our plane heading into the jetbridge.
Entering the cabin, some good mornings are offered by the FAs.
GVA is definitely a premium route; there were 10 rows of J on this little A319 (stretched past the exit row^^). A look back at the Y-portion of the plane.
Our row. We had picked D and F to hope for an empty middle seat, but were met with the stereotypical business traveller who first just tried to crawl over Ms. NGO85 before she just offered to slide into the middle seat. He then proceeded to work on his laptop on the tray table during taxi and landing until FAs forced him to close it both times with the fake “Oh, I’m sorry!”
View down our row.
Seat pitch is really tight, the fingernail of space I had disappeared when the person in front of me reclined.
The view from my seat in Row 18.
It’s here!!!! The new BA BOB service has arrived effective January 11. I find the prices high, even with the collapse of the GBP.
LH A320 rolling out.
The captain comes on and apologizes for the delay saying that there was some issues in cabin maintenance that needed to be addressed prior to boarding. He anticipated a 12:00 arrival into LHR. The safety video played as we began our roll out.
OS ERJ-195 in *A special livery leaving next to us.
SN A320 in a René Magritte-inspired livery.
SK A320 and KL B737.
GVA terminal with a little AF A318 in front.
CA A330 with engine cowlings open.
F7 Saab 2000.
ASL Airlines Switzerland ATR-72 (still has the Farnair Switzerland livery).
ASL Airlines Belgium B734 (still has the TNT Airways livery).
GVA Fire Brigade Training B732, a true veteran. Love those ancient JT8D engines. This plane was first delivered to UA in 1968^^
Numero_2’s personal A319 stored at GVA.
A bunch of construction going on to expand the airport.
Some prime housing for avid spotters, like this guy sitting on his lawn chair watching the planes taxi by.
There was a string of arrivals that we had to wait for before we aligned onto the runway for take off.
We lift up to the south away from the lake, which gives some glimpses of the suburbs of Geneva before we disappear into the clouds.
The overhead monitors played the moving map.
With no complimentary service, I just napped until we began our descent into LHR. I knew we were going to have a very tight connection and was weighing up trying to rush to T3 to catch our AA flight or just asking to get rebooked on the BA flight since we didn’t meet the minimum connection time.
The captain came on and said that we would need to be in a holding pattern for 20 minutes before landing into LHR. We did some loops SE of the city center.
We finally left the holding pattern to land into LHR from the west on a cloudy day.
We touch down just past T5 and come to a smooth stop before making a U-turn to return to T5.
Turning on my phone, I get this message from AA. AA clearly acted quickly in rebooking us on the later BA flight. This was bittersweet in that I preferred the extra legroom of MCE on AA, but was interested to see what BA offered on this route. With no stress of rushing to T3, we could comfortably take advantage of a 3h layover in T5.
KL ERJ-190 arriving.
BA B772 landing.
We pull into a gate at T5, A pier. The cargo is quickly unloaded.
We deplane and head towards the transfer desk to get new boarding passes.
There were plenty of counters open and we had a very friendly BA agent. She first called the gate to confirm that they wouldn’t hold the plane for us. Then she pulled up our booking and showed me the seat map on the screen. The plane was equally as empty as our AA flight. I asked about the upper deck and she promptly pulled it up. The mini Y cabins upper deck were <25% load. I picked a pair of seats along the window for us. She handed us our boarding passes telling me we were leaving from the C pier and that the BA Galleries South was the closest lounge.
We use the Fast Track lane and are quickly back upstairs to clear security at LHR to re-enter T5.
I’ll leave off this series here as we begin our layover in LHR.
***Geneva Tourism Bonus***
Waterfront at dusk.
John Calvin’s Cathédrale Saint Pierre.
Promenade de la Treille.
United Nations and the Broken Chair.
Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which was quite tastefully done.
Jet d'Eau and Lac Léman.
Geneva - GVA
London - LHR
The new BA leaves a lot to be desired. The crews remain good, but the quality of their product has rapidly eroded into LCC. For simple intra-European flights, can't see any reason to pick them over U2 these days.
Cabin comfort: The BA narrow-bodies have always had a tight-pitch so this was no surprise. The seats are comfortable for sitting, but the overall comfort suffers from the proximity of a seatback to your face.
Crew: The BA crews are routinely cheery. With the new BOB, the crew didn't seem fully in-sync and were doing the cabin service very slowly as they tried to handle payments. I don't think they finished the cabin by the time we started the descent.
Meal and catering: It's BOB now, so 0 is the score by default.
Entertainment: No newspapers offered (contrary to normal BA protocol at LHR). Standard seatback content. The overhead monitors had some programs and then switched to the moving map.
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