Chicago XV – Tiers and Dreams
BA96 Toronto Pearson – London Heathrow T5
BA096 Toronto Pearson T1 – London Heathrow T5
British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, World Traveller Plus 10J
90 Tier Points Earned, 3553 Miles Flown, 3553+3553+888 Avios Earned
I was welcomed aboard this brand new Boeing 787, and headed past Club World, into World Traveller Plus, and into the first row of WT+, which would be my home for the evening.
Club World is in a new formation for this aircraft – a 2-3-2 formation, and looks rather fresh – if still the same as the 777s, A380s and other aircraft carry the Club World product. It’s a reasonable product, but apart from some tidying up, no real innovations here.
World Traveller and World Traveller Plus has the refreshed products that have featured on Boeing 777-300ER and A380 aircraft – these being Slimline seats… although with a reasonable amount of padding in the posterior cushion this time. A bit of an improvement to say the least.
World Traveller Plus – my seats
Saying that, this is first time I’ve been aboard a Boeing 787 in an 9 across configuration… and it looks as tight as hell down the back.
Saying that, there was one space on the plane there was lots of room – and that’s the galley.
That’s one large galley!
Wandering back through the plane, the crew seemed very happy with their new plane – or new toy as I called it, with a lot of the crew very proud of the new plane in their fleet.
I settled into the seat, and as I’ve said earlier… it’s an improvement on the 777-300ER seats. It felt a lot less like metal to bottom, and instead a fair bit of padding.
Overhead Pivot bin
IFE controls home
USB Charging points – not one… but two.
Table out – taken a LOT later in flight.
As boarding went on, it seemed to be a full flight in Club World up front, with a quietish evening both in World Traveller and in World Traveller Plus. Sometimes, it’s worth not upgrading to have a quieter cabin, and this is one of those times.
In terms of legroom, it was ample. And that’s meant nicely.
Legroom – plenty in the bulkhead
Now, as time ticked on, it was closing in on 22:15 – time to push back. And there was a distinct lack of communication from the cockpit. At 22:15 on the nose, the captain came on the announcement system that had been an incident on the ground involving a luggage-loading machine… and our plane.
We were told that inspections were going to occur, with an update in 30 minutes. Straight after, the cabin crew came on the line, permitting the use of electronic devices until such time we were ready for take off.
I took this as an opportunity to fire up the In Flight Entertainment system. This system – like the one fitted to the BA Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ERs are based on the Thales i5000 system. And very pretty it is too.
IFE Reverse controller
Navigation was a bit sluggish, but pacey enough to be useful. Whilst the movie tastes weren’t too my liking, the comedy loaded was plenty.
Little did I know HOW plenty it would be.
I therefore went for one my favourite series… no, not Pokémon (I watched that enough of that amazingly), and I switched to… Red Dwarf.
Headphones that were supplied were the noise cancelling variety, and rather comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Taken a lot later in flight…
That killed 25 minutes nicely, and I lined up another episode of the show ready to roll. 5 minutes in, the captain was on the blower saying that there were discussions with the engineers on the ground and BA HQ to see if the damage was too extensive to fly or not… with an update in 30.
At this point the crew came around with non-alcoholic refreshments to start the evening off.
As time wound on, the captain came out and talked with passengers who had concerns, which was an excellent thing to see – a captain actively engaging with people besides the ground crew and cabin crew.
Similarly, shortly after, the Cabin Supervisor Manger came by and introduced himself, apologised for the delay and gave options should the flight be cancelled – either re-routing on Air Canada back to London during the day, or taking the evening flights the next day.
So with three Red Episodes of Red Dwarf out of the way, I headed off to the IFE system to hunt for something else to watch that wouldn’t demand masses of thought whilst the delay was in progress. Thankfully BA had loaded the entire 30 Rock 6th season on the plane.
With time ticking on the 30 minute delays were stacking up. During this period, the crew decided to serve dinner on the ground. Main choice was a choice of Thai Chicken or Beef Short Ribs.
I went for the Thai Chicken
Thai Chicken Curry with Pak Choi and Rice.
Dinner was pretty darn goo. Reasonably nice, fresh, with the curry of a reasonable potency with the rice not tasting like it was glued together on a bad day. The salad was crisp and fresh too, and the desert was of a reasonable size to be enjoyable.
No drinks were served other than water in case the plane given to push back in a hurry. This… didn’t happen, so the crew served coffee.
Coffee and yes – still on the ground
The clear down of the trays was done and the lights were brought down. Even the EVA Air 777-300ER that was parked next to us got bored and headed off
No, no Hello Kitty Paintwork on this 777-300ER.
After this, I settled down to 30 Rock Season Six. The captain made a few announcements, hopeful that the repair would be effective, as they now had run out of options with what Toronto ground staff were allowed to do, and that it was a four way conference call between the Captain, Boeing Seattle, British Airways Operations London and Ground Engineering in Toronto. It was identified that a Titanium strip would have to be removed to continue the inspection of the carbon fibre.
And trust me, I heard it through the noise cancelling headphones.
A new quicker flight plan was filed for London in the meantime, cutting our time in the air as the ground engineers worked away to inspect the plane.
At about 3:40… all was silent, as the captain came on the PA to announce that we were finally preparing for departure, and that both Boeing and BA had approved the repairs. With this the lights came up as the crew begun their pre-take off checks.
Finally, the doors went to closed, and our heavily delayed 787 begun pushback from Toronto Pearson – a good 5 hours down
The safety video was played through the cabin, and final checks were complete.
At about 4:09 Toronto time, our 787 finally headed into the sky.
Yes, I still have a BMI Airbus A330-200 as my lock screen wallpaper. And that’s when we got in the air…
Climb out was quick into the night sky, with the rain providing no trouble to the pair of Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. Soon we were cutting through the cloud layer and into the night
The crew attempted a full bar service, but by this point, everyone was mostly out cold or not with it. I took some cola and decided to rest
The next thing I knew, light was starting to stream into the cabin – not clear, but diffused by the window.
Remember people – the 787 doesn’t have blinds. This is kind of important as the windows are meant to reduce the amount of light that comes in. Is the following a reduction in light?
It is green. It is a fair reduction in light… but not a total blackout. Heck, the other side wasn’t looking too great
The mood lighting had come on too, indicating breakfast was soon to be served.
Reducing the green to a blue. a bit more palatable.
Maybe a bit too bright.
That’s a bit better
The deep 787 wing
Contrasting window shades.
So, I was expecting a box breakfast. Instead I got. Well. Something Air Canada would have been proud to serve.
And I don’t mean that nicely.
A muffin, orange juice and water.
Seriously – is the best you can do in WT+/WT BA? It is a comparatively short segment, but some fruit wouldn’t had gone amiss. Not particularly satisfying, and well… a bit of effort could had gone in. At least the orange juice was cold, and the coffee was hot and wet.
Our flight path was a bit less great-circlish than normal, but we were making good progress as it continued to London, with breakfast all done and dusted before an hour and ten to go to Heathrow
Daylight at last
During this time, comment cards were given out to everyone aboard to fill in their details to arrange appropriate compensation (I’ll talk about what I got in my comments)
In addition, the crew made an announcement for Flying Start, as well as anyone who had a connection – and it now being borked to go to Flight Connection Centre for re-routing, along with the crews full apologies
Forms were collected, and final requests for Duty Free were taken. With those done, it was a matter of the plane being prepared for landing
Over England’s Green and Pleasant Land
Crossing over the pleasant land, closing in on Heathrow.
With the cabin secured for landing, we begun entering the Heathrow traffic system – and as well as passing some impressive clouds… we entered a stack as well.
Spot the different on the other side
Eventually after a couple of loops around a stack, we were given a river approach into London Heathrow
London is underneath. Trust me.
Battersea Power Station in the corner.
Soon, the plane descended beneath the cloud level and we were soon vectoring in for a landing on 7L.
With that, our long journey was coming to an end, with the time at 15:30 British Summer Time. Or… we had been going for the best part of 11 hours.
The plane continued a taxi, heading over to the T5 Complex, and between the T5B/T5C gates, with the captain thanking everyone for their patience, and apologies for ruining people’s day with the delays.
Waiting for the “go” signal (seatbelt sign off)
Soon, the bong a lot of people had been waiting for went off, and everyone gathered their items.
Movement in Club World.
Disembarkation was via 2L, with the Cabin Supervisor thanking people for their patience, and him apologising to me for not seeing me before landing. A nice touch.
With that – I thanked the crew for their safe transportation over the pond, and headed off into T5C… and home.
Overall: Whilst the delay wasn’t BA’s finest hour, put simply – it wasn’t the airlines fault. Instead, it was ground handling that loused up big time, adding 5+ hours onto a very long trip. The captain and cabin crew did a good job of keeping people informed, letting them rest, provide service on the ground as needed, whilst letting people rest in the air after the long delay. The IFE system looks extremely good, and was full of choices, whilst the food was pretty reasonable for once in World Traveller Plus. The Breakfast however – was a joke. The 787 is still a darn good plane, but to say I was jetlagged when I got off it would be… an understatement. The World Traveller Plus seat I think is a better implementation than installed on the 777-300ER… although that could just be me.
I still think 787 itself for all its wonders is a plastic 767-300ER on steroids, and as demonstrated – although tough – is fragile still as airlines get used to this class of plane.
A day later, I was proactively contacted by BA Customer Services in Newcastle, who reviewed the situation with me and apologised again for the delay to the journey. As a goodwill gesture 30,000 Avios were deposited in my BA Executive Club account, which I accepted.
Put it like this: I Was still more angry at American Airlines who did nothing, other than the feeblest of apologies, rather than BA who made a bit of effort.
Oh, and as to how many episodes of 30 Rock I had left to watch? Put it like this: I was well in the low single digits by the time I was on the ground…
Next: Homeward Bound
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