SYD-LHR etc and some hot tips

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I have just returned from a trip to the UK/Europe. The original plan for a DONE4 ex Narita were scuppered at the last minute when QF totally screwed up my booking so I cut my losses and decided to use up some points on a SYD-LHR return in first and restrict my travels to Europe from a London base (family).

Tip 1 - never book a round the world fare with QF

Given the only availability on for redemption flights was with BA, I booked onto their services via SIN, changing at SIN for a faster journey and to compare the 777 with the 747 services, but with direct flight back via BKK.

I called QF on the morning of tavel to ensure that I could check in at the QF first desk (QF ticket on a OneWorld partner flight, right!?). Leisurely left the SYD hotel at 11am and tried to check in at 1130 for the 1530 flight. "No sir you cannot check in here so go to the BA desk, which isn't open for an hour, we cannot help you!". Thus I am left stranded in SYD INTL terminal for an hour waiting to check in and unable to maximise my time in the new first lounge. It appears the at QF lost the local ground handling contract for BA and contracted supplier Menzies and QF don't share access to systems to faciloitate fellow OneWorld passengers. Absurd but true. And of course Qf are merrily telling their passengers on BA flights that they can check in at the QF desk. The staff on the first desk were extremely unhelpful and disinterested. Not a good start to a long journey!!!

Tip 2 - do not try to check in for a BA based flight at a QF desk in SYD

Tip 3 - do not try to check in more than 3 hours before the first BA flight out of SYD INTL (ie currently 1230)

Tip 4 - do not believe what QF customer service/sales phone reps tell you, their information is frequently incorrect

Once in the lounge, all was redeemed by good food and excellent wine etc

Tip 5 - if you haven't sampled the new first lounge, do give it a go and give yourelf time to enjoy!

Once on board the 777, I was disappointed to find that they had ancient entertainment systems, no AVOD, etc. This situation was redeemed by the outstanding cabin crew and the exceptional Chateau Beycheville 1996 red wine. Luckily I switched flights at SIN to the 747, which had the more recent AVOD system. However, I would not pay actual cash for first class on BA, but would rather try a more progressive airline in terms of facilities and cabin service (Emirates, Singapore, etc???). Oh yes the food was very average.

Tip 6 - avoid the 777 service and favour the 747 one if travelling on BA flights between SYD and LHR, expecially if you enjoy movies etc.

Tip 7 - don't pay actual cash for these BA services, they simply aren't good value compared with alternative first class products!

LHR was fine since we were one of the first flights of the day to land and I was through the terminal in minutes (UK passport and no check in baggage), although pleased not be attempting a transit.

I then took a couple of side trips, one to Brussels and one to Geneva both on BA Club Europe (their business class). Booking on the BA website gives you the option to access discounted (restricted), with good discounts during off season periods but still with resonable discounts in holiday periods depedning on route etc.

Tip 8 - try the BA web site for dicsounted business class fares on one off trips

In both cases I used the online check I only took hand luggage, expecting to use the express line for customs/security and then acess the first lounge at T4 LHR. Since both flights were early (to avoid crowds) at 630 and 0700 on both occasions I arrived at T4 around 5am. It transpired that no check desks were open at this time (although this didn't matter to me), the priority line was not open and the first lounge didn't open until 530am!!!!!

Tip 9 - don't expect to do a manual check in before 5am at T4 LHR

Tip 10 - don't expect the priority line for business and status customers to be available early in the morning at T4 LHR

Tip 11 - don't expect the first lounge to be available until after 530am at T4 LHR

I used BA lounges at both GVA and BRU and was surprised to find that they provide very little food.

Tip 12 - don't expect anything much in the way of food in BA's european lounges

One chap I met in the GVA lounge had spent over an hour trying to get checked in for a BA flight GVA-LHR-CPT, apparently they had great difficulty because of the on flight to South Africa, which is stupifying given the UN traffic through GVA.

Tip 13 - be wary of the need to check in and check through for onward flights through BA in GVA.

On the return legs of these flights again I had no problems with arrivals at LHR T4, although again I had a UK passport and just hand luggage and no transits to attempt.

The trip back from LHR to SYD and eventually through to CNS was on BA 009 via BKK. This service ran about an hour late due to a hissing PA speaker, which they tried to fix but gave up one after an hour of messing around with it. Food was a lot better on this flight (had some sort of veal dish, cheese platter, etc). Remarkably, there were insufficient doonas/mattresses for the 8 passengers in the first cabin. I twigged to this early and made sure (somewhat selfishly I suppose) that I was the first to ask the for the bed turn down service after departing LHR. I find it inconceivable that an airline would FAIL so miserably to ensure that the basic levels of service peope are paying for and being advertised are not provided. $15,000 for a return first trip and no doona? Mind you I have read on this blog that this has happened on QF flights as well.

Tip 14 - If you don't see a doona set on the foot stool allocated to your seat, then ask for one early!!! Or take your own!!!!!

Caught some time up in flight and had a little over an hour to sample the new BKk airport and first lounge. The lounge seems very nice, although the showers are poorly fitted, and hand out toiletries like razors of very low quality.

Tip 15 - take your own razor for BKK!

I enjoyed an effortless transit at SYD INTL so was able to enjoy a couple of hours in the first lounge, with the great showers, quality toiletries and dining. Then I took QF167 to CNS, the domestic leg of the NRT flight. This was a typical 767 service with the dreamtime seats, but I was very annoyed when the CSM decided that a 3 hour flight was too short to warrant loading up the movie choices in J class. What don't these idiots understand - people are paying $1200 one way for that flight and some fool of a CSM thinks he can degrade the service level.

Tip 16 - if you want to have a choice of movie on the dom sector of an international flight (eg. SYD-CNS, BNE-CNS etc) let the CSM know early on the flight that you expect them to turn the bloody thing on!!!!!!

Oh one final thing, glad to be back in Australia and be able to eat some healthy food again....

Tip 16 - don't eat out in UK pubs and restaurants unless you want to get fat on chips, meat that has been frozen before cooking etc etc, or pay the rpice to go somewhere decent!!!!!
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