Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log: November 2011: BD917

London Heathrow (LHR) - Amman (AMM)

Phew - made it! After disembarking from our much-delayed connecting flight from Dublin, making our way through the Flight Connections Centre, failing to spot a bmi desk, noticing on one of the monitors that our flight was closing, then quick-marching and finally running towards the gate, we'd made it on board. With a sigh of relief, we walked back to 5A/C, situated just forward of door 2L in the main section of Business Class. A further three rows were located behind doors 2L/R, with a bulkhead dividing Business and Economy. As we settled in, it quickly became apparent that we were subject to a 40-minute delay due to the fog, so perhaps we needn't have rushed after all. A cabin crew member saw to it that we were provided with champagne and water. A cushion and blanket had already been placed on the seat, and further delivery runs by the cabin crew ensured that we each had a menu card and wine list, a little pack of eyeshades and socks, a gift-wrapped box of further in-flight amenities and a set of headphones.

The forty minutes came and went and the captain advised of a further delay: we were now expecting to start engines at 1306. The cabin crew did a good job of keeping everyone supplied with water, but it wasn't over yet: at 1310 the captain advised that we were No 5 in the queue for departure and this meant a further delay of 10 to 15 minutes due to the deteriorating weather. We finally pushed back at 1325, made a slow taxi towards the holding point for 09R and finally took our leave of foggy Heathrow. As we did so, it became obvious just how frustratingly localised the fog was.

The cabin crew had taken orders for post-take off drinks and lunch on the ground, and as we levelled out over the Belgian coast, they set about delivering the drinks along with some mixed nuts. I had champagne and water, while Bruce went for a gin and tonic. The full lunch menu was as follows:  

LUNCH  WINE LIST 
Starter   Champagne   
Peat-smoked salmon with potato, horseradish and chive salad   Charles Lafitte Grande Cuvée Brut 
Roasted squash with grilled fennel, spelt and goat's curd  White wines
  Terra Noble Reserva Chardonnay, Chile 
Main Course    Pinot Grigio, Villa Dugo, Italy 
Chicken breast with autumn potato cake and wild mushroom sauce 
Red wines
 
Cod with puy lentils and a caper and parsley sauce Silverhurst Merlot 2007, High Constantia, South Africa 
Cheddar cheese, red onion and rosemary tart Deep Woods Estate Block 7 Shiraz, Western Australia 
  Lirac Domaine de Genestriere, France 
Dessert  
Stem ginger cheesecake  
Toffee apple and pecan crumble pie with custard  
Cheese: Cooleeney and Tasty Lancashire with gooseberry chutney  

I had the smoked salmon and potato salad starter followed by the chicken, nicely washed down with a glass of the Chardonnay. Bruce's cheese and onion tart looked appetising enough, but could really have done with something else on the plate - even just a small salad. I chose the cheesecake for dessert and was surprised to see that it turned up in a pre-packaged plastic container. This was in complete contrast to the passenger in 5F, whose apple pie and custard was served on a plate. A couple of cups of coffee rounded off the meal, and these were followed by a glass of Johnny Walker Black Label to sip at leisure as we headed relentlessly into nightfall. Bottles of water were distributed at this point as well.

I decided to see if there was anything remotely interesting on the IFE system, having been put off up to this point by the earlier discovery that it was on a fixed cycle and couldn't be started on demand. The screens were ludicrously small and positively ancient-looking, but I persevered. I found an episode from the recent comedy series Come Fly With Me and tried it for a while; sadly it had been heavily censored. A quick check of the moving map showed that after overflying Antwerp, we had eventually made our way via Frankfurt and Nuremberg to the north of Vienna, then through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria towards Istanbul. We then clipped the north-east tip of Cyprus and flew north of both Beirut and Damascus, before turning south towards Amman.

The captain announced that the local weather at our destination was expected to be 10C and overcast, with showers. The main feature that struck me during our approach was the lack of lighting on the ground, but I knew that the airport was located well outside the city. We touched down at 2037 local time and made it onto stand eight minutes later. It occurred to me that, in spite of the high standard of cabin service throughout, we had never seen a hot towel.

As we collected our bits and pieces together prior to leaving the aircraft, I felt happy that this had been a very good flight overall. Cabin service had been friendly and attentive throughout, and small touches such as delivering all items on hand-held trays made for a truly premium experience. Of course the seats were elderly, despite being nicely re-covered in brown leather, and the IFE was a joke. However I knew that the seats had been due for replacement with flat beds in 2012, a development that now - like bmi itself - looked to be surrounded by uncertainty, with the proposed sale of the airline by Lufthansa.

But the positive reaction was replaced by one of dismay some time after disembarkation, when it became painfully apparent that our cases hadn't made it on board, despite the fact that the aircraft sat at the gate at Heathrow for 1hr 45mins past the scheduled departure time. It was a thoroughly frustrating ending to an otherwise enjoyable flight.

Date: Sun 20 Nov 2011
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Scheduled dep: 1140
Actual departure: 1325
Scheduled arrival: 1855
Actual arrival: 2045
Cabin: Business
Seat: 5A

Linked reports from same trip:

Dublin

Amman

Flight Log ME311

Beirut

Jeita & Byblos

Flight Log BD906