LHR-AMS in Club Europe

The final leg of my Amsterdam-Hanoi return was a month or so after my return to London. At the time of booking I’d just picked a late flight on a Friday evening as I figured that was the best chance of me making it. As it turned out, I ended up finding a great deal with Qatar from Amsterdam to Hanoi one way, so I could use this flight to position for that. Plus I’d get to try out a brand new A350 with fancy seats 777 with fairly ordinary seats – but more on that later.

Airport

Arriving at about 17:50 on the Heathrow Express – figured I’d give that a go given the number of bags – I headed to the Club Europe checkin as all the bag drop desks looked a bit queuey. Unfortunately BA had messed up my booking, and they couldn’t see my Club World sectors which meant they thought I was only allowed 2 bags… so off to the Reservations Desk, where a nice chap called Andrej sorted me out (BA Well Done submitted)

Fast Track security was a little slow, taking about 10-15 minutes to get through to the scanner, and then another few minutes for my phone to be randomly swabbed. Bit tedious but never mind. On to the lounge, where I found out that the baggage scanner had eaten my boarding pass, and sat down for a jacket potato and beans. Good old comfort food – and the salad on the plane would do for a snack later anyway.

Couple of little glasses of wine; the selection was okay today, although I was a little disappointed to see two Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz – I’d not have minded a pinot or something else a little lighter alongside those and the Bordeaux (Graves, so yet more Cab Sav!)

The Galleries South lounge was fairly busy, with most tables taken but not all seats.

Departing from the B-gates, so left the lounge a little early, but shortly after arriving at the gate there was an announcement that although the plane was there, the flight crew were late inbound from Zurich. So off to my favourite T5B lounge which was, as always, very quiet. I’m starting to get tempted to walk down the tunnel to it every time, it’ll be a good bit of exercise!

 – B42, the same gate we used on the way to Toronto on NYE!

Boarding eventually started around 20:20, and was completed by about 20:40 for a 20:45 pushback. Short taxi, but a long queue meant that we weren’t airborne until about 21:05.

Flight

 Legroom in 1C, it’s possible to squeeze feet past the bulkhead but I didn’t find it necessary. 1A was empty, not that it really matters with the blocked B and E seats.

The climb seemed to take forever, but eventually the seatbelt sign was switched off and the cabin crew could start their service (for some reason they weren’t allowed to stand up earlier). A tasty prawn salad, and some sort of cheesecake topping for dessert, along with the ubiquitous warm rolls (a bit like Beefeater in the good old days, BA can’t possibly get rid of them!)

Shortly after the seatbelt signs had been switched off the First Officer came on to tell us that we’d be commencing our descent in 5 minutes, and we landed in Amsterdam at 22:45 for a 40 minute flight time. A short taxi without a tour of the airfield, and we were at our gate.

BA tend to use gates which seem to be about halfway between the airport and the city, and it was a good 10 minute walk to the baggage claim – a trip which a quick check on Google Maps suggests was about a 1.2km / 3/4 mile walk through the seemingly abandoned airport (the photo makes it look a lot brighter and better lit than it actually was!)

No desks open at Passport Control, just a small booth to the side, and I can only hope they opened some up before the rest of the passengers arrived. Judging by the fact that I waited 15 minutes for bags and still not everyone was there, I can assume there were delays.

And a little bugbear of mine – at Amsterdam, the baggage carousels have a little display that says things like “First bags on belt”, or “All bags delivered”. It lies. Both times “First bags on belt” has meant “First bags will be there in 10 minutes”, and “All bags delivered” means “We, the third party baggage handler, are trying to massage our statistics but the first bags might be there in about 5 minutes”.

All done though, and off to Citizen M for a good night’s sleep.

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