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December 28, 2012 / oneworld82

DFW-LHR-DXB and back – A 72 hours mileage run on AA/BA Y and BA J (Club World)

It’s true. I can’t help it. I am addicted to miles. AAdvantage miles, to be more precise. Those points that allow you to travel first class on Cathay Pacific at a fraction of the overall cost of a ticket. What can I do about it… Sometimes I just pull the trigger and do it… I constantly tell myself: “don’t do it, you’re gonna regret it”. Yet, it doesn’t help. I do it regardless.

The trip... and only 72 hours to complete it!

The itinerary… and only 72 hours to complete it. Round trip.

And so here I am at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5’s Galleries Lounge South, writing my trip report while sipping a decent Cabernet Sauvignon from the Barossa Valley while using a perfectly-international docking station to recharge my gear. Because British people know that the World uses different electric sockets and so provide you with options to charge you phone, tablet, or whatever else is in need of power. I can’t honestly imagine AA doing the same back at home. But yet again, this is Europe, a tad more forward-thinking than the US. And  I will stop there.

Chili & penne with a good "The Gentleman" cabernet Sauvignon from Barossa Valley, South Australia

Chili & penne with a good “The Gentleman” cabernet Sauvignon from Barossa Valley, South Australia

So… how did all this craziness begun? I wish I had a romantic story for it…! The reality is much simpler than fables of mistake fares or company-sponsored travel. In September, I realized that my yearly flying would not get me even to Platinum. Not that I had not travelled during the year – on the contrary! My trip across Australia has been fantastic and full of F/J flights. But those were award tickets, and unfortunately they do not count to retain status (how unfair!). So I planned a mileage run to somewhere far away and cheap, just because I HAVE to retain my status. I wanted to feel “special” one more year, especially since I have a bunch of revenue travels planned next year (most notably: South Africa!). So, why not? A quick browse on AA.com pointed me to the Middle East as the best destination for a mileage run on AA/BA from DFW. I was able to find various tickets priced around 1100 USD, which while not a great deal in terms of cents=per-mile would have allowed me to spend some time in Dubai – a city which I always find fun (for a few hours at a time, at least). Yet, something else popped up: AA and BA fares weren’t quite aligned… especially in business class! With a bit of research and work, I was able to snatch the return leg on Club World all the way on BA for just 1,000USD more. Exciting. Now, I say “just” but it isn’t really that I do not value 1,000USD. But the fact that I had never experienced Club World was a decisive factor in pushing me in buying this I fare. What a deal! Between my inbound economy class flights and my outbound business class one(s) I would have the chance to spend 17 hours in Dubai – hopefully doing some good shopping and enjoying the Park Hyatt’s spa for a while. If you ask me, a good deal that will bring to to Platinum and add almost 40,ooo AAdvantage miles to my book. I am happy!

++++++++++

I am still at the Galleries Lounge… Gosh a 7 hours layover is LONG. But the whiskey here is decent, and the food not bad. First time I see carrot cake at this lounge. The cheese frosting – with lemon zest – is actually edible and it tastes just right.

Johnny Walker and tonic - Just to kill some time, you know? Oh, and I am having carrot cake with it. Delicious!

Johnny Walker and tonic – Just to kill some time, you know? Oh, and I am having carrot cake with it. Delicious!

The first half of the first leg is gone. Painful. DFW-LHR on an AA B767 in economy. Can you imagine?? No you can’t. Because you weren’t on my flight. I mean, a B767 is good for a SFO-DFW… or even for a transcon these days… but for a 9 hours flight, well… not really! The B773 is arriving soon! And the 767s will be refurbished… by 2015! And the company is hiring new, fresh faces! Ok ok… the steps are right.. but I feel AA is behind competition… I mean, look at this:

"Dinner"

“Dinner”

I mean… look!

Chicken and mash

Chicken and mash

Garden salad

Garden salad

Is that even a meal?! Thank  God I had barbecue for lunch… The poor quality of economy class food makes me wonder whether business class meals are any better! I mean, the taste was ok, and this is coach after all. But look at what I had on a LHR-DEN on British Airways’ coach just two weeks earlier:

Chicken and mushroom casserole

Chicken and mushroom casserole

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Maybe I am biased, but even this dish looks much better than AA’s (and tasted very good as well). And the pear-chocolate mousse?? Amazing!! I hope AA will get there (eventually). In any case, the flight was 45 minutes late, which gave me the chance to get sleepy while drinking at the Admirals Club. This Club isn’t too bad really. The only thing I wish they provided to customers flying internationally is free food. Real food, not those veggies with no dressing (which always runs out) or those snack pretzels/chips that just make you thirsty. At least now they provide free non-premium alcohol. This is always welcome. Even though it makes me laugh that a Sam Adams is considered a premium beverage. But whatever… points of view.

Admirals Club in Dallas, Terminal D

Admirals Club in Dallas, Terminal D

Christmas time!

Christmas time!

Coffee area

Coffee area

Newspapers... not exactly a great selection

Newspapers… not exactly a great selection for an international terminal

Just in case you get lost! :)

Just in case you get lost! 🙂

Bar area - have plenty of 1 dollar bills to tip the bartenders!

Bar area – have plenty of 1 dollar bills to tip the bartenders!

It's always nice to know you have the option of taking a shower!

It’s always nice to know you have the option of taking a shower!

Flight AA78, DFW-LHR

20:10 – 11:35+1

Main Cabin, Seat 22G

As said, flight was delayed. One Campari & soda and one Bud light later, boarding started. Now, I love Priority AAccess. Being able to be the third person in the whole Main Cabin to sit down meant I had no troubles in finding overhead space for my carry-on suitcase. The flight was pretty packed, so that was a definite plus as many people had to fight in order to find space for their suitcases. In any case, the uneventful boarding brought a couple with a little, crying baby next to me. Thankfully, these Second World War-old 767s do not have a bassinet in the first row of economy, and so the couple was accommodated in the back where they could have three seats all by themselves. A nice touch for them… and for my ears indeed. I was also able to grab a newspaper – a copy of the European edition of the Wall Street Journal – as some copies spilled over from business class. Another good reason to chose seats in the very first rows!

Reading time!

Reading time!

After take-off, the FAs decided to skip the usual pre-dinner drink and to serve the meal directly. I am not sure whether this happened because it was already late(r) at night, but a second round of drinks was offered after the meal. The red wine I was handed was probably the most decent part of the deal.

I usually don't go crazy for Merlot, but this one was very decent.

I usually don’t go crazy for Merlot, but this one was very decent.

One of my favorite things of these old 767s is their IFE – in-flight entertainment – system. Which is non-existent. Man it’s so archaic! A couple of monitors here and there and that’s it. The saddest thing? Business class is the same! Anyways, the first movie shown was Ice Age 4. Yet I was tired, and I consequently fell asleep somewhere around 2/3 of the movie (these Ice Age movies are getting repetitive…).

I felt that the cabin was a bit cold – even wearing a jacket and using the blanket I felt mildly chilly. No one saw the flight attendants around for the next 5 hours or so, and I managed to catch some interrupted sleep.

Not so easy to sleep in this... Seat 20C

Not so easy to sleep in this… Seat 20C

The flight overall went smoothly and I woke up shortly before “breakfast” was served. Well, if you can call THAT breakfast, that is…

"Breakfast"

“Breakfast”

The croissant – albeit rather small – is so buttery that fills you up more than a fried chicken biscuit with gravy. The yogurt, instead, is rather yummy (from Upstate New York, good cows up there!). We landed on time and I proceeded to transfer from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5. I think that transferring between terminals is rather easy at LHR. Signage is adequate, staff is everywhere, and buses are efficient. If you are acquainted with the big airport that’s Heathrow, you can do it in about half an hour – not too bad overall. he only painful thing is going through security at Terminal 5, as lines could be long, but being oneworld Sapphire granted me access to the Fast Track line which considerably cut the waiting time. For the first time at Heathrow, I witnessed drama at the security check. A mother with a disabled daughter on a wheelchair was yelling at the security people because they didn’t have a way to make her daughter go through security on her chair. It must have been pretty frustrating for the poor lady who – nonetheless – was yelling like a madwoman to the startled personnel who really had no idea of what to do. I wonder whether similar events happened during the Para-Olympics just months ago… An unsettling thought…

Anyways, altough I had entertained the idea of going downtown for a few hours while transiting, in the end I gave up the idea and stayed at the always remarkable BA Galleries South Lounge at Terminal 5. For a business class lounge, this is pretty good. The selection of food – albeit unchanged in at least 2 years – is varied and caters to different palates, while the drink selection is superior in both quality of beverages offered and in variety; the only minuses here are the fact that you have to ask for the bubbly stuff and that club soda is nowhere to be found. Oh well, minutiae. The Elemis spa is really nice and the showers always spotless. Just because of this perk, think that keeping oneworld Sapphire status is worth it.

Still, even in the best of the lounges 7 hours can be VERY long. I had lunch… then dessert… then something else that fits between a snack and another meal, then I took a stroll around the terminal, then I slept, then I ate again. God premium traveling gets me fat. Sometimes I wish lounges had gyms… to burn down all those buttery curries or those yummy bacon sandwiches, you know? But overall I can’t really complain, can I? Here are some photos for y’all.

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Who’s hungry?

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Coming soon to BA

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A quiet night

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My dinner. The pastrami was actually pretty decent.

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I always like this display.

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London – Dubai, 21:40 – 08:35+1

B777-300

World Traveler, Seat 32K

Anyways, the time to board my second flight (slowly) arrived, and I moved to the Satellite B of Terminal 5. The flight was already on “last call” and I boarded among the very last group of latecomers (so Italian of me). Coach was 1/3 empty and I had opted for a window seat this time to try to catch some pictures of the landing in Dubai. We left on time and shortly after take off we were offered a drink before the meal (yet another).

G&T

G&T

I wasn’t feeling sleepy, so I started watching “Prometeus”, a movie with good visual effects, a potentially-good storyline, but an overall awful plot. It’s one of those movies that more than once let you puzzled and makes you wonder “why?!” because it’s totally nonsense. I can’t quite believe that they spent 250 million USD to produce this piece of… “art”.

Anyways, shortly after dinner arrived, and I opted for a sort of lamb biryani which looked better than it tasted.

Dinner

Dinner

Lamb curry and rice

Lamb curry and rice

Usual, good chocolate mousse. This is a real winner for BA!

Usual, good chocolate mousse. This is a real winner for BA!

The rice was very good – as it was the buttery taste of the curry. Unfortunately, though, the lamb was uninspiring and a bit chewy – the flavor was very mild indeed. I only ate half of it, tried the potato salad (and then let it there where it was…) and then indulged in the chocolate mousse which – in my opinion – is the best dessert I have ever had on any coach flight. This time they served an orange-flavored mousse, while two weeks prior it was pear. Real good.

After finishing watching the movie I fell asleep and woke up 1 hour before landing when we were served a sort of breakfast consisting of an egg and salmon sandwich.

Not very good...

Not very good…

British Airways – in the purest English tradition – is pretty proud of its cold sandwiches. You will find them everywhere: on coach in Euro Traveler, on Club World as snacks, even on First as part of the afternoon tea. The reality, though, is that these overly-caloric sandwiches are bad. And cold. I guess this is why they are called cold sandwiches after all. But I am digressing here.

We landed in Dubai on time and I was able to take some shots of the final part of the flight.

Up in the sky

Up in the sky

Dubai!

Dubai!

So hazy...

So hazy…

Finally there!

Finally there!

Dubai

And so my little adventure in Dubai started. I love visiting Dubai, once in a while. I find it a weird, fascinating place where it’s fun doing certain, specific things, like shopping and going to a spa. In the 15 hours or so I had on the ground I decided to do both.

Costa Coffee - BEst way to start off the day!

Costa Coffee – Best way to start off the day!

Renting a car is – in my opinion – still the best and most efficient way to get around the city – the new metro is up and running though if you are really interested in public transportation (which I am, do not get me wrong, is just that I did not have much time). It’s always puzzling to me seeing the inbound traffic from Sharjah in the morning (and the outbound one in the afternoon) as migrant workers shuttle in and out of the city. I can’t even imagine how it would be like living in Sharjah, which is one of the most conservative places on Earth! To me, seeing how some of these Gulf countries achieved riches through oil & gas is startling – and it’s even more startling to see how they are using that wealth. The local population found itself extremely well-off in 10-15 years without having the chance – or that generational gap – to adapt to the modern World. But I am digressing again. Let’s focus on my rental car… and my trip to the mall(s).

My first stop was the Emirates Mall, formerly the most amazing mall in the UAE but now only a distant second to the Dubai Mall. It still is an interesting destination to the casual visitor though for three reasons:

  1. its indoor ski slope;
  2. its giant Carrefour:
  3. its Shake Shack.

This time I was here only for the Carrefour, as I wanted to stack some dates and some date syrup to bring back home (man, that date “honey” is the perfect topping for oatmeal or pancakes/waffles!). I really, really wish we had Carrefour in the US. To me it’s a sort of European Target-meets-Safeway kind of store, with some Walmart flavor. I love Carrefour’s bakery section, and in the Middle East I love its date and dried fruit/spice bar. Brilliant.

After this quick shopping galore – and after indulging in a wallet breaking Zaatar & Cheese piece of bread for the astronomical amount of 4 Dhs) I drove off to the one mall that – in my imagination – beats them all: the Dubai Mall. If ever there were a true one-stop-shop destination for your consumeristic needs, that must be it. This place is huge. Don’t be fooled by its only 4 floors. Every possible retailer you can possibly want is here – from Cole Haan to Pucci, from Balenciaga to Pal Zileri this place has them all. Not only that: the array of food and coffee options is simply stunning (there even is an upscale-looking Red Lobster… go figure!) and the layout simply brilliant. It must be really fun to be a Middle Eastern ruler, spending your high school/university years between Europe and North America, and then bringing back home your favorite restaurant and fashion chains by luring them in opening stores in your home country – stores that most of the time will be completely empty but whatever. Dubai have them all.

Dubai Mall - The Souq area

Dubai Mall – The Souq area

UAE pride

UAE pride

One day... soon hopefully ;)

One day… soon hopefully 😉

Retail therapy never fails me. Blowing money in overpriced Lacoste polos and the likes make me feel good for some weird reason – especially if I do it in Dubai. I don’t know, it must be that Dubai has become a state of mind, a playground of the rich and famous, a Monaco of the Middle East where the Mediterranean has been replaced by the Persian Gulf and the polished gardens by swaths of desert. Truly, I would have a very hard time living here – the place is desolated and in the middle of nowhere. Still, thanks to many factors (not least Emirates) this is slowing becoming the center of everything, the connecting point between the East and the West. And it’s funny how you hardly see any local around… everyone is an immigrant, mostly from some poo r Central Asian country or from Pakistan/Philippines/Indonesia/some other Muslim country. It’s truly depressing to see that poor people working in rather inhumane conditions are the backbone of this country. And the locals/expats just do not care. Seriously, newly-arrived Mexicans in Texans look like kings when compared to these poor people. And that says it all. But who am I to judge? I am just here to spend…

Detail of a waterfall fountain at Dubai Mall

Detail of a waterfall fountain at Dubai Mall

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Downtown Dubai

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The Address – the latest hotel a-la-mode in town

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Burj Khalifa

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Downtown Dubai – Take 2

Ferrero Rocher replica of the Burj Khalifa. Impressive!

Ferrero Rocher replica of the Burj Khalifa. Impressive!

At this point, I had been some 40 hours without touching a real bed, and I started to feel a bit tired. Plus, economy class always makes me feel like I haven’t showered in weeks. I hate that oily feel on my skin. It’s just gross! So – as I knew that this was going to happen – I had proactively booked myself a spa treatment at what is supposedly one of the best spas in town: the Amara at the Park Hyatt Hotel.

Relaxing by the pool at the wonderful Park Hyatt Hotel Dubai

Relaxing by the pool at the wonderful Park Hyatt Hotel Dubai

Now, if you have never stayed in Dubai, you cannot even conceive to what level of luxury the hospitality industry has been pushed down here. Like everything else, you can find every possible hotel chain in town (with the very notable exception of a Four Seasons, which will be opened in 2014)… and every hotel is just way above the standard you would find anywhere else in the World (think 5-star Holiday Inns and Crowne Plazas). The Park Hyatt, of course, is no exception. Nestled as it is in a private park and golf course by the Dubai Creek, this property is wonderfully landscaped, elegant, and understated, miles away from the overwhelming and ostentatious luxury of the Burj al-Arab. The spa is really nice, and the therapists seem to be all Balinese. At least mine was.

Anyways, I arrived about two hours before my spa appointment to take advantage of the gym and pool, relax, and take a good shower. And then, a nice, hour-long aromatherapy massage that was indeed one of the best I can recall. So relaxing and so worth every dirham!

Detail of the wonderful changing room at the hotel

Detail of the wonderful changing room at the hotel’s spa

After some more shopping and some light dining, it was already time to head back to the airport. Whenever I am in the Middle East, I always seem to have problems finding a gas station. It’s ironic, I am well aware of that. But it’s the truth. In January I almost ran out of gas in Abu Dhabi looking for a gas station! Crazy indeed. It’s not like there isn’t any petrol around here – it’s just hidden. So if you only ply the main boulevards and highways you will hardly find any. Or, worse, you will see them on the wrong side of the street which is no good in Dubai because there is never a place to make a U-turn. Frustrating.

The Club Word Experience

In any case, I safely and soundly made it to DXB Airport Terminal 3 and I went through what was the quintessential developing country experience of a lifetime: going through security at the same time that the daily Biman flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh is open for check-in. I am not really sure what all these people bring back home to their families… It surely can’t be televisions or other electronic gadgets because I don’t think it would be wise to wrap those goods in old, dusty, dirty blankets. But whatever it is, everyone has three or four huge boxes of them. It’s like being at the market more than at an airport. It’s interesting and sad at the same time. Certainly, very unglamorous for Dubai’s standards but at the same time very real. Flying Biman must be quite the experience – even more so than my Air India flight (in coach, of course) from Mumbai to Dubai some three and half years back.

Pre-security line. DUbai T3 is really AWEFUL

Pre-security line. DUbai T3 is really AWEFUL

The British Airways check in was still close, and so I had some time to observe this ocean of people going back home – be it Dhaka or Paris or Guangzhou. I started reading my latest novel of choice, “The Lost Continent” by Bill Bryson, and started laughing by myself causing puzzlement in many a passersby… That Bryson guy is really funny!

Once the clock ticked T-3 hours to departure time, the BA staff magically appeared to the check in desk and I promptly checked in. Our equipment had been downgraded to a 773 from a 744, but I was still able to secure a window seat. Boy I was excited. I had never been in Club World before and this relatively-cheap fare gave me the right excuse I was looking for to try it! I wish you didn’t have to pay so much money in fuel surcharges and airport fees while redeeming AAdvantage miles on BA through Heathrow. It just doesn’t make any sense to customers doing so… Oh well…

After security (thank God for fast track!) I headed to the BA Galleries lounge, which counter-intuitively is located in the opposite side of the airport compared to the departure gate. Go figure. I really understand, by the way, why Dubai authorities are building a brand new mega-airport: this place stinks, and it’s old, and it resembles more an Indian market than an airport, with plenty of stands selling you cheap watches for which you even have to bargain for.

The lounge was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be – even though it wasn’t great either. Particularly disappointing is the lack of showers, but I was aware of it in advance and that’s why I showered thoroughly at the Park Hyatt. The lounge looks a bit overcrowded during peak times, but again this was nothing compared to – say – the Cathay Pacific lounge in Bangkok. Food options kept on being rolled out as the flight time approached and as the lounge became busier. Beverage options were limited but still decent, and I ended up having some chicken noodle soup and cheese accompanied by an Amstel beer and a good Chianti Classico before starting following a FC Barcelona soccer match online. If I have one complaint that is related to the lack of power adaptors in the room – if you do not have a British plug or your own adaptor then sorry – you’re out of luck.

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Galleries Lounge Dubai

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Food was definitely underwhelming

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Anyways,  I spent two hours at the lounge and then I headed to the gate. The time had finally come!

Time to go!

Time to go!

Flight BA106

DXB-LHR, 02:55-06:45

Equipment: B777-300

Club World, Seat 16A

Boarding was rather quick and efficient, and in minutes I was at my seat. There is something fascinating about Club World – namely its rear-facing seats and the fact that they are able to comfortably squeeze 8 business class beds each row. Every time I walk through the cabin it felt a bit over-stuffed – a feeling you do not necessarily want in business class you know. But know here I was, comfortably seating at my seat with a glass of Taittinger, watching people going to the back of the bus for an uncomfortable ride. This seat is rather spacious and very private indeed. If you pull up the divider, you basically are in your mini-cabin. Genial! I do not understand why other airlines do not adopt the same approach to business class seats!

My seat (16A) in take-off position

My seat (16A) in take-off position

Taiitinger, please! :)

Taiitinger, please! 🙂

Shortly after taking off, a drink followed by a nightcap was offered. This – together with a bunch of other eastbound flights from the USA – is a sleeper service flight, that is a flight where a very light snack is offered and where lights are turned off right away after take off to maximize sleeping time. As I didn’t have to go to work the day after and as I was actually trying to get as sleepy as possible I opted in for the meal. The menu:

Night Snack

Snacks

Cold Arabic salad with Mohammara, walnuts and Persian Feta

Individual selection of sandwiches featuring mature Cheddar cheese with chutney and smoked salmon with red onion jam

Sweets

Hot chocolate with wam chocolate chip cookies

A selection of fresh fruit

Chocolates

Breakfast

Starters

Chilled fruit juice

An energising fruit smoothie of skim milk, banana, honey and raspberry

Fresh seasonal fruit or Smoked salmon with sour cream and chives

Birchermuesli with fruit yoghurt

Bakery

A selection of warm breads and breakfast pastries

Main

Mixed grill of scrambled eggs and mozzarella tartlet with turkey, ham, mushrooms, tomatoes and hash-brown potatoes

Chocolate crepes with vanilla sauce and caramelised banana

Cream and chive-filled omelette with tomato, mushroom and pan-fried potato spinach cakes

Continental breakfast featuring roasted turkey, beef pastrami and smoked cheese

I opted for the Arabic salad, which was indeed a good choice.

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Nightcap presentation

Nightcap presentation

Nightcap presentation

The tanginess of the vine leaves went really well with the Mohammara and the feta. It was a tasty yet rather light dish that set the mood right for some movies.

IFE

IFE

The monitor is a standard 15″ business class tough screen – good resolution. The IFE in Club World isn’t much different (if at all) from World Traveler’s, which makes the movie selection somewhat limited for someone like me who took 4 long haul flights with BA in a month.  I ended up watching Men in Black 3 which – if less inspired than its two predecessors – was rather enjoyable (I found myself laughing aloud more than a couple of times).

The cabin was very dark and most of the people were sleeping. I feel asleep about one hour after the meal. The seat – in fully-flat position – is very comfortable, more so than Qantas business class for instance (a good seat by itself). The duvet is warm but not hot, the cabin temperature is set just right, and the pillow is more than adequate. In all, I slept about 4 hours and woke up while breakfast was being served.

Breakfast tray

Breakfast tray

I opted for some fresh fruit – which was actually fresh! – and I picked up a danish from the baked goodies basket (croissants and bread were offered as well). Coffee and orange juice tasted just right, but the highlight of this part of the breakfast was the muesli indeed.

Birchermuesli

Birchermuesli

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Now, the only disappointing aspect of the flight was that I was not offered a choice of main… even though the menu listed four of them! While I really would have liked to try the chocolate crepe, the egg and mozzarella tartlet with mushrooms and turkey was served me instead – and no one even bothered to ask me what I wanted. While the main that I was handled tasted really good, I believe this is unacceptable on a flight whose ticket cost me more than 1800USD one way. This was very disappointing and a let down I was not expecting but, again, the tartlet was very good indeed.

Egg and mozzarella tartlet

Egg and mozzarella tartlet

Another let down (if minor) was that no amenity kit was offered to us passengers – again, disappointing on a flight almost 8-hour-long.

After breakfast I took some pictures of my sweet seat. Here we go:

Nice legroom

Nice legroom

Good and convenient storage space

Good and convenient storage space

Handset (tv has touchscreen anyways)

Handset (tv has touchscreen anyways)

Pick and choose!

Pick and choose!

Working (!) power plugs

Working (!) power plugs

Headphones

Headphones

We landed on time at Terminal 5 and a chill morning was awaiting us. I walked through the fast track security at Terminal 5 in London and in about 30 minutes I was in the departures area of the building, ready to get a shower at the Galleries Lounge. Now, how nice is this lounge (once again)? And how nice is taking a shower after an overnight flight? It just restores your senses. I was particularly excited during this visit to the lounge because I knew I could finally try one of the Elemis Travel Spa treatments. I stopped by the desk and booked a face cleansing (the first available appointment was two hours later, so bear that in mind if you want to try the spa!) and then headed to the Club for breakfast… well, second breakfast is still breakfast after all!

I only had a milk tea and one of those delicious BA creations: a bacon mini-baguette sandwich with mushrooms and tomatoes. Simply: yummy.

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Some breakfast please, English style!

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Perhaps I am better off without alcohol at 8am…?

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For any Italian, this is Heaven!

These are simply fantastic!

These are simply fantastic!

At my set time I proceeded to the Elemis Travel spa for my facial treatment. My spa attendant was very nice (and quite pretty, which doesn’t hurt) and set me up on a massage chair for my treatment. She then went on applying various creams and ointments to my aging facial skin and in 15 minutes a sense of freshness and rejuvenation whipped through my body. Perhaps all these creams really work?!

Anyhow, it was time to board and I proceeded to my gate.

Flight BA193, LHR-DFW

Boeing 747-400

Club World, Seat 61A

10:40-14:35

So big!

So big!

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Hello pretty!

As it happens for certain long haul flights, we had to bus our way to our big bird. Any 747 always looks majestic to me. Jumbo jets may be aging, but they surely aren’t losing ANY of their charm. After walking up to the upper deck I took a seat and I was surprised by seeing sideway bins that gave me extra and easy-to-access storage space.

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Right next to me. I like it.

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Club World – Upper Deck

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Seat 61A

I had a glass of Taittinger pre-flight – always a good way to start a long journey. This may not be the best champagne out there, but it’s certainly of good quality and put me in a good mood 🙂

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Ready to go!

Take off was smooth even though delayed by 40 good minutes – never an issue when you are comfortably seated in Club World of course. Once airborne, the flight attendants distributed Elemis amenity kits to the passengers. I did not know too much about Elemis before… but after having tried its products I became a convert. I still prefer products from the Dead Sea (especially Ahava), but Elemis surely holds its own against them. The quality of the bag – though – was somewhat inferior to what I had expected.

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Elemis amenity kit

Not too long after distributing the kits, the first beverage service began. I had taken a look at the menu beforehand…

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Ready to eat

and I opted for a simple gin & tonic to start off the flight.

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I started to watch some British movie that was so bad I forgot its name. Uninspiring. This would be another complaint of mine: the IFE on the 747s looks old and tired. Definitely, a better selection of movies/tv shows would be appreciated. Oh well…

Food service started about 1h30m airborne. FAs had taken orders well in advance. Here’s the menu of the day:

LUNCH

STARTERS

Grilled tiger prawns with aubergine baba ghanoush and creamy red pepper dressing

Five Mile Dairy goat’s cheese with blood orange dressing

SALAD

Freash seasonal salad served with vinaigrette

MAIN

Seared tenderloin of Angus beef with thyme sauce, basil tagliatelle, sauteed fine beans and piquillo peppers

Seared sea bream with green-tea infused sauce, braised chicory, carrot and cardamom mash and steamed cocotte potatoes

Vietnamese sweet potato curry with mint and coriander rice

Chilled main course salad of roasted garlic corn-fed chicken with pistachio couscous and cucumber mint dressing

DESSERT

Toffee apple crisp delice with apple jus

Berber’s Cheddar and Cropwell Bishop Stilton cheese served with grapes and biscuits

A selection of fruit

Chocolates

AFTERNOON TEA

SNACKS

An individual selection of sandwiches featuring prawn cocktail, chicken with basil and Wensleydale cheese with caramelised chutney

Za’atar-style salad with marinated Feta

SWEETS

Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves

Apricot sponge, chocolate brownie and pistachio cupcake

And so the feast began. I started with the goat cheese – tangy and tasty and interestingly complemented by the blood orange.

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Starter: salad and goat cheese

Being a huge cheese lover, I appreciated how BA made a dish centered on cheese. The focaccia accompanying it was also very tasty.

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Clos up of MY cheese

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It’s a (nice) garden salad alright

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Byron Pinot Noir 2010, Santa Barbara County, CA, USA

I opted for a California Pinot Noir for my meal – a savvy choice as it didn’t overpower the flavor of my dishes and actually complemented them well.

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Yes, I love cheese

Feeling still guilty for all the food and the lack of exercise accumulated in the previous 2 days, I opted for the healthy main option, the Vietnamese curry. Now, I do not know why BA chose to offer a Vietnamese curry on a Europe-to-USA flight… nevertheless, I enjoyed the curry very much – not spicy, mild, right-sized portion. A winner in the sky. The fact is, I always try to avoid steaks when I am up there, as I know all too well how difficult is to enhance flavors when you are 30,000 ft above ground…

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Vietnamese sweet potato curry

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And after the main… the troubles began! Jetlagged and sleep-deprived, after finishing my curry I literally fell asleep (complice also that boring movie I was telling you about earlier). It was a not-too-deep sleep (thankfully), but the attentive FAs removed my tray to allow me to sleep. Little knowledge they could have of the fact that I was saving space for the cheese plate at the end of the meal! As soon as I woke up and I realized that other people were eating their dessert, panic started to possess me. Fearing to miss my prized cheddar and stilton, I ran after the closest flight attendant requesting my due cheese platter! I could swear I saw her giggling back at me… but oh well! Five minutes after I had MY precious cheese in front of me! Totally worth it!

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Stilton & Cheddar – Could it come more British then this?

This was the first time ever that I had tried Stilton. Very different from Gorgonzola or Roquefort indeed – and if tell me, of inferior quality – but still a decent piece of cheese. The sharp cheddar, instead, was delicious. I liked the oat biscuits that came with the cheese a whole lot as well.

After finishing my meal (very good overall) I was ready to catch some sleep, which I promptly did. I think I slept at least 3-4 hours. Again, Club World’s lie-flat beds are very comfortable and allow you to rest pretty nicely.

When I woke up, I took a peak around the cabin…

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…and I refreshed my throat with a Campari & orange…

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Here are some pictures of the seat and the hard product. B747s shows their age but surely are still pretty nice planes. I was disappointed because this particular plane was somewhat dirty on the edges.

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Legroom was fine

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The TV is decidedly OLD

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This remote shows its age!

About 90 minutes before landing, the BA signature afternoon tea was brought out. While at first I was skeptical about the quality and the scope of this meal, I must say I was thoroughly impressed by the quality and presentation of the food.

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High tea… in the sky!

The salad was really tasty – more (feta) cheese for me!

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Mediterranean-inspired salad.

The sweets very absolutely gorgeous as well (the brownie was my least favorite – too thick).

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Sweet(s)!

Yet, the real winner of the meal was the scone. So fresh, so soft inside and crispy outside! Coupled with clotted cream (first time I have ever had it!), this was just fabulous!

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Club World is so relaxing!

Club World is so relaxing!

Soon after the meal was over we started descending onto Texas. We were about one hour late, but I didn’t mind that at all given the luxury I was experiencing up in the air.

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Back to Texas

Landing was smooth and after we debarked I had the chance to get this exquisite picture of our plane.

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Final glance to the big bird

I want to point out that I was happy to see the flight attendants making sure that First Class passengers deplaned first – a nice touch for people that paid a lot for their tickets (or used a lot of miles!).

So… From Texas to Dubai and back in 72 hours. A success? Indeed! While the first part of the first leg was rather painful (please, AA, retire or retrofit soon those B767s!) the rest of the trip was great. BA product confirmed itself as top notch both in economy and Club World. The latter was very much on par (in terms of service) with other top airlines like Qantas in my opinion. Perhaps this is the reason why oneworld is constantly named best alliance in the World! Top airlines make for top ratings.

If anything, this trip made want two things:

1. Try BA first class. This is my proposition for 2014, as my 2013 is already fully booked (including Qantas and Etihad first class – what a treat!).

2. Try AA B777-300 as soon as it comes out and see whether the experience improves with improved planes.

I hope you enjoyed this report and I look forward to entertain you on my next trip (South Africa and Swaziland, May/June 2013).

P.S.

– All pictures taken with iPhone 5 (very few) and Nikon D-35 with f11-50 lens.

– No amenity kit was handed on the DXB-LHR leg: very disappointing

6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. The Mind of RD Revilo / Dec 28 2012 11:16 pm

    Reblogged this on RD Revilo.

  2. Brandon / Dec 30 2012 12:08 pm

    Great review! I wanted to point out that I loved your book choice of Catfish and Mandala on your DFW-LHR leg. I’ve read it twice and wouldn’t mind reading it again. I hope it made the 767 more bearable.

  3. レディース ブーツ / Jul 28 2014 11:51 pm

    I will right away snatch your rss as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter
    service. Do you have any? Please allow me realize in order that
    I could subscribe. Thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. A weekend in Dubai: DFW-LHR-DXB in 72 hrs. Lots of pics, feat. BA Club World - FlyerTalk Forums
  2. A weekend in Dubai: DFW-LHR-DXB and back in 72 hrs. Lots of pics, feat. BA Club World - FlyerTalk Forums
  3. I am so done with BA - Page 28 - FlyerTalk Forums

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