BA58 London Heathrow (LHR) - Cape Town Intl (CPT)
Check-in at the Club World counters (courtesy of my Silver card) was very quick, although the check-in agent was adamant about not giving me a FastTrack security sticker as these are technically for Club World and FIRST passengers only. This I thought was a bit petty, as I have always been allowed one in the past and I was travelling in a "sort of" premium cabin. He said "Don't worry, the queues won't be long at this time of day". Ha ha, the queue for security was as long as I've ever seen it at T4 . Anyway there were two queues, I joined what turned out to be the slower of the two . Anyway, just as I was resigned to a long wait in the queue, I noticed that certain people were being picked, at random, to trial the new x-ray photo screening that BAA is trialling. Luckily I was selected and after three strange poses in front of a blank wall, I was escorted to the front of the queue to get my bag screened .
I then headed to the Terraces, as after a day at work, I needed a shower before getting on a 12 hour flight! It was the first time I had used the shower rooms at T4 and I was impressed. The rooms were clean, big and had all the facilities that one would need to freshen up. The only slight complaint would have been the water pressure in the shower which wasn't up to much. After my shower, I relaxed in the lounge with a few sandwiches and a nice glass of wine from the World Wine Bar.
The flight was shown as departing from Gate 23 which is a considerable walk from the Terraces, so I decided to leave before the boarding announcement and make my way to the gate, via a few shops. This was a mistake as it would transpire that we were in for a delay of about 1 hour. For most of this time, the gate staff really had no idea what was happening. They kept making announcements to say "be patient", that no-one could hear, which only ended up frustrating everyone who then descended on the desk to ask what was happening, as they thought they had missed something, but in reality they hadn't. Talk about creating work for yourself. To be honest, it did display a pathetic image of BA. All they would say was "Oh, they won't tell us anything." I HATE it when customer service staff pretend that they are in the same (ignorant) position as you are, as a way of fobbing you off. Make a bloody phone call for goodness sake. Absolutely useless.
Then, at about 19:30, they announced that there was a technical problem with the cockpit door and it could not be secured. An engineer would be called and they would not be able to make a decision as to whether the flight could leave until after 20:00 at the latest. With this, most of the pax who had come from the lounge turned tail and headed back. I would have joined them, except that I had to arrange for the gate staff to telex Comair in CPT to inform them that I would miss my connection (my connecting flight was on a different itinerary). About five minutes later, after this had been done, suddenly the problem was fixed and desperate calls were made over the intercom to get all the pax walking back to the lounges to come back to the gate . Quite extraordinarily inept. Luckily as I was near the desk sorting out my connecting flight, I boarded almost immediately and settled into my bulkhead window seat 17K.
As I was watching the steady stream of economy pax heading down to the back of the plane, I overheard (actually I couldn't help but hear) a conversation between two girls waiting in the queue to get down the back. "Git!" one said to the other. "Yep, I bet he gets 8 hours sleep tonight". They were, of course referring to me, and my spacious seat, and it reminded me of an incident that happened to steady-EDI on one of his recent trips. What a load of I've-got-a-chip-on-my-shoulder pathetic nonsense. Anyway, I relaxed safe in the knowledge that they would be stuck, hopefully cramped, somewhere down the back (where they belong) for the next 12 hours .
Once everyone had boarded (the flight was full), we pushed back quickly and taxied to the northern runway for a fairly quick departure. The captain was obviously keen to make up as much time as possible. We took off westwards and turned left soon after take-off onto a southerly heading. As we passed the south coast, the first round of drinks was served and I settled down with a beer. The IFE was started and there was an excellent selection of films to choose from, including Troy and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow . However, I settled for The Manchurian Candidate, which I enjoyed very much. Dinner was served about 30 mins after drinks and consisted of:
- Bangers and Mash
Two quite adventurous options for economy (although World Traveller Plus is a premium cabin, you are served economy food and drink options). I opted for the chicken and it was excellent, very tasty indeed.
After dinner, I finished watching the rest of the film and then tried to get some sleep. The World Traveller Plus seats offer more legroom (38") than economy seats and are comfortably wider. The layout on the 747 is only 8-abreast 2-4-2, compared with 10-abreast in economy, so you can appreciate the difference.
It took some while to get to sleep, but I eventually did and stirred only a couple of times before waking up properly as we flew over Namibia some 6-7 hours later and breakfast was being served. This consisted of a hot bacon roll and a muffin with OJ and tea or coffee and was nothing to write home about.
Soon we were descending into Cape Town over the lovely Cape region, passing over the mountains and towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl. I was eagerly anticipating the views as we approached CPT and was hoping that I was on the right side of the aircraft (I was, if you see what I mean!)
Eventually we did a big left turn onto the runway centreline and there it was Table Mountain and Table Bay right in front of me. Some frantic clicking through the cabin window and I got some varying quality snaps, as you can see below, but the views were really stunning, perhaps one of the most picturesque approaches to an airport anywhere in the world.
Once we landed, I was relieved that we taxied to one of the airbridges on the main terminal, I had heard that often you have to get bussed to the terminal from a remote stand, not a pleasant option when there's a 747 load of passengers all trying to do the same thing!
So that was it, a very comfortable flight and good to be re-acquainted again with BA's excellent World Traveller Plus.