Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heathrow Inaugural: Arriving in London-Heathrow, London England (LHR)

30MAR08 London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR)

We touched down smoothly at 6:54a local and I immediately initiated a round of applause. It was great, Heathrow was achieved. In typical London fashion, it was foggy and rainy.

We did not have too long a taxi however, but we stopped short of the gate in clear view of the folks waiting in the Terminal as our gate was occupied by a British Airways (BA) Boeing 777-200; more than likely going to the U.S.

The Captain explained that we had arrived early and that the landing pattern was congested as well as the ground traffic. This meant that we had to wait. As we did, lots of heavies landed on South runway, just to our left; Thai Airways Boeing 747-400, Qantas Boeing 747-400, American Airlines Boeing 777-200, United Airlines Boeing 777-200, South African Airways Airbus A340, British Airways Airbus A319, British Airways Boeing747-400, British Airways Boeing 777-200. It was insane at the frequency.

The Captain kept us updated the whole time mentioning that the gate number was 412 if we cared to know. This is one of those airports that have a different number outside the terminal than inside. He also said that the good thing was that we were at the front of the line of arriving carriers.

It was 7:31a when the British Airways Boeing 777-200 (G-VIIW) pushed back giving us a clear path to the gate. It was 7:34a when we blocked in at the gate with no fanfare. I thought there would have been a water cannon salute, but I guess that is not the nature of London-Heathrow.

Once the airplane stopped, we all waited for the seatbelt sign to go out, but it did not right away. Eventually someone got up and so did everyone else. We were all standing and then the lead flight attendant said that we can’t go anywhere until the seatbelt signs are turned off. Soon it did and then the doors were disarmed and the middle left door opened.

Just outside the doors at the top of the jetway, there was a live CNN broadcast with the company’s President and some of the local company executives. There were also other employees there to greet us. It all made for an excellent picture.

I took some pictures of the airplane as I walked by it; this was actually the same gate I arrived a few months ago from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on British Airways. I guess the move to Terminal 5 made this all possible.

Yes, it is official, Continental is now in Terminal 4. I wonder when this board was updated.

Even the birds were welcoming.

Here is CNN's Richard Quest's take on it all [CNN Video].

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