Sunday, March 30, 2008

Heathrow Inaugural: Leaving London-Heathrow (LHR)

30MAR 08 London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR)
I wanted to go see Terminal 5 and tried, but after waiting for the bus from Bus Stop 7 for about 10 minutes, I bailed on that idea as it was too risky to not get back in time for the flight. I could have also taken the Heathrow Express, but the timing had to be right. There is always next week anyways. It was interesting as the map of the Heathrow Express still does not show Terminal 5 on it, but in the elevators, they have taped over a strip that has Terminal 5 on it.

I went back upstairs and cleared security forgetting the sealed bottle of water in my bag from my flight over. This triggered an entire search of my bag and delayed me for a bit. I was given the option to drink the water so I drank about 2/3rd of it. I remember in one airport, I was told I could not drink the water and had to turn the whole thing over.

I then headed towards gate 11 and the Holideck. This is the lounge that KLM uses. It opened a few years ago and I remember paying about 10 USD I think to use it at the time. There are three levels, the best of which is the Observation Deck which gives you about a 300 degree view of the airport. It is great to watch takeoffs and landing there.

I showed my Presidents Club card as well as my boarding pass and was granted access. I asked about wireless access and was pointed to some instructions to the left of the desk. Just before going in, I took some pictures of the gate areas for the two flights; one to Newark, NJ (EWR) [the first inaugural flight from Heathrow] and the other for the flight to Houston. The airplane to Newark was the one I had arrived on; the Houston airplane had not yet arrived.

The flight attendants for the two flights.

Aircraft #10 being serviced so it can return to Newark, NJ (EWR).

Back in the Lounge, I did a clothes change and that felt great; no showers in the Holideck I’m afraid. I then made my way up to the Observation Deck and just took it all in slowly. Airplanes of all sizes were landing like almost every minute it seemed.

Across the way was Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800, to its left an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 and to its right a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400. It was fantastic, the world’s three largest commercial passenger airliners were right next to each other. The A380 dwarfs the Boeing 777, if you can imagine that!

The was a Delta Air Lines (DL) Boeing 767-300ER (N179DN) at one of the gate on the other side of the terminal.

I walked on the other side of the Deck and I looked over to my left and the Continental Boeing 777-200 from Houston had landed and was taxiing into the gate.

I got online for a bit, but did not have enough time to make an update. I was somewhat concerned about getting on the 11:15a flight, but not too much as I had the 4:00p Boeing 767-200 service to Newark. It just makes for a much longer day though.

I went to gate 12 to see my friends who were leaving on that flight. Once there they told me that they were going to try for the Houston flight instead. I went back to the Lounge and took some pictures of the arriving planes. One of those was a US Airways (US) Airbus A330-300; I had totally forgotten that they were coming into Heathrow as well.

I was able to get one more shot before I went back downstairs and that was of an Air New Zealand (NZ) Boeing 747-400 coming in from Los Angeles, CA (LAX) prior to arriving from Auckland, New Zealand (AKL).

Soon, it was time to get down to the gate. I was so caught up in the whole operation, I never ate nor drank anything while in the Lounge. I can’t even tell you what they have there. Next time… At the gate, to the cheer of the passengers and the employees looking on, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony by two of the company’s executives and the flight attendants for the flight.

Once that was over, the boarding process started.

It was not looking food, but at the very last minute, I got an aisle seat, so no need for Plan B.

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