#930539 by pjh
25 Dec 2016, 18:53
OK, I'll admit upfront that I had intended to have this TR just contain a link back to the TR I wrote a couple of years ago for this flight as my outbound experience had been pretty much the same as two years back. Some changes to the hard product and a benefit from somebody's misfortune made it substantially different, however, and I have to admit that it was probably as good an Economy class experience as you could wish for.

I am really too old to cope with 3am starts after being up until midnight at an office party, but a combination of the thought of being homeward bound, the message that we'd just won a significant deal in Europe and the care and attention of the staff at the Marriott helped me keep it together. Bundled into the hotel car service and then off for truly record breaking one hour drive to the airport.

Swiftly through the army check at the airport entrance, check in (declining the upgrade offer of GBP170 to one of the middle set of four seats in the WT+ cabin), departure passport and departure security and on to the Plaza Premium lounge. Not one of the finest lounges in the world, but I could catch up on some business, post a "hello" message here and take part in the "how to spread butter on your toast without a knife" challenge. I do like having my Priority Pass card, but I still get a version of cabin envy when looking round the lounge and thinking that most people there will not be facing a long flight sitting bolt upright. :)

At first call I made my way to the gate to find boarding in full swing, where I made the mistake of using the priority line (courtesy of Bronze status) which was by now full of families. This was, however, only a minor blip given that we were boarding slightly early, which augured well for an on time departure after knock on delays from fog at Bangalore on the Tuesday.

I had been cursing my stupidity at OLCI for having pre-assigned a seat further back than the one on the outbound - row 29 rather than 24 - so it was a bit of a surprise to find myself in the second row of the WT / Economy cabin. There had clearly been a rotation of the aircraft serving the route, which helps explain why the 4 hour delay that happened to the inbound on the Tuesday vanished. I'm not sure whether I assigned myself 29D when I first made the booking, and therefore don't really know whether the aircraft change was already scheduled, but I was happy to be at the front of the cabin to speed my exit at LHR.

I was clearly on one of the newer 777 models in the fleet, as it had a far larger IFE screen and the handset in the seatback rather than the arm. Whilst the basic programme selection was no different where on the outbound there would only be one episode of a series, this system had all the episodes. The downside of it is that the IFE box under the seat in front restricts space available to the extent that my laptop case wouldn't fit. This didn't cause an issue during the flight as there was plenty of free overhead locker space, but I like to have my hand luggage down from the overheads before landing to help with a swift exit.

We departed slightly ahead of schedule, with the flight deck announcing that all being well we'd be into LHR nearly an hour ahead of schedule. Once in the air and the seat belt signs off, the chap in the F seat of row 29 made a desperate grab for the sick bag....and missed. Not a massive or prolonged session, but enough to splatter his seat and the floor. As there were spare seats further back, the crew member dealing with the incident offered these first to E and F who both moved and then came round the cabin to me to make the same offer. As I had a seat's distance from the incidence and could smell nothing of it, I decided to decline the offer and stay where I was. OK, I wouldn't be able to stretch out but I could spread my elbows and would not be disturbed by fellow passengers trying to get in and out.

Speaking of disturbance, there were a *lot* of children on the flight. Some very grizzly but with mum and dad trying to keep them happy, some fully engrossed in books and devices, one a smiley delight passed between various ladies in the cabin but one....oh, but the one who spent hours running up the aisle into WT+ and business, with his parents sauntering behind smiling and chuckling and encouraging him to run free, now he was feckin' annoying.

Food choice was nothing to shout about. At both breakfast and lunch the options were chicken something or Indian vegetarian something. Choosing he latter both times, I regretted the first but really enjoyed the second. Alcoholic drinks were offered with neither meal, but as a separate run after lunch about two hours out of LHR. I don't know what it is that clues the crew up (the red bulbous nose, perhaps?) but again I was passed a second gin without being asked with a conspirital "you look like you might enjoy this". Again, thumbs up for Fever Tree as the tonic. We had a snack box at one point (cake and some nachos) and there were several apple / orange / water runs.

A binge watch of Veep Series 5, plus Toy Story 3 (it was something in my eye at the end, honest), the final episode of the third series of Line Of Duty, some light dozing and some reading passed the time well enough and we were, as suggested, on the ground an hour ahead of schedule. A two minute wait at passport control, a five minute wait at the baggage carousel (no nerve shredding wait until all the bags were off this way around) and in total I was in the taxi about 35 minutes after landing.

So, all in all though not an experience I would be over keen to repeat it was, as I say, probably as good as it gets for a log haul trip in Economy.

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