In & Out Of London

London is one of those places I really enjoy going to, there is always something to do, and this time around I didn’t have enough time at all to do what I want. The weather couldn’t be any better, very cold and sunny the whole time I was there, four days is just not enough to have fun in London and I always want to stay there longer when I get there.

My Usual Simple To Do List:

  • Waterstones Bookstore
  • Phoenix Palace Off Baker Street (Chinese Food)
  • Harrods Pizzeria
  • Movie @ Apollos
  • Movie @ Vue Cinemas West End
  • Bike Store To Check Out Some Gear
  • Harrods
  • Walk In Regent Park
  • Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet is one of my favorite stops in London and I tend to spend hours there roaming about. I literally can’t help but stay there for hours, they have a fantastic comic book and science fiction section in the basement which you can really get lost in. As usual at the end of my trip I ended up eating at the Caviar House, it really hits the spot and for about a decade it was always my last bite to eat while in the airport. For some reason I like taking my time at the airport, gives me time to check out the books in WHSmith.


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The Concorde

At times certain ideas and designs are beyond financial justification, and the Concorde was that, an engineering feat. It was a beautiful machine, this shot shot was in 1988 at Heathrow Airport, a gathering of great machines. These planes surpassed all designs for almost a decade, they were beyond their time and spaceage looking, all they had to do was angle up and enter space. The supersonic form of this plane was unmatched, no one has yet to build a plane that could take so many at supersonic speeds. I remember flying on this plane twice in my lifetime, both to New York when I was very young, to New York in 3 hours and that is still unheard of. I even remember the Concorde Lounge at Heathrow Airport being a higher class then even first class, I consider myself lucky to have seen and flew on a technological marvel, not its a part of history but I hope that they come up with a plane such as this in the near future.

Link: Gizmodo

Back To Town!

I took the late night flight on British Airways back to Kuwait, I left when it was -1 and I was still enjoying London but work was piling up. For the past week I have been catching up with work, and handling a ton of meetings. Running around all over town from meeting to meeting, and only catching up with emails at the end of the night exhausting. I know this doesn’t seem like it will be changing any time soon. I’m looking forward to this weekend to wind down a bit.

While at Terminal 5 I went and got my VAT Refunds, surprisingly if the amount your receiving is more then 1000 pounds the store has to fax the Refund Department in the Airport, so I had a little mix up to handle. I have to say that they were very efficient, they handled my little issue and were processing my paper work very quickly, since they didn’t have a large amount to give in British Pounds they gave it to me in Euros. I enjoyed walking around Terminal 5 and its always fun walking around the stores and checking different places out.

As soon as I landed I was finishing up a few meetings, and getting some work done. People were right the weather has been lovely all week and I hope it continues like that for the next few months, at least until May.

In London

Took a few vacation days to catch up with some rest and headed to family in London. I still have a lot of work to do but luckily they can all be managed by emails so my presence isn’t required. It took a while to find a seat on the British Airways flight and it was packed full of people, I passed out almost the whole flight since I didn’t sleep the night before finishing as much work as possible. As soon as I landed I scrambled to immigrations since I knew it was going to be a long line and luckily I beat a few people to immigrations and by the time I went to baggage claim my bags were out, I haven’t seen Fast Track operational at anytime so we always get stuck in a long line. I changed into a thick sweater, scarf and a beanie before landing but the cold slapped me right in the face as soon as I exited terminal 5, it was a cold crispy feeling and I knew it will be fun. I’m looking forward to walking around and going to a few movies, I know I’m going to go pick up some bike gear while I’m here.


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British Airways – Price Insanity

BritishAirways

British Airways have been up and down for the last few years, price increases and major service outages and deterioration. I have a lot of mileage with them and whenever I chose the dates to go somehow they don’t work out and its annoying, they black out a lot of dates for different reasons. I tried to book for Eid but literally the week before and after Eid is blacked out, so I check to see how much the tickets were and it was just purely insane. Kuwait to London round trip unrestricted business class ticket was for 1340 KWD on British Airways, and an extra 400 KWD would take you to Los Angeles or San Francisco at these prices. I decided to check Emirates for the same dates and it was a lot cheaper, 842 KWD which is almost half of British Airways. I used to be a loyal flyer on British Airways but over the years they have lost me as a client, for trips in the region I stick to Wataniya and for long trips I try to fly on Emirates. A lot of people fly on British Airways for the comfort of a direct flight to London but I don’t mind the switch in Dubai, its not a really an inconvenience for me but I understand when families are flying together and its easier for them. British Airways think they can just charge ridiculous rates and get away with it, its very sad.

British Airways – Downgrade

BAMileageCard

I used to fly British Airways a lot a few years ago, but ever since they had their first set of protests back around 2006 things haven’t been going so well for them. British Airways used to be my most preferred airlines to travel on, there is something that I like about them and I always enjoyed walking around Heathrow Terminal 4, maybe it was the bookstore, or HMV, or WH Smith which kept me so entertained over the past years of going through it. I got this downgrade from British Airways from a Gold Member to a Silver, and now from Silver to Blue and I’m not really annoyed with them as much as I am saddened by the state it has reached. Its not what it used to be, and I loved their lounges and I still like their style. Especially recently I remember they have had some insane price increases which has led me to try other airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates, and I have had some good experiences. Still I don’t feel that I am losing much from the downgrade as I never really felt any benefit from their Mileage program.

British Airways Lands in Las Vegas

Now this is an interesting development from British Airways, out of all the large airlines operating in the region British Airways has been on the more expensive side. This new route has seemed a bit odd to me since its not the most successful route, and Emirates used to fly there but they stopped because a lot of the times their planes flew empty. It seems they want to take a knock at Virgin Atlantic over this route, I didn’t know they viewed them as that much of a threat. I don’t know how much more bookings this route will bring them but I know the British Airways is hurting the most from all the major airlines.

I was checking the booking for British Airways to Las Vegas from Kuwait and it came out to be 1590 KWD which is a lot less damaging then the quote I recieved a couple of months ago for Virgin which was a ridiculous 4260 KWD. I even called to make sure that they aren’t quoting British Pounds, but they were serious about that price and it was the same online.

Link: Luxist

Heathrow – Terminal 5

Over the years I have gotten used to Heathrow Terminal 4, I even look forward to it when traveling, the food counter, and the location of the shops. Now with Terminal 5 things have really changed, even when checking in its different and when going to the lounges of British Airways its very confusing as to where exactly you have to go. Security is better since there are a lot of terminals for people to go through but they do have a lot of flights taking off at any one point in time. I haven’t been using British Airways much since I haven’t been going to London for a while now, mostly on Emirates or Lufthansa since both airlines are cheaper then British Airways. After getting done with security I went to the Club Lounge to drop off one of the bags I was carrying and only carry my back pack.

One thing I’m happy about is that the electronics store, book store, magazine shop, and music store are really close to each other. I didn’t have a chance to walk as much as I wanted since I was pretty tired and I just wanted to sit in the lounge, and the lounges are all a bit intertwined, not that you can use the other lounges but the other lounges can see each other. There is a Concorde Lounge which is the flagship lounge, the First Class Lounge, and the Business Class Lounge, but I’m not sure I missed one of the lounges since its a bit confusing the first time around. When I came to look for my terminal to take off to Kuwait I almost missed since they don’t announce flights in the lounge any more for some reason and it was very far, I really had no clue where I was going. Overall the terminal is nice but a too big, I still want to explore when I have the chance and the energy to walk around, but it does feel nice and spacious when walking around and now I have to look for a new food place to try out in the terminal.

Multiple Stops

For the past few weeks I have been on the move with family and a little bit of work, majority of it is a break from work but I had to have some meetings while I was out abroad. Towards the end of this trip I have been on a plane every day and a half which has gotten exhausting, there is a lot I want to post about but not enough time. Off the bat, Italy was amazing, I’m annoyed that I haven’t gone there earlier, but there is a lot to post about, then off to London and I really missed London. I almost haven’t been to London for almost two years at this point, I didn’t realize how busy I got until recently, but it was so nice to be back in my room and smelling the fresh air next to the park, and now I’m in Hungary for a few days before heading back to London then back to the Kuwait the next night after a meeting in the morning. I have a lot of fasting to make up for when I get back to home, fasting abroad or while traveling is very difficult so I opted to fast at a later point, and I walked a lot in all the places, its just so easy to walk with this cool and nice weather. When I’m out walking I can feel the difference, the oxygen level in these countries are better then Kuwait, it just feels refreshing to walk outside and breath. Still a lot more to do and only a few days left until I go home, I wish all a happy eid.

Travel Pricing

I was recently checking for flights to San Francisco in December, just to see what pricing has been like. Some prices were within the normal range and some were insane. I was checking Business Class seats for the times in mind on Emirates Airlines, British Airways, and Lufthansa.

KWT to SFO:

Business Class:

  • Emirates: 2612 KWD (New Direct Flight from Dubai to San Francisco)
  • British Airways: 2975 KWD
  • Lufthansa: 1862 KWD
The price of Emirates is on their new direct San Francisco flight is justifiable, so I can understand the high price. Lufthansa is same price as usual, but the British Airways price is nothing short of insane. I have noticed their pricing has been jumping over the past two years. Who can justify a 1000 KWD difference between Lufthansa and British Airways when the route is identical. It seems over the past year British Airways have lost 35% of their business in Kuwait due to their high pricing, and people are changing over to Lufthansa, KLM, Itihad, Emirates, and a few others for their long haul flights.