BA1440 London to Edinburgh – A321 aircraft – Full
Having FastTrack access to T5 through BA, I was through security in about ten minutes, early on the Saturday morning I was travelling to to Edinburgh. My Concorde Room card secured me access through the short cut door to the lounge.
I wanted to try out the new service from Edinburgh to London which started yesterday (Sunday) with Flybe. The route had previously been operated by bmi, until BA purchased them and rolled it in to their own routes to Scotland.
For a comparison I booked BA flight up to the Scottish capital with BA.
Of course the experiences are not totally similar as I have access to the Concorde Room at Heathrow with its tranquil atmosphere, good food, and new furniture. The morning menu is further down in this post.
The BA flight boarded on time from the domestic gates in Terminal 5. The A321 was full and so staff circulated the queue asking passengers to check their bag. A number did and were allowed early boarding as a reward. The rest of the passengers were called forward through the priority lane if they were Gold, Silver or Bronze Executive club, UK Business or were connecting from other flights in a premium cabin.
Once on board I quickly found my seat, 1C, and settled in whilst other passengers boarded.
The BA cabin was set up 3-3, and will soon be converted to operating in two classes – Club Europe and Euro Traveller. My date of travel was one of the last for the one class Domestic service.
During boarding I was covered with coffee – sprayed around by a toddler whose parents had given her the cup to play with, bashed on the shoulder by a woman dropping her handbag and hit on the leg by a flight attendant taking trays out of the over head bin. Painful!
The bag problem became more acute as we approached departure time and a number of bags had to be checked from the plane. This delayed the door shutting by 10 minutes.
We then had a long taxi to the take off runway and ultimately arrived late in Edinburgh.
BA’s Buy-on-Board service had the crew focussed on selling their wares throughout the full plane. I declined to buy anything. There was no further interaction with the crew – no thanks for my business, welcome back etc.
We exited via the jet bridge at Edinburgh and after a ten minute walk through the terminal to the domestic exit I was outside looking for the hotel.
A decent flight and I was lucky to have good leg room but a fully loaded plane clearly tests BA baggage policy and I wonder how long it will last. Rumour is it that they plan to reduce it to one item. Of course enforcement of the current limit of two bags would be a start.
BE1305 Edinburgh to London Heathrow – Q400 Dash 8 – Half Full
Having no access to Fast Track from Flybe, I chose to pay the £4 that Edinburgh charges for access and it was a great investment. The normal line wait time was 10 minutes at 6am and it looked a lot longer than that. Fast track took less than 1 minute.
Priority Pass membership allowed me access to the No1 Lounge at Edinburgh. This was pretty reasonable but not as nice as the Concorde Room, obviously. You are allowed one free hot item from the menu. There were plenty of cold items self-service from the buffet. I chose the bacon roll.
The lounge was not too busy and I secured a seat near a socket to allow me to charge my equipment. Juices and coffee were available and a surprisingly large number of people were having beers and cocktails for 7am on a Sunday morning.
About 15 minutes before boarding the gate was displayed – the inauspicious gate 13.
A little seating was offered although it was insufficient, but after about 10 minutes boarding started.
Passengers walked down stairs and across the tarmac boarding either back or front of the plane. The overhead bins are small and my backpack required manipulation to get in to the bin. I had booked 1B, the front row aisle as it was as close as possible to the seat I had with BA the previous day.
The flight was not full, with a large number of empty seats, I would assume due to this being a new service.
The seats are arranged 2-2 throughout the cabin:
We all boarded in plenty of time but were told of a 30 minute air traffic hold. Eventually we reversed and were on our way to the runway which took a few more minutes.
Once airborne the two cabin crew did their version of Buy on Board which featured a huge range of items. Including four types of coffee offering.
As we got to Birmingham we were told that there was a 30 minute delay for a hold outside London. This meant that we would be ten minutes late on a generous 2 hour scheduled flight time. As it happens the hold (watching other planes circling with us), was only 20 minutes.
We made an approach over Windsor to land to the East. A quick taxi took us to a bussing gate at Terminal 2. Concorde was visible across the runways on the way to the terminal.
A five minute bus ride and we were in the domestic part of T2 – somewhere I had never been before. Serving until now just Belfast City (Aer Lingus), it was joined yesterday by the new flybe services from Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
A short walk out of the terminal and I was close to entrance to the underground and on my journey home.
A perfectly decent flight, although on a small turboprop with limited over head space and only one toilet. The crew were friendly enough.
Pretty similar experiences on board with both carriers. In truth the bigger BA plane offers a greater level of comfort especially when I can access the lounge. The flybe service is perfectly acceptable, although the turboprop will always be slower than the BA jet. T2 is perfectly good for departures and I shall try that routing later in the year.