When things don’t go to plan – my first experience of IRROPS

Irregular operations occur when things go wrong for whatever reason. In my case, it was the cancellation of my flight back from Nice. A planned air traffic control strike meant that BA were asked to reduce some of their services the day before, which meant us.

I got a text and email at about 1600 the day before our 2100 flight asking me to call. An hour later I had another one saying that alternatives had been put in place.

The alternative was economy to Madrid leaving at about 1200 and then Business to Heathrow with Iberia. This wasn’t ideal as we were booked originally in business, albeit as a RFS using my AmEx 2for1 that was otherwise going to expire, and that we were loosing a day of our short break.

I called up and first asked for flights the same day direct or the following da, but these were all full. I then asked why we were booked into economy and was told that there was no business cabin on the plane. I also asked if we could go on the slightly later IB departure, by about 30 minutes, so we could fly on the A330 wide body, but this was not allowed. I was a little disappointed that they were not more accommodating given the loss of 1/3 of the trip and the downgrade.

Had we been flying direct, we would have had access to the lounge but, as we were in economy we did not. I asked at the check-in but to no avail. I was able to access the lounge with my BA Silver card, but could only guest 1 of the 2 others I was with. I popped in to have a look as I usually use the other lounge for non-Schengen traffic. It was much smaller, but well-stocked.

On boarding the plane, operated by Air Nostrum, we found out that there was a business cabin and, to add insult to injury, it was not full. The plane was quiet and I was able to move into an exit row with extra leg room.

On arrival into Madrid T4, we had time for a quick visit to the lounge for a bite to eat before heading to the plane. I was amazed at how big the airport it – another Norman Foster job.

The flight back to London was smooth. I learnt that Madrid operates simultaneous take off on it’s runways, giving some incredible views of aircraft you don’t normally see.

Dinner was fine – I enjoyed the salmon in black ravioli for main, and liked that a menu was presented before the drinks run.


In the end, we got home safe and sound which is the main thing. In addition, an email to BA resulted in 10,000 Avios for both my wife and I, which we have  subsequently spent on another trip to Nice! I was also lucky enough to end up with the Avios and Tier Points from the diverted legs, giving me another 60TP to the pot.

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