My last ‘normal’ flight was on 20th March 2020. This was the day that schools closed their doors to pupils in person and we decided, with a 4-month old baby and the prospect of working from home for a few weeks, that out little flat would drive us crazy. Thankfully, the stash of airmiles was available to book flights up to my parents near Inverness.
Roll forward 100 days and it was time to head back to London. Lockdown was easing somewhat and we had kids coming back into school, so we booked flights down south. Unfortunately, BA had been over-ambitious with their scheduling and despite being able to book from Inverness, they cancelled and we had to change to Aberdeen, necessitating an early start and a 2hr30 drive instead of a 30min hop.
Check-in was fine, although my wife did remark that it was silly that the general public were wearing masks and maintaining distance whilst the staff were maskless and close. Once through security I was reminded how grateful I am for lounge access because there wasn’t any on this occasion – the BA Lounge was closed, so we had to wait in the terminal. Normally this would be ok, but there was nothing open, no water in the vending machines and a solitary coffee machine in the far corner of the terminal where the small regional flights go from. Luckily I was able to persuade a staffer to jump over the Costa counter to get me a cup so I could give my wife some water.
Boarding was strictly by row number, starting at the back – no priority boarding here. This was actually fine; being in Row 1 (across from Tilda Swinton) meant we boarded last and had no issues putting the changing bag in the overhead lockers.
The crew were handing out packs with sanitiser and wipes so we were able to give things a wipe down. Mention was made of the need to wear masks, but it was pretty low-key and well-managed.
After take off we were given the choice of a meat or vegetarian pack which consisted of a sandwich, a small bottle of water and something sweet. Drinks were served from the bar and the full selection was on offer. Coffee came in a paper cup and bottles or cans were delivered unopened.
On arrival into Heathrow passengers had to remain seated until their row number was called before being able to get up and retrieve bags. Being in the front row we were off first and made our way down to baggage reclaim and out to the Avis transfer bus. We were only in London for a few days, so hired a car to get home and then back to the airport later in the week.
I had been able to return the car to the Terminal 5 despite it being closed and having to pick up from the central hub, which made getting back to the airport much easier with family in tow. We checked in the bags, buggy and car seat at The First Wing and went through to the lounge for breakfast.
The new system is fully at-table service with a neat QR code to scan and then order. It was very efficient and we had breakfast at our seats within 10 minutes.
This is really a big improvement and one which I hope they will keep, as it definitely adds to the ‘premium’ feel of the lounge. I am pleased to hear that they are continually adding to the menu and adjusting their software to make it even more user-friendly.
Our flight to France followed the same format as the one from Scotland earlier in the week; it is good to see that there was consistency across the network.
I am grateful that we have been able to travel to and from grandparents so the little one gets to spend time with them, and it is great to see how the airline is adapting to make it as safe as possible for everyone. Saying that, I am not planning any long-haul flying for the foreseeable future – the idea of 8hrs in a mask is not appealing!