I am delighted to welcome you to this new Flight-Report. As lockdown restrictions in the UK have eased, I decided to catch up with my friend - Adam - and travel together to Scotland, which used to be his home for a few years. After seeing Aberdeen, we drove further up North to Inverness (photos in bonus section at the bottom) from where we were flying back. In this report I'll talk about my experience at the tiny but busy Inverness Airport, flight on BA's 20-year-old A319 in Economy (or a hybrid between Economy and Club as you'll find out later…) and domestic arrival at London Heathrow.
I hope you'll find it an interesting read!
Flight number BA1471
Route Inverness - London Heathrow T5
Flight date 17th May 2021 1530-1650 (actual 1542-1657)
Scheduled flight time 1:20 (actual 1:15)
Aircraft model Airbus A319
Aircraft registration G-EUPT
Seating configuration CY143
Aircraft age (at the time of flight) 20.5 years
Seat number 7D
Departure gate 2 (walking gate)
Arrival gate A1 (jet bridge)
Load factor (approx.) 90%
Flight price 40 GBP (one way, basic fare)
And the boarding pass for today's flight. Who else thinks BA should rethink their boarding pass design to make it look a bit more special? Like LOT, TAP Air Portugal or others…
It's a very cute, little regional airport, a bit far from Inverness city centre I'd say. But we were driven there by a friend of us, Guthrie, so that wasn't a problem. Parking was sufficiently big and well organised.
From the photos, you can probably already tell it's a tiny airport. Probably the smallest I've ever been to! But despite that, it was actually quite busy that afternoon, with a few more flights that day.
2x London, departing at pretty much the same time - on A320 and A319 - and this already made the airport very busy.
The airport inside is nice. Again, well organised and has everything that you might need as a passenger - a restaurant (pub), a shop (including Scottish souvenirs), a lounge (this was actually closed due to COVID), car rental, even a post box.
From the entrance we went straight to BA check in. I was flying with Andy in Euro Traveller (hand luggage only), whilst Adam upgraded himself to Club Europe to be able to take 2 suitcases, and the upgrade price was the same as buying extra luggage. We all checked in our bags at the counter, the agent was very friendly, yet unfortunately wasn't able to change our seats to more in the front (they were blocked and he was not able to get them for us) and our assigned seats were in row 17.
As you might imagine for such a small airport, security was a breeze. However… the airside was super busy, as, like I said there were two A320-family airplanes departing at the same time, and INV has only two gates!
This was a very interesting idea - a rack with book exchange. It's the first time I saw such thing at an airport.
And this is what one part of the airside looks like. It got even busier later on!
We sat at a restaurant table, with a wonderful view of the tarmac. Unfortunately, the table has not been cleaned after previous customers :( we needed to clean it ourselves.
Some plane spotting from our table. Lots of Loganairs all around: landing/departing/on the ground.
At some point, a lady from airport staff approached me and asked whether I wanted to fill in a survey about the airport - I said sure - hopefully they appreciated an opinion of a flight reporter :p
Whilst Adam and Andy were having a small lunch, I had a quick walk around the airside and meanwhile our aircraft arrived from its flight from London-Heathrow.
Here it is, a 20.5-year-old A319, G-EUPT. I hadn't flown on that one before.
Boarding was soon called, and as it's always done in BA these times, it proceeded back-to-front to minimise contact between passengers. So no priority for Executive Club members or Club Europe passengers.
From the gate, we had a short walk to the aircraft but it was a nice opportunity to get last breaths of fresh Scottish air and take a few pics of the parked aircrafts. Whilst Easyjet to Gatwick has already departed, many Loganairs were still on the ground. By the way, INV is one of the airports where aircrafts are not pushed back, they simply turn back using thrust - like in WMI and FMM for example.
Boarding the Speedbird is always a nice experience. Club crew at the doors greeted us with smiles, even initiated a quick aviation-unrelated chat about my watch (haha!) and also handed hand sanitising napkins together with a plastic bag. Since the previously blocked row 7 remained free, I asked whether we can take it, and the Inflight manager said, yes, it was not a problem.
Now here comes a surprise - with 5 rows of Business class only and a curtain behind row 5, rows 6 and 7 haven't had the white Club antimacassars removed (though the middle tables were removed) - anyway we felt a bit like in Club, also with the middle seat empty on a nearly fully packed flight.
And it's legroom for a 1.87m person.
In the front the aircraft, there are 2 power sockets and USB ports for every 3 seats, which is a new feature on BA's A319. I think that seats at the back are only equipped with USB ports.
Another great feature is the LED lighting which is present in all non-NEO A320 family aircrafts at BA, including this one. Even though the aircraft is 20 years old, it wasn't obvious from its condition.
We had very nice weather overall in Scotland. It only started to rain when we were getting to the airport.
I was only very disappointed that the crew didn't turn on the overhead monitors, they probably simply forgot they had them on board that jet. A319s from BA are amongst the last jets to still have the overhead monitors and I was really hoping to see them one last time before they get totally removed… Safety demo was also done manually. All messages were clear.
Taxiing to RWY 23 in rainy weather.
The departure, I must say was quite picturesque despite the weather. We were taking off above the Moray Firth.
Suddenly during departure, one of the overhead lockers opened unexpectedly… I guess that's when you realise, you're in a 20-year-old airplane.
That should not have happened. Thankfully the locker wasn't full and nothing fell from it onto one of the Club passengers.
This is the personal protection pack we were given during boarding. Same as on my previous flight to ABZ.
Shortly after departure I stood up and went to the galley to inform the crew at the back that I swapped seats. I pre-ordered items from the Speedbird cafe and I was afraid they wouldn't know who to give them to. The Euro Traveller crew was very unremarkable this time. They were not rude but neither were they super polite, just very average, no smile, no job satisfaction. Quite the opposite to my flight to ABZ.
Here's the classic Pinnacle BA seat, very comfortable and stylish.
Can you spot the legs in the aisle? This man was seating in row 8, just behind me, and when me and other passengers were walking down the aisle, he didn't even move the legs at all, we had to "jump" above them… For the record, he was fully awake, and was looking in our eyes as we were passing… :(
One more pic of the cabin. I hope BA soon starts to put something in the literature pockets… they look so sad without anything int them.
As I came back, I swapped seats with Andy to give him a window seat - he doesn't fly that often and we were supposed to have a nice approach over London that evening.
So here's my seat for the rest of the flight, 7D. Just to mention, the cabin was super-clean. Definitely was cleaned after arrival from LHR, as that flight was even busier than ours and the cabin wouldn't be clean at all afterwards.
Not too long after departure, the crew passed with complementary service. They gave out crips and water from the trolley, without a single word. Nevertheless, I appreciate the small snack and it's also nice that it was something different than on my previous flight.
Half of the curtain to Club Europe was missing, so again we felt "a bit like in Club" haha. By the way, can you spot my friend Adam smiling to us from row 2?
And here's the complimentary service from BA. I was assured by the crew that my extra meal is coming soon, "the Steak pie is in the oven, warming up". But I started with the bag of crisps.
Whilst waiting for the meal, I took a few extra pictures of the cabin. I think BA cabins are amongst the best designed in Europe.
The meal arrived after another 10 minutes (thankfully we had quite a long flight that day, for a domestic journey). It came in a paper bag. The tea was served in unbranded, paper cups, unlike porcelain on my previous flight :(
This time, I had a sandwich with brie, radish, rocket, and apple chutney, a blueberry muffin and an Earl Grey tea. Andy had a Steak Ale pie. Everything was, again, very very tasty. The second best sandwich I had in the air, just after the one on the way to ABZ haha. Definitely recommended.
I even adopted this sandwich to my own kitchen! I make it warm at home so that the brie melts (just a little piece of advice).
Meanwhile, Adam brought us a little treat from the Club crew, a bottle of champagne and a glass. I think it was a very nice gesture!
As a bonus, I wanted to show you the meal from Club Europe from that flight. Courtesy of my friend Adam. To be fair, my meal was better haha just not served on china.
After the meal, there was obviously a mandatory tour to the lavatory, there is only one in A319 for Economy, which never seems to be enough. I liked the little poster on the doors though!
Quick view on the galley, as I waited for my turn.
Toilet was a pretty standard A319 lavatory, it had decent size and cleanliness and some amenities - including soap, sanitising wipes and air refresher. On the way back, I seated for a while in the last row, 23DEF, to see if there's any difference to the legroom. NO, it's the same as in the front.
Probably the only empty row on the whole aircraft!
Legroom in 23D.
And views from 23F.
I also took a very poor picture of the recline of 23C. It was very limited and seemed much less than the recline in A321neo front section (though that's obviously subjective and I might be wrong).
I then went back to my seat and we soon started descent into LHR. Quite a unique approach this evening… with lots of turns. It was also slightly bumpy, as they had storms in London earlier that day.
But anyway, the approach was stunning as always when you fly over central London, with lots of great views for passengers seated on the right hand side. For Andy, it was the first approach over London, as it turned out, and so I let him indulge in the beautiful views.
After landing on 27R, we docked straight into gate A1 at Terminal 5, which is probably the best gate for domestic arrivals with the shortest walking distance to bag reclaim. Disembarking was, as usually, carried out in groups of a few rows, front-to-back via a jet bridge. People adhered to crew instructions which was nice to see.
Disembarking through Club Europe cabin.
Like I said, from the gate, we walked straight into the arrivals hall, without any additional checks (even though the crew on the flight misleadingly said we need to fill in the Locator Form and quarantine for 10 days…).
I always find it disappointing that Heathrow doesn't have glass jet bridges :(
But at least I could take a picture of the tarmac from the terminal. (By the way - that's not our jet. This is a ex-Gatwick based G-DBCH) with a different cabin layout.
Let me just say that this was my first ever domestic arrival at Heathrow and I was very surprised to see how small that arrival hall is with only 2 luggage belts. There were only 2 flights arriving at that time (including ours) and it already got very busy and crowded.
After getting our bags back, I still had 2 hours until my coach back to Bristol, so we sat in Costa with Adam and Andy for a coffee and a cake. It was the first day that the indoor dining reopened.
Heathrow bathrooms, very good cleanliness as always!
Stranded international arrivals.
We also spotted a group coming from a red county arrival leaving international arrivals. The group was guided by two men in yellow jackets, one at the front and one at the back. Though I think, if UK is so strict with all the arrival measures, it makes little sense that these people from red countries queue next to all other passengers, and then walk through the whole terminal mixing with others anyway… However I heard Heathrow is planning to open T3 just for red countries arrivals.
I took the tube to get to central bus and coach station from where I took the coach to Bristol.
And back at home… second home.
Whilst it was nice to go for a little domestic trip to Scotland, I hope that UK soon allows more International travel without quarantine as well. However, with the recent update of Green list, where no country was added and Portugal was already removed, I have little hope… They really don't want people to travel.
Hope you enjoyed the report,
Little tourism bonus from Loch Ness and Inverness below.
See you in the next report… of the Low Fares Made Simple Airline - you know which one ;-)
A pretty standard flight with BA this afternoon, nothing special about it really. Cabin was clean and in a good condition for a 20.5-year-old aircraft, with a few flaws. Cabin crew from traveller was very unremarkable and didn't seek any interaction with passengers. Complimentary snack was alright and the Speedbird Cafe items were, again amazingly tasty. In terms of entertainment - power sockets, internet (paid), high life magazine (online) and press reader downloads were available. It's a shame, they didn't use the overhead monitors.
7 out of 10 for me