Review of British Airways flight Gibraltar London in Economy

Airline British Airways
Flight BA493
Class Economy
Seat 29F
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 03:00
Take-off 20 Feb 20, 18:30
Arrival at 20 Feb 20, 20:30
BA   #29 out of 66 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 862 reviews
Jett Tyler
By SILVER 617
Published on 1st February 2022

Gibraltar North-Front Airport: A quick History


Just south of the Gibraltar/Spain boarder is the iconic Gibraltar North-Front Airport, which also shares with the RAF base there. The airport has been a life line to the British territory since its opening in 1939 in response to WW2 breaking out. In 1943, the Polish Prime Minister in Exile, General Sikorski, died in a plane crash just off the Airport, killing all but the captain of the flight. The propeller of his Consolidated B-24 Liberator is part of a memorial on the Southern end of the Peninsular.



The Sikorski Memorial, the General, a B-24 Liberator preserved at IWM Duxford and the Runway at Gibraltar Airport.


Alongside the now closed Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong, Sint Maarten Princess Juliana Airport, Greece's Skiathos Airport and London City Airport- Gibraltar is one of the worlds most extreme Airports to land or take off in. It has one of the highest diversion rates in Europe. Flights due to shoddy weather often have to divert to Malaga, an hour coach transit away if they can't land.


During the 1970s onwards, GIB Airport has been used as a holiday airport for UK mainland tourists. GB Airways, British Airways and Monarch Airlines being stalwarts over the years who regularly served the airport. The 2000's brought in some major changes as GB Airways was merged into easyJet and Monarch Airlines went bankrupt in 2017. Iberia even tried offering an air link between Madrid to Gibraltar, but that route quickly dropped as it wasn't popular.


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A view of the Rock of Gibraltar from the Airport.


Monarch had offered the largest network at Gibraltar offering services to London Luton & Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester at the time of its closure. This has now been over taken by easyJet in 2022 who now offer London Gatwick, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. Eastern Airways offered seasonal service to Birmingham (taking over from Monarch in 2021) and Southampton, Wizzair' UK subsidiary now offers a new London Luton service, Royal Air Maroc has a regional service to Tangier and British Airways still dominates a daily London Heathrow service- which is where today's report comes in.


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British Airways Airbus A320s link Gibraltar to London Heathrow (Terminal 3) on a daily basis, sometimes offering two flights in a single day during peak seasonal times.


You can even do plane spotting from the top of the Gibraltar Rock, as seen bellow from my visit during that holiday!


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Gibraltar is also really famous for being one of a small minority of Airports you can walk across the Runway, with the road being closed off for arrivals and departures. There are plans to form an underground tunnel to replace this method, if this goes ahead, it will be the end of a beautiful era for Gibraltar.


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British Airways Airbus A320-ceo (G-EUUR) taken from the road closure at Gibraltar Airport during its departure for London LHR!


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The Calpe Lounge @ Gibraltar


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Given this was my first time travelling solo in Gibraltar as an adult, I arrived with 2 hour ahead of my flight, I had already checked in online and went through security and made a beeline for the Airport's lounge, I thought I'd try it out for a sheer "why not" factor. I was the first person through security, so I was able to get some footage and photos airside of an empty GIB Airport.


So let's see what its like to use the Calpe Lounge at Gibraltar Airport!


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As I didn't have free access through flying Club Europe or even high tier OneWorld status (Sapphire or Emerald), I opted to pay for entry. One technical snag, the lounge (in Feb 2020) didn't accept a card payment- so I had to leave and withdraw £20 in cash at an ATM to pay the entry fee, a bit of a weird thing for the current decade, but not the end of the world.


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I took a seat on the balcony area, overlooking Gibraltar Airport as I awaited my flight. I popped in to acquire some alcoholic beverages and snacks from the "Help Yourself Bar". The food options included: Scones, Cakes, Sandwiches, Crisps and fruit.


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Whilst the lounge doesn't offer much in amenities, it provides the essentials and a fantastic view of the Airport. I couldn't complain for £20 entry. I stayed a bit longer than the three hours I should have been there due to the plane being late into Gibraltar, but the lady at the desk didn't have an issue with that as there wasn't many people in the Lounge that day.


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Eventually the aircraft arrived into Gibraltar, I hung around for a bit as the plane unloaded and the cleaning crew went in to do their jobs, I took the time to get some images of the Aircraft in its spot.


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Speedbird 493 (GIB-lHR)



G-EUYF was the Airbus A320 operating the returning flight to London for me this evening. This aircraft was 10 years old at the time of flying having being delivered from Toulouse to London Heathrow in January 2010, making it a relatively young A320 for the BA A320-ceo fleet. It has served British Airways since and at the time of writing this, the plane is "PARKED", which is likely due to the fallout since this flight was taken. It has been in and out of storage through 2020-2022 at London Gatwick and Madrid Barajas.


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Rock on!!!


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Boarding eventually started, and I waited for the Group 3 call, which came quickly, a bit of a que had formed by the plane, which allowed me to obtain some fantastic shots on the tarmac at Gibraltar of my Airbus A320 before getting on the aircraft. The aircraft was boarding both front and back, and I was one of the few Priority customers that had to board at the rear stairs, which can be seen in the image bellow. Quite the que up front, but not a soul at the back!


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I often sit towards the front, but as I was flying mostly in the day light, I thought I would try sitting in the back to try out the British Airways Euro Traveller seat at the back of the aircraft… I felt a touch of regret when I sat down and found out it was even tight for a man of my statue (5ft 8").


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Given this flight is nearly 3 hours, I figured out quickly that I would regret my choice… fun fact- I did!


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Once boarding was completed, we pushed back as quick as we could as we were already quite behind schedule. We taxied down to Winston Churchill Avenue, turned at the end of the runway- and off we were- like a pocket rocket darting off an Aircraft Carrier!


I left in a full Gibraltar take off in the Flight Review at the start, go watch it if you fancy, it is one of the most amazing take offs I've done!


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The pandemic was still a "Far East" problem at this time, and still at the height of the Alex Cruz era at BA, service in Euro Traveller was relegated to the now defunct M&S Buy on Board introduced in early 2017. I ordered a cola and hot steak pie, it was good!


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Overall pretty uneventful, I had a full row on this flight with two much older passengers next to me, so I just sat back and enjoyed the music on my phone and watched the night go by, flicking through the High Life Magazine as well as the M&S Menu…


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As we came into the UK Airspace, the night was already falling hard and fast and the beautiful "Golden Hour" was fading away. The blue/red mood lighting from this A320 was giving some nice ambiance in the cabin.


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We arrived into London Heathrow around 20:30pm (GMT), about an hour behind schedule. We parked up at Terminal 3 and began to disembark through the air bridge at the front of the aircraft. I stuck around as I was near the back and not in a rush to get off. When I finally did leave the aircraft most the other passengers were already heading for immigration, so I just casually strolled over to pass through, I then made my way to the hotel I was using that evening- Holiday Inn Terminal 4, I was going up to Gothenburg the following day, so I didn't have a long commute this time, just a change of Terminals and a short walk.



A review on the Holiday Inn at Terminal 4 (London Heathrow).

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Verdict

British Airways

6.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi3.0
Meal/catering7.5

Gibraltar - GIB

9.4/10
Efficiency9.0
Access10.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness10.0

London - LHR

9.2/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

British Airways- Good service as always from them, friendly crew. Not really much to say about M&S buy on board- they had some good things over the years, but I won't be missing them too much (but a bit more than Alex Cruz), Seat wasn't the best for a three hour trip- I am deffo using my status to get a free seat up front with better legroom!
Gibraltar Airport- Nice Airport, great views and has a nice Lounge in the form of the Calpe Lounge, but its not one to rave about too much as, it offers the essential basics and a nice environment!
LHR- Excellent offering for intra Terminal connections if you are using a Hotel that is nearer another facility other than T5. Free transport between terminals is still a thing 2 years after this trip was done, its a big bonus!

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4 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 594385 by
    lysflyer SILVER 1031 Comments

    Thank you for this report on a rare airport. The lounge seems to be quite enjoyable however it's odd that they don't accept credit card payments. The seating is so tight . I've got an idea to " enhance the customer's experience", why not flying standing instead of seated? Ahah joking...
    LYSflyer

    • Comment 594545 by
      Jett Tyler SILVER AUTHOR 239 Comments

      One of my more unique BA Euro Traveller experiences. Not sure why the lounge had that policy of cash only, especially in 2020!
      Hopefully Sean Doyle will carry on with his vision to make BA more premium image again...

  • Comment 594393 by
    ChrisB GOLD 1688 Comments

    Hey Thanks for the report mate this such an iconic route with BA.

    You can even do plane spotting from the top of the Gibraltar Rock, as seen bellow from my visit during that holiday!

    thats so cool!!
    A tad weird indeed that you can't pay the lounge access with card but totally worth it with that nice terace..
    Really uses to hate with passion the ted cruz and BoB low-cost downgrade of BA..

    • Comment 594546 by
      Jett Tyler SILVER AUTHOR 239 Comments

      Joys of regular travel, you get some interesting travel experiences around the world... From dodgey hotels, cash only lounges, Asian airlines doing European 5th Freedom routes and legacy airlines thinking they can do Buy on Board and still look like a 5* Airline ;)

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