BA1452 - Business: London - Edinburgh - Airbus A320-NEOYou are here
Continuing on with this flight report!
BA North Galleries Lounge
Clearing the UK Domestic Flight Connections was easy as you went through a check point to scan your onward flight boarding pass, then after a 2 minute walk down a corridor and up a small escalator, you were through into T5A, being dropped off by Gate A6.
To start off, I went to the North Galleries Lounge for breakfast and a re-visit, having not done this lounge since September 2018.
Getting through, I made my way up to the higher levels and into the North Galleries Lounge, which is the nearest Lounge for most Domestic Flights as they often go from A1-A13. I decided to split my time into about 3 to 3/12 hours in each lounge.
BA offers two Galleries Lounges at London Heathrow in Terminal 5A. Two more lounges reside in T5B & T3. You can't pay for entry into any London BA Lounge at the time of writing.
I started off by finding a seat in the North Lounge facing the aircraft on stand, which included my previous aircraft that day (G-EUUW), I ordered a light breakfast of a bacon roll, Greek Yoghurt with honey alongside a tea and bottle of water. It was quite nice. I saw multiple aircraft taxi past, mainly BA A320-series aircraft, Boeing 777 & 787 from the USA and the BEA Retro A319 from the BA100 celebrations of 2019, currently the only BA RetroJet flying since the Boeing 747s went into preservation.
An airport lounge without a good Airport View is effectively sacrilege in my view! Terminal 5A doesn't disapoint!
An office facility was in place at the lounge, which is great for anyone doing last minute business paperwork or even printing off forms in order to navigate travel in early 2022. The coffee machine was fully stocked with various products.
I paid a visit to the toilet, and my word- I forgot how swanky airlines make their facilities in their base airport lounges! The facilities were of quite a large size, obviously this is to ensure people can fit luggage in the rooms with them as you can't leave bags unattended. However given I was using a medium sized back pack, it was quite an over sizing!
No showers were available in the North Lounge when I went, but the South lounge- wait and see!
Returning to where I was earlier, I sat down with a small serving of pretzels and a Manhattan cocktail by Mr Lyan. All drinks & snacks were self service at the BA Lounge, but main food was on order over the app.
After a while, I decided to venture across to the small balcony at the North Lounge, which I had missed out on in 2018. I spent about half an hour relaxing over a Green Tea and banana whilst reading my latest edition of Airliner World. The BEA Retro A319 was parked in clear view from this lounge balcony!
Always nice to see G-EUPJ around at London Heathrow! The other two special BA Livery aircraft to look for are G-YMML & G-TTNA.
BA South Galleries Lounge
My next stop to mix things up was a good three hours in the South Lounge, the one I had stayed in during my July 2021 comeback flight.
It took about 5 minutes to walk from the North to South Lounge. After entering, I found that BA were still offering High Life magazines in their lounges (just not on aircraft), so I very keenly took a copy to read through.
Second visit and the Lounge staff still won't let me buy this A380 model off them- it would look much better in my bachelor pad!
I used the QR Code to bring up the menu and found it possible to reserve a shower slot, which was still being offered in the South Lounge, but I had to leave and go to the area near the Concorde Lounge to go in. Overall the Shower facility was really nice, very much the same experience from September 2018 in the North Lounge. A sign of normality coming back step by step.
Heading back to the Lounge, having refreshed myself, I found a nice quiet corner to get a solid lunch in before my flight. Grabbing a whiskey and cola before seating myself, I opened up the Lounge Menu on my smart phone via the QR Code and I made my selection…….
The braised beef stew with mash potato siding. Nothing too fancy, but it was substantial and tasty.
I then moved to the other side of the lounge to enjoy a view of some aircraft, which would be mainly British Airways Airbus A320-family aircraft. But I felt I had enough time to explore. My gate wouldn't be called for another hour or so.
I found a seat over looking some of the A-Gates and the end of the Runway, so I sat down with another snack (I'm bad with free food) which for me was a 12 year old vintage scotch-malt Singleton Whiskey, coronation chicken sandwich, a fruit cake and hot tea. Plus it was a good place to plug my electrical tools in for a boost before my flight, namely my phone & GoPro.
It's a hard and taxing life being a jet-setting avgeek, but someone has to suffer…
British Airways A320-NEO Club Europe
Eventually it was time to face reality and leave the Lounges for the gates of T5A. I had a flight to catch.
We waited at the Gate to board, there was a half hour delay as the plane was late arriving from its previous operation to Italy. The storms affecting the UK and Northern Europe had led to some inevitable knock on effects. Luckily for me I wasn't connecting onwards in Edinburgh, so a short delay like this was not personally a big deal. I did notice that it would be a full flight, I had paid the extra £18 to reserve a seat on this flight, given how busy it was and before my 7 day free selection came in- only two window seats remained.
The flight from London Heathrow to Edinburgh would be operated by an Airbus A320-NEO, registration of G-TTNN. A rather brand new aircraft as it was delivered to British Airways on September 9th 2021. Making it only 5 months old at the time of flying! This would be my second time on the A320-neo with British Airways, but fourth if including the BA A321-neo (2x Sept 2021) as a whole family sub-genre.
An interesting perspective of watching the aircraft being loaded from the interior, something one doesn't see from Economy.
Boarding commenced, and I went up in Group 1 to my seat which would be Seat 5F, also on the right hand side- but right by the massive Airbus A320-neo engine, I was quite excited by this arrangement!
Compare to the A320-ceo that morning, I found the aircraft cabin a bit… bland. During the Alex Cruz era at BA (2016-2020) the A320-neo were subject to cost cutting so little things like the mood lighting and seat block tray were absent for a more basic cabin feel. Luckily the standard A320-ceo seats were still being used on the A320-neo for the premium seats offering Club Europe or extra legroom Economy.
We eventually pushed back for take off and made our way down to the Runway I had landed on some 7 hours prior. For those who don't know- when aircraft arrive over London at LHR, they do a switch at 3pm alternating Runway operations to keep the residents near LHR happy.
We taxied past Terminal 5, Terminal 3 and before getting to Terminal 2, we turned onto the Runway at an inter-section, allowing us to get ahead of some wide body aircraft that were also preparing to leave at the same time- quite a bonus to make up for lost time!
Despite a full load, our Airbus A320-neo powered out of London Heathrow and climbed out over West London/East Berkshire with little effort. A testament to the power and effectiveness of the newest generation A320!
As our flight was almost an hour late departing, this evening flight was going to be in darkness by the time the hour long jaunt to Edinburgh was going to conclude. The crew promptly started to dish out the busy Club Europe cabin the afternoon tea.
The Airbus A320-neo is the fastest selling aircraft in history with 711 orders by the time of the first aircraft entering service in 2016. As of early 2022 7,895 aircraft have been ordered with 2,136 having been delivered. By comparison the Boeing 737-MAX in 2022 has 4834 orders and 706 delivered at the time of writing.
I opted to accept the afternoon tea in-flight meal as I didn't know if I would be able to get into anywhere by the time I arrived in Edinburgh and check in my accommodation. The service included a fresh scone with cream & jam, a coffee cake and two sandwich fingers which were Ham & Cheese and Beef Pastrami. Basic, but ideal for the flight I was on. Although I am sure the pastrami sandwich would be more of an acquired taste for most people…
BA is opting for a more "Traditionally British" menu for its Club Europe/World services. The Afternoon Tea is a good choice for shorter European/UK Domestic flights after breakfast.
Alongside the Afternoon Tea, I opted for a hot tea (again) alongside a BA Jetstream Brewdog IPA Beer. I wasn't going to see two Club Europe flights on my birthday without having a can of BA exclusive beer!
This kept me stocked up for the duration of the flight, I found it really enjoyable. I even had another read on some articles in my High Life magazine I "acquired" from the South Lounge before I flew.
By the time our initial descent began it was already nightfall. We glided down into Edinburgh through dark and it was not easy getting photos or film, despite some nice sightings of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas at night all lit up from the Air.
We made a prompt arrival into Edinburgh and taxied over to Gate 9 where we parked next to a grounded Loganair ERJ-145. Bringing an end to a days flying and lounge hopping, a really enjoyable 25th birthday!!!
Disembarking again by Row numbers, the first five rows which made up Club Europe were asked to disembark first through the jet way, I took a final snap of the cabin with most the passengers ahead of me already making for a hasty exit, I then followed on. After getting through into the Airport I made my way to the domestic arrivals and followed onward to find an Airlink 100 Bus to Prince's Street.
Club Europe Epilogue:
And there I was. My birthday started off in the heart of Belfast and now I was about to go to the heart of Edinburgh, having spent about 2 hours flying across the UK and 7 hours enjoying the finest BA Galleries Lounges. I would go on to get a total of 1,876 AY Award & Tier Miles for these two Club Europe flights. I would have paid £224 for these two flights, but a £104 voucher from a BA flight that never happened in late-2020 allowed me to fly this trip for only £120, basically the price of doing this trip with two Standard Economy flights, plus I had the business class fare miles honoured (which won't happen on a paid upgrade) to go in my account for a future trip upgrade.
British Airways (North) Galleries Club - 5A
London - LHR
Edinburgh - EDI
Overall a great service on British Airways Club Europe and a fantastic experience from both lounges under what was then the current climate, things are starting to get a lot better now as restrictions all over Europe & the UK are lifting, so hopefully there will be more to offer in the future.
The main factor though- I enjoyed my trip, despite what some people will say about the Club Europe product declining in recent years.
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Much more pleasant than International connections where you have to go through the awful transit security checkpoint, which can take forever especially since they got rid of the Fast Track lanes for transit passengers.
It's nice that they're doing hot food served at your seat even in the Galleries Club lounge...they had this in the Galleries First lounge when I went through a few months ago and figured they were only doing that in the First lounge anymore, guess not!
It seems they're also changed their policy for shower access. Pre-pandemic, I was told by an attendant, only long-haul passengers had access when I showed my LHR-MAD boarding pass, but then was allowed in when I showed my IAD-LHR BP since I'd just come off a TATL from Washington.
Catering is just right for a 1h domestic flight IMO--US carriers could take some inspiration from BA and other European carriers on short-haul J catering!
I'm still not a fan of no trays over middle seats in NEOs, it's silly and makes the experience inconsistent with CEOs which otherwise have the same cabins.
Thanks for sharing!
It was nice to enjoy a few flights up front for once!
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