The evening before I am scheduled to embark on my journey I call my mum to remind her that I’ll be gone in the morning and won’t be back for another two weeks. The conversation runs smoothly, right up to the moment when my mother makes the mistake of asking – ‘So remind me, where is it again you’re off to this time?’ – and I make the evening bigger mistake of telling her, in all detail and glorious Technicolor, exactly where I’m going. All thirteen flights.
And then there is silence. In real time it probably lasts no more than a split second, but the silence is so heavily laden with my mother’s disapproval that it feels like an eternity. Until eventually the silence is broken by her stoic proclamation: ‘You’re nuts!’
Well admittedly, the whole thing is perhaps a tad over the top, even by my standards – thirteen flights in fourteen days. But I can explain everything and in all honesty, when I started planning my vacation, I never intended it to grow into such a monumental excursion. I just wanted to get away from it all. As far as way as I could possibly go. It’s just that somehow, somewhere along the line things got out of hand and I got a slightly carried away.
But we will come to all that in due course. My first flight is with British Airways from Basel to London Heathrow. It’s the morning flight, my favourite because of the lovely English breakfast they serve you on BA.
Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A 319
To: London Heathrow
Cabin: Business Class
Date: 13 August 2013
Getting to the Airport
Tuesday morning. It’s just a bit over a week since our team excursion to London and the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and I’m on my way to the airport again. The bus line 50 is nearly empty today, now that the school holidays are over. There are just a handful of passengers with blank looking faces heading for work.
Ah yes, check-in. Not one of BA’s finest moments for sure. It takes repeated attempts for me to check-in for the flight to London before eventually my inbox rears its ugly head to inform me that I’ve got mail. But alas, all I receive is the boarding pass for the flight to London. So I’m not really sure if I’m actually checked in for my onward connection. But never mind, like this I have a good excuse to check out BA’s First Class check-in area when I arrive in London.
The Skyview Lounge
What can I say? It’s the same one that Swiss uses. I suspect I may have singlehandedly succeeded in making it Europe’s most photographed airport lounge. Well probably not quite, but you get my point. So I’ll spare you the details and the pictures.
When eventually my flight shows up as ‘boarding’ I exit the lounge and go through passport control. The young officer is obviously eager to not let any unsavoury looking characters get away. But eventually he decides I’m okay and lets me through.
Much to my surprise the gate area is already empty when I arrive and I am the second last passenger to board.
Behind the gate there is a mobile newspaper rack for passengers to help themselves as they board the aircraft.
All in all I rather like the BA cabin. In particular I like the little trays they have protruding from the armrests in the Business Class section. The seat also makes a welcome change from those flimsy Recaro seats most airlines have these days, which are tremendously tough on the backside.
This is where BA really shines on this flight. Service in the Business Class cabin in done by a middle-aged gentleman and he is truly outstanding. Very friendly and accommodating. Nothing seems too much for him and throughout the flight he keeps coming back to check the passengers are all right and have everything they need.
Departure is on time. As we push back the Cabin Service Manager – such a fantastic word – passes hot scented towels to all passengers.
We take-off towards the south on runway 15 and shortly after take-off we do a sharp right turn to point us initially towards Paris and London beyond. But it’s hazy today and so the beautiful Alps remain hidden from view behind a veil of grey and white cloud.
The highlight. I just love BA’s hot English breakfast. It certainly beats Swiss’s offering on the flight to London City. The breakfast includes a cheese omelette, Cumberland sausage, bacon, grilled tomato and button mushrooms. There is a huge selection of breads, buns and croissants from the breadbasket to choose from. With that there is a choice of either marmalade or strawberry jam and butter.
To drink I have a coffee and a glass of still water. Although there is a cream already on the tray, the CSM asks me if I’d prefer some fresh milk instead, which I gladly accept.
As soon as I finish the meal, the CSM whisks away my tray and asks me if there’s anything else I’d like. So I order a glass of sparkling mineral water and start writing the first chapter of this epic trip report.
Just a short while later though, old Blighty comes into view and we begin the descent. As we make our way towards Heathrow I suddenly notice Gatwick appearing on our left.
As we turn off the runway I look back to see if there’s anything coming in behind…
We arrive at T5 on time and I get the chance to try out my new biometric passport.
I still have a few hours before my onward connection, so I figure I might as well drop my suitcase in one of the lockers at T5 and head to Windsor to get me in the holiday spirit. There are two bus lines that run from T5 to Windsor. The 71 takes about 10 minutes longer but runs along a more scenic route. The 77 is 10 minutes faster and takes 35 minutes to make the journey from the airport to Windsor.
Windsor looks like a nice little place, even though it’s crawling with tourists!
One down, twelve to go. I thoroughly enjoyed this short flight with BA. Of course it helped that the flight was not full, with only sixty nine passengers in total and only seven in Business Class. The meal may not look as pretty as the one served on Swiss on this route, but it’s certainly more substantial. Moreover, the crew on this flight were simply excellent.