MADE BY MEMBERS • April 2021

The England Rugby Red Roses at 35,000 feet

England Womens Rugby, or the ‘Red Roses’, as they’re affectionately known, are a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. So, while cruising at 35,000 feet, what winning in-flight tips can the 2020 Grand Slam champions share? To celebrate the airline’s partnership with the national team, and the start of their upcoming Guinness Six Nations campaign, we talk to some of the big-name players about life in the skies…

On sleep

Abigail Dow (pictured): I’m one of those people who, as soon as the plane takes off, falls instantly asleep. It’s never really been an issue for me. I always forget to pack my own pillow, though, so I think by now I’ve just evolved to survive without one. Ideally, I’ll have a window seat. That way I can get comfy in the corner and make do with just a headrest to fall asleep on.
Vicky Fleetwood: It’s hard because it’s always broken sleep when you’re on a plane, isn’t it? To help get as much rest as possible, I do make sure to take along my trusty sleep pillow, as well as an eye mask and earplugs so I can hear as little as possible. I also throw a blanket over me to keep me cosy and warm.
Alex Matthews: To sleep well on a plane, I need to shut out everything that’s happening around me.I have headphones on the whole time and cover my face with a hood so that no one can disturb me. Comfort is everything – a good pair of tracksuit bottoms are essential, too.

on sleep - Abby Dow

On staying entertained

Vicky Fleetwood: I like to mix things up throughout the flight, so I start by watching a film, then, once that’s finished, I’ll get stuck into a puzzle book to keep my mind active. After that, I’ll sit back and pop on a good podcast to try and help me get some shuteye. My favourite podcast to listen to is Table Manners by Jessie Ware – I’m a massive foodie and it’s always entertaining, even if you don’t know who the guest is.
Abigail Dow (pictured): I’m a book person, 100 per cent. And when I’m on a plane, I don’t mind if it’s a bit more of a boring read than usual, because it just means I’ll fall asleep quicker – a win-win. Usually, I’ll read for about half an hour then I’m out like a light. But if I’m really into a book (knowing me) I’ll end up reading it for the entire journey. The only problem with that is the stiff neck you’re left with at the other side!
Alex Matthews: I’m a big thinker, so I often just sit with my own thoughts on a plane. But most of the time, I either get a good book out or pick an easy-going film to keep me entertained – something not too heavy that doesn’t require any energy to watch.

On staying entertained - Abby Dow action

On high-altitude habits

Vicky Fleetwood: On a long haul flight, I have to put on a moisturising face mask because the air conditioning tends to dry out my skin. Usually, I get up an hour or so before we land to rummage around my bag so I can quickly put one on – that’s when everyone on the plane will look at me weirdly as I try and hide my face away. One thing I do have to remember to do is get it off in time so that I’m not landing with it on!
Abigail Dow: I don’t really do anything particularly special. Although, one thing I do quite like to do is look out the window to figure out how the plane works and all that. For example, I love reading up on why the flaps of the wings come up at certain times during the flight. I find things like that really interesting.

on high altitude - Alex Matthews

On packing

Alex Matthews (pictured): A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a must (Bose is my go-to brand). I also never forget my toothbrush and a clean pair of clothes so I can get off the plane feeling nice and fresh. Snacking-wise, for some reason I tend to always buy a fruit smoothie before boarding, so that’s something to help keep me going while I’m in the air.
Vicky Fleetwood: I’m that person who packs everything. From a sleep pillow, earplugs and eye masks to comfy tracksuits – the whole shebang. When packing for a flight, I’m focusing completely on comfort.
Abigail Dow: One thing I do like to pack is some bargaining chips so I can trade with a member of the team to get a window seat! They are by far the comfiest seats to fall asleep in, and I’m pretty much sorted if I get that.  

On packing - Alex Matthews action

On dream destinations

Abigail Dow: I have so many fond memories of going on camping trips with my family to Fontainebleau in France. The area is particularly famous for bouldering – I’d take my little climbing shoes with me and a rag to wipe them down with, and then climb for the whole day. Afterwards, we’d sit in the middle of nowhere and eat a baguette. And the lovely weather helped, too!
Alex Matthews (pictured): I’m a huge fan of the south coast of Wales and one of my favourite places is Pembrokeshire. I have my own VW campervan, so I’ve enjoyed many journeys driving it down to Wales. It’s a lot quieter there, which is great, and I love exploring the sights, the beaches and tasting all the good food (and coffee). That’s all I ever need, really. 
Vicky Fleetwood: I was lucky enough to go to Thailand a few years ago with my boyfriend and absolutely loved it there. Before any holiday, I have a quick scroll through Instagram to seek out some of the must-see sights to visit. In particular, the weather and the beaches there were just amazing; it really ticked all the right boxes for me. And I’m a big foodie, so I loved tasting all the local Thai cuisine.

on dream destinations - Vicky Fleetwood

On the day job

Vicky Fleetwood: It’s always been a dream of mine to play for England. From the day I first started playing rugby, it’s been my goal – I like to challenge myself. Especially after being injured last year during the Autumn matches, I’ve learned not to take this opportunity for granted. I can’t wait to be back in an England shirt again!
Abigail Dow: With everything that’s going on around women in sport at the moment, it’s just an incredible opportunity to help represent what a lot of women are working towards right now. It’s an honour for me to be playing rugby and a privilege that I get to step out on to the pitch wearing the white shirt. It’s great I have a chance to pave the way for the next generation in terms of giving it a better platform to perform as an athlete.
Alex Matthews (pictured): It’s an absolute honour. To be in a position to build a path for future athletes and women in the sport as well is huge.

On the day job - Vicky Fleetwood action

British Airways is a proud sponsor of England Rugby. To learn more about the partnership, click here

This article has been tagged Opinion, Sport