MY CLUB • January 2020
Dr Andy Palmer’s decades of experience in the automotive industry led him into the driving seat of British car titan Aston Martin. Luckily for his airline of choice, running a car business takes a whole lot of flying. We sit down with the Gold Member to hear about his love of Cape Town, why he considers Tokyo his spiritual home and his recent collaboration with British Airways
Favourite place you’ve travelled with work?
I’m very privileged to have travelled far and wide with my career, but one trip that stands out is Cape Town. It was my first time in South Africa; we were there for the launch of the Nissan Primera. It’s such a beautiful country, and very dramatic: I remember driving through a game park and seeing a lion eating a giraffe. To this day, Cape Town remains one of my favourite places to visit.
Best place for a road trip?
People deal with pressure and stress in different ways. My way is in a fast sports car, on a rolling road. A long drive in the Scottish Highlands in the autumn (pictured below) when it’s dry but chilly, with a backdrop of some rock and roll – that’s close to my idea of heaven. I’m a biker too, so I dream of riding the Pan-American Highway. I have a big BMW K1600 GT touring bike, but there’s only one bike for the Pan-American Highway, and that’s a Harley.
Where do you get nostalgic about?
Tokyo, my spiritual home, if you will. There is no better place to eat and no better saké (and I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur) anywhere in the world. Settling into a traditional ryokan with the hot water springs and spas – it’s only here that I would say I can really, fully relax. In fact, it was at Yagyu no sho, a lovely ryokan on the peninsula just outside Tokyo, where I proposed to my wife, so the whole thing is quite dear to me.
Where is on your bucket list?
Since a teenager I’ve had one big ambition – to travel to all seven continents. Now, there’s only one I still haven't been to: Antarctica. It’s as much about the journey to get there that I find exciting, going down through Chile and South America
What are your travelling essentials?
I always carry a briefcase; it contains my entire life. I’m never without a book – I would rather read than watch films – and my headphones for music. Books and music get me through long-haul flights. Oh, and I’ll always pack my own teabags.
Do you have any pre or post-flight airport routines?
I use the First class check-in desk at Heathrow T5 (pictured below), which takes away the stress of queueing, and I use the lounges. When you’re landing and heading straight into meetings, interviews or product launches, a refreshing shower in one of the arrival lounges really improves the start of a work trip and, at least for me, tricks my jet-lagged mind into getting into ‘new day’ mode.
Have you had any memorable BA experiences?
When I was living in Japan and coming back to Europe every month, my airline of choice was BA, so there are a lot of memories. I do remember, getting on the plane back from Japan, I’d always wait for the Club Bar to open so I could raid its stash of Cadbury’s chocolate. You can get Cadbury’s in Japan, but it’s imported from Australia or somewhere, and doesn’t taste the same. You want the British stuff.
How do you spend your Avios?
I’m a Gold Member and have been for some 20-plus years. In Japan, I used all the Avios I collected on my kids, so we could all spend time together. In a sense, work took me away from home, and those Avios reunited us.
Why did you think BA and Concorde were the right fit for your latest limited-edition collection?
All three of us are iconic British brands that have represented the UK through the good times and bad. Collectively, we’ve been around a long time, and I thought that was something worth celebrating. As a brand, we have a real affinity for aviation (from the wings on our logo to the heritage of our manufacturing sites on old RAF bases across the UK), and we thought it time to pay homage to the most iconic aircraft in the history of aviation, and its principal carrier.
How did Concorde inspire the collection?
The new Concorde Edition (pictured above) features metal from Alpha Foxtrot, the last Concorde ever built, which has been used to create the paddle shifts, either side of the steering wheel. The cars have a bespoke red, white and blue livery, as well as a black-tinted carbon fibre roof emblazoned with Concorde’s silhouette. All the aviation-inspired collections we produce (before now we’ve done the Spitfire, Red Arrows, The Blades…) are produced at very small volumes; they’re the ultimate collector’s item.
To find out more about the new Concorde Edition collection, click here