MADE BY MEMBERS • July 2021
Gold Guest List Member Lindsay Brown-Howland used to fly “pretty much every week”. Then, all was grounded. Six months to the day since his last flight, the AV blogger and enthusiast gives us the lowdown on his first post-lockdown flying experience
I start the morning off with a rapid lateral flow test* (for more on testing, click here) followed by a coffee while waiting for the result. Thirty minutes later, I get the result. Negative! I book my Heathrow Express (HEX) ticket online, grab my bag and am ready to go
*At the time of writing, UK domestic travel (excluding Jersey), requires no pre-flight testing. However, lateral flow tests are encouraged and I take this free test twice weekly as recommended by the NHS.
Arriving at Paddington, I hop on the HEX , which is ready to depart. I sit in the Business First cabin of the train – just another perk for Gold Guest List Members. These spacious cabins are strategically placed to allow faster embarkation once you arrive at Terminal 5.
On my way into the terminal, I meet my friend William (@theparttimeflyer), who’s also travelling with me today. He will come with me through The First Wing and into the Concorde Terrace, as I’m allowed to bring a guest. It’s a nice treat to extend to a friend who has, like us all, had limited travel over the past six months.
We make our way to The First Wing, where there is no queue. I quickly pick up my boarding pass and get a seat assigned close to my friend on the flight.
Through security and into the lounge, it’s a short walk to the Concorde Terrace. What awaits us is a tranquil space: staff at the door welcome us in and show us to our preferred seating area. Part of British Airways’ innovations in the lounges this past year means you can digitally order food direct to table via an app, but the Concorde Terrace is still a formal and elegant space with full table service and presented menus. Champagne is poured, and we toast breaking the travel drought.
Our lunch order is taken by the lounge team. The staff are warm and keen to suggest their recommended items. The nachos seem not only to be a firm favourite of mine, but also of most other guests in the lounge!
After lunch, we collect our things and take a short walk to our gate. It’s great to see all the shops reopening and life getting back to normal. We arrive, and boarding is already under way, loading back to front. We hold back until our row number is called and board the plane quickly. The ‘Welcome back’ signage (pictured right) is a lovely touch.
Once on board, new Dettol wipes are handed to each passenger, and I settle into my seat in the front section of Euro Traveller. I have a middle seat next to me that sits empty and the area as a whole is immaculate. You can tell British Airways is taking cleanliness seriously with this cabin. Before long, we are pushing back and taxiing the short distance to the runway, where we take off with no delay.
Shortly after take-off, the in-flight manager comes to say hello and presents me with a bottle of Champagne and lovely card signed by all the crew welcoming me back. In addition, a packet of crisps and a bottle of water is provided to all passengers in Euro Traveller. You can also pre-order food and drinks in addition to the complimentary service from the Speedbird Café. I took the opportunity to order the Tom Kerridge signature pie. It’s delicious.
Before long, we are starting our descent into Manchester. Short but sweet and a great way to break six months of no travel.
We park up and start to disembark in small groups. Going down the stairs and into the terminal, we then exit the airport and pick up our ongoing transport into Manchester City Centre.