Route, courtesy of gcmap.com
This simple day trip came about thanks to Gabriel mentioning, at a previous A.net meeting, that all BA Avios redemptions could include a free domestic connection (or to be more precise, a maximum of two legs). When I booked my trip to Madrid (http://signol.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/easyjet-v-iberia-j-madrid-daytrip.html) I had no further plans, so I booked a connection to Edinburgh for a random day 6 months ahead, with the thinking that I could take it or leave it. A little later I realised that Virgin Atlantic Little Red domestic services were performing relatively poorly, so probably wouldn't last much beyond their contractual obligation, so if I wanted to try them I'd better do it sooner rather than later. So I used some of my declining stash of VS miles to book a one way back to London for 3750 miles and £15 cash for the "taxes". I prebooked train tickets to and from London using Red Spotted Hanky points, standard out and First on the way back. So quite simply this turned into the cheapest ever day trip I've done, costing the £15 and two off peak Tube journeys.
I made my way to Heathrow in the morning, leaving home when I'd usually be going to work (my wife has Wednesdays off to look after the children anyway) and walked to the station, after picking up a cheeky breakfast at Subway.
Legroom in Standard
On the train
Unfortunately the train stopped for almost an hour on the way, which wasn't a major problem as I'd built in some delay time, but did mean that my time at Heathrow wasn't quite so leisurely. I couldn't attempt a lounge entry based on the ticket being on an Iberia Business :( But at least the "Delay Repay" scheme meant that I got 50% of the fare back as the train was between 30 and 59 minutes late. I eventually arrived at Liverpool St and made my way to the tube. I'm certainly looking forward to Crossrail, as this will make the journey to Heathrow so much easier.
Hatton Cross tiling
Escalators up to T5
T5 check in hall
I quickly bought some lunch from Boots and ate it by the gate, as plenty of people were already here.
Seat: 3F (Economy)
At gate. Our plane was the far left
Walking down one of the longest jetbridges ever
View from my seat, 3F
More BA tails at T1 - Philip (OA260) had just arrived from BHD
We taxiied along the north side of the central area and took our place in line to take off on runway 27R.
More car parks
A4 and M25
Someone down there likes baseball!
Heathrow in the distance
In the haze top centre you can just about see Stansted. Shows how close it is to Luton!
STN zoomed in
Rockingham motor racing circuit
The service then began. There was the regular bar service, and a choice of snacks.
Our progress on the overhead TVs
More clouds on descent
The Firth of Forth
Close enough to see the waves
As good a shot as I could get of the bridges
My ride, from the terminal
Airport tram station
A tram arriving
A tram at the station
After a long chat, and thanks Léonard for the kind gifts!, it was time to head back through security. There were quite a lot of people queuing, but eventually it was my turn. My bag was chosen for secondary screening, which took ages to wait as there were some others before also needing screening. The suspicious item? The haggis that Léonard had just given me! I then headed to the lounge for a very quick snack as my flight was about to board.
The Aspire Lounge was still being built.
Boarding was already underway, so I joined the queue and headed to board. The first thing I noticed was the overriding colour of purple from the lighting.
Seat: 2F (Economy)
View from my seat
Neighbour heading to LCY
Takeoff was pretty standard for a lightly loaded A320 - I'd estimate the load factor at about 50%.
The service was a small pack of "Plane" crisps, as well as a bar - I had another G&T.
Starting to get dark
View from my seat, 2F
A nice touch was that the crew came round offering these sweets to everyone
I think that's Liverpool
Birmingham from above
Windows error on the screen
Empty Terminal 1
Onto the tube, back to Liverpool St, and the train back to Norwich.
To conclude, comparing the two airlines, BA did feel more classy, VS more laid back and friendly. Overall, I would probably choose based on price or schedule - though that since this week's announcement of the closure of VS's service, this does leave BA with a monopoly on the route.
And finally, as a bonus, my arriving and departing flights, courtesy of Léonard: