Brrr! Chicago! Off to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, South Galleries Lounge
- Seriously… go somewhere warmer!!!
- Early morning Heathrow – Off to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, South Galleries Lounge
- BA458 London Heathrow to Madrid
- A MAD transit
- Iberia IB6725 Madrid to Chicago O’Hare
- Crowne Plaza O’Hare
- Dealing with Chicago Cold
- Hyatt Regency O’Hare
- More Chicago O’Hare
- BA296 Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow
- Thawing out…
1:00 – Digbeth Coach Station.
With the switch to British Airways, there is an additional bit of nastiness to deal with – and that’s the coach journey over to Heathrow needed. With my normal choice of coach getting in at 6:00 to terminal 5 – that’s a bit tight for a 7:30 departure. I therefore did what I didn’t want to do – and catch the 1:15 special from Digbeth.
So here we are.
I’m getting this packing malarky down to a tea. Or maybe not.
After the local taxi driver getting lost again (and the last Uber disappearing on me), I was back where a lot of my long haul journeys begin.
The joy of the early morning of Digbeth Coach Station
Digbeth is its usual self. At least it’s a lot cleaner than the old bus station and it’s bright and airy. Small mercies.
1:15 coach. I swear I’m getting too old for this game.
With the coach running a bit late, I was glad I booked the early journey. Soon I was aboard the National Express Coach
Of course – there were more than a few lively souls aboard. Whilst in theory this is wonderful, there is an important fact to bear in mind – I had been up since 8am the day before – lets just say I was looking forward to a good hour and a bit’s snooze.
Too late to turn back! Off we go!
Thankfully, the headphones I’m using seem to shield and cancel out most of the annoyances.
As the cleared the Midlands, the chatterboxes died down, and I managed to get a solid hour and a bit between Warwick and Heathrow.
Although the driver wasn’t hell bent on taking the most direct route anywhere (the classic of taking the back road around Birmingham Airport, driving to Terminal 5, then to the Central Terminal Area, before backtracking to Terminal 5.
Heathrow Central Bus station. Still too quiet.
On the plus side, the driver arrived and departed on time, so little mercies as they say.
Arriving at Terminal 5 at 4:10 in the morning – lets be honest, only a couple of things are open. One of those things is a Costa Coffee.
There were plenty of BA staff dropping in and out too – most had the same idea as me it seems..
Coffee. Strong… and lots of it.
Oh yes. Caffeine was needed. In its strong form, and plenty of it. Considering check-in wasn’t due to open till 5am, 50 minutes to sink a large coffee sounded like a good idea.
Watching Terminal 5 at that time of the morning – everyone is equal – doesn’t matter if you’re a first class passenger or an economy class person on the cheapest ticket possible – you’ve got to wait until the check-in counters open.
As 5am neared, the lights came up a bit, and people started queing around check in desks. Myself inculded.
…and if you think I carry too much luggage, this person beats me hands down.
As 5a, came closer, the lights brightened in the terminal, and British Airways agents came out to open their check-in counters.
I took my place in the line, and after a few minutes was seen by an agent. They successfully found my e-ticket and checked me in for both flights – which would make that Madrid transit a tiny bit easier.
With my bags accepted for travel, it was time to deal with security – and at early 5am in the morning, it was done without much fuss.
This sign greeted me afterwards. Free WiFi at Heathrow? What’s the catch? I investigated.
Once through security, it was time for Breakfast… and that means the British Airways First Class lounge
Although I swear this cloud-thing has been broken for months now.
Lounge Stop: British Airways Galleries South First Lounge
Heading into familiar territory, I was greeted by the staff, and blipped through. With that done, it was time to lay claim on a seat, and grab a breakfast bite to eat.
Terminal 5 Galleries First lounge
And of course, stop off for bubbles.
Bubbles! Yes, Bubbles amuse me.
The usual British Airways breakfast spread was available – however it seems that there was no one taking orders at seat. Therefore, it was time to head to the food area.
To-order menu. Shame no-one was around to take an order…
Hot items – all you need to make an English Breakfast… or a heart attack. Or both. I’m not objecting.
I gathered some items along with the bubbles to watch the sun rise and the new day to begin.
I also managed to get a couple of things done before heading off for the plane.
Checking the departure screens I noticed a gate had finally popped up for my flight… and it was A10.
A10 for those who don’t have the pleasure of Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, these are the main bussing gates where BA’s long and short haul flights that need to have passengers bussed go.
Or in other words, the 3rd ring of hell in Heathrow terms. Imagine a modern airport that needs buses left right and centre.
Oh. That’s right – most of Europe’s airports.
I headed out of the lounge and off to the 3rd ring of hell
Heading to the boarding area, once again you’re near the tarmac. Which is nice for spotting purposes.
Boarding was slightly delayed, but eventually the queue started moving. Sadly they were half way boarding the first bus when they realised they boarding everyone… and hurriedly reorganised boarding so that Club Europe and Executive Club members actually got priority boarding.
I was beeped through, and got the final spot on the first bus (which – for Heathrow standards was crammed solid as usual).
The crammed bus drove around the Heathrow complex, popping out at T5C, for a drive around the terminal and finally to the hard stands, and finally parked next to an Airbus A321.
A short wait – and it was time to board the large narrow-body jet to Madrid.
Next: BA458 London Heathrow to Madrid–Barajas Airport
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Nick Burch says
It isn’t very “first class”, but if you want to order food and can’t see anyone, head to the kitchen exit just to the right of the entrance to the lounge, by where the wing with the champagne bar and business centre starts. You’ll be able to very quickly flag someone down who can take your order there.
If not, it’s only another 3500 TPs from Gold to get CCR access where the service is more predictable…