Off to Heathrow and the Heathrow Experience (Featuring Galleries South Lounge)
To Stuttgart and Schwabisch Hall
In this trip report:
- An Invite to Germany
- Testing and Paperwork
- Off to Heathrow, Terminal 5, and the South Galleries Lounge
- BA920 London Heathrow to Stuttgart (Club Europe)
- The joy of German Immigration, Into Stuttgart and the Novum Hotel Rieker, Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof
- Off to Schwabisch Hall, qubixx stattemitte Hotel
- Economy Class and Beyond at Recaro Aircraft Seating
- Back to Stuttgart and the joy of pigeons
- Off to Stuttgart Airport
- BA921 Stuttgart to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- Welcome to Brexitainia, The Premier Inn Heathrow
- Off Home again
- Innovation is the driver
6:30 am. I forgot this exists
With my first trip in a year, I was quite excited – to the point where I didn’t get much sleep the night before.
But with a light luggage load, I headed outside and to a waiting Uber to get me to Digbeth Coach Station.
There are those Uber drivers who just follow the map – but there are those who know a city – luckily, I had one of those that morning, that got me to Digbeth Coach station on a quick run.
Which was good – as I entered the coach station, the coach to London was boarding.
With a scan of my ticket QR code, I was allowed to board. I also confirmed the stopping pattern of the coach – with the first stop being Finchley Road Station.
That was more than useful, and I put a request in for Finchley Road.
Why? It would allow me to skip a long drive through central London, as well as make a quicker beeline towards Heathrow.
Boarding the coach, I found that National Express still requires face coverings to be worn. That’s a good thing. Compliance, however, yeah. Let’s file that under “moving on”.
Nonetheless, the coach left on time, with the driver making short work of Birmingham City Centre and heading out on the A38M, the M6 and M1.
National Express seating is reasonable depending on the coach – and this coach’s seating has been updated with both normal seating and accessible seating for those who need it.
It was comfortable enough for me to fall asleep around Coventry and wake up coming off the M1 into Brent Cross – not far off Finchley Central.
Sometimes you plan it well. Sometimes it just works out well.
With the coach driving into Finchley, a call was made out. I got my stuff ready, with the coach coming to a stop. I got off the coach, after confirming there was no luggage in the storage areas.
With my bags and me out, I headed to the tube station. The good news – Finchley Road station is over the road. The bad news is… it’s through a pedestrian tunnel.
Time for an early morning walk.
Entering Finchley Road station, I needed to make a quick plan to get to Heathrow. Two ways exist – the Heathrow express, TFL Rail or the tube.
I had time that morning and chose the tube method – which would require a ride to Green Park on the Jubilee Line, transferring to the Piccadilly line down to Heathrow T5.
Well, the cost is always a consideration- and cheap transportation is never a bad thing, even if it takes an hour or so.
Transferring at Green Park is interesting if you’re going between the Jubilee line and Piccadilly Line – look for the tunnel. The mosaics change from Grey to Blue.
Heading down the Piccadilly Line, there was a short wait, an Uxbridge train went out first. A short wait later, a Heathrow T5 train turned up.
Travelling at this time in the morning has one big benefit on a Sunday – near enough no one on the tube. Which in these times is no bad thing (even though TfL requires masks to be worn, let us say compliance can… vary).
For those who have a minor interest, I had cleared Gloucester Road by the time the coach arrived at Victoria station – giving me a good head start compared to taking the coach to Victoria (that would have required a walk to Victoria Underground Station – not a short distance from Victoria Coach station) and a district line train to at least Hammersmith). In comparison – the short walk across Finchley Road had saved a very nice bucket of time.
The Piccadilly line route is well worn with me, with an enjoyable overground bit, before diving back underground at Hounslow west, as the train approached the Heathrow zone.
Arriving at Terminal 5, it was all change. And a case of following the signs.
Thankfully, it is a single elevator ride to the main terminal area.
Welcome back to Terminal 5.
I took a little bit of time in the pre-security area to do a little editing on a webpage, before attempting to present myself at security. Where the machine told me to go away.
I attempted to clear with a person – and document checks were required – it was time to head to a queue.
Ah. The great Heathrow queuing game. I’ve missed this bit. Even in the Club queue, it was a good 20 minutes to be seen.
It seems the airline needed to do a document check (in terms of COVID, certificates and so on). With those cleared, a new boarding pass was issued.
It was time to run the gauntlet again- and I cleared the security beep. It was then time to empty the bags into the security bins and be scanned. Another 5 minutes doing these formalities and I was through to the other side.
There were some formalities I needed to do (such as get some socks and see if there were any decent bargains at Dixons Travel before it goes).
With socks in hand, I headed to the stairs to heaven – or the British Airways Galleries South lounge.
Galleries South Lounge
I headed up the lounge and beeped in. On the way, I said hello to an old fiend.
Upon entering the lounge, I had a task – finding a seat, as it was pretty busy in the south lounge complex. Eventually, I found one near a window and got to the hard task of food and drink.
As part of the COVID measures, the “Help you self” troughs have been replaced with an order by webpage process. Whilst certain things were “help yourself” including soft drinks and water, coffee and tea were at managed hand-out stations.
As for alcohol and food – these had to be ordered through the page. No finger food or packed snacks were available sadly, but the fruit was.
The food quality was… bland to be honest. About what I expect from a BA Lounge if I’m going, to be honest – just pre-portioned now. If you have a larger appetite, the food is more snack-sized, so re-order as needed.
Nonetheless, it was a good place to hang out and watch some aeroplanes taxi by.
As time went on, eventually a call was made for my flight to Stuttgart. I took this as leave to head to the gate, which was underneath the lounge.
Sometimes things work out, and I’m not sent to the punishment zone of A10.
However, delays seemed to be the order of the day, with the aircraft not exactly at the gate.
A few minutes before the stated departure time, a new departure time of 16:15 was given. There was no point in hanging around. I went to the lounge to grab some water and wait out the delay.
Well, what else could I do? If a plane is going to be late, it’s going to be late. No point in crying over spilt milk.
On the other hand, I was glad I decided to stagger my trip to Schwäbisch Hall with an overnight stay in Stuttgart. My original travel estimates were fast heading in the bin.
16:15 came and went, and eventually boarding kicked off. I took my leave of the lounge and headed to the gate. With no priority boarding being enforced at this point of the boarding process, I took my place at the back of the queue.
Eventually, I made the head of the queue, went through the passport and board pass check. With that, it was time to head down the jetway and onto something I haven’t been aboard in a year.
Next: BA920 London Heathrow to Stuttgart – Club Europe.
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