Off to Heathrow and British Airways T5 South Lounge
Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022: Back in Person
- Redemption seats exist for a reason
- Off to LHR, Terminal 5 South Lounge
- BA0974 London Heathrow to Hamburg (Club Europe)
- Into Germany and IBIS Hotel
- What you might have missed from Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022
- What do I get up to on the off-hours? (or “Do you have a life?”)
- Back to Hamburg Airport
- BA0957 Hamburg to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- There’s a coach around here, I swear…
- Innovation continues
Off to Heathrow in the early morning
Whilst I could have gone later in the day, we’ve all seen the extended queues in airports. The polite term for that is “screw that for a game of soldiers”. I’ll take a cheap coach to Heathrow, get in the secure area early and hang in the lounge without being a pain the whatsit.
How cheap? When I booked the ticket – the outbound was only £20 or so. I filed under “good enough” to my bank manager (and after the past few weeks, anything to save extra pennies is welcome -a car service, a boiler going pop and the sofa deciding that its springs aren’t good enough for living).
As for the return, that was more stomach-churning £24. If National Express doesn’t get you one way, they can always get you another way.
With 06:30 coming like an oncoming steamroller, I fell out of bed and into something resembling clothing. With that in the bag, I headed out of the flat, praying to the rideshare gods.
Thankfully, Uber played ball this morning and I had a driver who completed the quick ride to Digbeth Coach Station.
Even though it was early in the morning, it was still nearing midsummer – so the coach station was nice and bright first thing.
In terms of luggage, I would be bringing my usual three-bag situation with me (compressed into two) for the outbound.
There was a short wait when I got to the station, but soon enough, a boarding announcement for the Coach to Heathrow was made.
It was time to get going.
National Express 210 Birmingham Airport to Heathrow Central Bus station.
We all know of my love of National Express and how it can be solved with one simple trick – putting earphones in and zoning out.
And listening to The Divine Comedy’s song (there’s an updated version for those who know).
Although this time, it was a little more difficult. I had managed to score the best seat in the house (behind the wheelchair seat, with the most legroom There would be both a driver and trainer today – so we stood a chance the coach would make Heathrow on time.
And it looked like that at first, with the driver following the instructions, making good time at Birmingham Airport. Except after, the driver followed the wrong sign, and took us north on the M42, rather than south.
With that, it’s a free 15-minute penalty as we go up and down the M42 (almost missing the southbound turnoff for the Motorway).
For some reason, I decided to keep my eyes open, rather than not.
The coach made good progress down to Oxford, with the driver managing to negotiate Oxford City Centre without too many problems. The next problem for the two drivers was the next stop just outside Oxford – which was a park and ride stop.
The driver took a round-about route to get out of Oxford to the outer pickup point, with the driver driving straight past.
Eventually, the coach made its way back onto the M42 before joining Chris Rea’s Road to Hell – the M25. Again, the driver seemed to make good time through this (even trying to make up a little time for the earlier adventure.
That changed when we hit the M4 – which had shrunk down to one lane with a breakdown/accident spanning multiple lanes. Some people were getting a little annoyed at this point, but there’s not a lot you can do when an accident happens.
I say this as the coach managed to pass the accident and peel down the M4 slip road to Heathrow – to run into the traffic jam from hell. To bypass this, the coach took the bus lane – which is fine.
What wasn’t fine was the coach skipping the traffic light at the end of it – nor the scraping sound that could be heard.
You’ve guessed it – the coach driver had managed to scrape another car. Where did we stop? On the roundabout to Heathrow – causing more traffic. This made the coach popular with the Heathrow traffic control, every car stuck in the queues and also everyone on board.
I could have hung on to coach for the extra stop onto Terminal 5 – but I was more than happy to jump off and catch a Heathrow Express or Elizabeth Line service to Terminal 5 by the time it arrived at the Central Bus Station.
With me off the coach safely, it was a matter of following the signs to the train transfer. As usual, I grabbed a free transfer ticket or two and headed for a waiting service to T5.
Did the ticket work in any barrier? Of course not -but I was allowed to pass it.
There was a short wait for a Heathrow Express Train which pulled in for the short ride. I headed aboard it to Terminal 5.
With the train journey being only a few minutes, there’s not too much point in getting comfortable, thus I found a seat a plonked myself down.
Arriving at Terminal 5, I managed to clear the ticket barrier. It was time to head to the lifts.
Popping out at Terminal 5, I heeded up departures and to check-in machine. Whilst I tried to submit the required documents, the BA check-in system bypassed this and let me check in anyway.
I, therefore, went to a machine to confirm all was well – and everything had been accepted for travel.
With the paperwork done, it was time to head to FastTrack security. We’ve had plenty of stories about how bad things have been in terms of queues and such, but at 9:45 – there were no queues to get through security.
Passing through the boarding pass check, there was some mingling of FastTrack and normal passenger queues – enough to slow the fast track down a bit, but at least others could get through at speed.
It took me 10 minutes to get that mess – but eventually, I was through the other side.
Now air-side, I had some minor interest in the new electronics shop that has taken Dixon’s space (not that there was much of interest). With that done, It was time to take a bet. Tradition states no matter which British Airways T5 Lounge I select – I always get the wrong one.
With that poor logic in hand, I chose the South Galleries Lounge.
Hello, old friend.
I was welcomed to the lounge where my next challenge was a hard one – finding a seat.
It seems that travel is back, with the world and its dog taking up most of the nice seats. In the end, I headed to the business centre and based myself there.
In terms of food and beverage, most items have been released from the claws of the staff, with the majority of the items being “help yourself”, except for hot items.
That includes the bubbly, which is no longer controlled, but a free-for-all.
I decided to see what was on the hot menu – again, this is accessed via QR Code and entering the password of the month.
There were some reasonable options, but I went for the pie and mash and Moroccan rice.
Something I did notice in the lounge was a love for the Airbus A380 – it seems it raised more than an eyebrow when the aircraft took off at any time, with people heading to the window to watch the whale of a jet climb gracefully into the sky.
Even though it isn’t the best aircraft on paper – it is an easy way of attracting crowds still.
After a few more drinks and a little typing, I noticed it was closing in on-boarding time. With that, I grabbed my trash and headed to the gate- with the magic number being A9.
One away from my favourite gate at Heathrow Terminal 5
Arriving at the gate, it was pretty busy – as an A319 would be doing the honours to Hamburg today. Listening around, it was a mixture of passengers – some leisure, but a lot heading for the trade show.
Trying to make out the boarding announcements was a challenge – as the announcements were so quiet. Eventually, I heard something along the lines of Group 1 and 2 boarding – and presented myself at the gate.
My boarding pass was validated, with no further documentation check required. With that, I headed down the jetbridge and towards the aircraft.
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