It’s Tuesday evening and after a day travelling up the region from home in Stockton to Newcastle Airport, it’s time to relax in the sanctuary of British Airways’ Executive lounge with a glass of orange juice!
Today is day one of 10 days travelling, covering thousands of miles. Travelling is something I do for fun, and indeed it’s a bug I got early in life from my parents who used to take us on regular holidays! It’s what has earned me my ‘Silver’ frequent flyer status with BA, allowing me to access their lounges whenever I fly with them, a perk worth having if you like a quiet corner to relax.
So I’ll tell you a bit about my trip over the next ten days or so, well actually it’s two trips split by a weekend at home. The first is spread over 4 days primarily to try out BA’s new ‘Club suite’ on their brand new A350 introduced to the fleet just this week. They are operating ‘training’ flights on the Heathrow to Madrid route for the first month whilst crew get used to the new aircraft – before it goes on to the long haul network, where its first few routes have been announced as Toronto, Dubai and Bangalore.
I am also testing out a Chinese airline called Sichuan Airlines who operate one of numerous ‘fifth freedom’ routes where a long haul airline serves two cities with the same flight, and carries passengers between the two closer cities, effectively filling what would otherwise be empty seats on the shorter flight. This one runs between Prague and Zurich, although this part of the route is due to be withdrawn from 24th August so it was really ‘now or never’ for me to catch them. I’m also trying Hainan Airlines later next week so it will be interesting to compare the two. More on that later.
Of course flying both of these routes means a fair bit of positioning needs to be done, and my first flight of seven on this trip sees me on my regular shuttle from Newcastle to Heathrow. This must be my most frequently flown route, definitely in the last few years. It is a shame we don’t have a route to Heathrow – or even London – from my local airport at Teesside, but I understand the mayor is working on it!
British Airways operate up to six flights per day between Newcastle and Heathrow. It’s very popular with business travellers as well as passengers able to connect onwards to hundreds of destinations around the world. Today I’m on the last southbound flight of the day the BA1337, departure time 2015. It’s operated by the biggest aircraft in the short haul fleet the Airbus A321 with 206 seats, which are required as it operates the very popular evening peak 1815 departure from Heathrow which is often full! Tonight’s aircraft is G-EUXH for the short flight down to London.
It was a pretty quick flight down to London this evening – Flying time just 49 minutes which is competitive with the northbound timings. Normally holding before landing at Heathrow extends this but one perk of flying late in the day is the lack of holding. Departure from Newcastle was 2048, landing at Heathrow 2137.
Signing off now as I wait for my bag as I’m back here at Terminal 5 in around 8 hours for the next leg of my travels!