Platform at Alicante station – Photo: Ant Richards
Spain is a proud and mesmerizing nation, perched on the Iberian Peninsula on the southwestern tip of Europe. A country that conjures many festive, passionate, and eye-watering images, as well as its fair share of sometimes erroneous stereotypes. It’s a stretch of land that is as diverse in its geography as its people, cuisine, customs, and its four official languages – yes, contrary to what many believe, there are four main languages and a few offshoots from some of these that are just as official.
Spain is much more than just bullfights, tapas, siestas, soccer, loud neighbors, and flamenco. It is one of the world’s tourist powerhouses, and for good reason. Spain is a country that I tend to visit quite often, for family and other practical reasons; my main destination being Madrid.
On this occasion, however, my Iberian travels took me to Alicante. A coastal city that lies on the Costa Blanca, Alicante is the second largest city in the Comunitat Valenciana, after its capital, Valencia. My final destination would be Calpe.
For the past several months, my husband has pitched the idea of AirlineReporter readers likely being interested in a trip report written by a “normal person” like me. In this case, “normal” is defined as someone who doesn’t choose flights based on the aircraft model, or speak in cabin class codes (e.g. Y, J, M, F). I am not an AvGeek and I am sort of proud of it (although I still love you all).
My husband and I fly together several times a year and, when we do, I am able to piggyback off of his status and occasionally get a free upgrade to business/first for domestic flights. However, the “opportunity” for me to fly long-haul economy eventually arose when I needed to fly from Seattle to Hyderabad, India for work.
British Airways 747 seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport flying to London – Photo: Benjamin Whalen | AirlineReporter
To establish some context, I consider myself to be an experienced economy flier. Before meeting my husband and learning of the world of mileage runners and aviation geekdom, I had several flights between the US and Europe to visit distant relatives, as well as a semester studying abroad where I tried to fly to another city every other weekend. In all of these cases, I only ever flew economy, and have fond memories of being nestled under a blanket and binge-watching in-flight entertainment on a few good-length flights. Even though I didn’t pay much attention to the seat dimensions, I enjoyed flying and viewed it as a chance for peace, quiet, and self-reflection.
However, my flight to and from India was going to be much more rigorous than my previous travels. I had two back-to-back ten-hour flights in British Airways’ economy class, traveling from SEA>LHR>HYD. To top it off, I needed to do the reciprocal leg within five days of my arrival.
This is a pretty slick and thorough video tour of a British Airways Airbus A380. What’s fun about this tour is it not only shares the passenger cabin, but also some of the goodies for the crew, including the flight deck and rest areas.
A British Airways Concorde visits SEA – Photo: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Today, Concorde is no stranger to the Seattle area — there is a British Airways Concorde sitting just south of Seattle at the Museum of Fight. But back in 1984, a Concorde had not yet visited Seattle. That all changed near the end of the year.
It landed at Boeing Field (BFI) first to prepare for a special fundraising flight for the Museum of Flight. The plane arrived with a load of recently bottled Beaujolais nouveau wine and Seattle restaurant owner Mick McHugh along with a few guests. The wine was specially brought to Seattle as quickly as possible to be enjoyed, and what better way than via a Concorde?!
The First Class cabin of a British Airways 747-436 (G-BNLK) – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
The entire reason I ended up in Poland was because my travel thought process doesn’t work like that of a normal person. If I see an enticing airfare, on a new airline or a new product, I tend to book it, then figure out the details later.
In this case, I had discovered that British Airways was offering some reasonable fares in their most recent Prime First product across the Atlantic. Better still, one leg (LHR-ORD) was going to be on a 747. In this case, G-BNLK.
I flew to Heathrow from Seattle aboard a G-VIID, a 777-236ER built in 1997. The only advantages I can point out between it and the 744 are the larger overhead bins and slightly more modern AVOD In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system.
The legs to and from Warsaw were aboard an A320. Club Europe is a bit tight, but the lamb rogan josh was nice. What was not nice was arriving into Terminal 3. The flight arrived early, giving me a two-and-a-half-hour layover. Ample time to change terminals and go to the lounge, right?
Wrong – this is Heathrow! Having to walk half a mile from gate 24 to the transfer bus was the first nuisance. The second was the fifteen minute drive to Terminal 5. This was followed by another aimless walk to the connections desk and finally, Fast Track security. It is “Fast Track” in name only – I was stuck behind at least three passengers who forgot the 3-1-1 rule. Noticing that we were at gate B42, I realized that I would have no time to visit the Concorde Room (British Airways’ first class lounge), which I was really looking forward to.
Boarding was also a little odd. Instead of BA staff looking at IDs, security was inspecting everyone’s travel documents to confirm the ability to enter the United States. Evidently, he was either very suspicious or just slow. I shall stop dwelling on my sub-par airport experience and talk about the aircraft experience, as it was infinitely better.