When I started my job three and a half years ago, I defaulted to flying British Airways because other colleagues did. However after getting rapidly tired of being put on a creaky old 747 for the trip to Boston and back, I switched to Virgin with their nicer planes, better in-flight entertainment, and overall better quality of service.
I’ve not flown BA since this time last year, when I hopped over to Italy. On that occasion, we were delayed by 60 minutes whilst sat on the tarmac …
This time, I was off to Dublin for a week, on business. Heathrow Terminal 5 really is quite a nice place to depart from, especially compared to the slightly long-in-the-tooth Terminal 3. I was pleasantly surprised to find that BA now have self-check baggage terminals.
They are, or at least they were until my terminal printed my baggage tag, and then Internet Explorer (yep, I know …) promptly crashed. Guess what ran the check-in software?
So after being manually checked in and going through security (which took longer than it should, because despite not telling people they wanted iPads out of the bag, they wanted iPads out of the bag, which meant waiting for my bag and iPad to be swabbed for Terrorist Juice), I get air-side to find that my barely one and a half hour flight is delayed … by one hour.
Once we were actually on the plane, the Captain informed us that the cabin was brutally hot (this was at the start of Britain’s recent “heatwave”) because the air conditioning unit that they use on the ground pre-engine start was found to be “unserviceable”, and we would have to wait until the engines started for the proper AC to kick in.
In comparison, my flights between LHR and JFK on Virgin Atlantic two weeks ago were flawless in every way. In fact, I’ve flown with Virgin Atlantic on five return trips since October, and none of them have been particularly problematic*.
If nothing else, I’m glad I made the right decision a few years back. I’m writing this in the Executive Lounge of Dublin’s Terminal 1, waiting for my 20:40 flight home, so let’s hope that’s a bit more uneventful, and a bit more on time.
*One small pointer; if you’re flying LHR to JFK, make sure you pick the flights that run on their 787 Dreamliner, and not the old A340 (the website will tell you what planes are in use for each flight). The entertainment system on the A340 is dodgy as hell, requires frequent reboots, and the cabin crew often resort to handing out iPads instead.