Date: January 6, 2018
Flight No.: BA697
Route: Vienna International to London Heathrow
Airline: British Airways
Type: Airbus A320-200
After spending a couple of weeks at my home in Slovakia, it was time to fly back to Japan. My routing was as follows: Vienna – London – Milan – Barcelona – Milan – London – Tokyo. The two reasons it turned out like this were the fact that I wanted to collect four British Airways segments along the way and had an unplanned meeting to attend in Spain.
The first of those flights – from Vienna to London Heathrow – was onboard a British Airways Airbus A320. And, it was also the first flight of 2018 for me.
Baggage Drop-Off and a Bit of Planespotting
Since the flight was scheduled to depart at 12:15PM, I arrived at the airport just after 10AM and headed straight to the baggage drop-off counter.
While there were two groups of passengers in front of me, it still took less than ten minutes to get processed. And, that included getting my luggage tag reissued as I wanted to collect it once in London rather than having it checked all the way through to Milan which was the destination of my first ticket.
With boarding passes for both the flight to London as well as the flight from London to Milan the next morning in my hand, I headed to a restaurant that overlooks part of the apron. Besides chatting with my family, I enjoyed watching the traffic outside.
Boarding the British Airways Flight to London
I left the restaurant shortly after 11AM, and headed through the automated boarding pass check to the airside area. There, I went to the Air Lounge which I reviewed before and which is part of the Priority Pass network to have a quick bite to eat.
Since security check at Vienna is done at each gate (or group of gates) separately, I headed out of the lounge around 11:20AM with plenty of time to spare. About ten minutes later, I found myself at gate D65 – a bus gate – where priority boarding for the flight was just starting.
Some minutes later, all passengers were invited to board, and – after waiting in the line for a couple more minutes – I made it onto the second bus headed to the aircraft. As it was possible to board both using the front and back stairs, I took the longer way – and boarded from the back.
Departing Vienna Onboard a British Airways A320-200
The boarding was completed at noon, and it was followed by a welcome by the captain. Among other things, she mentioned that our departure would be a few minutes late due to slot delay. And, she also mentioned the expected flight time of 1 hour and 59 minutes, as well as the fact that the engines would be started in about fifteen minutes.
A couple of minutes back, she followed with:
I heard from the crew that a lot of you think I said we would be delayed fifty-five minutes. Just to make sure, I said fifteen. And, because of the [short] flight time we should be arriving at Heathrow very close to on schedule.
At 12:07PM, the cabin crew closed the aircraft doors, and the safety video featuring celebrities was played on the overhead screens.
It took another ten or so minutes until the engines were started. Then, we taxied out – and, at 12:33PM we took off from Vienna airport’s runway 29.
British Airways’ Intra-European Onboard Service
The seatbelt sign was switched off less than five minutes after take-off, and around the same time an announcement was made that in-flight shopping would be commencing soon and that landing cards would be distributed to citizens of non-EU countries.
Even though I had no intention of buying anything, I took a quick look into the seat pocket. Besides the usual in-flight magazine, menu, and shopping catalog, it also included a “Business Life” magazine that I enjoyed reading.
As far as British Airways’ menu, a while ago it eliminated its free offerings on short-haul flights – and instead decided to offer buy-on-board items by Marks & Spencer.
The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful – except for the crew going down the aisle collecting donations for the charity mentioned in the safety video.
Holding Around and Arriving at London Heathrow Airport
Shortly after 2PM Austria time – or 1 PM London time – we crossed the Channel and reached the United Kingdom.
Then, we circled in a holding pattern for a while before the captain announced at 2:40PM that we would be landing in ten minutes. At the same time, the overhead screens were stowed and the seatbelt signs were switched on.
The gear was lowered at 1:47PM, and two minutes later, we landed on Heathrow’s runway 9L in a strong crosswind. It took us another seventeen minutes until we reached our parking gate at 2:06PM – about twenty minutes behind schedule.
It took another forty-five minutes until getting out of the aircraft, through the immigration and on my way to hotel.
British Airways A320 Intra-European Economy Class Summary
Given the elimination of free food and drinks on intra-European flight, the onboard service that British Airways provides on its short-haul flights is no different from its low-cost counterparts.
As such, the decision as to whether you should pick the airline or not will eventually come down to the price. And, in case you happen to be or aim to be a oneworld status holder, it will also depend on the perks you might get or forego depending on your choice.