I was only in transit at London Heathrow but had plenty of time before the departure of my connecting flight. Check-in was done at the departure airport so I already had a boarding pass for the flight.
All international transfer passengers have to pass through transit security at Heathrow and the area was packed when I arrived. Fortunately as a gold card holder with British Airways I was allowed to use the fast track channel with two separate checkpoints. The fast track was by no means fast either, but at least it was slightly better than the regular lines.
The next stop was the British Airways Galleries First lounge in terminal 5 for some late lunch, again accessible as a British Airways Gold cardholder. In the restaurant section there is a limited a carte menu to order from, possibly the most famous dish is the BA Burger which I have tried in the past. Quite tasty. This time I went for some of the dishes in the self-service buffet instead.
The Galleries First lounge at terminal 5 is an interesting concept. It is a first class lounge, but all passengers who actually fly first class with British Airways are directed to the Concorde Room right opposite. This rather makes the lounge an Emerald lounge, or perhaps a platinum lounge in more common terms. It must be the only lounge in the world for the very top-tier passengers, not available for mainstream gold card holders (or Sapphires, at they are called in OneWorld) but not being the dedicated first class lounge either.
Overall I like this lounge. The selection of food and drinks is excellent, the staff are friendly and I just love those huge armchairs.
Another nice feature of the lounge is the champagne bar with Taittinger white and pink champagne available for self service. And in a proper champagne bar, in a separate room from the rest of the lounge with comfortable sofas to relax.
London Heathrow-Stockholm Arlanda
British Airways flight BA 786
As always at Heathrow the gate was not shown on the screens until 45 minutes before departure. I am not sure if this is because of operational issues or the fact that they want the passengers to spend as much time as possible shopping and eating in the transit hall. Perhaps a combination.
Gate A20 in the main terminal building was used for the evening flight to Stockholm, with proper priority boarding to the right of the podium for passengers in business class as well as passengers with a One World Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald card.
If you actually read the sign properly they are actually supposed to offer the priority boarding in the order mentioned of the sign, which in the case of an intra-European flight should mean business class passengers first and then status passengers in descending order of tier level. I wonder if they ever do this.
Boarding started 25 minutes before departure and being able to use the priority channel I was one of the first passengers onboard. British newspapers were available from a stand at the gate, free for all passengers.
I had been assigned seat 04D. Indeed I had not chosen but been assigned that seat as I was travelling on a hand-baggage only fare where you are not allowed to choose a seat yourself without having to pay, even as a gold card holder. However my experience is that they are quite good at assigning seats, looking at the seat preference indicated on the profile page. I had indicated a preference for an aisle seat and was assigned one, and even better, on the first row of economy class. It also turned out the load was quite light and that I got my own row.
The Airbus A320 had the new intra-Europe cabin interior onboard. I think the design and the colours are rather attractive, actually better than before. But the seats are harder and there is slightly less legroom.
Punctual departure from the airport with an estimated flight time of two hours and ten minutes to Stockholm.
The takeoff was made towards the east with a lovely evening view of downtown London, the Thames and later Docklands and Canary Wharf before leaving the United Kingdom.
Food and drinks
As soon as we reached cruising altitude the inflight service started, which is free to all passengers on British Airways flights, also in economy class. A small pasta salad was handed out and afterwards drinks were offered.
They are surely very generous with the drink servings on British Airways. I asked for a gin and tonic to drink and they proactively handed me a double, with a big smile. Certainly enough to keep me satisfied for the rest of the flight. I also asked for a glass of water and a cup of coffee.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. The very light load in both economy class and business class made the work easy for the cabin crew. They did not do any more drink rounds in economy class but you could always press the call button or simply walk yourself to the aft gallery to order a refill or anything else from the drinks cart.
The service was friendly and correct, with a smile, but nothing out of the ordinary on this flight. No special recognition of me as a gold card holder. But they are surely very generous with the drinks.
Punctual landing also in Stockholm. British Airways uses terminal 2 at the airport, the smaller of the two international terminals, which usually means shorter walking distances, shorter queues and less waiting time. Sitting on the first row of economy class I was one of the first passengers to reach passport control and with only hand luggage I could leave the airport within minutes of landing.
A generous inflight service for an intra-European flights with both a complimentary snack and plenty of drinks. Friendly service, nice cabin interior and I do like the Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow terminal 5.