Today’s entry for the TLFL reader review competition is from Simon. This was from a few weeks ago so queues have eased a little at Heathrow, but I expect it to pick up again for the next 10 days until the schools go back.
I thought it may be useful to share our recent experiences with you- being lucky enough to have spent three of the last four weekends away travelling BA to and from Heathrow – and on one occasion arriving back at Gatwick. We have flown Club Europe each time. I understand that everyone’s experiences at the moment differ widely- from the nightmare scenarios repeated ad nauseum in the Daily Mail, to others having a totally normal flight and airport encounter.
Anyway… here are my tips for fellow TLFL readers….
- Check-in online or via the app. Some flights are well overbooked at the moment- they will find any excuses to take you off the plane if it’s full. I doubt they would do that with Club or status pax. I don’t understand why BA don’t offer a financial incentive like North American airlines to find off-loading volunteers?
- Be inventive with your booking! Flights are so expensive at the moment. When looking at our flights to Berlin we were quoted an eye-watering £1100 return (out Friday/ back Monday). A simple multi-city search on BA.com reduced our flight to £425 flying in to Hamburg and back from Berlin.Yes- I know that’s not suitable for everyone (maybe for business expenses!) but we landed in Hamburg at 10am- had a great lunch (and beer!) and caught the super fast train to Berlin for £15 each!. We also did the same for our trip to Italy- flew in to Milan and out of Turin- a 45minute express train again! It’s worth noting that nearly all European railway company’s are doing a 2-4-1 offer at the moment which makes this a great idea for the leisure traveller. It didn’t work for Mallorca though!
- Get an AirTag/ Tile or similar if you’re checking luggage in….(see our tips here)
- …. But if you can avoid it don’t check luggage in! The waits and sights I have seen in luggage halls over the past four weeks resemble hell! (see our tips here)
- Passport control. Unavoidable and you’ve seen it in the press! It’s horrid, here’s my timings:
- Amsterdam 45 minutes (missed the start of the cricket!)
- Milan 35 minutes
- Hamburg 50 minutes- and we actually beat the German passport queue on this one!
- Gatwick 1 hour 30 minutes- 2 staff on, e-gates failed- still angry.
- Heathrow e-gates working- 5 minutes
- Mallorca – 5 minutes due to the sheer number of arriving passengers they opened the largest bank of e-gates I have ever seen WHICH also accepted UK passports!
I mention this because most European airports don’t let UK passports through e-gates as you now need a stamp. Obviously, the Spanish authorities in Mallorca have realised that 2000 Brits desperate for a drink are best quickly let through to fill the tills in Maga!
- I could finish my list by saying “keep calm”, “don’t get mad”, “Brexit…” etc, etc … but you will all tell me off! Hopefully one day it will all get back to normal!
And really finally-if you do find yourself having the opportunity to visit Turin -do! It’s often by-passed for the other Italian cities but we loved it. Quieter than others, but with big museums (largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside Egypt) great cafes/ bars and restaurants.
It’s well-known for being the location for “The Italian Job” which leads me in to my hotel find for 2022- the Double Tree Lingotto. £97 per night. Based in the old Fiat factory, 10 minutes on the tube from central Turin. ‘Eatery’- the Italian marketplace dining hall is next door.
The rooms are huge, the highest ceilings and windows ever.
It’s based in the old gear-box factory, overlooking the old factory with the racetrack on the roof- which you can actually walk round!!! Cue the music… #da-da-dah-di-dah-dah-di-da-didah!#