What’s travel like now? Portugal – entry requirements, lounges & sleep pods – Heathrow to Faro in Club Europe

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I am just back from spending a lovely 4 days enjoying the sunshine on the Algarve. Travel seems like a lot of hassle right now, but if you don’t mind spending the money on tests, then actually apart from a bit of form filling, it wasn’t really much bother.

 

Portugal – entry requirements

It’s always best to check the FCDO for the latest requirements for your country that you are travelling to. I also check the country’s main tourist page as well.

For Portugal at the moment it varies by the mainland and then Madeira and the Azores. As I was travelling to the mainland, I’ll just concentrate on that.

To travel to Portugal you need:

I was travelling with BA and they allow you to upload both documents online beforehand (as a photo). This should be available in Manage My Booking once online check-in opens and you get a text also with a link to do it. I was trying to do it on my phone and found that the form timed out and then I couldn’t get back in. So I’d suggest doing the Portuguese form and taking a photo of that and the Covid test before you start trying to fill it in. You don’t have to do it in advance, as I hadn’t done mine, the check-in staff just checked the certificate manually.

I used Express Test again for my pre-departure Covid test. This costs a reasonable £80 and you get the results back next day by 10pm but usually sooner. You can get tests done much cheaper at around £45. However, anything you do by post is more risky and I’d rather use Express test that have their own labs so are less likely to be overwhelmed by other providers needing capacity. When it comes to day 2/8 tests, I’ll take the cheapest. For anything that could cancel your trip, it’s worth a little extra. 

 

Check-in Heathrow – The First Wing

First Wing entrance

My flight was at 8.05am, so I arrived at Heathrow around 5.45am. The terminal understandably was pretty quiet. I headed over to the First Wing which can be used by Gold Cardholders and those travelling in first. Check-in only took a few seconds longer than usual as she had to check my Covid test result. I recommend printing everything as if your phone malfunctions, and you can’t produce it, you won’t be flying! 

Security was empty and I was through in less than 2 minutes. 

 

The lounge and sleep pods

BA First lounge heathrow may 21

BA First lounge Heathrow – empty at 6am

I then went through into the First Lounge before making my way to the Concorde Terrace.

In the First lounge, the current champagne is Baron de Rothschild which used to be served in the Cathay Pacific lounge and is OK. Plus the usual Canard Duchene which is also passable. However, unless you will drink any old fizz, I’d give the Lanson Rose a wide berth!

Champagne Barons de Rothschild NV

Champagne Barons de Rothschild NV (photo thanks to Ben)

The sleep pods were added recently so I decided to have a quick try of one. As you approach the area, there is a big screen showing how many are occupied. The pods also have a red or green light to show whether they are in use.

They are designed for a quick nap, not a full-blown sleep. The instructions are also on the screen outside the area.

I have to say it’s pretty comfortable but being a side sleeper I don’t think I could properly sleep very easily. It also feel quite upright still, even after you have moved it into the optimum position. You can set a timer for anything up to 30 minutes. When the time is up the bed vibrates slightly and then a light comes on. It sounded a lot more exciting in the PR blurb than it was in reality! There was no sign of water to wake me up but then it was very early. You can also plug in headphones to listen to soothing sounds. The lights were a bit bright as the shield on tp does not come down far enough to block it if you have a light in your line of sight. 

The new sleep pod area is where the business centre used to be. Now if you want to work, there is one shared table and a printer near the door to the terrace. Not ideal really as the table looks very cosy if all the seats were occupied!

I then headed off to the CCT for some breakfast and a quick try of the fizz and drinks on offer. First I thought I would try the Bloody Mary bar which had a great list of different versions. I thought I would try the extra spicy one to try and wake myself up. 

Here is the list:

It wasn’t too spicy and I enjoyed my drink.

The service was extremely slow for the first 20 minutes even though there was only 3 tables occupied, so it took a while to get anything at all. Next had a look at the breakfast menu which is the same for the First lounge:

 

I had tried the eggs with smoked salmon so I thought I would try the scrambled eggs with the ham hock as I didn’t fancy anything big. However, it was a fairly substantial portion. Taste-wise the ham made it a little salty for me and I would have preferred larger pieces of ham. There was also some confusion with the order and it was delivered to someone else by mistake. 40 minutes after I entered I eventually got my breakfast and ended up leaving most of it as I had to go to the gate via Travelex to pick up some Euros. 

Whilst I waited for the eggs, I consoled myself with a glass of the lovely Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle which tastes as great as always.

Here is the full drinks list:

 

Boarding

The flight was pretty much full, so the gate was quite busy but I had left it until around 25 minutes before to get there so I managed to find a socially distanced seat and wait. Boarding is done from the back with no priority boarding. Even after waiting quite some time there was still a queue on the jetbridge when I boarded. If you don’t need to worry about finding space for hand luggage, you may as well wait until the end. The new BA branding is beginning to appear everywhere “Welcome back” which I think is a great idea. 

On boarding I was handed a plastic bag with a Dettol wipe – this is BA’s new partnership – but you no longer get hand sanitiser as well. It doesn’t worry me as I always take my own one from Aesop.

I was in 2A on this flight having been turfed out of my row 1 seat for unknown reasons. There was WiFi and a charging point on this A321 Neo but no centre console table. You can of course fold down the middle tray table but this is backward if the person in the window seat wants to get out. 

The WiFi for the whole flight costs £7.99 for the full service, less for messaging only. On both legs of the journey, the WiFi cut out for around 15 minutes of the flight. 

 

The flight

After take-off we were given breakfast which had a choice of the full English, a cheese omelette, or a continental breakfast. Th starter was a plain yogurt with a few bits of fruit and there was also a slightly squashed croissant! The usual range of drinks including champagne was also offered. 

I went for the Continental breakfast which was fine but I was sad to see the hard-boiled egg had gone!

The crew were OK but nothing special and I was offered a top-up of my drinks once during the flight. 

 

Arrival

Being at the front, I made a quick departure into the terminal and was about the 3rd or 4th person to arrive at immigration. They were not interested in the Portuguese form but wanted to see the Covid test. This took around one minute. 

Baggage took around 5  minutes to arrive and then I was free to leave the airport. I usually use FATA/Sunline Transfers as they meet you in the terminal and help with luggage. They don’t have fancy cars, often it’s a minibus. But they are always reasonably priced and ultra-reliable. However, Uber is available and I used Uber Comfort a number of times during the trip. You can use this either when you arrive or by booking in advance. 

 

12 Comments on "What’s travel like now? Portugal – entry requirements, lounges & sleep pods – Heathrow to Faro in Club Europe"

  1. Milko Van Duijl | 30 May 2021 at 7:58 am | Reply

    Michelle, as always a great review. Thanks for sharing. I did the same trip but on the flight at 8.45. I tried to upload my documents but couldn’t find where to do the upload in my bookings and also never received the SMS you referred to. Flight and service and food was pretty good. also immigration at Faro airport was easy. Worth mentioning that it is going to take longer in June as border officials have announced a strike for the month of June.

    • Thanks! Good to hear that my experience was not a one off. Sounds like there are a few teething troubles with the document uploads!

      Fortunately the Portuguese government put a stop to the strikes on Friday!

  2. What would happen if your Covid tests pre departure are positive, either outbound or inbound? Does travel insurance cover the cancelled flights and the cost of the quarantine in Portugal? Will BA allow the flight to be rebooked for free?

    • Many travel insurance companies won’t cover this but a few do. This is the peril of travel right now. Being fully vaccinated and cautious, this is less of a risk for me.

      You need to read policies carefully. A few of the airline free ones may cover this. At the moment everything booked with BA is changeable or you can take a voucher refund.

  3. It is good that you can upload the info to the BA website or App but it might be better to have the option earlier than OLCI opens, in case there are any issues or you need to get something re-done (notwithstanding the 72 hour requirement).

    BTW, the PLF link is broken – I think there is a missing ‘d’ at the end of ‘card’ in the url.

  4. Nope… how much longer will this irritating ‘boarding from rear’ be a thing? I bet BA don’t change it when all restrictions are lifted in June

    • BA have said that they plan to change it in June. I actually don’t mind it on short haul, wouldn’t be so keen on long haul. I’ve been in row 1 three times and had no issue getting space. Basically once it gets to point where my row is next to board I get up so I’m front of the queue. Bit like you would anyway if you are in row 1 and need space for luggage.

  5. So many experienced BA cabin have now gone, it’ll be interesting to see how the service is. Your report is as usual, excellent but disappointing that BA don’t appear to be particularly exceptional. Doesn’t bode well for the future.

    • It was a little like my last trip, way out was OK but coming back much better. Pretty normal for BA – consistently inconsistent.

  6. I’ve heard BA (and probably other airlines) are cheekily making all passengers pay to select seats as part of the Passenger Locator process. Can add a lot to the ticket cost for a couple who choose to pay a Club Europe cash fare… Is that true? Airlines have a passenger roster which indicates where each passenger is sitting…

    • No that’s not true. BA charge for long haul seats if you don’t have status but nothing has changed in the pandemic. You can select seats for free 24 hours before at online check-in except for hand baggage/basic only fares where one is assigned for you. You only have to pay if you want to select a particular seat.

  7. Miles. On point | 31 May 2021 at 6:00 am | Reply

    Champagne update for T5 Galleries First lounge:

    Lanson Rosé is actually “Lanson Extra Age Rosé” (although just listed as ordinary “Lanson Rosé” on the BA digital menu).

    Found it much nicer than the standard Lanson Rosé and went down well with an afternoon tea of finger sandwiches & scones.

    Lanson Extra Old Rosé looks to retail for approx £65-75/bottle

    Unfortunately they had “run out” of Barons de Rothschild when we were there, despite the adverts littered around the lounge…

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