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Your COVID-19 travel experiences on BA: Q3 2020

Your COVID-19 travel experiences on BA: Q3 2020

Old Jul 14, 20, 2:24 pm
  #1  
Moderator, Iberia Airlines, Airport Lounges, and Ambassador, British Airways Executive Club
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Your COVID-19 travel experiences on BA: Q3 2020

At the suggestion of rockflyertalk

We have a number of threads with specific information and a BA Covid-19 Dashboard on topics such as :
Heathrow T5
Lounges
Car-parking
Food and drink in the air
Impact on BAEC membership
Self isolation and Passenger Locator Forms
and several going through flight changes for July onwards, detailed in the Dashboard link above.

But none which give the general impressions and experiences of people flying at the moment - what has changed, what is better, what is worse. So to help those limbering up to resuming their flying, or indeed to confirm the view it's best to give it a miss at the moment, please feel free to put down your first hand experiences of flying as of (say) 1 July onwards.

[And by way of a reminder to all UK residents returning home, or indeed to visitors to the UK, you need to fill in and show a printed or screen copy of the Passenger Locator Form even if your travel is from countries exempt from the 14 day self isolation requirement. This needs to be submitted 48 hours or less from arrival in the UK.]
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Old Jul 14, 20, 2:26 pm
  #2  
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I don't think it's much of a secret that I have been continuing to fly throughout the pandemic. The worst period was mid April when on one day there was a single short haul service and just 12 long haul departures from T5 instead of the usual 400 or so flights. It really did look and feel like an unimaginable disaster had hit London. With all except 3 shops in T5 closed, the word terminal had a dual meaning, and was depressingly dank, not helped by the echoes and long dark shadows from the inadequate lighting. The shops actually provide a lot of the lighting needed for T5.

Having said that, the flying experience itself was strangely stress-free - fast security, with agents having the time to help and chat with passengers; plenty of empty seats in the terminal and plenty of space onboard. The back-to-front boarding process was quick and civilised. Onboard there wasn't much talking or much anything, everyone was respectful of the seriousness of the situation. For the cabin crew - their own futures in complete turmoil - pressed the button marked meximum professionalism. Flights left early, arrived very early, no danger of aviation congestion.

Some passengers started wearing face masks from mid April onwards, and by mid May they were fairly ubiquitous - even if the designs were anything but. There would sometimes be a passenger or two in full PPE equipment, from head to toe. We all learnt to respect everyone else's approach to travel, and carry on. Different countries, different rules, temperature checks, forms, forms on board, forms at airports, forms online. Big signs telling you about forms, and staff asking for forms.

Since 1 July things have improved in terms of passenger numbers, there was a definite uptick on 4 July when it seemed passenger numbers tripled overnight. And some signs of optimism. The opening of the Heathrow lounges on 4 July was a big step, and the lounge offering was in some ways superior to the previous set up, it's certainly more relaxing. The First Wing re-opened on 6 July and with still a reatively low number of passengers it was about as good an experience that airport security can ever be. We arrive in different places, some where life is more "normal" than the UK, other places with severe problems of their own.

Our ability to adjust, our ability to adapt. These matter more than ever right now, and for these particular journeys, we perhaps need to be mindful that they can take place at different paces. Some can take to the air now, others will have to wait. Some will be shielding, some will have medical conditions which make adaption trickier than most. But one day we can imagine a day when we can all arrive.
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Old Jul 14, 20, 3:24 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
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Thank you as always to you (CWS) and the mods for continuous efforts and dedication throughout these unprecedented times. I hope this well constructed and useful thread helps, supports and like most of FT, gives a better insight into this new period of flying with BA.

Safe travels to all but more importantly stay healthy and hopefully support everyone else in doing the same.
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Old Jul 14, 20, 3:28 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2020
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Whilst I appreciate this is slightly OT, I feel this thread is reflective of the effort C-W-S and others have put in to updating us all on the hugely fast-changing situation over the past few months.

As a long time lurker, the oracle-like info and guidance that has been provided has been almost indescribably invaluable, so thank you so much to all, there are far more people beyond this immediate community who benefit.

Getting back onto topic, I can only agree with the assessment of T5 during April. Going from a normal (ish) day in March with a travel experience to EDI the same as it had been 100 times before, to one which resembled that which would occur in a nuclear holocaust just one week later was sobering.

I have an ungodly amount of anticipation for my next flight later this month, I shall be joyously gazing at the horse lamp in GF!!
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Old Jul 15, 20, 2:18 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Rlbh99 View Post
I have an ungodly amount of anticipation for my next flight later this month, I shall be joyously gazing at the horse lamp in GF!!
Just to welcome you Rlbh99 to Flyertalk and to welcome you to the BA forum, I hope that we will see more of you in the future. I hope plenty of happy and safe flying lies ahead.
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Old Jul 15, 20, 2:35 am
  #6  
 
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Thanks for the clear answer a few posts up CWS, something I clearly can agree with. I flew back into London in May and can vouch for your experience. The process at the airport I flew from was smooth; all staff and passengers at the airport and in the aircraft wore face masks, clear security measures across the airport and plenty of social distance measures. Back at Heathrow I went through the whole arrival process smoothly but one thing did not change, I made my tube back into London within a minute. The tube however was empty, which isn't that occasional usually.
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Old Jul 15, 20, 3:46 am
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I flew to Amsterdam last week.

I can only echo the comments about the Galleries First lounge; they've done an excellent job of making it good as they possibly can in the circumstances. Very friendly staff, keen to see if you wanted anything and all seemed very organised. It will be interesting to see what happens when things get busier! Hopefully they can expand the menu to include some of the old GF breakfast menu choices such as a Eggs Benedict etc in the future.

I would say boarding was a bit more chaotic.. the gate areas are not really set up for boarding by big chunks of rows; or maybe that should be the customers aren't! It does require some self-policing, but they were turning away people who tried to board before their row.. and of course no priority boarding for anyone. I was trying to avoid handing over my phone (boarding pass) and my passport, but the agent took my phone to scan and then touched my passport. To that end I would take some wipes and sanitiser if you are concerned by the cross-handling of several hundred devices!

After boarding we were advised the aircraft had been sanitised, to wear masks at all times and avoid walking around the cabin. I was in ET, so got my 'free' bottle of water, crisps and mini pretzels.. the latter of which was washed down with a glass of wine at home last weekend. Other than that it was just a typical BA flight.

After arrival there were more announcements telling us to stay sat down until are rows were called, although I feel they announced the rows too quickly and it just ended up like a typical flight.

For those interested, I have a FlyerTalk trip report write up below.. and also a video of the experience:

Flying after lockdown: LHR-AMS on the BA B787-8 in Euro Traveller!

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Old Jul 15, 20, 6:50 am
  #8  
 
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This thread will be great help for us. Haven't traveled since end Feb and are in the UK. We are going to fly out in the next two weeks, probably just UK domestic initially, just to see how things go, a bit like a practice run! . But the urge to fly is now too powerful. I suppose an addict!

We got a flight to the USA end september that we have to take, so people's experiences here really appreciated!
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Old Jul 15, 20, 1:35 pm
  #9  
 
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Smile

Since July 4, I have done two departures from LHR, my first since March! Oh how I have missed travelling...

July 5: LHR - BCN @ 14:20. Seemed a little ghost like and the CCT was not at all busy, no First Wing security but standard security was quick, plus I wanted to go to Boots. They were certainly still adjusting the CCT in terms of layout and procedure. Onboard CE there were four of us and I never ran out of bubbles. BA exceeded my expectations with the lounge opening, to the extent I emailed the GGL team to pass on my thanks and congratulations.

July 12: LHR - BLQ @ 14:50. Noticeably busier even though about the same time of day. I got my temperature checked in Zone F and then checked in at the First Wing. Agent saw I had my declaration so took my word that I'd also had my temperature done. Needed to go to Boots again, so used standard security, which was quicker than last time with all four sections used to put your bags on the belts. CCT was very busy and the staff did not seem to be coping. I was in ET on this flight and there was an issue with the cargo door closing, so a late departure. I had a big night before, plus LPGS in the CCT (just self poured in the end) that I fell asleep until the descent for BLQ.

All up, I am very happy to be travelling again and have felt safe doing so in Spain and Italy. Next trip is Sardinia at the end of the month for a week and I am already looking forward to it!
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Old Jul 15, 20, 1:39 pm
  #10  
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So to bullet point how the experience has changed, and trying to put my pre-Covid-19 mindset on:

In the "not so good" category generally (some are subjective)
- low number of flights, at unusual times in many cases
- connections now poorer or perhaps very long in duration
- Gatwick badly truncated service from the North Terminal, other airports with very limited services or none at all
- some fares very low, some fares very high
- travellers need to check carefully the admission policies for their destination
- UK arriving passengers need to do a Passenger Locator Form and have it available for inspection
- face coverings now mandatory, with some exceptions, and well followed on the whole
- temperature checks for some destinations
- shoes off at LHR security (but not at the other UK airports)
- you best print out your travel schedule - some airports are checking that people are bona fide travellers as they enter the building
- airports are not operating all shops and services, but slowly that's improving
- catering on board is drastically different, and generally worse
- plastic cups, indeed plastic everywhere
- no special meals other than vegetarian.
- CCR is closed (and has lost some of its artwork)
- reduced HEX service
- Most other lounges still closed, though more should open in the next 2-3 weeks
- some routes have restricted overhead luggage restrictions, viz. Italy and Turkey, but apparently Italy is reverting to allowing normal operations here
- travel insurance is available but needs a lot of homework to see what cover you have

Some things haven't changed too much
- The First Wing is fully operational
- The Galleries Club and First lounges are working differently - no buffet but via app ordering - but arguably better than before
- The professionalism of the crews and ground staff has not changed
- drinks service in Club Europe.
- loungewear in First and amenity kits in other cabins still handed out, White bedding in First and Club too.
- IFE more or less the same, though there haven't been many new movies added since March 2020.

Some things are different
- Concorde Terrace (CCT)
- no alcohol service in EuroTraveller (it is available on long haul services though)
- Club Kitchen has fewer items but is well stocked

Some things arguably have improved
- aircraft are squeaky clean on the whole
- less congestion at airports, fewer travellers,
- boarding arrangements are more civilised (in my view)
- generally getting into and out of airports is slicker than normal, particularly if HBO
- fewer space issues in the overheads
- TfL Rail service now runs Paddington to T5 twice an hour
- replacement of Buy on Board with a snack bag in Eurotraveller
- Hand sanitiser and wipe handed out on board
- BA has come up with a travel insurance solution which is more suitable than many on the market
- two inaugurals, Pristina, and Newquay coming up. NQY is staying daily too.
- subjectively, passengers seem very grateful to have the ability to travel and are acting more considerately.

Last edited by corporate-wage-slave; Jul 15, 20 at 2:56 pm
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Old Jul 15, 20, 2:16 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
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How are the temperature checks done? Good that they are finally doing them but what would happen if someone had been running from the tube for example if they were late and had worked up a sweat?

I remember an occasion where the Piccadilly line had big delays and I had to run. I was really hot and sweating by the time I reached security.

Are you refused travel or do they let you “cool down” and then take the temperature again ? Also, some people are generally warm, how do they distinguish between that and a possible Covid symptom?
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Old Jul 15, 20, 2:33 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
....
- no alcohol service in EuroTraveller (it is available on long haul services though)
....

not our recent experience where we got offered champagne in ET to wash down our bag of crisps 😁
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Old Jul 15, 20, 11:30 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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One thing I have wondered is eating and drinking on board and the mask issue.

My OH is paranoid and am having to persuade to travel

I was trying to persuade to just wear a higher protection mask and not take off throughout the whole flight

What are current travellers experience of people keeping their masks on for most of the flight?
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Old Jul 15, 20, 11:46 pm
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Originally Posted by allturnleft View Post
One thing I have wondered is eating and drinking on board and the mask issue.

My OH is paranoid and am having to persuade to travel

I was trying to persuade to just wear a higher protection mask and not take off throughout the whole flight

What are current travellers experience of people keeping their masks on for most of the flight?
I can only give 2 flights experience, in both people were sat down, didn't move unnecessarily. Obviously people took masks off to eat and drink including us, but otherwise from what we could see getting on and getting off (and of course it's not easy to see if you are sat down) people stayed masked.
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Old Jul 16, 20, 3:04 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
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My experiences have been positive, albeit very different from normal. Returned from SAN to LHR (via LAX) just for 2 days in March for a job interview (didn't get it), nightmare timing: unable to re-enter the US and hence grounded in UK (at home under the BHD flight path) for the foreseeable future. Likely that was my last flight on a 747: a grand dame with many stories to tell, but now well past its use-by date.

At pandemic peak, had to do one QR J (LHR/DOH) and F (DOH to another gulf destination). Q-suites, blissful as always, albeit with altered meal service. But still light years ahead of BA's non-catering service at that time, the hard working QR FAs were not yet in space suits. BTW, if you've never been in the ladies loo in the QR First Class lounge in DOH, you haven't lived. Its mirrors put the hall of mirrors at Versailles to shame. And the free wooden-backed hairbrushes therein are even better than the free white/grey toothbrushes with 10mg of Colgate.

Fast forward to mid June when a colleague, a doctor, needed to reach elderly ill mother at home in Florence urgently. Frequent cancellations rendered the usual quick flight impossible. As a confident wrong-side-of-the-road driver (by which I mean driving a right hand drive car on the right hand side of the road) and having had COVID already (so risk was low) I offered to share the driving, with my flying straight back. To start, I flew BHD/LHR on EI as BA not yet back on that route. The EI soft product isn't great but is perfectly adequate and it makes little difference on a 52 minute flight. Masks all round, social distancing (and no lounge at BHD). T2 deserted but nonetheless, a faff to transfer from T2 to T5 via Heathrow Express as there was a much reduced schedule. Picked up by colleague at the "drop off only" area, outside check-in at T5. Security and parking staff turned a blind eye to the obvious pick-up, not unreasonably as that area and indeed all of T5 was deserted. Drove from "drop off only" area of T5, LHR straight to ill mother in Florence: around 40 hours driving. (Easy driving all the way, with normality returning as we headed south. South of the Stelvio Pass everything was pretty normal.) Left colleague with mother, I took (fast, clean socially distanced) train from Florence to FCO, then BA FCO/LHR. Experienced BA cabin crew who clearly knew the ropes, CE much fuller than expected, ET seemed around 20 per cent full. Very minor catering mishap (see my earlier post about crisps). Another faff on arrival at T5, as FCO check-in staff had incorrectly advised that the health form is not required for passengers in transit to DUB (as I was). This wasn't the Dublin dodge (i.e. entering the UK via Dublin and drive north), This was simply my having to fly to DUB as there was, allegedly, no space on the one EI LHR/BHD flight (and as it was EI operated, no chance of a seat opening up for a gold member). Only one UK border officer on duty at the transfer area of T5 (by now, we're in last week of June). Thankfully he was English-Spanish bilingual himself and was manfully managing (whoops - that's too close to a split infinitive) a steady flow of incorrectly advised passengers from assorted destinations, calling for back-up on his radio from time to time, in vein. Slow and painful but not unreasonable in the circumstances.

Next, should have been EI LHR/DUB (BA still not back on LHR/BHD and allegedly no space on the one EI LHR/BHD that Friday evening) but EI found a seat and kindly put me on EI LHR/BHD instead of LHR/DUB. A full EI flight, during the boarding for which I got sent to the naughty corner for missing my boarding row and attempting to perpetrate the crime of boarding with the row ahead of me. (The naughty corner, incidentally, required one to wait until all had boarded and then walk past the others already seated, thereby increasing contact with them.)

A week later, BA - and me - back on the BHD/LHR route. All (new) normal with experienced (mixed fleet) crew, still no lounge, catering in CE is the brown paper bag and in ET and transparent bag of crisps, biscuits and water. Finally, a quick BRS/BFS on Easyjet a few days ago. Mea Culpa. If BRS at 5am is your thing (there's a first time for everything and this was mine), it seemed passable to me. Then home on the Translink bus and train: masks all round, and as usual, no fare collected by the train conductor because the mobile ticket machine wasn't working - somethings never change. I'll return to SAN as soon as I can but for now, that's my lockdown flying diary. Elderly ill mother now back in reasonable shape.
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