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Lazy Weekend in Lyon: British Airways First Class and the Ghost Terminal at Heathrow

Thanks to our changed flights, we departed from Boston at 7:45 PM instead of 3:00 PM, which was great because we got to spend a few extra hours with our daughter. After saying our goodbyes, we made our way to the airport by around 6:00 PM.

Tuna carpaccio in the British Airways First Class Lounge Boston
Tuna carpaccio in the British Airways First Class Lounge Boston

Since we slept for most of the flight, I’ll only touch upon British Airways first class in brief here (and go into some more detail for the return). The executive summary is that despite some quirky design choices it’s a really nice first class product that I’d be happy flying more often if there weren’t any fuel surcharges. But alas, there are.

After checking in at the airport, we made our way to the British Airways First Class lounge in Terminal E. The First and Business class lounges are in the same place, you turn right for first and left for business. Both lounges have separate dining areas that are enclosed in iron bars like prisons, and both were super crowded – so not the most peaceful experience.

Corn starchy New England Clam Chowder. Still drank it all tho
Corn starchy New England Clam Chowder. Still drank it all tho

Jess and I sat in the dining room and took a preflight meal. Jess had salad and some pasta while I got tuna carpaccio, clam chowder, and a salad. The food was fine, nothing amazing and the chowder had too much corn starch, but it was still nice to get dinner out of the way so I could rest more on the plane. Still…the prison bars…who designed this!?

Seriously...this jail
Seriously…this jail

There was a short delay but the lounge informed us when the plane was starting to board. Of course, when that happened about thirty people lined up by the elevators (the lounges in Boston are all down a level), so we had to wait for awhile. The gate was also a mess, since all elites, first, and business board through the same lane. I thought it was just a Boston thing but in London they boarded all those groups at the same time so it might be a British Airways thing? I dunno.

The ottoman doubles as a companion seat
The ottoman doubles as a companion seat

We took our seats, 1K and 2F. I elected not to book us in the middle two seats (which are designed for companions) because I wanted to play with the funky shades. Haha. I think these are the best non middle seats for companions, since you’re right across the aisle but not angled away from each other at all. Still, ironically, first class isn’t always the greatest if you want to hang out with a companion the whole time. Coach is so much more intimate! Jk sorta…

View from my seat of my lovely wife - not as intimate as coach in some ways
View from my seat of my lovely wife – not as intimate as coach in some ways

There was another bit of a delay after we pushed back so I started watching Guardians of the Galaxy – regular readers will remember I spend many of my flights catching up on the movies I’ve missed due to parenthood, especially the Marvel related ones. Although you have to stow your TV during takeoff British Airways allows you to use it while taxiing so I got to watch a good chunk of it before we even took off whilst drinking my champagne, lovely. Quick review: funny, fast paced, and a great ride. Chris Pratt rules!

I am Groot.
I am Groot.

After takeoff the flight attendants took our order for our meals. Thanks to pre-flight dining I skipped straight to dessert – a cheese plate, hot chocolate with cookies, and opera cake. “Got a sweet tooth, eh?” At that moment, most certainly. Everything was pretty good, not mind blowing but a pleasant dessert to watch with the movie.

Couldn't turn down cookies with hot chocolate
Couldn’t turn down cookies with hot chocolate

Ultimately I made my way over to Jess’ seat – the ottoman can double as a chair so you can have a meal with your companion. It even comes with a seatbelt so you can sit there through turbulence!

Safety is paramount
Safety is paramount

After a pleasant chat and some more dessert with Jess, she turned in for the night while I finished the movie and watched a few episodes of Veep. I got my bed turned down and then slept for a few hours – the bed is pretty comfortable but definitely not as nice as any of the Lufthansa first class flights I’ve taken. I’d venture to say my Delta Business Elite lie flat bed was slightly more comfortable for my tastes.

After that, it was just wake up, breakfast, and touchdown in London. All in all, a pleasant flight where I got some rest.

After we landed, I had a fairly peculiar experience. It all started when we lined up for our bus to go to Terminal 1 from Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Heathrow is a super busy airport, but a grand total of five people got onto the bus. After we got off the bus, we started walking through what felt like a ghost terminal.

All the Heathrow Terminal 1 flights...for the day! What is this, Ithaca?
All the Heathrow Terminal 1 flights…for the day! What is this, Ithaca?

We literally were the only people at the security. We forgot to put the liquids from our amenity kits into plastic bags so we had to go through extra searches. During the ten minutes we were there, not a single other person went through security. We were just sitting there having a chat with the TSA equivalents. One guy even made a joke: “They’re just testing to see if your liquids are one H two Os <chuckle chuckle>”. I didn’t have the heart to correct him.

It's quiet...a little too quiet
It’s quiet…a little too quiet

Anyway, it continued as we walked through the terminal – it was super empty. But it still had like five duty free shops, a bunch of restaurants – there was just hardly anyone in them! So it turns out that Heathrow is in the process of shutting Terminal 1 down completely – there are only 21 flights out of the terminal per day. Crazy! In the meanwhile, there is a quiet little ghost terminal at Heathrow. It’s eerie. Probably one of those things only interesting to me.

If you've read this far, you've been rewarded with...more pictures of an empty terminal. Titan.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve been rewarded with…more pictures of an empty terminal. Titan.

Interestingly enough, they’re not even going to destroy Terminal 1 – they need it for baggage services for Terminal 2. So next year Terminal 1 truly will become a ghost terminal.

IMG_4539

After some time in the nice British Airways lounge, we hopped onto our short flight to Lyon and before we knew it we were at the Hilton Lyon.

Cool little bar at the lounge
Cool little bar at the lounge

Final Thoughts

It was great to take a first class flight without Little M. British Airways has made some weird design choices with their offerings (see: prison bars) but the seat is comfortable and the process was pretty relaxing, especially when going through the near empty Terminal 1. Who knew traveling without kids could be so stress free? <raises hand>

Other Posts in this Series

Introduction

British Airways First Class and the Ghost Terminal at Heathrow

The Hilton Lyon, Parc Tete d’Or, and Salon du Chocolat

Michelin Starred Meals at La Mere Brazier and La Remanence

 

 

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

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