After my hurried, late packing the previous night, my housemate and travelling companion Craig and I were awake by 6am. Him to pack his bags, me to finish my own and ensure the house was left in a reasonable state for the cats and cat sitters. The taxi to Newcastle Airport was booked for 0800 and, following a trip with the grumpiest taxi driver in Newcastle, we were checked in and in the lounge well before 0900. The old British Airways lounge at Newcastle closed a while ago, but we still had access to the Aspire lounge, which wasn’t so bad.
It’s only a short 50 minute flight to Heathrow Terminal 5 and we approached from the west over Windsor Castle and Eton. There was none of the pre-pandemic holding patterns over south east England, so we were on the terminal stand in good time. It’s the first time I’ve seen Terminal 5 with no Boeing 747s and probably the only time in daylight that I’ve seen multiple empty stands – pre-Covid, it was a regular occurrence to have to wait for a stand to become free but this time we taxied straight to the stand.
I generally find travelling through T5 a pleasant experience; usually no connections to other terminals and, when arriving on a domestic flight, an easy walk into the airside departures concourse. Today it was busier than expected, particularly in the lounge where we were lucky to get a seat and, when I went for a wander later, the lounge was closed to new guests. Luckily staff let me back in!
Food in the lounges is currently ordered via a QR code link to the menu but is of the usual variety; rice with chilli, chicken etc. By about 3pm, the lounge was quieter but the Vancouver flight gate was called around 4pm and as we had to get the transit link to the “B” Stands, we made our way there quite quickly, only to have to wait for gate staff to arrive; in the end we boarded late.
The aircraft was a 12 year old Boeing 777 (G-YMMR) with the classic style Club seats. On boarding it was clear that one of our fellow passengers was unhappy about something and the cabin crew had to move a few passengers around the cabin to get everyone seated. Even then, the passenger was insisting that her seat was sanitised and was only sat down as we were due to push back. Finally we left our stand about an hour late.
On the flight itself we were well looked after by a lovely crew who were very attentive. The new Best of British food menu with Roast Chicken offered on our flight was also remarkably good.
Finally, we arrived in Vancouver about an hour late, but we made up for time at the airport by getting through customs and immigration very quickly. We then headed to our downtown hotel via a Blacklane transfer before finishing up with a cocktail in the hotel bar.