Like many companies, my travel policy allows business class travel for longer flights, in this case over 4 hours. Below that and it’s economy class. With BA at least, the tier points earned for economy class travel are generally paltry, and I feel for anyone who grinds out their executive club status this way.
Heathrow to Madrid (10 Tier Points)
To ensure two full and productive days in the office I’m travelling out on Monday evening from Heathrow T5. One benefit of having silver or gold status with BA is being able to select seats free of charge at time of booking, and despite flying economy I’ve managed to bag an exit row aisle seat with extra legroom on G-EUUI, one of BA’s A320 short-haul workhorses. BA phased out complementary food and drinks in economy a few years ago, and now it’s all Buy on Board with food products from M&S and a selection of mainstream beverages.
BA uses Terminal 4S at Madrid Barajas airport. It’s a modern structure, with more than a hint of architectural over indulgence.
Most of my time in Madrid needs to be spent in the office working rather than sightseeing, but the evening brings some opportunities to eat and drink with the team here. After landing on the first night we dine in a traditional Spanish restaurant close to our hotel.
The second night we get to dine in a Puerta 57, a restaurant overlooking the pitch in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, home to Real Madrid. There’s no match to spectate, but we have the next best thing; on the TV screens is the Champions League semi-final, and we have the pleasure of seeing Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0, overturning their 3-0 defeat in the previous leg and setting up the all England final with Tottenham.
Madrid to Heathrow (5 Tier Points)
On the day of my return journey there’s a news from the company travel agent warning of wildcat strikes by security staff at Madrid Airport, and to allow more time to negotiate the airport. On arriving for the BA463 home there’s little sign of queuing, and other than navigating the overly spread out nature of the terminal buildings, there’s little by way of delay.
Even the layout of the Iberia lounge (Iberia is both a member of OneWorld and part of IAG, the parent company of BA) is somewhat odd. It’s long and narrow, stretching several hundred metres along the side of the terminal. But on the plus side both the food and drinks are of decent quality.
The return journey is on an Airbus A321, again in economy. It’s a while since I’ve flown economy on an A321 and I’ve made the mistake of booking “exit row 23” – whilst strictly it’s close to an emergency door and classified as an exit row, it has zero in the way of extra legroom. But the flight is on time and we’re landing in Heathrow under 2 hours from take off, so there’s little by way of discomfort as a result.