I’m headed straight for a connecting flight to Dublin after landing from Boston. For a change this isn’t a trip to Dublin to start a tier point run, or to bag a cheap business class flight deal. It’s for a music gig; one of my favourite artists, Lana del Rey is playing at Malahide Castle, a few miles north-east of Dublin. Moff is also a fan and is meeting me at Heathrow for the trip.
Heathrow to Dublin (10 Tier Points)
My flight to Dublin is in Euro Traveller, BA’s name for Economy, however it’s earning 10 tier points rather than the more usual 5. All fares, even within the same cabin, are sold in one or more fare “buckets” at different price points, and with different conditions re flexibility in making changes. When I booked this flight the cheapest fare on offer happened to be in booking class N, which is not one of the lowest tier point earning fare buckets.
Arriving in First with a same day connecting flight from T5, and you’re entitled to use the Concorde Room. Photo taken at fast track security, which they’ll match later at the gate when I board, and then to the north end of the teminal to the CCR entrance, the fabled “millionaires door”. Before BA built the first wing which provides direct lounge access without the need to walk past a multitude of shops, it was only First Class passengers or CCR card holders (5000+ tier points) who had that privilege.
The CCR has a fine dining area, swanky bar, a boardroom if you need to work, showers, cabanas for rest and a terrace overlooking the terminal and the tarmac. The drinks are generally much higher end than the other lounges. Champagne, for example, is Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle which retails for over £100 per bottle. I hope BA get a decent discount; when ordering a drink at the bar I ask how many bottles they get through a day, and the bartender says at least 150.
The flight is delayed by about 30 minutes due to G-EUYC arriving late on its inbound flight to Heathrow. Being in the CCR and in economy on the flight, there’s little incentive to head to the gate until its time to board. As usual, boarding is via the domestic gates at the south end of the terminal, and is fully automated with no need for passport or other ID. Scan your boarding pass, look in the camera, and then head through the gate, down the jet bridge and onto the plane.
The flight to Dublin is uneventful, we land roughly on time, and jump in a cab to our AirBnB in Malahide.
Walking from the AirBnB to the town centre and Malahide has the impression of a sleepy coastal town. But the town centre is heaving tonight. George Ezra is playing at the castle, and fans are out in force. Bars are packed and people are queuing for restaurants, but by some good fortune we manage to get a table.
Dublin, Temple Bar
With some time on Saturday before the concert in the evening, we head to Temple Bar in Dublin. Our cab driver is a talkative chap and is astounded at the current madness of British politics, both around Brexit and with Boris Johnson poised to become PM. He also suggests there are better places to go out, and that nowadays Temple Bar is a haunt for stag and hen does and people looking to get drunk and fight. We see some of the former, and perhaps the aftermath of the latter, with the Irish Garda cuffing two males in the street and bundling them into the back of a squad car. But overall, whilst more trashy than classy, the Guinness tastes good and we get to taste some Redbreast 12 before heading back to Malahide for the gig.
Lana at Malahide Castle
The Concert is like a mini festival, open air in the grounds of Malahide Castle, and with several support acts. The perimiter is marked by the stage, enormous Heineken beer tents, numerous fast food stands, but strangely nowhere to buy “merch”. Thankfully the weather has been good, the ground is dry and there’s no rain forecast, none of which you can take for granted in Ireland.
Lana comes on around 9pm and immediately launches into Born to Die, the opener from her original album. I’ve seen her play live before, but her stage performance has improved immeasurably in the passing years, and she has a presence and confidence now that she previously lacked. She sings a mix of recent and earlier material, with the balad Old Money showing just how far her ability to deliver live has come. She’s sensual on stage, and connects with the audience like few big name artists nowadays, spending a lot of time during her performance mixing with her fans, who take selfies with her and give her gifts.
On Sunday with a few hours to kill before the flight home, we head to Swords for lunch, a small town about midway between Malahide and Dublin Airport. Like most of our trips on this break we are using Uber, which is handily connected to the local cab companies whose metered fares seem pretty reasonable. Ireland still has more restrictive licensing laws than England, and it’s not possible to order a pint of Guinness until 12:30.
Dublin to Heathrow (10 Tier Points)
Back at the airport for BA829 to Heathrow, and again I have the annoyance of my small Osprey Daylite rucksack with virtually nothing in it being selected for secondary screening. I’ve lost count of the number of times that’s happened at this airport. But security cleared, we head to the lounge to wait, which is surprisingly busy this Sunday afternoon.
We board our on time, but are delayed about 30 minutes taking off. Despite this and a short hold into Heathrow we only arrive 5 minutes late, such is the padding built into airline schedules. There’s a good view of Dublin Airport on departure though, followed by a fair amount of turbulence as we pass through the clouds.
Landing at Heathrow from Dublin means a domestic arrival and no need for passport control. Heading to collect my luggage from my Boston trip and onto the tube, I’ve now amassed 4790 tier points, in theory one first class long haul flight away from Gold Guest List!