My first flight ever on British Airways was on a domestic shuttle to Edinburgh. How unexciting. At any rate, I checked in to BA domestic at London's Gatwick airport. Check in is the same as any US airline. Once through check in, security is a different matter. Due to the friendly Irish terrorists, security is very, very tight. When you go through the metal detectors they also take your picture, then to get into the gate area, they scan your boarding card and see your picture on a computer monitor. The two pictures must match in order to get on the plane. Like other European airports, Gatwick is more shopping mall than terminal. I made my way down to the long concourse that houses the 734's and ARJ's that make the domestic runs out of Gatwick. The passengers waiting for the flight were almost 100% white businessmen in suits with an attaché case. Not many evil tourists like me.
Everyone has assigned seats, but they board the plane cattle-car style with one announcement and a huge "queue" of passengers. It always amazes me that people rush to get on a reserved-seating plane. The plane was configured in a one-class shuttle setup, with beautiful leather seats and about 4 inches more legroom than US coach. It was very nice. I also noticed that they had a large number of FA's on this flight (I think at least 5) We boarded and I had seat 4A, next to two grumpy British business men. Everybody finished boarding and the FA's did the safety briefing while we were still at the gate. I heard the cargo doors close, and then reopen. "Wonderful," I thought to myself. Apparently a gentleman had checked luggage, and then not boarded the plane. After unloaded and reloading all the luggage the flight departed about 35 minutes late.
We took off for the 1 hour 5 minute flight up the coast to Edinburgh. Our flight altitude was 26,000 feet, the captain said he normally went up to FL30 or FL35, but it was a little bit rough today. This is the amazing part. In 1 hour, the crew served an entire English breakfast, and then ran around the aisles with coffee and tea until 10 minutes before touch down. I have never seen an American airline come anywhere close to that level of service. The approach over the Firth of Forth is amazing, and we made an uneventful touchdown 30 minutes late. I was, as most people are, very impressed with British Airways.