It was the middle of Autumn and with nothing but Christmas to look forward too I decided to treat myself and try BD again. I was searching flybmi.com when I noticed they were offering very good fares to BSL which has a number of Christmas Markets which I thought would have be interesting to visit and Basel isn’t somewhere I’ve been before so the decision was made!
AIRLINE: BMI BRITISH MIDLAND INTERNATIONAL
ROUTE: LHR - BSL
FLIGHT: BD 161
AIRCRAFT: AIRBUS A319-131
I decided to catch a local bus to Heathrow that morning, it covers the route from Harrow Weald to Heathrow Central and costs £1.40 with an Oyster Card, from where I live it works out cheaper and quicker than catching the tube.
Wednesday 30th November was a day of public sector strikes in the UK, border agency staff and customs officers were on strike that day and there were warnings of possible 12 hour delays at Heathrow for arriving passengers. Departing flights wouldn’t be disrupted and I didn’t worry too much about my return that evening, if there were any issues I’d worry about them then. Heathrow T1 was typically quiet at time of the morning, a few groups of BAA customer service staff were being briefed for the day ahead and passengers seemed to hanging around waiting for check in to open.
I checked in at one of the self service machines and selected my seat and also printed my boarding pass for the return flight. I wasn’t going to hang around as there isn’t much available in the check in hall at T1, there’s a Costa and a restaurant upstairs but both are very overpriced and probably closed at time of the morning anyway!
New Aer Lingus check in desks, much better position and finally with a dedicated check in desk for Gold Circle members.
BMI, LH and OS Premium check in area.
Terminal 1 getting a bit festive, I lost count how many of these identical Christmas trees there were scattered around the airport.
Security was very quiet, no queues and the staff even managed to be polite instead of shouting at everyone. No need to remove shoes either which was good as I was wearing hi-top trainers, a nightmare to take off. Once through security there wasn’t much else to do but head to the gate, which appeared on the screens shortly after 06:30 but for the life of me, I can’t remember which gate it was now! Anyway, I didn’t think the flight would be too busy but when I arrived at the gate it was packed with hardly any seats left to sit down, maybe I wasn’t the only one to grab a cheap flight to Basel? After a few minutes it became apparent not everyone here was flying BD, they were passengers for LH to MUC and when that flight was called pretty much everyone stood up and began boarding, looks like it won’t be a busy flight to Basel after all.
The BD gate staff weren’t great to be honest, a few passengers approached the three ladies at the desk and asked whether they should start queuing (departure time was fast approaching) but were told to “just sit down”. One passenger didn’t like the answer she received when she asked a question and said, loud enough for everyone and the staff to hear, “don’t think she liked me interrupting her conversation, I’ll know better next time”. Awkward.
Shortly after that moment, boarding was called and all 40 or so of us formed a queue but the staff still failed to a raise a smile, muttering “thank you” as everyone walked past.
It was a completely different story on board, I was greeted by two flight attendants with big smiles and directed to my seat. The cabin is bright and clean while the brown leather seats make it look cosy and comfortable at the same time. Boarding was completed in just a few minutes, I had an entire row to myself and the five rows ahead of me remained free as well. After a quick welcome on board from the flight deck we were ready for push back and a short taxi to runway 27R.
The in-flight service consisted of a choice of drink and a hot breakfast wrap for economy passengers while I believe business passengers would be treated to full breakfast, lucky them! I asked for a cup of tea and an orange juice, the flight attendant said it was the last of the tea so might be a bit too strong for my taste and that she’d be happy to change it but the tea was lovely as it was. The breakfast tortilla was then handed out as the flight deck gave us an update on our progress and the weather in Basel, overcast with a few rain and sleet showers which would clear up later in the day.
The wrap was very tasty. Not entirely sure it’s what you’d call breakfast but better than the cold bacon roll that BA offered on a morning flight to FRA earlier in the year.
Plenty of leg room.
We then started our decent, the aircraft shuddered a bit as the spoiler were deployed and there were a few thuds as hit the clouds.
Despite the turbulence on the way down, the landing was perfect and I didn’t even feel the touch down.
I went straight to the bus stop for the short journey into Basel.
After a great day exploring Basel and its Christmas markets it was time to return to the airport. I already had a return ticket not that it seemed to matter as on all the trams and busses I travelled on that day, nobody checked my ticket. I could have easily travelled for free all day, I guess I’m just used to London’s transport with barriers at every station, bus drivers ensuring everyone pays and ticket inspectors regularly checking everyone. Not that I would ever fare dodge, you’re using a service so pay for it!