Ever since Pakistan International Airlines got banned from directly flying to and from the UK/Europe, foreign airlines, including British Airways have started operating routes from the UK to Pakistan, including the famous London to Lahore route.
The UK hosts approximately 1.5 million British Pakistanis, and demand for travel between the UK and Pakistan is exceedingly high, even during the pandemic.
This correspondent took a British Airways flight from London to Lahore.
The price was expensive for a one-way ticket. £512 (110k approx) for a World Traveller ticket, equivalent to Economy class. This is significantly higher than other flights offered by Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, however only British Airways and Virgin Atlantic currently offer a direct flight from London to Lahore.
The ticket isn’t the only cost of flying. I paid £130 for an extra bag and £180 for a COVID covid test from a company recommended by British Airways.
The flight number BA 0259, and it was scheduled for 5.55 pm, however, a few hours before the flight, passengers got a text saying that it was delayed by three hours. The advance warning helped most passengers, but some of them were unable to get the information before they had already arrived at the airport.
The plane was, Boeing Dreamliner (Srs.8) (twin-jet), a relatively old model which was much newer than PIA but not at par with Emirates or Qatar Airways.
The check-in process was simple, the person at the counter was friendly enough and the process was complete within a few short minutes. Upon my request, I was given a seat which had an empty seat next to me.
As a courtesy to make up for the delay, BA provided a £5 voucher which could be used at the airport.
Most of the shops and restaurants were closed at Heathrow Terminal 5, so there was very limited options, just Boots and WH Smith.
Once at the gate, passengers found out that the flight was delayed yet again, this time due to the wait for the pilot’s covid test. Any delay could impact passengers who’ve had their covid test at specific times, and would not be able to fulfil the Pakistani govt’s guidelines of providing a test 72 hours before arrival.
The mood is tense. One passenger can be overheard saying, “Is this really British Airways?”.
Finally, after two unexpected delays, boarding finally starts, and passengers are relieved that they will be flying to Lahore.
The flight is packed, and it’s impossible to follow social distancing, although almost every passenger is wearing a mask.
A few minutes into the flight, drinks are served. I ask for red wine and I’m told I can choose between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of being given half a small glass, like Qatar or Emirates, I’m given two small bottles. Not a bad start.
Before I can even finish the first bottle of wine, food is served. The stewardess asks whether I’d like pasta or chicken, I go for pasta.
Its a hot spinach and tomato pasta, which is surprisingly good for aeroplane standards. Paired with the wine, its a nice meal in the sky, one of the best I’ve had.
There’s a custard too which tastes superb. British Airways seems to take its food quality seriously. The trays are taken away quickly after, much sooner than other carriers, which makes it a comfortable dining experience.
The seats are smaller than the usual economy and it seems there’s very little leg space too. British Airways strongly advertises World Traveller Plus with better seats, but that costs another £140 one way.
Lights are turned off for the majority of the time of the flight, considering its night time. It’s difficult to sleep since there’s a lot of noise, children crying and passengers moving about, however, British Airways cannot be blamed for that.
The entertainment system is reasonably alright, however there are no headphones provided, probably a precaution due to COVID-19. Those with Bluetooth headphones find it impossible to connect their headphones with the entertainment system.
The second meal is a cold turkey ham croissant with cheese. It tastes good too. The pilot makes a special announcement saying that the ham is turkey ham and is halal.
Passengers are asked to fill 2 health forms which include their details regarding their covid test and address in Pakistan.
All passengers from the UK are required to quarantine for at least 7 days upon arrival in Pakistan.
We are told that there will be a PCR test at the airport, which is quick and hardly takes five minutes.
Overall, it was a decent flying experience which could’ve been better if it weren’t for the delays in the flight. I would rate it 7/10.