BACKGROUND British Airways flies to Nice from three London airports: Gatwick, Heathrow and London City. I wanted an after work service and Gatwick is the most convenient for me coming straight from work, so I opted for a hand-baggage only 1940 departure from LGW in Euro Traveller (economy).
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at the North Terminal via the inter-terminal shuttle at 1730. I had checked in online earlier that day using my Apple Passbook app on my phone and downloaded the boarding pass to my device. I pre-selected the furthest forward window seat available, which was 9A.
Security was busy but there were six lanes open and I was through in no time. It was quiet airside and I headed straight for the No.1 Traveller lounge, using my Priority Pass to gain access.
THE LOUNGE This facility was very busy when I first entered, with most of the seating taken up and lots of children using the cinema and games room facilities (I noticed the pool table had been removed) fortunately none were too loud though.
This is a relaxed and family friendly lounge, with the staff much more personable than those at say a Servisair facility. The lounge itself is very smart, with a range of seating, a white tiled dining area, runway views and a good buffet and bar. For a review of the lounge when it first opened, click here.
Soft drinks and hot beverages are self serve and there was some cheese, chutney, salads, bread, soup and biscuits on offer from the buffet while I was there. Each customer can also order a complimentary hot snack per visit or a more substantial a-la carte option, which can be paid for. There is a full bar service with wine, spirits and Peroni on tap but champagne and cocktails are charged.
I ordered a fish-finger sandwich from the complimentary snack menu and a beer before taking a seat by the windows. The food arrived in around ten minutes and was hot and tasty, with some tartar sauce on the side. I logged in to the free wifi with ease and checked my e-mails, read the paper and had another beer before leaving at 1920 and headed to gate 104, which is a lengthy walk over the bridge.
BOARDING There was a slight delay to boarding as the inbound Amsterdam flight was late getting in. It was a nice surprise seeing that the aircraft was the special golden painted Olympics Dove A319 (see online news April 2012). Boarding finally began at 1940 and my block of rows was called last, at 1950. I was in my seat by 2000. I had to sneak my bag in the business section overhead lockers as I was one of the last to board, meaning there was typically very little space for carry ons.
THE SEAT As I mentioned earlier I had selected seat 9A, my preference being for a window seat as far forward as possible for quicker disembarkation. There were just three rows of business class set up for this primarily leisure route (to see a seat plan, click here). This seat was right in front of the emergency exit row and was over the wing. The seat is blue leather and the legroom is fine for this hour and a half flight. The seat looked a little tired but no major tears or wearing were visible.
THE FLIGHT We were welcomed onboard by the captain and the doors shut at 2005, as the crew were keen to get us away quickly. We took off soon after at 2015. The catering consisted of a decent BLT wrap and a full drinks service, which arrived at 2030, I had a Heineken and read my book. The crew were friendly and efficient and did three rubbish collections during this short flight.
The flight was generally uneventful, with one screaming child a few rows back but very little turbulence. We began our descent and landed at 2140 and were off via an airbridge by 2145. The passport queue was short and quick and as I had no luggage I was out of the terminal by 2200 (2300 local time).
VERDICT We may have set off late but the captain managed to make up some of the lost time and getting out of the airport by 2300 was very favourable. The service itself is solid and efficient and you couldn’t ask for a great deal more over the space of an hour and a half.