Tried & Tested

British Airways B737-500 Euro Traveller

6 Oct 2008 by Mark Caswell

First impressions I arrived at Gatwick’s North Terminal at
1220 for my 1330 departure on flight BA7953 to Toulouse. BA serves the route
three times daily (the other option being a twice-daily service with Easyjet,
also from Gatwick). Having checked in online and because I was travelling with
hand luggage only, I went straight through to security. In economy, the
hand-luggage limit is one piece with a maximum size 56 x 45 x 25cm, plus one
laptop case, handbag or briefcase. (The checked-luggage limit is 23kg.)

The security checks passed quickly (laptops
out, but I was spared the random shoe checking), and I was airside by 1230. I
started looking around the duty-free shops, and then noticed a sign inviting
passengers to register for the Iris recognition programme. As I had some time
to spare, I decided to take the opportunity to register for the scheme, which
has sparked endless debate on the businesstraveller.com forum (click here to
view the latest posts).

The applications office is located down the
spiral walkway towards Gates 59-63, and when I arrived, there was around half a
dozen people waiting in front of me. The process is pretty quick, with users
simply looking into a retinal scanning machine, then having their photo taken.
I’ll be sure to add my comments to the forum when I have the opportunity to use
the scheme.

By now it was 1255 and my flight had been
called – coincidentally, to Gate 59 – so I proceeded to the lounge to await
boarding. This commenced at around 1315, and the flight took off at around
1340.

The flight I was sat in seat 6C on this B737-500
aircraft, which as far as I could see was completely full. Economy class is
configured 3-3, and business class has a total of 15 seats, configured 2-3.
Economy class passengers were offered a choice of hot and cold drinks, plus a
snack (I got a bag of mixed nuts, the man next to me received a cookie). The
interior of the plane was by no means new, but everything worked as it should,
and on such a short flight (1 hour 45 minutes) that’s all that really matters.

Arrival We touched down at 1610 (catching a glimpse
of the brand-new Qantas A380 which was being delivered to the carrier from the
city’s Airbus factory the next day), and were disembarked and through
immigration within ten minutes.

Verdict Perfectly adequate for a short trip like
this, although the interior of the plane looks like it could do with a
makeover.

Price Return fares with BA for economy class
flights including a Saturday-night stay in October from London to Toulouse
started from £108 online.

Contact ba.com.

Mark
Caswell

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