Travel often gets a bad rap. While most of us love the idea of jumping on a plane and traversing the planet to some far-flung destination to relax and regroup, it can sometimes seem like too much of a hassle: Long check-in lines, rigorous security checks (what do you mean I can’t bring my can of hairspray?!), tight seats and unseemly seatmates, lost luggage and long layovers – what’s so relaxing about that?
There are all kinds of ways to avoid these hassles. I recently traveled
British Airways’ business class (Club World) from Toronto to London, with a stopover before heading to Istanbul, and the experience couldn’t have been more wonderful. Here’s why:
Long check-in lines
Want to avoid the check-in lines that snake interminably around the terminal? Check in online before you head to the airport. You’ll save oodles of time. If you’re traveling British Airways, simply visit
ba.com and check in up to 24 hours before your flight.
Rigorous security checks
Airport security is essential and we all understand why. So play by the rules. According to the TSA, the general rule is this: 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 oz. container size is a security measure. Respecting the rules will save you time and hassle.
If you can swing it, fly business class! British Airways’ Club World service makes flying a luxurious experience. I’d never realized what I was missing. For long-haul flights, like the transatlantic flight I was taking, Club World offers an unparalleled level of personalized service, starting with the seats. Each passenger has their own “pod”, which means total and complete privacy if you wish. The pods are staggered, facing alternate directions and there’s a privacy screen you can use if you don’t feel like looking at the person in the seat beside yours. The nearly lie-flat beds mean you can sleep comfortably or relax, work, read or watch one of the many movies available on your personal touch screen television. Pods feature a laptop locker, power socket, private adjustable reading light, a telephone and a memory foam headrest. The food is gourmet and the flight attendants are friendly, approachable and always ready to help make your flight more comfortable and enjoyable.
That’s an easy problem to avoid: Travel only with carry-on. Not only will you eliminate the worry of your luggage getting lost but you won’t have to waste time at the baggage carousel upon arrival and you’ll also have increased flexibility as you travel. Should you decide to change your travel plans at the airport, it’s always best to have all your luggage in your possession. And of course, it’s just so much easier to travel light and not have to lug your luggage all over town.
Layovers can be a drag but not if you’re fortunate enough to have some time to kill at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. British Airways is the sole tenant of this new terminal and it was opened to alleviate the flow of traffic through one of the world’s busiest airports. The £4.3 billion building has 96 check-in kiosks to eliminate those long check-in lines and the floor-to-ceiling windows flood the terminal with natural light and offer stunning views of the runways and countryside. You can even catch a glimpse of Windsor Castle and Wembley Stadium.
If you’re traveling first class, Club World or Club Europe, or if you’re a Gold or Silver Executive Club member, you’re granted access to the terminal’s plush lounges. There are six lounges in Terminal 5 as well as an Elemis Travel Spa and each lounge is a haven for frenzied travelers.
Designed by London-based designers
Davies Baron, the lounges are so exquisite, you won’t feel like you’re killing time in an airport. In fact, it’s more likely you’ll feel like you’re kicking back in a hip, urban hotspot. Each lounge has a unique design vision and offers a luxurious but social place to spend some time reading, working or relaxing as you wait for your next flight. Collectively, the six lounges can accommodate up to 2,500 people – but they’re so large and spacious, you won’t feel crowded. Surrounded by furniture upholstered in gorgeous Osborne & Little fabrics and sparkling chandeliers, not to mention the delicious eats and free wireless Internet access, these wonderfully designed spaces take airport lounges to a whole new level. They’re elegant, verging on opulent. Be careful you don’t lose yourself here and miss your flight.
Terminal 5 at Heathrow is a shopper’s paradise. Once you’re airside (post-security), there are more than enough shops to while away a layover – and trust me when I tell you that the temptation to offload your British pounds in any one of the shops is great.
Case in point: The Marc Jacobs bag from the gate level Harrods that I most certainly didn’t
need and the cookies and teas from the departures level Harrods Food Hall.
Boasting 200,000 square feet of retail therapy space, Terminal 5 is home to designer shops like Harrods, Gucci, Dior, Prada, Tiffany & Co, Coach and Bulgari. With 112 stores and restaurants, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 offers travelers the largest airport shopping experience of any airport in the United Kingdom.
Your biggest dining decision will be: Where? From fine dining to family-friendly venues and bars and pubs, Terminal 5 offers more than just a Tim Horton’s doughnut shop. (Not that we Canucks don’t love our Timmy’s!) But here, you can dine at Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food or at Carluccio’s, which dishes up tasty Italian dishes. From coffee bars to Michelin stars, the options here are extensive.
Layovers used to be such a hassle. But at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, you’ll wish you had more time. Its chic design, fabulous shopping and wonderful dining options make it a great place to spend some time.
Your tour guide
Natalie Bahadur is an avid traveler and is the editor of styleathome.com.
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