Our outward journey to Vancouver was a four stage journey with a taxi trip to Glasgow Airport, a UK domestic flight to London Heathrow, a British Airways long haul flight to Vancouver and finally we drove ourselves from Vancouver airport to our first accommodation in North Vancouver.
With a midday flight from Glasgow we had our taxi booked to pick us up mid Saturday morning. Although we had done the on-line check-in the night before, we still had to attend the check-in desk at Glasgow airport. This was we received a surprise. As British Airways had changed their catering arrangements on UK domestic flights earlier in 2017, we were expecting to pay for any food on board, and had prepared accordingly. However as we had book Club Class for the long haul part of our journey, we had a Club Europe designation on our domestic flight which meant BA Lounge access at Glasgow and we were sitting up front in the “premium” cabin to London which included a light lunch. So at around 11:00 we found ourselves in the BA lounge awaiting our flight south.
As the flight left from Gate 21, it was not possible to photograph our aircraft, however we did get a chance to picture a Canadain aircraft loading for a flight to Toronto.
At 11:44 boarding commenced on BA1483 from Glasgow (GLA) to London Heathrow (LHR). The aircraft for the flight was an Airbus A320, registration G-EUYN. After the doors had closed, pushback was at 12:06 followed by a taxi south west to the end of runway 05. one of our last views of the area was of the Paisley observatory and Thomas Coates Memorial Church.
Following takeoff at 12:17, we entered the clouds soon after crossing the Clyde, resulting in very little ground views until approaching Heathrow airport. Coming in from the east approaching runway 27L, Twickenham stadium was one of the first landmarks to be seen.
Landing at 13:16, there was a short taxi to the domestic side of terminal 5 (Gate 506). Although British Airways are based at Terminal 5 on Heathrow, they still have an extensive schedule of flights form Terminal 3, including the flight to Vancouver.
This was first time we had taken the Flight Connections route from Terminal 5, which was relatively simple. It was a very short wait until the bus to Terminal 3 arrived. Security clearance on arrival at Terminal 3 was quick and the BA Galleries lounge was close by on the south side of the terminal.
We had a seat by the window overlooking runway 27L and the associated taxiway. As befits one of the busiest airports in Europe, there was a lot of aircraft movements. The highlight was the number of Airbus A380, including those operated by Singapore, Etihad, Qantas, Emirates and British Airways. Near to our window was the gate Emirates A380 use. An outbound flight using A6-EEE was on stand when we arrived, shortly afterwards A6-EDI arrived and had to wait until the former cleared the stand an we got the sight of one still completing pushback whilst the other taxied onto stand.
We also noted the BA A380 that had arrived from Vancouver G-XLEB being towed to the maintenance facility, and the aircraft to operate our flight G-XLED being moved from maintenance to the Terminal 3 gate.
Our flight was departing from gate 40 which was a long walk to the northern extremity of T3. As the aircraft had just come out of maintenance, it required a security check which resulted in a delay in boarding.
Boarding of G-XLED for BA85 to Vancouver started at 17:27, with the upper door closed at 17:52 and the lower door at 17:59. It was another 25 minutes before pushback. Our seats was on the upper deck in the front cabin.
The curvature of the fuselage meant that is was not possible to see the ground close by, however we were far enough from the wing to give a reasonable view whilst in the air. Takeoff was at 18:53 on runway 27L. Our routing took us out over Ireland and south of Iceland before crossing Greenland and across northern Canada. Cloud cover meant there was little to see until well into the descent into Vancouver airport. Fifteen minutes before landing we were close to Stave Lake.
Eight hours, 42 minutes after takeoff we landed on runway 26R at Vancouver Airport. The upper door was opened at Gate 64 at 19:45 (Pacific Time), ten minutes after touchdown. This gate is at the north west end of the international pier, a long walk from immigration. Since our last visit to Canada, entry is electronic, and unless you join the line for an attended desk you do not get a stamp in your passport. It is, however, very quick. That is more that can be said for the bags arrival in the reclaim hall which appeared to take an age, especially when your body clock thinks it is nearly 4am! Bags reclaimed it to the fourth part of our journey, picking up the Rental Car and driving to Thistledown House in North Vancouver. We were driving out of the airport just over an hour from touchdown, and navigated our way through Downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park and across the Lions Gate bridge to reach Capilano Road.