When I arrived at Florence airport, most of the flights from that afternoon were being cancelled due to high winds, so it didn’t bode well for my later departure. Nor was the sign of a lady sitting on the floor outside of the terminal screaming particularly conducive to calm travel, although at least the Italian military and police were on hand to deal with the situation. The staff at the airport lounge were friendly, although warned me that my flight was likely to be cancelled, but as the afternoon turned into evening, all started to look better.
The inbound BA flight to Florence was delayed, apparently the pilot said due to a technical issue rather than air traffic control or the winds, but the departure was only around an hour later than it should have been.
The boarding process was a little confused as customers weren’t really shown where to wait, although to be fair to the staff, they didn’t have a great deal of space as there was another flight boarding at the neighbouring gate. There was a vague effort at boarding by group number as I did hear one announcement, but it was ineffective. Although it didn’t make much difference anyway as there was a bus to the gate rather than an air bridge. The boarding gate staff were polite and helpful, with the process being prompt if nothing else.
The BA flight to London City Airport before mine had been cancelled, so the aircraft I boarded was completely full, although I’m not sure where the other passengers were sent from the earlier flight. The crew member made some authoritative, but essential, statements that baggage must be placed into the lockers quickly and everything other than large bags should be placed under the seats. I like my bag by my feet, but it’s perhaps still a little unfair that BA reward those with large luggage by having the area under their seat clear, whilst those who pack light have their foot room impeded.
The aircraft was G-LCAA, an Embraer 190 which was used by China Southern Airlines from 2011 until May 2019, when it entered BA’s fleet. I find it quite intriguing to know that this aircraft has spent most of its life shuttling around China before being entirely refitted by BA.
The pilot then made a friendly announcement and in that he mentioned that there was a slight rush as we had headwinds against us and a need to get into London City Airport by 22:30 because no incoming flights are allowed in after that due to their curfew. As a slight spoiler to this post, the aircraft landed at 21:54, which meant that all was well and we avoided having to land at London Southend Airport which would have been over an hour by bus transfer. London City Airport usually closes at 22:00, but it remained open to deal with our flight.
Back to the flight itself… British Airways have, for the many years I’ve travelled with them, managed to perfect inconsistency. I’m aware of what the offering would be, since I read the timing of the flight and associated menu on Flyertalk, but it was a near pointless effort compared to the excellent meal provided on the outbound flight to Florence. I had eaten in the lounge, but most other customers hadn’t, perhaps expecting something similar to what they had received on their previous flight.
And into London City airport, safe, sound and only a little later than anticipated. The curfew at London City Airport is an absolute one, so all told, BA did well to get this aircraft back given all the problems there had been at Florence airport during the day. A bus journey from Southend Airport is something that I could have done without, so I’ll forgive BA for their limited catering arrangements on this flight….