Tag Archives: mallorca

Is a British Airways Charter Flight better than Low Cost Airlines?

Every summer we usually take a week’s break in Europe. Perhaps the north of Mallorca, Portgual’s Algarve or France.

Although buckets of British Airways air miles means we could travel from Edinburgh via Heathrow or Gatwick and connect to a Club Europe flight, we’ve sacrificed the lounge access and slightly wider seats for more convennient direct flights with Jet2 or Easy Jet.

Until this year when I booked our villa in Mallorca’s Pollenca region through James Villas and they offered me a BA CityFlyer Charter.

British Airways Charter Flight
BA CityFlyer Embraer 190

I knew that CityFlyer use the spare capacity during London City Airport’s weekend downtime to offer charters, mainly through Barrhead Travel, and I immediately agreed to those flights and not Jet2.

The BA flights worked out at about £170 each which I thought was great value having paid nearly £1000 for three seats last year on Jet2.

Knowing that my BA silver card provided no advantage on a charter, I asked James Villas if I could pre-book seats.

They said, “No it’s not possible.”

Being a stubborn Edinburgh traveller, a quick Google search revealed a hidden BA CityFlyer Charter website where you can indeed book seats for £6 a pop.

BA CityFlyer Charter Website

I even had the courtesy to write back to James Villas and point out that you can, indeed, pre-book seats? They were kind enough to reply and tell me that I was wrong and it wasn’t possible to pre-book seats.

I enjoyed reading that email whilst clutching my seat confirmation with a wry smile.

British Airways Charter Flight
2×2 Seating with 34in pitch throughout

For the outbound at 7.30am on a Saturday, Edinburgh Airport bulged with people. We approached the usual BA check in desks. I asked the lady managing the queues if we could we check in here? She said that the charter check in was at the other end of the check in hall.

I mentioned we were travelling hand bags only and she very kindly used her work station to print our boarding cards. Great service.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

Without the benefit of lounge access we waited at the gate for BA to call the flight. Once onboard G-LCYS, one of the newest Embraer 190 aircraft in the BA fleet, we sank into our roomy 2×2 leather seats with their ample 34in pitch.

Once comfy, I heard the lady behind me moaning to the Purser that she and her husband and children had been split up at check in. The purser apologised and said that you can’t pre-book seats on BA charter services (strange that the cabin crew don’t know about the website where you can pre-book).

Anyway this lady whined to anyone who would listen about how upset she was. I was going to enlighten her about the website, but the child she was with was so badly behaved throughout the flight, kicking my seat back, that I decided they could carry on moaning.

Took off bang on time and the crew began the inflight buy on board service. You can see the menu in the photos.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

I drank a giant cup of tasty Saile and Sabga Gourmet Cafe Arabica coffee, and ate a hot bacon panini. The coffee could be the best I’ve ever had on an aircraft.

The crew came through the cabin on a second run towards the end of the three hour flight.

On the inbound, with only two BA flights, check in at Palma is civilised and not the multi-queue scrum you find for Jet2 or Thompson.

My only criticism of the operation at Palma is there was no facility for hand luggage only customers. We had to queue with those with luggage – actually we might have been the only passengers travelling without checked bags. Still we only waited about 15 minutes.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

Same aircraft and the same crew and the same service on the way home except I had a beer with my coffee and bacon buttie.

The moaning lady was also on the flight, and although sat with her husband and kids this time, all she did was moan about how they were split up on the flight out. Bet she’s a barrel of laughs in the pub.

Overall it was great flying on a BA CityFlyer Charter. You get the extra leg room and the professionalism of BA Mainline, with the extra quantities of food and drink from buy on board.

I’d do this over Jet2 any day.

Now it’s your turn:

Have you travelled on a British Airways Charter Flight? How do you think it compares to BA Mainline or other low-cost airlines like Jet2, Easy Jet and RyanAir? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own reviews.

Taking a trip through Unspoilt Mallorca

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions Mallorca?

Could it be high-rise hotels and packed beaches teeming with sun burned Brits. Stag and hen week parties? Noisy techno dance music playing in nightclubs, pubs serving Tetley bitter and drunken hoards of youngsters staggering from one to the other?

Certainly Magaluf and some other Mallorcan resorts fit this stereotype. But most of Mallorca is unspoilt, beautiful, quiet and magnificent. You can find deserted beaches at the end of windy roads, hidden restaurants serving real Spanish tapas, and scenery that is breathtaking.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Port de Soller seen from the mountains

As I travelled to Mallorca this year I saw some of the the Magaluf crowd. Sharing the Jet2 flight with us was a gang of guys all sporting “Fat Grant’s Stag” T-shirts, individualised on the back with their nick names. “Chopper” was the loud one constantly out of his aeroplane seat and tormenting his fellow passengers and crew. “Murdo” was the good-looking one trying unsuccessfully to flirt with the cabin crew. “Fat Grant” himself sat quietly in the back row. Was he already regretting the drunken blur that was about to begin?

Fortunately Fat Grant’s crew were whisked away by bus into the concrete jungles west of Palma whilst we drove north through orange groves towards Pollenca. Here the countryside is quiet save for the sounds of dogs barking, birds singing and donkeys braying. Sometimes the sound of a strimmer or a power saw tries to ruin the peace but rarely succeeds.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Beach at Port de Pollenca

The foothills of the stunning Tramontana mountains frame the Pollenca countryside . Villas here all have private pools, outdoor barbecues, palm trees and flowers of all colours. The busy but very pretty Puerto De Pollenca is five minutes drive away. Close enough for when you run out of food and beer or fancy a meal in a restaurant, but far enough away to convince you that you live in your own private paradise.

When night falls there is no light pollution. Lie back and watch the stars light up across the sky. Look for shooting stars. You might miss some of them. Those you do see are like fireworks burning across the blackness.

This is unspoilt Mallorca. And there’s so much of it to see.

We took a trip to Soller, a quaint Spanish village nestling in a hollow valley surrounded by towering mountains studded with green pine trees. The drive to this oasis is both scary and beautiful. Perhaps only the Grand Canyon can beat the slopes around Soller for sheer breathtaking magnificence.

Unspoilt Mallorca
The Soller Trams

Sit in the main square in Soller and have a glass of fresh orange juice and watch the tram clank by on its way down to the port. Soller is one of the smallest towns in the world with a tram system. They built it in 1913. It’s still a popular form of transport and now a tourist attraction in its own right. Have tea at the five-star Gran Hotel Soller or pop into the cake shop next door and sample one of their multi-coloured macaroons.

Unspoint Mallorca
Port de Soller

Four kilometres at the other end of the tram’s route is the Port De Soller a huge horse shoe bay of sand, yachts, restaurants, bars and hotels. We really are a million miles away from the plastic pubs and pounding base riffs of Magaluf. I wonder whether Fat Grant is enjoying his hangover.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Sunny Spanish Streets

In the centre of Mallorca is Inca, one of the bigger towns. Thursday is market day and every street boasts a line of stalls and tables. Fresh fruit, green vegetables, meat, fish even live chickens and ducks, sit side by side with clothes, leather goods and household utensils. It’s like a department store on the streets. You have to haggle and obviously sift through some tourist tat, but you can find bargains in this maze of narrow streets.

Back to the Pollenca countryside for a few more days of good food and great wine.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Pollenca Countryside

When someone mentions Mallorca to me I think of these sun-baked days in the Pollenca countryside, the cafe culture of Soller and the market at Inca rather the concrete sun soaked replica of Blackpool where Fat Grant drunkenly celebrated his last days as a single man.

Your turn: What are your favourite hidden gems in unspoilt Mallorca? Please post your links or comments below and share your experiences.