In 1986, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Tripoli, Margaret Thatcher authorizing the use of British bases for the raid. There was a subsequent reticence among US citizens to visit Europe following this – and of course the various terrorist atrocities in Europe that had precipitated the action.
At the time, I was visiting the USA fairly regularly on business, and on BA flights back to Britain, British Airways organized a quiz among the passengers, the prize being a return flight on Concorde between the USA and London in order to encourage Americans to fly to Europe.
Well, I won one of those quizzes, and I received a letter from BA to say that the prize was either a return trip to New York on Concorde for one, or a return trip for two, Club Class, to a US gateway city.
I agonized for a short while, quite a short while, asking BA if they would concede Concorde one way for two, but finally settled for the Club Class tickets. My wife and I flew to San Francisco, and I used some Advantage Club miles to travel on to Honolulu. We had a wonderful holiday there one Easter.
Some years later, I was travelling back to the UK again from San Francisco – flying Club Class, as the company allowed in those hallowed days. The aircraft pushed away from the jetway, only to return almost immediately. There had been a bomb threat, and the flight was delayed for six hours while the luggage and aircraft was searched.
Finally we got underway, but were able to fly only to New York, since otherwise the crew would have exceeded their flying time. At New York the First Class and Club passengers were separated from the rest, and I was aware that we were queuing at a check-in desk. They flew us home from New York on Concorde.
I remember only a few things about the trip. It was very noisy at Mach 2, the food was excellent, the service was great, and although I honestly do not recall the acceleration at take-off, the deceleration on landing at Heathrow was as though we had run into a sand-bank. It took 3 ¾ hours to fly back, and it was an experience I will never forget. What a truly wonderful aircraft Concorde was, and what a brilliant engineering achievement of the British and French engineers responsible.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs