Long Haul Without London

  • 07th December 2014

A guest blog post written by Nick Piggott, Head of Creative technology at Global Radio, the UK’s largest commercial radio broadcaster. Nick is a frequent flyer and often makes long haul trips from Bristol Airport. This post looks at how regional airports can offer a convenient alternative to London.

Starting your long-haul journey with bmi regional from the UK’s regional airports can be cheaper, faster and less stressful than getting to London.

When you know you’re going to be taking a long-haul flight, do you start by thinking about all the things that can wrong on the way to Heathrow? Mentally leaving yourself plenty of time to get there (with unpredictable motorway delays), plenty of time to park (in long-stay car parks miles from the terminals), plenty of time to check-in and plenty of time to clear security? It feels like you can spend as much time getting to a London airport as you spend on your flight. If you’ve never connected to long haul from a regional airport, it might seem complicated, but it often makes the journey a joy.


Time saving

I live in central Bristol, and as well as short hops around Europe, I fly to the Americas, Asia and Australia. My recent trip to Singapore, Melbourne and Brisbane is a good example, which started with a short trip to Bristol Airport and the short early-evening flight on bmi regional to Frankfurt, connecting into an overnight flight to Singapore. Allowing 45 minutes before departure to check-in and clear security makes it just over an hour from my front door to the plane door, meaning I can save myself hours on the M4 and car park shuttles. The extra time in bed on a dark and cold winter’s morning is priceless.

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Flying becomes undemanding

Here’s where flying becomes undemanding. As soon as I’ve checked in at Bristol, if there are any delays or changes to any of my flights, I’m automatically rebooked onto new flights all way through to my destination. I just have to get to Bristol on-time, and then the airlines take care of it all. That doesn’t happen if the traffic grinds to halt and I’m stuck in Slough grimly watching planes soaring out of Heathrow. I can sling my bag in at Bristol and it’s checked through so I don’t have to think about it again until it magically pops out on the baggage carousel at my destination – Brisbane, Chicago, Singapore, San Francisco, wherever. It’s a burden I can forget about until I get to the other end.


Changing planes at Frankfurt or Munich seems no harder than navigating Heathrow. I just arrive and follow the signs for the next flight. I don’t really have to think that hard, I just head through the airport. The gate agent for my next flight can see I’m connecting in from Bristol, and can sometimes hold on for me for a few minutes if they can see I’m on my way.

Travel made easier

It’s just travel made easier. It’s easy to turn up on time to an airport that’s nearby, easy to throw your bag in the hold, easy to pick up boarding passes for the flights, easy to make the connections, and easy to end up in exactly the city you wanted to be in.

The most rewarding part of flying from Bristol isn’t the going, it’s the coming back. Descending through the cloud layer on final approach, I can see Bristol and I can see my suburb. In the morning, it’s glittering with sun; in the evening the city and the Suspension Bridge are lit up with lights, and within 45 minutes of the wheels touching the tarmac, I’m home. It’s the best part of the trip.

© 2014 Nick Piggott

Did you know? bmi regional has a codeshare agreement with Lufhansa which means you can fly to over 200 destinations worldwide via Frankfurt or Munich from Bristol Airport. Codeshare agreements enable bmi regional to share flights across other airlines’ networks, giving travellers from the south west of England access to a wider range of destinations and making connections simpler.

So no more Heathrow madness. #bmiOnTime.