By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Barbados is the only Caribbean destination (and one of only four countries) to have had regular Concorde service from London. Although the planes were decommissioned in 2003, one of the supersonic British Airways jets has been on display since 2007 at The Concorde Experience, an aviation museum next to the island’s Grantley Adams International Airport. We took the $20 tour – during which you actually board the plane and sit in its leather seats – and here are few fun facts we learned:
1. Only 20 Concordes were ever manufactured. The 12th, on display at the museum, is G-BOAE (known as Alpha Echo), and flew more than 7,000 flights to Barbados between 1987 and 2003. The average flying time was three hours and 45 minutes.
2. A certain times of the year when there’s a four-hour time difference (Barbados doesn’t observe daylight savings time) if the pilots made good time and arrived in less than four hours, Concorde would appear to land in Barbados before it left London!
3. Although the jet could seat 100, it rarely flew full to Barbados. That way cabin staff could deliver the high level of personalized service wealthy passengers demanded.
4. It cost about $8,000 to fly one-way between LHR and BGI. There was only one class of service, but passengers always wanted to sit in the forward cabin (capacity: 40) rather than the rear, which seated 60. #snobberyinthesky
5. Passengers were allowed officially only one bag, weighing no more than 55 pounds. But high flyers commonly traveled with multiple pieces – another reason why the aircraft didn’t fly with its full passenger load. And apparently most almost everyone had the same brown-and-cream Louis Vuitton monogram motif cases – which made for challenging times when it came to sorting bags on arrival.
6. Inflight meal service included fois gras and caviar served on place settings of fine china and linen, accompanied by wines from Concorde’s “cellar,” the highest wine cellar in the world.
7. Although Concorde’s seats are small by today’s premium-class standards, each costs almost $5,000 to replace. They’re made from titanium, aluminium, and the same leather used by Rolls Royce and Bentley.
8. Concorde’s windows have three planes of glass but are only 8 inches high so that in an emergency there’d be no chance of passengers being sucked out!
9. Since Concorde pilots had six days of rest time between each four-hour flight, they had plenty of time to explore Barbados and many of them now have homes on the island.
10. Passengers on Concorde’s Barbados route included Sir Elton John, Sting, Pierce Brosnan, Prince Albert of Monaco and Mick Jagger.