Seasoned traveller Billy Lawes regularly enjoys coach holidays – but he took his first ever flight earlier this month at the age of 90.
The World War Two veteran had travelled to the Continent by boat on active service, and has taken more than a dozen coach tours with over-55s operator Grand UK Holidays.
But despite living about six miles from Heathrow, in Langley, he’d never taken to the skies before.
He flew with Aer Lingus from Heathrow to Cork on June 2, and at the end of the flight was invited to meet the captain in the cockpit.
“I felt like a celebrity when he congratulated me on my flight,” said Billy, who only mentioned it was his first flight after dropping his pen and chatting to a fellow passenger.
Married for 57 years, until his wife died 10 years ago, Billy had not ventured anywhere by plane, preferring coach holidays.
“My wife never wanted to go anywhere by plane or boat, but I have always fancied seeing the Ring of Kerry,” said Billy.
“I also have friends out there – including one chap who I taught accordion to – and they collected me during the holiday for a tour.”
He flew on a Grand UK Holidays’ five-day break to Cork, which includes a full day coach tour to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry.
He had no worries about flying for the first time, and the only problem was having his nail clippers confiscated on the journey home – he’d had them since World War Two.
He said the Montenotte Hotel in Cork where he stayed was “lovely”.
“I had a huge bed…we could have had an orgy up there!” he joked. “Ann Pedrick, the tour manager on the holiday was out of this world, she knew so much.”
Now back at home, he has already booked his next break with Grand UK Holidays – to Weymouth – and is looking forward to planning another flight.
Billy was on the ‘Ireland’s Second City’ holiday, which features departures from Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and Birmingham to Cork.
It costs from £319 for five days, including return flights, four nights’ half-board accommodation and the coach tour of Killarney and Ring of Kerry.