Today I am sharing my recent experience of visiting the British Airways i360 with you.
The Brighton seafront attraction re-opened to guests on July 4, 2020 following lockdown and the team have implemented a number of health and safety measures to help keep everyone safe. You can read more about them during this post, but before I begin – here is a little overview for you.
Please note my visit took place before the recent announcement from the UK Prime Minister on the 22nd September. Some of the proposition may differ slightly should you visit the attraction over the next couple of months
The British Airways i360 Viewing Tower
The British Airways i360 is a vertical cable-car made up of a glass viewing pod which slowly travels to a height of 138m (450ft) to offer impressive, 360-degree views of the city of Brighton and Hove, the South Downs and the Sussex coastline. The attraction currently holds the record for being the world’s tallest moving observation tower; and also for being the slimmest tower in the world – the diameter of the tower is just 4.6 metres! Marks Barfield Architects designed the attraction, the name may sound familiar as they are the team behind the London Eye. That opened more than 20-years ago, say what?!
BA are the naming rights partner to the i360. Hence trips on the pod are referred to as “flights” and staff proudly wear the Julien Macdonald uniform. Each flight lasts for approximately 25-minutes including embarkation and disembarkation; which is plenty of time to enjoy the views. On a clear day you can see for up to 26-miles and if you are really lucky – you might just be able to spot the Isle of Wight towards the South West. The attraction opened in August 2016 and certainly offers #BrightonsBestViews and sunsets.
The glass pod feels very spacious and in normal times can accommodate roughly 175-guests on each flight, it’s a lot less at the moment. Many say the pod is like a Tardis when viewed from outside as you may not realise how much space there actually is, even when at capacity there is plenty of room to move around.
Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, the attraction re-opened with a number of health and safety procedures in place to help protect guests and their staff. As such the capacity of the pod has been effectively halved to accommodate social distancing, created specific viewing zones and as a condition of entry, guests must:
- Participate in non-invasive temperature checks when going through security
- Wear a face-covering (you can remove when you are actively sipping on a drink or briefly to take a photograph)
Like everywhere else at the moment – contactless is king. The attraction are encouraging guests to pay for any purchases by using contactless payment methods. There are plenty of hand-sanitising stations and there are washroom facilities available before and after your “flight” too.
You can read further information about all the health and safety measures here.
My Recent Experience (Early September 2020)
I booked my ticket to visit the attraction online (you can save 10%) and it is very easy to do so. When you arrive, all you need to do is show your ticket on your phone to a guest experience host and it’s as simple as that.
During normal operations, boarding takes place on the upper-deck which is outside and there is plenty of space to socially distance whilst enjoying the great British summer and all the weather is throws as us. It can get a little breezy so if you feel the cold I’d strongly suggest bringing a light jacket with you.
Once your ticket has been scanned, you’ll go through a quick security check which is self-explanatory. This is also where your temperature will be checked before you are free to enjoy the boarding area. There is a pop-up bar sponsored by Brighton Gin and plenty of areas to sit or stand socially-distanced from other guests. You’ll know when it’s time to board the pod as it will slowly glide up to the boarding level and the doors will open. Brits love a queue, so you will probably notice people queuing up beforehand, socially distanced of course.
To accommodate social distancing (that’s a phase I fear we may hear for a while), the team at the i360 have marked out 2 metre squares all over the pod. As the capacity has been significantly reduced, it is straightforward to socially distance from other guests. I happened to visit on a quiet weekday evening, hence there were very few people in the photo above.
The Nyetimber Sky Bar serves a variety of locally produced beverages including Nyetimber Sparkling Cuvée (£10/glass), Brighton Gin, Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and various non-alcoholic beverages which now includes Coca Cola. If you want to try something different, I do highly recommend a glass of Nyetimber Sparkling Wine (£10 a glass) or Brighton Gin with either a Folkington’s Earl Grey or English Country Garden tonic. (£6.50) – the latter is my favourite.
There are also some cocktails you can try, including a new low-alcohol Raspberry Crush pre-mixed cocktail which features Brighton Gin. Unfortunately they had sold out during my visit, but I have heard it is very nice. Essentially, the bar prices are comparable with other tourist attractions and hotels in the South East. As mentioned earlier in this post, some things have since changed owing to the latest guidance from the UK Government, full details can be found on the i360 website.
Looking over the city of Brighton and Hove is very interesting as you can see how everything blends in together to form a diverse city. I like that some buildings have actually installed artwork on their rooftops which can only be viewed from above – a great excuse for a trip on the BA i360 and a good way for artists to showcase their latest creations.
If you are brave enough, you can lean over the edge of the curved glass and look directly below – otherwise just keep looking at the horizon and take a seat on the benches around the middle if heights really aren’t your thing. Did you know that you can also abseil at the i360? They hold regular “i-drop” experiences throughout the year, not sure I am that brave.
After a few minutes stationary at 450-feet it was time to begin our descent back to the ground. The journey is so smooth, I didn’t even realise we were moving again until I looked back at the tower itself. You’ll disembark the pod within the beach building and the gift shop (clever, eh?) – there are loads of fantastic souvenirs to purchase including plenty of arts and crafts that have been designed by local artists. You’ll also be able to purchase souvenir photos from the experience too.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the BAi360 again after a long break due to Covid. The health and safety measures put in place made me feel at ease and I’d arguably say it’s a lot safer than visiting a supermarket. Would I visit again soon? Of course I would. Cheers!
Visit for yourself
If you want to visit the British Airways i360 for yourself, you’ll find it located along the Lower Kings Road in Brighton, very close to the Brighton Centre. There are plenty of car parks within a 5-minute walk from the venue, the train station is 15-minutes North (up a hill!), and the City Sightseeing bus stops right outside.
The attraction is currently open daily from around 10:00 with flights departing every 30-minutes until just after sunset. Due to the current pandemic the hours of operation may vary, please be sure to check their website before your visit.