World Cup 2018: Nearly 900 check-in for Russia flights

image captionAirport staff set aside an area of Heathrow to get fans in the mood for the World Cup semi-final

Hundreds of World Cup football fans have raced to Heathrow Airport to check-in for last-minute flights to Russia.

England take on Croatia at the Luznihki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday night in the World Cup semi-final.

One England fan told the BBC he spent £7,000 on tickets for the semi-final and flights.

British Airways said 860 passengers had booked onto flights to Moscow and St Petersburg, amid a "party atmosphere".

The airline put on bigger planes for the two routes in order to cope with the demand for seats.

Part of the airport was transformed to get fans in the mood for the semi-final.

image copyrightBritish Airways
image captionExtra champagne was loaded onto the four flights to Russia

Much larger Boeing 777 planes, which can carry about 390 passengers, replaced the normal domestic-sized planes which tend to carry 140 passengers on the routes to the Russian cities.

British Airways said "searches for flights to Russia went up by 2000%" after England beat Sweden in the quarter-finals.

One fan, Charlie, 15, said his schoolfriends "did not know" he had managed to get tickets to go.

He said: "I think it is coming home, and England are going to win 2-1 in extra time."

Another fan, Steve, said he "had been through five hours of sheer hell" to get his hands on match tickets which cost him $750 in a re-sale.

At Heathrow Airport

BBC London's Greg McKenzie

image captionThree flights to Moscow and one to St Petersburg are set to leave Heathrow over the course of the day

Lots of England fans young and old have rushed by me towards the planes taking them to Russia.

Just like any other day, there are some who have made the flights with seconds to spare - which is just as well as there are no more seats left.

For those here early, they were given a free navy waistcoat to mark Gareth Southgate's touchline look.

It is certainly a fun atmosphere, some fans I have spoken to feel this is the opportunity of a lifetime had have spent a lot of money to follow England.

More on this story