An English Afternoon Tea at 37,000 feet

BA953 MUC–LHR CLUB EUROPE REVIEW

On my departure from Munich, I purposely chose a flight that leaves in time for the afternoon tea service. I know that intra-European flights’ caterings often leave much to be desired, but I have equally heard wonderful things about BA’s afternoon tea services, especially with regards to the tea they serve on board. I was not disappointed on that front.

A very topical restaurant found in Munich Airport:

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British Airways departs in Terminal 1B in Munich Airport, whereas Lufthansa operates out of Terminal 2 with most, if not all, of its Star Alliance partners, where a new satellite building just opened.

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BA counters:

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I was checked in rather quickly. I did not share much conversations with the check-in agent. Rather, she proceeded with the no-nonsense attitude like most Germans. She gave me my boarding passes in less than a minute and pointed me to where immigration was.

Rather interestingly, BA operates out of the same terminal where Easyjet operates, so there were lots of Brits, not sure whether they were flying BA or not. I was also surprised by the lack of people at BA’s counters, given the flight would turn out to be really, really full, including in Club Europe.

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Fast Track was “closed” as in there was a barrier erected against its entrance. I waited for the person manning the Fast Track to return and showed him my boarding pass to access it. The Fast Track and the normal queue share the same two counters for immigration, one for EU and one for non-EU. Both counters were quite busy because of the QR departures in the B gates too. A BA customer was insistent that Fast Track passengers should be allowed to use the immigration counters before all the normal queue people whereas a lot of other Brits (including people travelling in Club) were okay with alternating between normal and Track. One thing is clear though, the Fast Track was not well thought through and that may need some improving during rush hours like Friday afternoons.

Anyhow, I was out of immigration and security checks in 15 minutes, where wasn’t too bad for an international airport – but rather unremarkable for Fast Track (my comparison would be London Terminal 2’s Fast Track for Star Alliance Gold members)

BA operates a lounge in Munich, which is decent for a European out-station, but not ideal if you skipped lunch. Due to existing building works, BA lounge is rather hard to reach. Just follow the signs and pursue regardless would be my advice (don’t doubt, just follow!)

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Plane spotting on the way: QR 77W with OneWorld livery

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The lounge does not have a restroom, you will need to exit the lounge

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No champagne, just Prosecco served from a bottle that looks like beer bottles in China:

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Soon enough, it was boarding time and I left the lounge. Strangely, the lounge agent made no announcement despite it being a BA lounge and that the lounge was quite far away from the gate.

We boarded through Gate B4 instead of the previously advertised B3

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When I arrived at the gate, a queue was formed already. Priority boarding was not enforced properly resulting in a very chaotic gate area. I fought my way through the crowd with my Club Europe boarding pass in my hand but when I reached the jetbridge, I was greeted with yet another queue…

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I assigned myself 5A in the hope that no one would sit next to me in the aisle, especially given the legroom (30 inches) but the flight was full in both classes, so 5C ended up being taken by a man. He lacked carry-on though, which meant I could put my backpack under the middle seat which was customarily blocked.

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The view of the engine from my seat:

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No pre-departure drinks, but pre-departure hot towels. I like how BA’s towels were somehow scented with citrus flavours

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Taxiing to the end of the runway did not take too long even though our flight was slightly delayed.

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Looking back to where we started… Terminal 1 of Munich – note the QR 77W for Doha just started push back

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As soon as the seat belt sign went off, the TV went down and inflight map started to play. Curtains were drawn between Club and Euro Traveller, and from the gallery where a delicious meal of afternoon tea was being prepared.

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Service was quite British – the Purser came by with the tray and chatted with the customers, addressing each by name! She poured tea and offered champagne for everyone. But that meant I was nearly last to receive my afternoon tea!

I went for Champagne, Sparkling Water and some tea. I was probably the only one opting for some bubbly that day – the Purser was so happy when I said the magic word. Partly it was due to the fact that they ran out of still water…Maybe it is fate that I should be drinking Champagne!

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You would note the absence of tea: the Purser must have noticed how she just took her time to come serve me, so she told me she would come back after she brewed a fresh pot. Of course, the tea was so important that it was worth the wait. Also, for the time being, I had the pleasure of the company of some bubbly! In the end, the tea did not disappoint – really, really, excellent English tea – the best (English Breakfast) tea I have ever had in the sky (my favourite remains CX’s Hong Kong style Milk Tea, as featured on my last Business trip with CX)

I also got some extra scones from the Purser – one of my masterpieces:

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Enroute: my glass of sparkling water was consistently topped up and I was addressed by name every time any crew interacted with me – the person touch goes a long way in my opinion.

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I had some spare coins – so donation was imperative!

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“More champagne, Mr Lam?” Asked the Purser.

“Do we have the time?”

“We always have time for more champagne, Mr Lam!”

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Flight time was a little below 1.5 hours and we began our descent soon after I started slipping on the extra champagne I was given…

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I believe that this is Windsor Castle?

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Another short hop done:

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Plane spotting in Heathrow:

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And we stopped next to the golden bird – which I saw it when I flew to Munich earlier

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As I exited the aircraft, the Purser said “more Champagne, next time, Mr Lam! Have a good day!” Such cheery goodbyes – which exemplified the best of BA’s service. Little did she know, I was on my way to the Galleries First lounge for some more bubbly!

Apart from the seat and the lack of entertainment (solved by bringing novels onto the plane to read), I was incredibly impressed – good food, and wonderful crew.

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