Exactly one year ago, I flew this exact same flight; and as my schedule would have it, I am flying BA32 again on the same day. I have since attained OneWorld Emerald status through BA Executive Club so have been afforded more privileges, including First Class check-in, First Class lounge access (in Hong Kong, it would be the two Cathay lounges: the Wing and the Pier, as BA’s dedicated Qantas lounge is a shared Business and First Class lounge).
There was absolutely no wait at the First Class check-in where my bags were tagged promptly and my boarding pass issued without much human interaction. No ‘welcome back’ but at least it was an efficient process and I was off in no time.
As BA32 regularly (and this time it was no different) departs from gate 15, which is really close to security, there was really no point to visit the Pier, which is far at gate 65. I settled for the Wing instead of my usual favourite of Qantas lounge this time.
The Champagne bar, serving three champagnes
The view is good
I was able to fit in a visit to the cabana, which was majestic
And a cold champagne to toast for this trip
I left for Gate 15 when my flight started to board
Boarding through the First Class line attracts no queue nor wait. BA at Hong Kong does a far better job at enforcing priority boarding, with clearly defined queues for different boarding priorities, although lumping Business Class (Club World) together with Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) together may attract some criticisms. Equally, by granting all OneWorld elites priority boarding at least at the level of Business Class has the effect of lengthening the priority queues to be somewhat as long as the Economy queues on this A380 service. Yet, First Class line remains a sanctuary for those who have ‘earned’ it. (Yours truly is reminded of the scene in the movie Up in the Air)
A glass of champagne is offered upon arrival
View from my seat
BA utilises something called ‘Theoretical Seating’ to allocate seats. As BA charges for seat assignments even for Business Class passengers without status, BA is able to optimise its seat assignments by way of starting to block seats next to its most loyal customers (Gold Card holders, equivalent to Emerald) 55 hours prior to departure. This is evident on this flight as out of the 1 only seat that is not taken, it was the seat next to me. Over the next few flights I have taken with BA, this has been of some successes, including a blocked seat next to me on the upper deck of 747.
Bulkhead seats have slightly more legroom
Menu for the day
One of the major issues I took with the menu this time last year was the lack of Chinese option despite flying out of Hong Kong (ex-Heathrow flights have one Asian option for both meals). I was glad to see the issue addressed in part. For the first meal service, BA now replaces its (in)famous fish course (served with ‘wild rice’) with an Asian selection (for this month, sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice), which I took and would be reporting below.
BA28 on the 777-300ER
The new safety video was featured.
Take off was more or less on time
Hot towel (if you can call it that!) was offered after take off
Rose champagne, sparkling water and cashew nuts – a familiar start to my BA Club flights. BA is one of the very few airlines that offer more than 1 champagne selections on their flight.
With just 11 hours to go
Starter with a New Zealand ‘Tiki’ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (NZ SB is now my beverage of choice and this was one of the more enjoyable BA white selection!)
A somewhat lacklustre attempt at a Chinese main course. Tastes good but looks just like an economy meal (except on Chinaware). The other complaint is the same for Cathay: customers now expect some sort of plating when serving food in Business Class, rather than just a heated meal from the oven.
Dessert was definitely the highlight of the meal – it was simply divine
Dinner was done about 1.5 hours after take-off. Against such a full Business Class cabin, this was commendable
I woke up about 2 hours out of London
Began my day with a cup of tea. Despite the lack of fancy tea/coffee selection, I generally find BA tea very comforting and well made, even in Economy Class. This time was no different: I was just glad this was offered
I asked and was given the fruit plate
Second Course: Salmon and spinach wrap – not the best food I have eaten on the plane…
By the time the plates were cleared, we are approaching English coast
London in the very early morning. As one of the first flights arriving, there is no holding pattern (!) and we were cleared to approach straightaway, though the approach was lengthened as we landed on the west
To end, a hearty English breakfast in the Arrivals Lounge, accessible through travelling in Business Class
In sum, it was a solid flight – nothing that wows me though. This is one of those flights that my BA gold status went unnoticed, not that I wanted any special treatment, but as Ryan Bingham would say: “Loyalty is earned and rewarded with these small touches. It’s these kinds of systemized friendly touches that keep my world in orbit.” In terms of service, I think there is definitely room for improvements, not least was I told off for failing to pronounce a French wine-related word properly by a crew (fault is my own, but still, it can be dealt with in a much more friendly way). The food was better than last year, snack offerings remained subpar (Club Kitchen contained nibbles, only), but beverage offering is solid as usual. It did the trick, though: I was not jetlagged and got a very good night’s sleep.