Flying an old BA 772

I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the old Rockwell Collins IFE in the Business Class cabin, that in 2017, I would be able to reminiscent the old days of 747s and when I used to fly to Europe at the back. In fact, the first time I flew BA, on the return, we already had the new IFEs on the 77Ws, so imagine my surprise or my dismay when I saw this old plane flying me to Bangkok.

Anyways, I digress. My trip started in Dusseldorf where I arrived in the airport’s Holiday Inn the night before. They upgraded me to a suite but I was too tired to take any pictures. I dropped dead on the bed until I woke in the morning, and then hurried to the airport after grabbing a few bites. I did not manage the lounge, although sources told me it is pretty bad. And the first thing I shall report is my short flight to London in the Club Europe cabin.

What I did have time to do was to walk to Terminal A to spy on Singapore Airlines’ A350. I am a huge fan of SQ’s Business product and it is indeed my hope that I will return soon (although I am now a OneWorld Emerald member!)

A bus gate today!

View from 1A is fabulous indeed

A short taxi and then we are off. It was a Sunday morning that I flew out of Dusseldorf so understandably not too busy in terms of traffic although I had to wait in the Club line to get my bags check in – not a complaint though.

Great views on departure

The crew quickly sprung into action as this segment was less than an hour and had a 6-row Club cabin (full) to serve. This is my first flight having BA’s new dining concept in Club Europe – I would complain about the portions, but the helping of the bread was generous enough for me. I did not have much of a breakfast so this helped. The crew did not make a fuss about my Gold card unlike those in my flight over in Euro Traveller.

Soon enough we reached the top of descent

My plane

I quickly settled down in the Galleries First lounge to rest/relax/eat. As far as it goes, this lounge is a half-decent First Class lounge (of course, real First Class passengers travelling on BA gets to go to the Concord Room). The bubblies are free-flowing and a decent alcoholic selections are present. There is a menu for which you can order from and the food is definitely a step-up from the Club lounge, But compared to other lounges in the system, this is subpar.

The Champagne Bar

The 4-hour transit went by rather quickly as I was dozing off in the lounge with the champagne that I had. I also had a chance to use the spa and have a shower. It was a good stay no less, although the lounge was at its full capacity throughout and it proved difficult to find seats.

My flight to Bangkok would depart in the B gates so a short ride on the train would do. One thing I like about Terminal 5 is that there are transit trains to take you to your gate areas, as opposed to those long walks to Terminal 3 gates used by Cathay.

I arrived when general boarding just began – so no wait in the queue at all.

My chariot today – 18 years old when taking me back to Asia

My seat is 11A and the window seat in the cabin. I sit directly next to the engine

I was offered a welcome drink

Departure was bang on time

And as a late Sunday afternoon as a phrase suggests, no long queues for the runway and soon enough we were cleared for takeoff

Hot towel offered after cabin crews were released from their seats

G&T to start

A second round of drinks was offered (this segment was about 10 hours long, by this point, the service took already 1.5 hours and we were still on drinks) I took a Rose Champagne, which is my go-to drink on BA

Sometime between the second round of drinks and the laying of the table linen, I was asked about my preference for starter. Here I was acknowledged as a gold member, but lo and behold, they ran out of options by the time they got to me. What a complete waste of time asking for what I want

Anyway, the vegetarian starter was very good

By this point, we were well into Eastern Europe – the quality of the IFE is of course wanting

The sun is catching up with us

Beef for main – not the best decision I have made in life – very tough but bearable

The IFE is not working, but I have been treated to nature’s wonders

The dessert was good once again, saving grace, really. However the inability to have fruits, cheese and pudding means that BA continues to lag behind all its competitors, including CX. I am therefore very much looking forward to the new Club World dining.

Once after dinner, I slept and the flat bed was very good. The last rows of the cabin and the window seat meant an extra long bed and direct aisle access. I was a happy man and I slept swimmingly. I woke up with just under 2 hours to go.

Breakfast was soon served

The beef congee was underwhelming

This IFE map really brought back childhood memories

Approaching Bangkok

Must be my lucky day – another bus gate!!

Thoughts? I really detested the deployment of these very old aircrafts in such long haul flights. The TV was barely working and the resolution made me feel like I own a time machine and went back 10 years in time. The service was good but not outstanding. It is a matter of consensus that BA offers a subpar Business Class product, but once again, I got very solid sleep and was very energetic when I got off the flight. I suffered from very minimal jetlag in Asia which was helpful given my very short trip. So all in all, a good flight. What comes next, though, is the best Cathay flight I have ever flown on. Stay tuned

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The Long Way to London Part 2 – British Airways Club World Business Class Singapore to London

Carrying on from part 1, I got off from a very decent Cathay regional flight to Singapore with just over an hour to spare. I quickly dropped by the Qantas Singapore Lounge, which was as stunning. I will review it when I report on my return trip as I did not have long to spend here this time round. I arrived shortly after the major departures for Qantas so the lounge was reasonably empty (with only a Perth service left near midnight)

I tried some Australian white, which was stunning as always, and had some fruits.

But soon enough, it was time to head over to boarding. The gate was open rather early, but I chose to leave only 15 minutes prior to the gate close time as the coming flight would clock nearly 14 hours – no need to spend more time on a plane!

When I arrived at gate C22, the gate was packed with people, especially given a full flight in all cabins and that Singapore Airport processes their security at gate. With just under 300 passengers, boarding would be quite quick (not the security, though!)

Fast track was set up for elite and premium passengers, but my observation showed that queuing up for the non-fast track would result in less queuing, presumably because all non-status passengers had cleared security much earlier without lounge access. Curiously, unlike in Hong Kong, Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) passengers are not afforded fast track.

Once I cleared security, the flight was closing. I only had time for a quick snap of my chariot before scanning my BP for departure

I was one of the very last passengers to board and I was seated in the last row of the Club World cabin 16A. British Airways’ 777-300ER is configured to have 14 First Class seats between door 1 and door 2, 56 Business Class seats (across 7 rows of 8 seats in 2-4-2 configuration) in the second cabin (Cathay has 53 in their premium-heavy 777-300ERs spread across a mini-cabin and a large cabin), 44 World Traveller Plus and 185 World Traveller seats. Row 16 is the last row of the Club World cabin and the window seats in the Club World cabin face backwards. It is also the closest to the toilets as all Club World toilets are located at the end of the cabin, but given the privacy screens, the window seats are not affected by people using the toilets at all.

The menu and the washbag were given out. At the time of writing, BA has just announced a partnership with the White Company to provide for the new amenity kits – should be a step up from this shoe bag, which while novel when I first got it, is not something ‘Business-Class-like’

Pushback and safety demonstration were on the dot on time

Long taxi to active runway

Took off just before 11 pm

Hot towel offered shortly after taking off

First round of drinks arrived about 35 minutes post-take-off. I had the Champagne de Castelnau Brut Rose Brut NV and a water.

This is the cramped cabin and the dinner service

Starter of dinner: Salmon tartare with horseradish crème fraiche. This is by far the only good dish out of all the food served on this flight

Main course:

Moroccan-spiced chicken breast with roasted sweet potato, aubergine and courgette

Seared seabass with red pepper sauce, creamy polenta and sautéed vegetables

Gnocchi with cherry tomato and Caciocavallo cheese sauce – very bland and potentially undercooked

Chilled main course salad f grilled king prawn, papaya and Thai chilli dressing

Dessert was bad: Tipsy cake with caramelised pineapple and vanilla cream

Meal service concluded about 2 hours into the flight, which was quite reasonable. By this point, I ordered a decaf tea before I go to sleep.

I had a good night sleep and slept right until they turned the lights on for breakfast service. The Club World bed has not failed me so far – it is by far the least hard bed I have been on and the privacy afforded me a good night’s sleep.

An energising fruit smoothie with fresh seasonal fruit – generally decent as you really cannot go wrong with these food

Omelette with pork sausage, back bacon, Lyonnaise potatoes and roasted tomato – let’s just say, improvements needed

A hot towel was offered to round off the meal service

By this point, we are well into descent

We landed about 10 minutes behind schedule, due to the extra long duration of the flight. We flew just as much as the block time

Parked next to the A380 from Hong Kong (see my review from last year)

Overall, this is a solid showing from BA, although much worse than SQ. The catering is the weakest spot on this flight: it is really a shame to see BA not stepping up on one of its more premium routes – nearly everyone in the Club cabin is an Emerald (evident from the additional greeting from the CSD). The lack of Asian options in both dinner and breakfast despite departing from Singapore is disappointing, and the wine selection was downright bad, bar the bubbles. The hard product is in dire need of a refresh, but I have had good night’s sleeps on the flatbed, so I am not going to complain. I arrived very refreshed. Going forward, I am looking forward to the new dining concept in Club World, as well as the enhanced bedding, pillows and amenity kits. Service was decent at best, but acceptable given a crowded flight with lots of elites (my last flight as a lowly Sapphire!)

 

 

BA A320 Club Europe: Stockholm to London

left my hotel three and half hours before my flight as I was planning to have lunch in the airport anyways. I picked my flight time strategically to enjoy the afternoon tea service on BA’s Club Europe product, which is always good and consistent. I took the airport bus from Central Station and nearing the airport, I spotted this:

BA operates out of Terminal 2, which was the last stop of the airport bus. Like Munich, which I visited in June, BA has three manned desk in Arlanda Airport: one for Club Europe and OneWorld elites and the other two for ticketing and Euro Traveller. I was promptly checked in, and my onward boarding pass to Hong Kong was also printed.

BA uses Aurora Lounge in Arlanda, which locates inside the secured area but before immigration. It is a third-party lounge shared by many airlines. The offering is not too bad, but not too good either. It can be rather crowded and the internet connection can be a bit hit and miss.

Lunch – passable

The lounge

View of the check-in area

Food offering

Drinks

Wine on tap… interesting

Flight Information Display… Not quite user-friendly, the information is rather small

Towards immigration

A very full flight today, once again, the gate agents are happy to take bags for check-in. I arrived rather late and both the elite and non-elite lines were full of people. The agents insisted, however, on boarding passengers in Club first before Gold Card (OW Emerald) members, so I ended up being one of the first people on the plane

In Sweden, the sun goes down rather early in winter

Gate disengaged after boarding. We departed 5 minutes ahead of schedule

Towel offered: I saw the cabin crew freshening the towel with hot water on the tap!

Safety demonstration

We were cleared for take-off at 15:10 (5 minutes after STD)

The view!

The cabin crew started the service right away. Most of the passengers declined the meal service and I was served 20 minutes after take-off, which was rather efficient

My choices of drinks: sparkling water, tea and champagne

The reason why I fly!

By the time I finished with my food, we just passed Denmark

Sipping champagne while working on a speech I had to give that weekend

The best inflight entertainment

Approaching England

Over Southend

… And Greater London

In a holding pattern

Glorious sunset

On final approach

Landed!

We parked in satellite B

It is probably as good a flight as intra-Europe business class goes. The crews were witty and efficient, but they would not go the extra mile. When I went to use the facilities, the crews were reading the papers and snacking on nuts. There was a water service prior to the descent, which was probably better than the other flights I have been on. The seat was hands-down bad: I would fly in the back in emergency exit any day than in Club (but my ticket was in conjunction with the HKG segment), I guess we are spoiled in Asia!

Next installment: Cathay 77G Business LHR – HKG with a review of CX’s new lounge

A short hop to Stockholm on BA’s 767

Travelling from Cambridge to Heathrow on a Monday morning guarantees some sort of travel congestion on the way. But a winter morning also guarantees quite a stunning sunrise outside of Cambridge:

3.5 hours later, I arrived into BA’s Terminal 5 for my flight to Stockholm. The Christmas decoration was in full force it being early December

As an OneWorld Ruby member, I checked in at Pier H, the Club counters. Minimal queues during lunch time on a Monday. Was in and out really quickly – got my boarding pass and luggage checked through. The agent also was kind enough to give me a priority tag.

I quickly went through security and got myself a lunch deal at Boot’s. I finished it rather quickly and got to my gate a few minutes ahead of boarding time.

As it turned out, the flight was rather full and they were looking for volunteers to gate check their bags. I jumped at the chance seeing that I had a rather heavy handcarry bag.

My bird today – a Boeing 767

Seats in 2-3-2 layout – pretty standard

View from my seat

With no inflight entertainment offered except your seatback magazines, I got a book from WH Smith as my entertainment, a book which I highly recommend: it is well written and thought-provoking

We departed on time and it was a short taxi to the runway

Refreshments were offered quickly and it would my last BA intra-Europe economy flights where food would be offered for free

Food was nice though the portion size is pitiful

Another good inflight entertainment is outside of the window

2 hours into the flight, we started our descent into Stockholm

The flight arrived on time – immigration had a long queue but I was through to luggage reclaim in 20 minutes and I waited for another 10 minutes for my bags.

BA does the job. I bagged an extra legroom seat – that was definitely the icing on the cake. At 6500 avios, I think the flight was a steal: I checked two bags in, I got to Stockholm on time and the seat was very comfortable in a 2-3-2 configuration. The service was the typical BA fare – very chippy and friendly – but the offering is quite painful when compared to the Asian carriers. Would definitely fly BA again with the award availability rather good for off-peak periods.

Seeing that this is such a brief report, I include some highlights of my day off in Stockholm:

Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Christmas is all around…

The Royal Garden and Ice Rink: I would be back in the evening and partake in some ice-skating

Bridge to another island…

I took refuge from the cold weather (-5 degrees) in the subway stations:

City Hall

Ice skating and carols:

Christmas market in the Old Town

 

 

 

A380 Club World Hong Kong to London

This is the continuation of my trip from London to Hong Kong on British Airways. On my return, I picked the A380 flight as I have tried the 777 flight on the inbound. I was very excited to fly on the upper deck. Once again, the BA policy of charging passengers for seat assignments (even in Club World) has meant that myself, as a lowly Ruby, can only grab an aisle seat – well, at least better than being in the middle. The flight lands at 4:30 in the morning so there would have been nothing to see from a window seat anyways – except for the added privacy.

I arrived in the airport two hours before the flight departed – just in time to fit in a visit to the Qantas Hong Kong lounge, which was conveniently located just outside of security, and just above the gate where the flight departed from. There was no queue for Club World check-in and my bag was checked through the London very quickly. The check-in agent confirmed that the flight was very full and all seats on the flight have been taken – so no window seat for me!

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There was a sizeable queue for World Traveller and World Traveller Plus – but I imagine that most of the passengers have checked in already for this flight.

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After a quick goodbye to my family, I headed towards security and immigration. Hong Kong is one of the few hub airports without fast track security but that was not a problem today as I got through security and immigration in 5 minutes. The Qantas Hong Kong lounge is located just on the right after immigration.

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My gate

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The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is a OneWorld lounge for passengers travelling in First or Business Class, or those with OneWorld Sapphire and Emerald status.

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No Champagne though!

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I arrived at around 9:15 pm and have just narrowly missed when they served freshly made food from the kitchen. Qantas passengers usually can enjoy a daily special being freshly made from the kitchens – for BA passengers, there is only the buffet – but food was generally of high quality and I was quite pleased with the wine selections – which I think was superb and brilliantly showcased the excellent Australian winemaking.

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I enjoyed the Clare Valley Riesling and a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

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The lounge is very spacious and I was able to find a place that was quiet to catch up on some emails and work. I did not take many pictures of the space because the lounge was getting a lot more crowded closer to the departure times of the BA flights.

I left the lounge 10 minutes ahead of boarding time as I wanted to board early!

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Surprisingly, no one has queued up yet for Economy Class – quite unusual!

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My poor attempt at photographing the bird

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Pre boarding started on time.

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Once First Class passengers and OneWorld Emerald passengers boarded, Club World passengers were invited to board – it was all very chill as not many people have arrived at the gate yet!

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Stairs to heaven!

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I was the first passenger to board the forward cabin in the Upper Deck.

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My seat: 52D

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Club World cabin on the Upper Deck of A380 is in a 2-3-2 layout – which is the same as the Premium Economy cabin. BA has one of the densest Business Class cabins in the world – with the ‘yin-yang’ arrangement – not everyone has direct aisle access – rather you will need to step over someone’s legs if you are looking to leave from a window or middle seat. Also, the aisle seats tend to lack privacy as you are exposed.

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I was immediately offered Champagne or orange juice. Some bubbles for me, please!

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The second Club cabin

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The World Traveller Plus cabin – probably one of the largest in the industry – this cabin boosts 55 seats in one cabin 9-row 2-3-2 layout

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And the rare gems – the upper deck economy class seats

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Back at my seat – for the obligatory legroom shot

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My neighbours have not yet arrived, still… As you can see the seats afford almost zero privacy

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The famous A380 stair

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50B is not a very good seat as it faces straight into the loo and can be disruptive during the flight

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The middle seat, too, is not ideal – very narrow and it will be like sleeping in a coffin

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The screen is big enough (10.4 inches) and I like the touch screen a lot – one of the problems I have with the SQ new Business Class is the lack of touch screen in their monitors

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Water was offered during the lengthy boarding process

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Once the Club cabin filled up, we were given menus and the wash bag amenity kits

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Menu for the flight – no one-tray supper affair with BA… you get a three-course meal as per usual dinner standards, and a good breakfast

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Drinks

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BA serves three champagnes in the Club cabin – probably more than any carrier in the world (QR serves a white and a rose champagne)

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The flight left the gate bang on time at 23:05 and the safety video played one minute after:

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And the cabin crew did their final walk around soon after the video in preparation for departure

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Onwards and upwards!

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My neighbour immediately raised the privacy screen

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Noise-cancelling headsets

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Exploring the IFE – not much to see but quite updated and good enough for a red-eye

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Drinks came soon enough – the crews were very efficient despite a very full flight

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Refills were plentiful – seems like I am the only one in the cabin drinking this the crew even gave me the bottle

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Half an hour after, we got the first course – which was bland but edible. No plate for bread though!

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In 20 minutes my first course was cleared away and I asked for the Australian white, which was not too bad!

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The main was chicken – nothing spectacular but it was well cooked, pipping hot and tender – no complaints that. It was very satisfying at this late hour indeed

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On BA – cheese course is one of the desserts – or it is either cheese or pie

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The pie is brilliant – simple yet delicious. And with a cup of tea – it is out of the world

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Dinner was done two hours after gate departure – which was efficient in my opinion and with the long flight time, there was chance for a good sleep (10:11hrs left)

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The sleeping amenities – both very decent. The blanket was warm enough but I would definitely appreciate an extra pillow!

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Flat bed

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Woke up half way through my sleep – still tired though

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Explored the Club Kitchen – nothing impressive

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I went back to sleep until breakfast – which started 1 hour 15 minutes before landing – so I slept for about 8.5 hours – the bed was decent and once the cabin was completely dark, privacy did not matter as much

Breakfast

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Pastries

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Fruits

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Main course – definitely looks very good, but because I was still very full, I only picked at it – the eggs were great but did not venture anywhere more than that

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We were among the first few to arrive into Heathrow – with no air traffic control holds, we were able to take a rather direct route for an on-time arrival

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Verdict

Let’s start with the positives:

  • The ground service and the lounge in HKG were brilliant. No queue and I enjoyed the lounge immensely – a very quiet place to work in.
  • The cabin crews were friendly and efficient.
  • The food was, if simple and predictable, well-executed.
  • The bed was very comfortable and BA provided enough amenities to guarantee a good night’s sleep.

But…

  • The hard product remains outdated – in today’s world, we all love a bit more space, hence we are seeing Business Class seats classed as “suites” and have direct aisle access that boosts a 1-2-1 layout. If anything, the denseness of the cabin can be uncomfortable.

 

A pleasant experience on BA’s Club World Business Class

BA0027 London Heathrow to Hong Kong in Club World Business Class Review

I have prepared myself for this: an exposed flat bed in a cramped cabin, subpar dining experience and potentially someone (crew) shouting at me for not conforming to certain health and safety regulations. But surprisingly, British Airways pulled out a solid decent show – the bed was surprisingly comfortable, the food was good to very good, the flight was smooth and the crew was almost as friendly as the purser I encountered on my previous segment. While I was spoiled by Singapore Airlines by their luxurious five-course meals and Cathay for their reverse herringbone designs, BA did not fail to impress. I enjoyed the non-nonsense approach to meals, which maximised my time to rest. I appreciated the attentiveness of the crew, who offered me tea right after I woke up. And the inflight entertainment was decent.

So I got off the previous flight from Munich and headed towards the transit security. The staff initially declined me fast track access (probably testament to my causal wear) but after I insisted that I was flying Club World and showed them the boarding pass, they let me into the fast track. I guess the way this lane was fiercely guarded (which was unwarranted) led to how empty it was:

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I wasted no time and got out of security. I headed to the Galleries lounges where I first had a shower to refresh myself after quite a long day of travelling (more to come!) While this is not my first visit to Terminal 5, this was definitely my first visit to the lounges.

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After a hot shower, I am in need of some cooling down: as I headed to the Galleries First lounge (not for First Class passengers, but for OneWorld Emerald cardholders), I opted immediately for some Henriot Rose Campagne, and some Highland Spring Sparkling Water (60p in Sainsbury’s!) Pleasant enough…

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I have read elsewhere that frequent flyers are disappointed that BA no longer serves Taittinger Rose in Galleries First, but I must confess that I like the Henriot a lot.

On offer in the a la carte menu was: BA Burger, Smoked Salmon Bagel, Cauliflower Salad, Mozzarella and Basil Gnocchi, Chicken Curry, and Ice Cream.

I had a spa treatment scheduled later, so I planned to have two courses before dessert!

I have heard good things about the BA Burger and I was not disappointed!

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I then went to the spa for an eye treatment that was supposed to make my eyes feel better. It was a good massage but 15 minutes was too short!! Either way, I think that this is good provision for Business Class passengers that can put BA above some other carriers, even in intra-European routes!

I went back for more – and here’s the Smoked Salmon Bagel, which was equally delightful. To go with my Bagel, I had a French white, which was surprisingly good (I have never had good wines in lounges before, champagne is usually decent where it is offered – you cannot really go wrong with the latter, but you can with wines!)

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Always time and room for some dessert:

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I then went around the lounge to look around (guilty actually: I was looking for some more champagne!) Here’s the champagne bar:

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The Rose Champagne which I liked a lot a lot:

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Makes me feel slightly sad that I have to go soon to my gate (at this point, I am still not expecting much from my maiden Club World experience)

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One thing I liked about this lounge was how not busy it was during the Friday evening:

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Last drinks…

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With another dinner yet to be served on board, I decided to walk off some of the food and aid the digestion:

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Not my chariot…

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I reached my gate around 5 minutes before boarding. The gate was filled with so many people (a 777-300ER’s worth of people) and I had to fight my way through to the priority boarding lane, which was confusingly set up at gate B48, still showing for boarding a flight to Mumbai. Some frequent flyers told the staff off for the confusing signs, but the ground staff decided to shout back and justified his action by saying “I have done this for many years.”

Once I boarded, I settled into my seat 10J, which was an aisle seat on the first row. This is considered to be one of the better seats in the 777 Club World cabin, because no one would be climbing over you to go to the loo. Being in the first row also means that you will be served first for both meals. Yet, being an aisle seat would mean that the crew would still have to serve over you.

Soon enough I was offered pre-departure drinks by the crew. Champagne, OJ and water were on offer:

Then I was headed the menu for the evening, which reads:

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I chatted with my neighbour throughout the delay (we were on the ground for another hour despite that we finished boarding on time). But then we both got a bit tired by the time the flight took off, we just watched TV and the screen went up.

I put on the inflight map:

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Hot towel was then offered prior to the drinks cart.

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I took a champagne and some pre-packaged nuts. I did not like the drinks cart, which felt like economy class, but the I guess it was more efficient that way as dinner service then started very soon.

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Then I had the Kir Royale

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Starter came soon enough after one finishes the nuts. One of the male crews was in charge of clearing the table once a passenger finished his/her nuts.

The cart came back with starter choices, and I chose the smoked salmon starter. Well done to BA for giving us choices in starters! The starter was quite good, so was the bread. My only complaint would be the lack of a bread plate, but I guess the cloth was clean enough.

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For main course, I went for the Chinese option and the French white. The pork was flavourful but the rice was slightly overcooked and dry. It felt good though to be having rice after being in Europe for a long while.

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With a very good dessert being served, the crew serving me asked me for my tea/coffee preference. I wanted de-caf tea with milk, but the seat belt sign was on so it could not be served. I ended up falling a sleep so the tea never came!

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When my table was cleared, I fell asleep immediately as I put my seat into the bed. I did not get up until 2.5 hours before landing, which meant I slept for 7 hours straight, which was really, really decent. I found the bed, the duvet and the pillow very comfortable, and the fact that I slept for so long was a testament to that.

When I woke up, the crew came back to me and asked whether I would like the cup of tea I never drank. I said I wanted caffeinated tea this time, and I was served immediately.

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Already in China when I woke up

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Watching the Big bang Theory in anticipation of breakfast!

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A light start to breakfast: it was good, but unremarkable. I would like more fruits and those fruits presented better.

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Still full from dinner and I am arriving into Hong Kong in dinner time, I did not opt for the traditional English breakfast option. Instead I opted for the smoked salmon muffin, which was absolutely delicious – one of the best dish I have had in the skies.

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A remarks on the BA approach to serving main courses: like Cathay, BA shows you the main courses before asking for your preference, but unlike Cathay, BA does not put all the main courses on a cart and push it around the cabin. Rather, a crew would have one of the four main courses each on a tray and asks for our preferences and go back into the gallery for some fresh mains every now and then. This is a good approach, I think, as the mains were still warm even if you were last to be served.

Breakfast service was quick, efficient, and no-nonsense, concluded 55 minutes before landing, and with more tea / coffee to be offered.

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In sum, this was a solid showing from BA. It was not the most luxurious experience in Business Class, but it gets the job done. The bed, despite its lack of privacy, was long, wide enough for some movements while sleeping, and was comfortable for sleeping (the padding was extremely good). The catering was good: it was efficient but not overly simplistic. BA retains some class from its English origin. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on BA’s Club World Business Class.

Food could be better. With regards to the seat, I think it was decent for the price I paid, but I agree that BA could use a new, updated seat design featuring much more storage, privacy and direct aisle access.

In December, I will be flying the same route on Cathay and I look forward to seeing how Cathay fare.

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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Flight Review: Hong Kong to London Heathrow on British Airways World Traveller Plus

Flight Info

BA26

HKG-LHR

14 FEB 2015

2330-0450+1 (13h 20m)

Seat 64A (World Traveller Plus, aka Premium Economy)

A380-800

Check in

No priority lines for World Traveller Plus and it was Chinese New Year peak season, so I was stuck in the line for almost 30 minutes. It was not a pleasant experience despite I did online check in.

Unlike Cathay, BA does not offer seat selection at booking for Premium Economy, which forced me pay a sum of money when there is only one window seat left.

On board

Boarding was fine. Priority line for World Traveller Plus here, so I was able to board really quickly. Gate 15 for the day, so just right outside security.

Welcome drink in a plastic cup…

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PTV in good size and looks posh, also appreciated the two USB ports

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View from my seat. Gate 16 is the BA departure 10 minutes later

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Pre supper cocktail service: Red wine and water for me. The snack was okay.

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Dinner service: They forgot to load the menu so now menu. The starter was standard. The main was a huge problem – I could not cut through the steak – what’s the point of having steak if you cannot chew through it? I gave up after a few trials. The dessert, again, was box standard. Nothing to write home about.

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Too tired by this point that I elected to fall asleep. But I was hungry by the middle of the night – because I did not eat much dinner. Snack offering from the gallery:

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A movie would kill some time…

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Breakfast, again, looks troublesome. Potato had excessive flavours and the presentation is just horrible.

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Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I was very tired on this red eye flight and the flight experience did not really refresh me.

Verdict and Conclusion

Catering: was not good. No menu for PEY long haul and the two meals were both, at best, edible, or plainly unappealing.

Seat: was very good. It looks modern and recline is good. I did not sleep very well in it, though.

Service: was good. Crews were not that proactive but were good at doing their jobs – giving out meals and drinks.

IFE: was very good. Posh, modern and easy to navigate. And a very good collection of movies.

Ground at HKG: was fine. Would much prefer priority check-in for PEY.

Overall: was good. For a PEY offering, BA did a solid job – much more comfortable than Economy but not very competitive among the other carriers that offer PEY. I did not pay too much of a premium (~£30), so I would gladly take the upgrade, but any more than £100, I would probably think twice.