British Airways. Are they still the flag carrier which once was or merely a posh low cost carrier?
Last summer (pre masks, pre pandemics and pre not hugging people) I went to Antigua on holiday. In one word all I can say is…stunning. Naturally, I had to fly BA as they have the monopoly on most Caribbean routes from the UK (Virgin’s timetable is somewhat to be improved).
Check in was easy and automated at their new base in Gatwick’s South Terminal and before I knew it my bags were gone! I boarded the old, rickety and ‘seen better days’ Boeing 777-200 (G-YMMA) and took my seat (38A – yes, economy, but I am a student!). To say I was disappointed is an understatement…the cabin was old, dirty and my iPhone was bigger than the IFE screen on the seatback in-front. I was not very happy with the coffee stains on my tray table and the dust which omitted from the seats when you touched them…not ok. Have BA scrimped on their cleaning? The flight was more than half empty and we rocketed out of runway 26L and headed out over Cornwall for our Oceanic track to ANU.
Once airborne the BA service which you do expect from the flag carrier did actually live up to expectations. All of the crew were brilliant, could not have provided more drinks if they tried (let’s just say they ran out of Whiskey… oops!). Food was good with a choice of chicken, pasta or beef…pretty standard but it all tasted good. IFE was awful, unresponsive and the picture quality was that of a Nokia 3310. So, I didn’t bother on that front.
With the outbound flight, the only positive that can be taken out of the experience is that BA crew are really well trained in how to serve (as well as save your life if needed). I cannot fault them. At all.
We landed into ANU and I had a great week drinking rum and Wadadli beers…you really must try them if you ever get out there!
The way back was a different story…
BA’s new long haul cabin is beautiful…cramped but lovely. My aircraft for the redeye flight was G-VIIV in seat 35H. They have changed the seat config from 3-3-3 to 3-4-3 which is so noticeable when walking down the aisles and sitting in the aisle seat (which I did). The new IFE entertainment system is great with a wide range of movies, podcasts, music and games to enjoy. It really is a high difference to the prehistoric cabin on my outbound journey, albeit with seats which are not quite as comfortable as their predecessor. The meal choice was the same and the crew were ok… it was a night flight, so they didn’t want to be there anymore than I did.
The flight was very bumpy, and I got covered in Whiskey… not a bad thing all round! The crew were on hand at all times to provide whatever you needed. I listened to Ferne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast (no plug intended here) which was great, and had a little look at the inflight magazines. Nothing out of the ordinary with them. We arrived back at 08R at LGW ahead of schedule and I was very jetlagged. Standard for me – I cannot seem to sleep on planes.
In conclusion, BA are still a very good airline who offer a great new cabin and IFE system. Their crew are good on the whole and do love their job. I just hope that even through the pandemic they continue to upgrade fleets which really need it (mainly their 777’s) and continue to provide their trademark good service. They are by no means trying to become a LCC with their new fare types of Basic Economy as they still proved a cracking onboard service. Their short haul operations are a different story as I have experienced on a flight down to Valencia…but that’s for another day!
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Image used: ‘Boeing 777-200’ by Dmitry Terekhov. View here. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. View license. Image cropped.