British Airways, a famous airline with a complicated service -if I may call it, because of the excess security measures, seat choices and boarding procedures among others. Professional is the least that can be said with a priority called; “the customer.” I’ve been on British Airlines only once in the past, experiencing the business class cabin from Beirut to London and now using it all the way to New York. Not only three kinds of planes; Airbus A321, a Boeing double-decker 747-400 and a Boeing 777 but also three classes; economy, premium economy, and business class.
Arrive at the check-in counter; choose your seat, weight your luggage and make sure it’s only 23 kilograms. Everything has a price on British Airways; You can buy an exit seat for 90 dollars or an empty middle seat for a hundred bucks. Upgrades are also available. When you choose your seat, you are assigned to a group which you have to follow for boarding; it organizes things better.
A large touch-screen and a USB plug to recharge your phone, I was seated and ready to take-off when the security video started. One of the most professional not to say the best video I’ve seen to date doesn’t focus on editing and special effects or on the load of colors but more on the importance of things. Starring the major British cinema icons, the video looks like a making-off shot in a studio on white background, keeping the focus on the characters and the message itself. Professional and fun at the same time, the video grabs your attention from start to end.
Now the food; such a dull looking platter on which an orange juice box, water bottle, jam and a muffin are served with a hot aluminum plate; choose omelet with spinach or meat and omelet. Even though the display looks dull and unappetizing, the food is acceptable. The omelet is juicy, the potatoes well cooked and the chicken tender. An hour before landing you are offered coffee for your smooth arrival.
Recline the seat, watch a movie and hope five long hours will pass quickly. It was a smooth flight, had breakfast and a coffee hoping we land on time to catch the New York flight.
London-New York, Premium Economy:
Hello London! Running around the airport, a quick lunch at Wagamama, a stop at the duty-free shop and here I was boarding the 747 jumbo. This part of the trip will be taken on Premium economy, a class that’s better, wider and more relaxing than the one on AirFrance.
The premium economy on British Airways declines around forty percent; you have a wide, newly designed touch screen, a USB plug and an electricity socket. The seat is larger than the one back in the economy and more relaxing. Luck not being on my side this afternoon, the plane was delayed for three hours while we wait for the wheels to be changed and the wings to be de-iced.
Professionalism like I stated before: less talk, more dimmed lights time, respecting the traveler is the crew, main priority. I started with my movie before take-off, finished one and started another while waiting for dinner; I was getting hungry.
One cabin crew member is responsible for the premium economy. Twenty seats which she takes care of perfectly; dinner starts with a hot wet napkin to refresh.
Generosity is key: I was proposed two bottles of wine and asked to take both. Dudley’s Stone from South Africa and 1889 Heritage Sauvignon blanc.
On the menu:
- Potato salad with tomato and paprika dressing.
- Braiser British beef with buttered carrots, lyonnaise potatoes, and sherry peppercorn sauce. Or:
- Lemon and thyme roasted corn-fed chicken with braised kale, chervil mash, tenderstem broccoli and roasted garlic sauce.
- Chocolate Pot.
- Butler's secret cheddar with biscuits.
Good food is served on British Airways; enjoyed my salad, loved the meat tenderness and strongly peppered sauce, adored the chocolate mousse and appreciated the white cheddar at the end. Two bottles of wine, Diet Coke, water from Scotland, I enjoyed my dinner before going to sleep.
New York-London, Business Class:
Five days in New York and it was time to come back; on the way back, I chose to fly business class on a Boeing 777 with bed service. The cabin structure is different from any other airline I traveled with previously: a claustrophobic seat by the window, another next to it and four seats in the middle, one on each side and two I’d call lovebird seats for couples facing the back of the plane.
The seat itself is reclined and has a bench in front of it on which your feet come to rest. In business class, you get a relaxing pillow, a bed cover, a seat cover and another warmer bed cover. The refreshing kit has socks but no slippers. Even though not practical to visit the restrooms or grab the platter from the attendant, I liked the room effect the middle seats create.
When boarding you are offered a menu for dinner and breakfast. A breakfast card informs the crew of your preferred waking time and the choices you would like for breakfast; I chose to be awaken up an hour before landing and asked for bacon and eggs. All aboard... I was preparing for a long night sleep and unfortunately won’t have dinner on this flight, I’ll review the food on another occasion.
Five hours later and one hour before landing I was offered breakfast. Eggs and bacon sandwich heated in the microwave, a selection of fruits, a refreshing watermelon juice, two kinds of Danish pastries, jam, butter, and coffee. Nothing to write home about, microwave heated, the food tastes like plane food.
London-Beirut, Business Class:
One more leg, also in the business class, London-Beirut onboard an Airbus A321 equipped with the latest bed seats, wide touch screen, massage feature, USB, and electricity plug. A champagne glass to put you in a good mood, a bottle of water, a hot towel while we waited to depart. Coming all the way from the states, I was tired and felt like having a nap. No food for a review this time but more of the moment of relaxation.
Wait: I slept for an hour and woke up hungry! The barbecue braised beef with sweet corn mash is exceptional for food on a plane; the beef is so tender that it melts like butter under the teeth served with a semisweet purée and steamed vegetables. I also had the salad, carefully handcrafted a layer at a time, black quinoa, baby potatoes, green beans and quail eggs; very interesting to say the least.
- Professional service.
- Good food.
- Relaxing business class.
- Wide seats in premium economy.
- The airport lounges are too old and dirty.
- Planes are always delayed, and you have to wait inside the aircraft while problems get resolved.
- No amenities are distributed for the premium economy travelers onboard British Airways.
This is British Airways; I would have expected a bit more style, some finesse of hostesses onboard, a better lounge and less waiting inside the planes. I Enjoyed the bed, although it is not 180 degrees as well as the food.