When you are flying (very) long haul, your choice of airline and class can make a big difference to the state you arrive in. I flew from New Delhi (India) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) via London recently. The span is so wide that you cannot see the start and end journey points together on your desktop globe. For perspective, consider this: It was 40 hours after I left home before I managed to check into my hotel room.
I would have been a wreck but for managing to find seats on British Airways Club World. My first trip to South America, and I did not want to waste a minute longer than necessary to recuperate. And I didn’t need to.
So what was it about British Airways that left me impressed and all-guns-blazing despite the long journey? Here goes…
If you fly business, don’t airlines put their best faces forward? They might not. I have encountered my share of grumpy, matter-of-factly, I-am-smiling-because-I-am-forced-to staff in even the best rated airlines. But BA was different. I could sense a natural pride and willingness to serve across all functions – not just on-board but even those handling ticketing, the lounges and those in marketing who facilitated my upgrades.
When you are flying halfway across the globe, you need a good lounge during transit. To rest your body and soul, for a refreshing coffee and a good meal, and for rejuvenating showers. BA scored tops on most of these counts at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
For one, the lounges were very spacious. I need that sense of space – airlines make for cramped quarters even if you have your own private jet (not that I know what one feels like – yet!!) It also means chatter gets diffused and you get a sense of much-needed silence. One minor downside: the otherwise high-speed WiFi would not work in some far-flung corners of the lounge.
Coffee and cakes were great (my barometer for a good kitchen), even if the meal selection a bit limited – but I am not one to complain as I prefer a light stomach when flying. Alcoholic beverages are wasted on me, but I could see happy faces at the bar so I assume the airline keeps your spirits high – on ground and when up in the air.
I liked the showers – very clean and the warm jets of water are just what the doctor orders before a red-eye over the Atlantic Ocean taking me from the northern hemisphere to the southern. A word of caution: If you plan a shower, book one as soon as you get to the lounge. It can be busy at certain hours.
ON BOARD SEATING
Ooh, very comfortable. The seats spread out into multiple positions to give you a straight back for meals, recline at multiple angles for reading and for watching movies, and become a flat bed. Thankfully, good enough for my tall frame to sleep without bending my knees. (I am six feet with an additional two inches bonus thrown in if you are curious about my height) This is what you need to feel relaxed and for good sleep quality; it is another matter that I fly business class to sleep well but rarely do I make for a good sleeper on flights, no matter the class.
There are two quirks in the seat layout though. If you were in a window or middle seat, you have to step over those in the aisle seat if they are lying down. Even with my tall legs (I am not tom-tomming my height, just making a point!!) I would not always make a clean leap – no one complained fortunately. The other is that they have two closely fused middle seats on the Buenos Aires – London return legs – ideal if you want to kiss your neighbour but you would wish for a little gap otherwise. Thankfully, there is a partition you pull up so at least you are not staring – or burping – into each other.
You will not be faulted if you a book a round trip just to entertain yourself with the selection of movies and shows on offer – but I say this to illustrate what BA offers. A wide selection of on-board entertainment to cater to different tastes and moods, and even languages spoils you for choice. If you can’t sleep or read, and since you cannot be connected to the Internet, you could flick on the screen and keep yourself amused (or weepy depending on what you are watching!!).
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES
Like I mentioned above, food and beverages are wasted on me as I eat just enough to survive when flying. Being a vegetarian, I accept that choices will be limited especially on flights not originating from India. But BA did their job well – whether I wanted to eat or not. Catered to my chosen preferences of Indian, continental and Italian – and they were good at it.
Want to get a better idea of what you will be served? Scroll below for scans of the menu on one of the legs.
Can an airline choose who gets to fly with you? No – but then again, they can. By positioning itself as a premium brand (not necessarily being the most expensive), BA mostly attracts those who value the service they will get and are willing to shell out an extra quid or two for the same. I may not have ended up making friends on this journey, but we were all easy and polite with each other – and I did end up striking some interesting conversations in the smoking corners. Ok, these don’t exist any more, but that’s where they used to be at one time.
A BONUS SHOWER WHEN YOU LAND
Did I mention the surprise waiting on the return Buenos Aires – London leg? I chose to spend a few days in London when on the way back – BA invited me to use their Galleries Arrivals Lounge after customs. Facilities include showers, freshly prepared food, spa treatments, and even a suit pressing service. A very thoughtful service for those flying long haul – works particularly for those heading to some work straight after landing, have an onward ground connection, or if they their hotel room will not be ready for check-in right away.
That’s BA Club World for you. When are you flying with them?
SOME OF YOUR IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS ABOARD BRITISH AIRWAYS CLUB WORLD
SCANS OF ONE OF THE MENUS ABOARD BRITISH AIRWAYS CLUB WORLD