Good Advice Tried and Tested

British Airways B747-400 Mid J Club World

04/10/2012

First impressions: I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 for my 2200 departure to Bangkok on BA009 at 2015 and dropped off my bags in zone G. There was only a short queue at the fast track immigration, and I made my way around the loop of the shops then followed the signs for the lounges.

The lounge: it’s the first time I’ve visited BA’s lounges at Terminal 3 and I was impressed. Having a gold card I walked around the First lounge, which was crowded, but with seats becoming vacant as more of the evening’s flights left. There was a good choice of hot and cold food. I worked using the complimentary wifi, and then when the gate showed, left the lounge.

I was glad that I did, because Gate 42 is a gate so distant it must have a separate post code to the rest of Heathrow. The walk was probably no more than 10 minutes in duration, but there were times, as endless corridors led to further endless corridors and motorised walkways, that I felt sure I had fallen asleep in the lounge and was dreaming anxiety fears that the aircraft was departing but I would never reach the gate.

The gate area was crowded, and the tannoy system wasn’t working, so when the doors opened for boarding everyone moved forwards at once and there was no priority for silver or gold in the Executive Club programme or, more importantly, the several families with small children.

The seat: Once on board I was offered a drink (water, orange juice or champagne) and then settled down to wait for takeoff. BA has two configurations of the B747-400 flying, and in this Mid J layout the Club World cabin is behind World Traveller Plus. To see a seatplan, click here.

I was sitting at its rear in 20B, an aisle seat – not my favourite, since normally the person inside you in the window seat has their food and drink served over you. This was the last row, however, so the flight attendants could simply walk around the back of my seat to serve 20A (it makes sense when you look at the seatplan), so that was a plus.

Admittedly being in the last row of Club World meant that we got served last for drinks and food, but since I had been upgraded from World Traveller Plus, I wasn’t complaining. Note also that there’s the possibility of being disturbed by the front row of economy class immediately behind and the bassinets of children embarking on the interminable voyage down to Sydney.

The flight: We took off promptly and then were given Elemis flight amenity bags and a menu and drinks card. Pre-meal drinks served rolled around. The wine choice was as follows:

  • Champagne:  Taittinger Brut Reserve NV – note, not Lanson Black Label or Ayala Brut Majeur NV.
  • Whites: Chablis 2009. Domaine Louis Moreau or Barwick Estates Black Label Chardonnay 2009, Margaret River, Western Australia.
  • Reds: Chateau Landat, 2005, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux or Mount Riley Pinot Noir 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand.

I worked for a while and then the meal service started. The choices were....

  • Starters: smoked salmon and trout roulade with radish and fennel salad or mushroom parfait with red onion marmalade and watercress salad.
  • Main courses: slow-braised British beef with rosti potatoes, Asian-style chicken and pumpkin curry with snow peas and jasmine rice; beetroot and horseradish risotto with ruby chard or a chilled main course salad of grilled king prawn with Thai noodles and cashews. 
  • Dessert: pear and caramel delice with caramelised pear compote, blue Wensleydale and smoked cheddar served with biscuits, a selection of fruit and chocolates.

Before setting out for the airport I had made the mistake of weighing myself, and after an initial period of speechlessness, luckily lasting the entire 90 minute ride to the airport in a taxi with a very chatty driver, I had decided to reform my life. In the lounge this resulted in me ignoring the packets of crisps, all the food and even the drinks (apart from water). I also intended to eat nothing on board.

It was, however, by now 2300 and at least five hours since I had had dinner, so instead I foreswore the alcohol, and went for the “Well Being in the Air” selections. I wasn't in luck, however. The main course selection (Salad of grilled king prawn with Thai noodles and cashews) was exhausted by the time I was asked for my choice. I honestly give up when it comes to choosing food with BA. The only way you can be sure of your choice is to sit at the front of the cabin.

Anyway, I could live without it, so refused the whole meal service, cheered myself up eating the macadamia nuts that had come with my tomato juice, and went to sleep for the rest of the flight instead.

I woke as breakfast was being served, and since by now I was hungry, I made sure to eat it, especially since all choices seemed to be on.

  • Breakfast: chilled fruit juice, fruit smoothie (raspberry and oatmeal) or yoghurt with pecans, strawberry granola and compote. Main: English breakfast of scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, Cumberland sausage, tomato and sautéed potatoes,; creamy mushrooms on a toasted English muffin; pork congee. Drinks – teas.

Arrival: shortly before our arrival, landing cards were handed out, and fast track vouchers for immigration. We were on stand on time and after a very long walk to immigration, our bags were waiting on the carousel.

Verdict: a good solid service, with the flight attendants polite and helpful. I just wish catering / procurement could put on enough meals that everyone could have their choice, but perhaps that is unrealistic.

Contact: ba.com

Tom Otley