British Airways B747-400 Mid J World Traveller04/10/2012
First impressions BA flies twice-daily between London and Hong using Boeing 747-400 aircraft configured for World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World and First.
Similar to previous experiences at Heathrow T5, check-in was a breeze - I hadn't had a chance to check-in at home, but there were so many open desks that I was through in minutes. Security was equally quick.
Boarding Flight BA027 was called for boarding at 2015 for its 2055 departure. The flight was leaving from gate B42 in the satellite terminal, and signs advised a 15-minute journey time to the gate, although in practice it was no more than ten minutes. When I arrived at the gate I was able to board immediately and made my way to seat 28H.
The seat On the B747-400 Mid J configuration on which I was travelling, seat 28H is located in the first row of the front economy cabin, directly behind Club World. This row has the advantage of being configured 2-4-2 rather than 3-4-3, and the two sets of two seats on either side are by the emergency exits so have a lot more leg room.
Normal seat pitch in World Traveller on the B747 is 31 inches, with a seat width of 17.5, and a recline of five inches. Seats have seatback TVs (apart from those in the front row where the TV is on an arm which pulls out of the side of the seat), with AVOD in-flight entertainment. Passengers were offered a modest amenity pack including headphones, eyeshades and flight socks.
Which seat to choose? The seats in the front row offer more leg room than any other economy seats on this aircraft, and these can be booked and paid for in advance for £50 per flight (unless you are an Executive Club Gold member, in which it's free). The only disadvantage is that you risk being close to the baby bassinet which is located on the partition wall in front of the middle set of four seats.
It's also worth noting that the aisle seats 28H and 28B effectively don't have a storage space for magazines, etc. These would normally be positioned on the seatback in front, but because there isn't one they are located to the side by the window, rendering them pretty useless to those in the aisle seats, as you would need to lean over the passenger in the window seat to reach them.
The flight World Traveller was almost completely full, and Club World also seemed busy - it's also worth noting that this flight did not have the new First offering.
Soon after take off we were offered a choice of roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings, or coconut and lime chicken with mixed noodles. I chose the beef and it was not bad. It was accompanies by a salad with honey and mustard dressing, a roll and butter, a rhubarb and ginger crumble with cream, and a choice of drinks.
I had checked out the in-flight film offering online at ba.com before the flight, and knew that there were several movies that I wanted to watch, including The Social Network, and The Town directed by and starring Ben Affleck, both of which did not disappoint. Other choices included Danny Boyle's 127 hours (tempting but a little gory for a flight), and Inception with Leonardo De Caprio (again tempting but I wasn't sure a 6.5-inch screen would do it justice).
I managed to get a few hours sleep, and was woken by the offer a full English breakfast or an omelette, along with a yoghurt, muffin and carton of orange juice.
Arrival We touched down slightly ahead of the scheduled 1640 arrival time, and I was out of the terminal and on the airport express train by 1715. It’s spotlessly clean and departs every 15 minutes, stopping at three stations including Kowloon and Hong Kong. The journey to the city centre takes around 20-25 minutes and costs up to HK$100 for a one-way ticket.
Verdict A smooth flight, with good service and an ample choice of in-flight entertainment. The emergency exit row seats are great for those looking for extra leg room, although reserving them in advance comes at a cost.