View Single Post
Old Apr 10, 09, 4:20 pm
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: London, UK
Programs: BA Gold, IHG Spire Ambassador
Posts: 14,655
Arrow British Airways Club Europe CDG-LHR

British Airways Club Europe CDG-LHR
My other trip reports can be found by searching ‘Genius1’ in the Trip Reports forum. Alternatively, my most recent trip reports can be found in my signature at the bottom of this post. Photos are copyright via the Fotki image hosting service.

If you haven't already done so, I recommend you read the LHR-CDG sector trip report before this one, which can be found by searching 'Genius1' in the Trip Reports forum. This second trip report detailing the CDG-LHR sector of a day-trip I took to Paris back in January comes later than planned due to university commitments. It will also be fairly short compared to my other trip reports, mainly due to the small amount of time I spent at CDG and in the air! Since I took this trip, two major changes have occurred - firstly, BA now use T2A at CDG and secondly, BA no longer use convertible seating in Club Europe, instead opting to 'block' the middle seats on their narrow-body aircraft. This trip report will document my thoughts on the flight I took, and won't reflect on these recent changes.

France Pre-Departure
After a hectic but satisfying day seeing the sights of Paris and getting fairly lost at the Gard du Nord (which is an utter mess, in my opinion), I eventually ended up on the correct RER train, which dropped me at CDG with only around 40 minutes until scheduled departure.

Route: CDG (Terminal 2B) – LHR (Terminal 5)

Date: Saturday 17th January 2009

Airline: British Airways

Flight Number: BA0327

Aircraft Type: A321-231

Aircraft Registration: G-EUXI (2005)

Seat: 01A

Class: Club Europe

Check-In & Passport Control
I had already checked in for this inbound flight online at the same time as I had checked in for the outbound flight, due to this return flight being within 24 hours.

After a fairly long walk from the RER train station through what I presumed was another part of T2, I arrived in T2B with around 30 minutes before departure. T2B's architecture is hardly what you could describe as appealing from the outside, and inside the terminal things don't really improve from a passenger's perspective. Everything seems a little muddled, with the departures and arrivals flows all on one level. The check-in area is basically a narrow corridor. Passengers then pass through a passport/boarding pass checkpoint, before dropping any baggage at the desks in front of the small gate area. The gates are directly behind the luggage-drop desks, with a security checkpoint just before the entrance to the gate waiting area. T2B's set-up must be one of the most bizarre airport set-ups at a major international airport anywhere in the developed world, although I admit I am not particularly well-travelled!

Lounge, Security & Boarding
British Airways, together with a variety of other airlines at T2B use the Air France Lounge, despite Air France no longer having a presence at T2B. The lounge is located on an open-air mezzanine level up a short flight of stairs to the right after passing through passport control. There were two pleasant lounge agents sitting twiddling their thumbs at the desk. One of them checked my boarding pass and ticked my name off their list of lounge-eligible passengers and welcomed me into the lounge. In one word, this lounge is dire. As I have commented on FT before, the lounge has all the ambience of a dilapidated garden shed. Minimal lighting and the extremely low roof of the terminal barely above head height combine to make a dark and claustrophobic atmosphere. Snacks are virtually non-existent, with only a small choice of soft drinks. The only redeeming feature of the lounge is that it is quite large, and with only one other person in the lounge when I was there, I had plenty of personal space. It's a shame the chairs are about as soft as a park bench. I had a couple of apple juices (which was the most prevalent drink available!) whilst catching up with the day's news on the TV, before it was time to head down to the gate.

Air France Lounge at CDG T2B seating area

Air France Lounge at CDG T2B food and beverage area

Air France Lounge at CDG T2B seating area

Air France Lounge at CDG T2B seating area

There was no queue at the gate security checkpoint (hear that BAA?) and the mildly-pleasant security agent processed me quickly whilst the man sitting behind the X-Ray scanner didn't seem too concerned with watching the screen as my bag went through!

The number of people waiting in the tiny gate area indicated that this would be a lightly loaded flight. After what must have been a 10 minute wait, boarding was announced (as usual, there was no priority boarding announcement), and I was second down the airbridge after a family of three.

Seeing four people approaching the door, the flight attendant checking boarding passes assumed I was travelling with the family of three, although I soon put that right! On seeing my boarding pass with '01A' printed as the seat number, she said 'I think you know where that is!' and welcomed me onboard with a smile. This set the tone for the rest of the service, which was really very good.

I settled into 1A, which despite having a slightly reduced seat pitch due to the bulkhead, offers the advantage of no-one reclining into you and two windows, as opposed to one at each other row. As the remaining passengers boarded (very few, in fact), one of the two Club Europe FAs came round with hot towels for me and the one other passenger in Club Europe. With five rows of CE on this flight, two passengers and two cabin crew, the A321 felt more like a private jet to me than a commercial jet!

Club Europe cabin during boarding

Looking across to 1DEF in Club Europe

Looking across to 1DEF in Club Europe

Legroom in 1A on the A321

Pushback from the gate occurred promptly, followed by quite a lengthy taxi to the departure runway and a short, speedy takeoff back to London. As soon as the seat-belt sign was switched off, the pleasant flight attendant came out to inform us that today's dinner was a chicken salad and would we like anything to eat? She returned to the galley, but then promptly reappeared saying that a prawn salad had also been loaded, and which would we like? I opted to stay with the chicken salad, as did the gentleman sitting behind me in 2A.

As it was dark outside with no view, I moved to 1C for the dinner service, which would have been more pleasant for the gentleman sitting behind me and also allowed me a little bit of extra legroom into the galley. The salad was presented ready-plated on the tray with a cuplet of water inside a mug, a glass and cutlery wrapped in a cloth serviette, a sachet of milk, butter and a box containing one white chocolate truffle for dessert (although I did cheekily ask for (and received) another!). Hot bread was offered from a basket, and I took a couple of delicious rolls. Soft or alcoholic drinks were also offered, and I opted for an orange juice.

Dinner service in Club Europe on BA0327

Looking across to 1AC in Club Europe

The quality of the salad was really quite good, although having a hot option (even on such a short flight) would be nice. After all, BA manage to serve a hot breakfast in the morning, so I see no reason why a hot dinner option such as pasta couldn't be offered in the evening. As the dinner service drew to a close, tea or coffee was offered, with me opting for a coffee. The FA offered refills once before clearing the dinner service just before the seat-belt sign went on as we began our descent into London.

We had some spectacular night-time views coming into London, although I soon became disorientated as we entered a holding pattern for what must have been nearly 20 minutes. Just before the seat-belt sign had been switched on, I had moved over to 1F, which seemed to offer the best views. The DEF seats are slightly narrow than the converted AC seats, but I personally didn't notice any difference. The FA who had been serving us in CE (I hadn't seen the other FA since boarding) came over to share my view (she seemed a bit surprised that I had moved!) and we had a brief chat about the view and the long hold in the stack. The captain kept us informed of our progress down the stack, and also mentioned the likelihood of some turbulence coming into land.

As we left the stack and started to descend further, it became apparent just how turbulent things were. We came into approach on runway 27L, the aircraft swaying fairly violently from side to side. I have to admit I was a bit anxious at this point. A very bumpy touchdown ensued, with the aircraft skidding from right to left as the main landing gear touched the tarmac. We slowed down very abruptly, before the captain came on to apologise for the hard landing. I overheard the FAs in the front galley comment on it being a very hard landing, which made me realise just how hard it had been!

We had a fairly long taxi from halfway down 27L to T5, passing T3 and the Emirates A380 pushing back from the 'new' pier at T3 (which was in fact completed in 2006). By this time, my camera had run out of battery life, and I was a bit annoyed at missing out on photographing the A380 up close.

I was first off the aircraft and up the airbridge after thanking the crew for an enjoyable flight. We had docked at one of the furthest gates from the arrivals complex at T5A, and so I had a good three minute walk along pretty much the whole length of T5A. There was no queue at all at immigration, and after having my passport checked I was through into the baggage reclaim hall. With only hand luggage, I walked through the 'nothing to declare' customs channel and out into the landside area of T5.

Within 25 minutes I had arrived at London Paddington, thanks to the quick and efficient Heathrow Express.

CDG-LHR Sector Verdict
Once again, British Airways operated a professional and comfortable short haul service. The flight attendants were very good, the food and beverage service of a good standard, and with only two customers in CE, the onboard atmosphere and privacy was second to none. The Air France Lounge at CDG T2B is horrible, but as BA now use T2A and the American Airlines Admirals Club, this is no longer an issue. I would still like to see 'proper' business class seating on short-haul BA aircraft, but for a 50-minute trans-Channel hop such as the Paris route, what is essentially economy class seating with a slightly increased pitch and width is adequate. This sector in BA Club Europe gets an 8/10 from me.

Last edited by Genius1; Apr 10, 09 at 4:26 pm
Genius1 is offline