Four different BA business flights

Old Jun 2, 17, 10:37 am
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Four different BA business flights

Having just returned from a vacation during which I flew on four different BA flights in Business Class (or whatever BA labels it I thought I'd offer review comments.

First flight -- Seattle/LHR -- BA 747 - 300. Not one of the refurbs -- upstairs, should have been quieter but one couple brought a baby -- really glad I had noise cancellers. Seat is ok -- but aged a bit. TV screens were old school (4/3 aspect ratio, dim and out of focus). Food service and state were quite good.

Second flight -- LHR/LIS -- BA -- 321. The "business class" seating here was barely economy plus. Limited extra leg room, no divide from economy class. On the plus side, the access to the BA lounge in LHR remains a plus. Service was OK.

Third flight -- MAD/LHR -- BA -- new 777. That eight across configuration for business class makes it rather a hard go for service since to squeeze those seats across the aisles are quite narrow. Also the 'step over' factor. It was a short flight though so not that big a deal. The seats are OK but rather cramped width wise. The Iberia lounge was, in my view nicer than the BA lounges at LHR by just a bit. We dodged a bullet here arriving on the Monday after the BA IT mess up -- no delays or confusions.

Fourth flight -- LHR/DFW -- BA 747-400 refurbished. I found this to be the best of the lot upstairs again, No infants as well. There is a major difference with the refurbished 747 compared to the older 747 environment. Also, as these are 4 across the center aisle was comfortably wide. The new IFE was lovely.

So, a LOT of variation with BA -- it is almost as if they don't know what type of airline they want to be.
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Old Jun 2, 17, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post

First flight -- Seattle/LHR -- BA 747 - 300.
Blimey, now there's a blast from the past.
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Old Jun 2, 17, 10:47 am
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"A LOT of variation" is rather harsh.
BA have the most consistent business hard product out there. Yes you will get some variation in the IFE but the CW seat is consistent throughout their fleet apart from the babybus and mid-haul.
Similarly you can't get more consistent than BAs short haul fleet. I beleive are all full refurbish and everyone gets the same pathetic legroom, business class or not....
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Old Jun 2, 17, 10:49 am
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Interesting insight , what lounge were you in at LhR that MAD beat?
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Old Jun 2, 17, 11:24 am
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Interesting review. I found the 777 MAD-LHR flight to be badly timed for an optimised lounge experience. With so many long haul flights departing MAD at around the same time the Velazquez lounge is absolutely heaving between 10am and noon
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Old Jun 3, 17, 8:51 pm
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
Interesting insight , what lounge were you in at LhR that MAD beat?
It was the Terminal 5 business lounge -- more a question of food options than anything else I suppose.

Then again, when we were in the Madrid lounge as I was looking at the wine options the Iberia staffer showed up as something of a wine steward suggest which white wines might meet my taste -- it was rather 'resturant like'. <smile>
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Old Jun 3, 17, 8:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Prospero View Post
Interesting review. I found the 777 MAD-LHR flight to be badly timed for an optimised lounge experience. With so many long haul flights departing MAD at around the same time the Velazquez lounge is absolutely heaving between 10am and noon
Fair point there -- especially after 11AM or so -- we were there early (took advantage of a Smithsonian tour shuttle bus). We had just concluded our two week sojourn on a Smithsonian tour -- the shuttle bus was for those who had booked with Smithsonian / Odessey for flights and we were on our own but were allowed to use the shuttle for no cost -- nice touch there.
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Old Jun 3, 17, 9:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Wong Jnr View Post
"A LOT of variation" is rather harsh.
BA have the most consistent business hard product out there. Yes you will get some variation in the IFE but the CW seat is consistent throughout their fleet apart from the babybus and mid-haul.
Similarly you can't get more consistent than BAs short haul fleet. I beleive are all full refurbish and everyone gets the same pathetic legroom, business class or not....
I guess I disagree here -- that is the hard product in Business class for the flights to from Heathrow to the US was consistent.

The 2 hour / 3 hour flight "business product" was -- on the LHR/LIS flight barely economy plus -- and much less comfortable than what we had on the AA flight from DFW to PHX at the end of the flight.

The 777 flight business class was better -- though as others have noted, the concessions made for 8 across seating (step over to get to the aisle and very narrow aisles for service) are less than optimal. Not bad for the shorter flight -- but unless I am wrong here -- those 777's service long haul as well.

The best of the lot by far was the 747-400 from LHR to DFW -- upstairs aisle (we got the last two of those) -- major change from the 747-300 cabin and the IFE was modern. The only problem (not for me, I am but 5' 8" would be the low ceiling above the window seats -- I watched two different taller men bump their heads getting up from their seats during the flight).

I guess the thing with their A320 fleet for short haul is frankly a case of being economy plus in reality -- I've not encountered that before.
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Old Jun 3, 17, 10:18 pm
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Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post

First flight -- Seattle/LHR -- BA 747 - 300. Not one of the refurbs -- upstairs, should have been quieter but one couple brought a baby -- really glad I had noise cancellers. Seat is ok -- but aged a bit. TV screens were old school (4/3 aspect ratio, dim and out of focus). Food service and state were quite good.
BA doesn't operate 747-300 and actually never did - 747-100, 200 (both retired long ago) and now all 747-400. You were on the latter.

Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post
Second flight -- LHR/LIS -- BA -- 321. The "business class" seating here was barely economy plus. Limited extra leg room, no divide from economy class. On the plus side, the access to the BA lounge in LHR remains a plus. Service was OK.
Not even Economy + but not much better than other European airlines with the exception to TK which is more like domestic U.S. first class.


Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post

So, a LOT of variation with BA -- it is almost as if they don't know what type of airline they want to be.
When you factor in regional premium (Business or in the U.S. First) - BA probably has less variation. UA operates 3 times of sleeper seats plus standard domestic F seats (with some slight variations) - AA has 5 long haul sleeper variations - DL has at least 4 variations.
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Old Jun 3, 17, 10:24 pm
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Originally Posted by BarryAZ View Post
It was the Terminal 5 business lounge -- more a question of food options than anything else I suppose.

Then again, when we were in the Madrid lounge as I was looking at the wine options the Iberia staffer showed up as something of a wine steward suggest which white wines might meet my taste -- it was rather 'resturant like'. <smile>
The IB lounges I've visited in MAD have nicer food spreads than the business class lounges for BA at T5 -- When it comes to GF at T5, probably more subjective but in terms of head to head business lounges, IB wins hands down.
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Old Jun 4, 17, 8:46 pm
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OK -- I guess then the flight from Seattle was an un-refurbished 747-400. The IFE was definitely old school and the cabin looked 'down in the dumps' compared to the refurbed 747-400 on the LHR/DFW flight.

I agree with your comments on the A320 flight LHR/LIS -- I've been in AA economy plus seating which was more comfortable and spacious than the BA "Business Class" on that flight.

Now that I'm aware of that I figure to make choices regarding European flights to/from London in the future.

I would note that regarding domestic US flights -- American Airlines is beginning to deploy 'transcontinental' versions of their planes. These actually go multiple class -- economy, economy-plus, business class, and first class. Since I live in Phoenix, I don't expect to encounter that option for future flights in the US.

[QUOTE=elitetraveler;28399353]BA doesn't operate 747-300 and actually never did - 747-100, 200 (both retired long ago) and now all 747-400. You were on the latter.


Not even Economy + but not much better than other European airlines with the exception to TK which is more like domestic U.S. first class.
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Old Jun 5, 17, 3:35 am
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The point on shorthaul flights (i.e. Euro flights) is that BA (and all other European airlines with the exception of the main carriers around Turkey/Greece/Cyprus) typically use flexible seating on their flights - this means that they have the same seating throughout 'Business' and Economy but for business keep the middle seat free and put a curtain up to divide Business and Economy (and they can move the curtain to vary the size of the business cabin). That is the economics of European aviation where that flexibility helps drive the routes and frequency offered.

BA used to have 'converter' seats that made the J seats a little wider but ditched these some time ago. Also the seat pitch has been squeezed on most carriers with the introduction of 'space saver' thinner seats (that divide opinion on their comfort).

There are the rare cases of long haul birds doing shorthaul flights (such as the 777 you had from MAD and there is a well known IB A340 doing that route once a day) but these are few and far between.

So there is consistency across shorthaul and consistency across long haul, but not between the 2!
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Old Jun 5, 17, 6:17 pm
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OK -- yes the open middle seat. I have seen that on other European carriers.

I guess the trick is, if one has the flexibility, to seek out those planes that are long haul planes on short haul or intermediate flights.

Curiously, in the US the carriers seem to be going the other way here -- that is AA has worked toward deploying true 'three class' seating even on relatively short haul flights.

I flew an economy plus flight from Phoenix to Oakland this Spring - while the seats were the same as economy, that extra leg room was appreciated. Further that was economy plus, the Domestic flights have a "First Class" which is really business class -- but the wider (2 + 2 versus 3 + 3) and significantly increased pitch make them quite a step up from economy class.

In any event it is 'data for use' for me.

The thing is, too often, using frequent flyer miles to Europe via AA -- the routing from Phoenix to say Dublin, Rome, Barcelona, or Madrid is pushed to BA instead of the available AA flights. I'd rather route PHX/PHL/Rome or PHX/Charlotte/Rome (on A321/A330 than the really bothersome Phx/Ord/LHR/FCO routing (using BA from Chicago to Rome via Heathrow).

But that's another matter -- and something I'll post about over in the AA pages.
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