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BA's COVID-19 service to Prague

BA's COVID-19 service to Prague

Old Sep 17, 20, 12:57 pm
  #1  
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BA's COVID-19 service to Prague

After a long 7 months stuck in Aberdeen with no trips, I was looking forward to getting away for a long weekend. Originally, I had booked a weekend in Almeria in Spain, however, after BA cancelling its Madrid flight with no suitable alternative, I was left with no other option but to cancel and get a full refund. Still wanting to go somewhere, I had a look on the BA website and, after parting with some Avios, had a trip to Prague booked. With only two flights a day to Aberdeen at the moment, a same day connection to Prague and back was out of the question so I booked a night each way at the Hilton Garden Inn close to Heathrow.

The "new normal" sees us all wearing masks in airports and ABZ was no exception. I got to the airport at around 4pm for a 6pm flight.



The airport itself was very quiet and there was only one bar open in departures. The BA lounge is not open. I'm told that all the new policies and procedures are in place to make it COVID friendly yet BA haven't confirmed when it can open yet. I'm sure they have a very good reason......





I managed to get a table at the bar which was open and after handing over my name, email address and contact number, enjoyed a pint. Not quite the same when you have to pay for your pre-departure drinks yourself!



BA1315, ABZ - LHR, G-EUUZ, A320

Boarding is all done differently now - no priority boarding for passengers. Rather, the plane is boarded from rear to front and this is strictly enforced. I had worried that there would be no overhead locker space but it looks like the close the overhead lockers located in Club while the rest of the plane is boarding. Upon boarding, I was handed a small pack with some hand gel and a sanitising wipe.





A view of Aberdeen city and the harbour after take off.



So, on to the COVID-19 service. An announcement is made that the service has changed in order to combat the spread of the virus. Fair enough. I was offered a brown paper bag which contained a sandwich (choice of chicken and coleslaw or beetroot and houmous), a small chocolate mousse and a bottle of water. Drinks apparently can't be served in glasses now (spreads the virus supposedly) so plastic it is with a wooden stirrer.

The crew also make a point about the fact that they minimise preparation of food on board. The "old" Club Europe service didn't involve any preparation to speak of. On an Aberdeen to Heathrow flight, you got a cold salad on a china plate and all the crew had to do was remove a plastic lid. But supposedly this can't be done now as it may spread the virus.

Unless you're flight crew.

The virus obviously doesn't impact them. In Row 1, you can see the cabin crew preparing hot meals and using china plates and proper cutlery to serve the flight crew their meals. If it can be done for flight crew, why not paying passengers.....? I suspect BA wised up very early on to the fact that they could use the COVID-19 excuse as a way of cost cutting. Don't want to carry proper china plates and crokery? COVID-19! We will use brown bags and plastic cups so we are carrying less weight so paying for less fuel. Don't want to extend that catering cleaning contract? COVID-19! We will chuck everything out so no need to clean glasses, plates and cutlery.

Anyway, here's the excuse which is passed off as business class catering.....







The sandwich was average at best. I had one half and left it. At least the drinks were flowing. It was the only redeeming feature.

We landed in London ahead of time and I was off the plane and onto the tube in no time at all.







So I can't say I was that impressed with the new service on that flight. But never mind. Prague is a longer route so I was looking forward to receiving something a bit more substantial on the flight the next afternoon!

After a great sleep, I got to Heathrow around 10.30am for my 1.20pm flight. Figured that I'd rather spend time in the FLounge than the hotel room. Heathrow was busier than I thought but the lounge was quite quiet.

The lounge at Heathrow and the changes which have been made are one area that I will happily give BA some praise. Partitions have been put up beside chairs which are close together and the service has completely changed. No longer can you walk up to the wine bar and pour yourself a glass of cold fizz and no longer can you walk up to the buffet and help yourself to some powdered scrambled eggs.

BA have an online menu now where you place your order and a member of staff delivers it to your table. You scan a QR code on your phone's camera and the menu pops up in your internet browser. You type in your name and place your order and a short while later, it is delivered to your table. I ordered some fizz and it was delivered within 2 minutes. You may have to wait a bit when the lounge is busier. This way of doing things gives the FLounge a much more premium feel and is a definite improvement. It obviously means a lot more work for the staff but the passenger experience is definitely enhanced. Whether BA will keep this way of doing things in the future remains to be seen.











I ordered some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs as a late breakfast - pretty good.





At 12pm, the menu changes from breakfast to the rest of the day menu.





I was very impressed with the lounge experience. There are also a lot of cleaning staff who are constantly going around and cleaning surfaces. Whenever anyone leaves, the seat is sanitised as it the area around it. The bathrooms are also spotless. A definite improvement and BA should be congratulated for that.

More to come soon......
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Old Sep 17, 20, 8:23 pm
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The lunch in a bag looks like something we would get at a school cafeteria. BA is really dropping standards.
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Old Sep 18, 20, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
The lunch in a bag looks like something we would get at a school cafeteria. BA is really dropping standards.
But it´s handmade

P.S. Do someone know a machine who does sandwiches? Seems to be like "milk from the countryside". Well, we know all the dairy farmers at Time Square or Regent street.
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Old Sep 19, 20, 7:30 am
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BA860, LHR - PRG, G-EUUO, A320

Boarded to find a very cheery crew, got handed my sanitiser pack and took my seat in 1A. Before long, we were off.







Seatbelt sign went off and the flight crew for their hot meals on china plates with proper cutlery...... Flight crew must have a particular resilience to COVID!



The crew came into the cabin and asked if I would like some lunch. I asked what the options were and was pretty surprised to find out that the sandwich choices were exactly the same as yesterday. No thought or imagination by BA here whatsoever. Never mind, I thought, it'll be a different choice on the way back to Heathrow in a few days time!





At least the gins were flowing freely.



And the crew (obviously embarrassed with their catering services) went around offering passengers packets of nuts.





After a short flight of an hour and 35 minutes, we approached Prague, seatbelt signs were on and the CSM came to thank me for flying BA and apologised for the lack of catering choice on the flight.



I grabbed a taxi to the Hilton Prague where I got an upgrade to a suite on the 7th floor. It was explained to me at check in that the Executive Lounge was closed (supposedly because of COVID) but that, as a Diamond member who was entitled to lounge access, I could have one free drinks voucher per night. Wow, great. That's some replacement for a lounge where you usually get 2 hours of complimentary beverages and snacks per evening.









After freshening up, I headed upstairs to the hotel's rooftop bar on the 9th floor called Cloud Nine. It's a great place to get sunset views over the river but you are most definitely paying for that view with the price of the drinks. Generally in bars in Prague, you can get a half litre of lager for 50kr perhaps. Up on Cloud Nine a 0.4l draft Starophramen was 180kr! Thank God I had all those drinks vouchers each night to use.....







If I zoomed right in, I could catch Prague Castle in the distance.





The bar downstairs was stopping serving food at half 9 each evening (again, COVID related) so I nipped down just after 9 to grab a quick bite to eat. I ended up being the only guest in the bar. There was nobody to be seen apart from me and the staff in the front area of the hotel. I was starting to think that Prague may be quieter than I even thought at the moment!

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Old Sep 19, 20, 8:58 am
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Stayed at the Hilton Prague over 20 years ago and it was so awful this time. At least they renovated
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Old Sep 19, 20, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Stayed at the Hilton Prague over 20 years ago and it was so awful this time. At least they renovated
Yes, looks much nicer now
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Old Sep 20, 20, 5:28 am
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Oh Lawd, those glass lifts. I get cills down my spine everytime I use the things. Pity about the Lounge - I think it is one of the better lounges in the Hilton Group.

Seems like BA has cut back on catering globally. Here, in South Africa, I had a BA flight from Harare to JNB just before lock-down. Not a word was said prior to the flight - the Lounge was closed, and I was looking forward to a drink and a small meal - nada, nothing, not even water on the flight home. (They are filing for Business Rescue here though).

Anyway, looking forward to the rest of your TR - I need to get back to PRG before year-end.
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Old Sep 20, 20, 6:23 am
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Originally Posted by stu1985 View Post
So, on to the COVID-19 service. An announcement is made that the service has changed in order to combat the spread of the virus. Fair enough. I was offered a brown paper bag which contained a sandwich (choice of chicken and coleslaw or beetroot and houmous), a small chocolate mousse and a bottle of water. Drinks apparently can't be served in glasses now (spreads the virus supposedly) so plastic it is with a wooden stirrer.

The crew also make a point about the fact that they minimise preparation of food on board. The "old" Club Europe service didn't involve any preparation to speak of. On an Aberdeen to Heathrow flight, you got a cold salad on a china plate and all the crew had to do was remove a plastic lid. But supposedly this can't be done now as it may spread the virus.

Unless you're flight crew.

The virus obviously doesn't impact them. In Row 1, you can see the cabin crew preparing hot meals and using china plates and proper cutlery to serve the flight crew their meals. If it can be done for flight crew, why not paying passengers.....? I suspect BA wised up very early on to the fact that they could use the COVID-19 excuse as a way of cost cutting. Don't want to carry proper china plates and crokery? COVID-19! We will use brown bags and plastic cups so we are carrying less weight so paying for less fuel. Don't want to extend that catering cleaning contract? COVID-19! We will chuck everything out so no need to clean glasses, plates and cutlery.

Anyway, here's the excuse which is passed off as business class catering.....

LOL. Indeed amazing that the flight crews are immune from the virus.

On our SPU-LHR flight yesterday, we had a similar chicken caesar sandwich but got a box instead of a bag and a little salad cup. I did the DIY thing to "enhance" our experience.







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Old Sep 20, 20, 7:52 am
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Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Oh Lawd, those glass lifts. I get cills down my spine everytime I use the things. Pity about the Lounge - I think it is one of the better lounges in the Hilton Group.

Seems like BA has cut back on catering globally. Here, in South Africa, I had a BA flight from Harare to JNB just before lock-down. Not a word was said prior to the flight - the Lounge was closed, and I was looking forward to a drink and a small meal - nada, nothing, not even water on the flight home. (They are filing for Business Rescue here though).

Anyway, looking forward to the rest of your TR - I need to get back to PRG before year-end.
I quite like the lift! Hopefully you will get back to Prague - enjoy it when you do. Thanks for reading!

Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
LOL. Indeed amazing that the flight crews are immune from the virus.

On our SPU-LHR flight yesterday, we had a similar chicken caesar sandwich but got a box instead of a bag and a little salad cup. I did the DIY thing to "enhance" our experience.
Yes, it's a complete joke, isn't it!? It just exemplifies how far BA has fallen in recent years. I think the longer flights get those boxes.... I'm going to Warsaw next weekend so let's see what I get offered then. Looking forward to hearing about your return to LAX in F
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Old Sep 20, 20, 10:05 am
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Yay! Another trip report from you. Great pics so far. Thank you for sharing
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Old Sep 20, 20, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Andriyko View Post
Yay! Another trip report from you. Great pics so far. Thank you for sharing
Thanks as usual for reading Andriyko - it was certainly good to be back on my travels!
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Old Sep 20, 20, 2:43 pm
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I woke to a sunny morning in Prague - this was the view from my hotel room.



I walked down by the river and then took a left by the Intercontinental Hotel and into the Old Town Square. For mid-morning on a weekend, it was surprisingly quiet.







I've been to Prague a number of times but still think that the buildings are beautiful.







I crossed the bridge and wandered around the little back streets until I found a set of stairs which took me up to the castle.









I arrived just before 12 so saw all of the festivities of the guards marching around and the brass band playing. Normally, you are jostling for space at the castle when this is going on but there was enough room for everyone.









Given the amount of walking I had done and the fact that it was 28 degrees outside, a beer was definitely on the cards. I came across a cute little bar so sat outside and cooled off for a while!



Before walking back across the bridge and with one more pit stop on the way to the hotel!





Another spectacular building on the walk back to the hotel.



And back to the hotel's rooftop bar to enjoy another sunset.





Sunday was a bit more chilled - I took a river boat cruise and ended up being the only passenger on the boat which was kinda cool!













Few more sunset pics from that evening!





Monday was a day trip to see some friends in the Czech city of Havířov which is right over in the east, close to the Polish border. I was out of the hotel by 7am for a 7.50am train.





Train travel in the Czech Republic is much better than what we get here in the UK. You can book "business" on Regio Jet and you get these cabins with a sliding door and leather reclining chairs. Very comfortable for the 3 hours and 40 minute ride this morning. The crew come around and offer you complimentary newspapers, cookies, juice, water and Bohemian Sekt - who was I to say no!? There was another guy diagonally opposite me in the cabin this morning.







The trip passed quickly - I had a nap and watched some Netflix to while away the time as we sped through the Czech countryside. I had a great day with friends, had some good food and a few beers and was back at the train station for the 6.30pm train back to Prague. I lucked out this time and got a whole business cabin to myself for the entire journey which was great!





There is also a menu in each cabin and the crew come round every half hour or so to check whether you want anything. I ordered a 70p bottle of Czech lager and then some sushi for about £2.50 later in the journey.





The sun was setting when we got to Ostrava - about 15 mins in. The rest of the journey was in darkness as we made our way back to Prague.



I got a few shots of the beautifully decorated station in Prague before jumping in an Uber back to the hotel.





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Old Sep 20, 20, 3:08 pm
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Wow, one drinks voucher for a diamond member 😳Did you not challenge that Stu ? Seems rather pathetic tbh
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Old Sep 20, 20, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by mike&co View Post
Wow, one drinks voucher for a diamond member 😳Did you not challenge that Stu ? Seems rather pathetic tbh
Yes - I said that it seemed paltry to get one free drink per evening. My protestations fell on deaf ears!
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Old Sep 20, 20, 4:17 pm
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Meanwhile, for flights of similar duration, the OP has received some of the world's finest lounge and inflight F&B service currently available.
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