This is the fourth time I have flown British Airways on this sector- and my last. BA will cease flying this route from this Friday March 3rd. Qantas will terminate its Bangkok to London services on March 26th and its planes will turn around in Bangkok. Instead both airlines will “swap” passengers at Bangkok. The same thing is happening with their Hong Kong flights. Both airlines will maintain their services via Singapore (the “Kangaroo Route”). This shorter “hop” will be where all through Australia-London passengers will be fed. Passengers going via Hong K and Bangkok will be choosing to stop. I have some disquiet about how these reductions in service will help “sell” Qantas as a carrier which I have blogged about previously.
Competitors on the non stop Bangkok to Sydney sector are now Thai and Emirates. Air Asia, Malaysian, Singapore all offer one stop service.
This was the 22nd British Airways flight in my life. I also flew their predecessors BEA and BOAC a lot. I have flown them in total enough miles to go around the world four times.
Booking: 10 out of 10
The British Airways website is very clear and very easy to use, It loads quickly. Booking and paying is a breeze. Entering my frequent flyer number, and choosing my seat was simple. I chose an exit row aisle seat. Love it!
Check In: 10 out of 10
I checked in online and was really disappointed to find that I had lost my emergency exit seat. Worse I now had a middle seat almost at the back of the plane. I looked for seats near the front of the cabin and could not see anything that a 185cm 6’1 frequent flyer would find comfortable so row 51 it was.
On arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, I made my way to the clearly signposted British Airways Gold/Business Check in counter where a very friendly check in attendant greeted me. I mentioned politely to her how disappointed I was to have been relegated from exit row to back. She said “Let me have a look. Well sir, the plane is very full. We have moved you to another class of srevice. You are in row 18.” In other words, the magic words: “you have an upgrade”. Row 18 on this 747 is in British Airways call “Club World” *Business Class) . Thank you BA!
Lounge: 8 out of 10
Bangkok Airport’s British Airways/ Qantas Business lounge is airy, pleasant and comfortable. The showers were very nice. Food included little mini lamingtons which made this Australian very happy. The lounge could not be faulted.
Boarding: 8 out of 10
Finding a gate at Bangkok airport always seems a challenge for me. I have been there so many times and I still manage to lose Boarding gates! So I arrived a little stressed at the gate. After that, Boarding was pretty smooth but on the plane itself, the pace felt very frantic. It was a clearly a fully laden flight and passengers and crew seemed to be everywhere. I was glad to be offered a welcome drink! I asked for Sparkling wine but was told I could have champagne instead. (When I last flew Business with Air New Zealand, I asked for a champagne but was told on the ground they could only serve me Sparkling Wine!).
Unlike Business Class on Air New Zealand, Virgin and Qantas, no cabin crew member welcomed passengers on board individually. Crew on these carriers show passengers the ins and outs of the cabin. Not sure if BA don’t do it or if the heavy passenger load precluded it.
On Board: 8 out of 10
The 747 felt old. The interior fittings in Club World (Business) looked dated. My seat was great, however. There were a total of 52 seats in the Club World cabins, all 180-degree fully flat sleeper seats. The window seats all face the rear, as do the E & F seats. The seat has a 20″ width and 73″ pitch. On Qantas 747 on the same route you get 21.5″ and 60″ . Thai gives you 20″ and 55″ on their 747.
I chatted to my seat neighbour, before we raised the privacy screens. He was not convinced about flying backwards.
I initially found the BA service a little out of character. I could not place my finger on what i found jarring about the crew attitude. They won me over when I asked for a sparkling water, however. The cabin attendant leaned forward and said “we don’t have any. It looks like they drank us out of it from London. It was a very full flight.” He said “I have looked” Ten minutes later, he was back with a bottle from First Class. Very nice!
Safety: 10 out of 10
I feel I have seen the BA safety video many times now. Is it memorable or dated? Crew took safety briefing and checks carefully. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ere2ZvUNvkc&feature=player_embedded
Meals: 9 out of 10
Following my doctor’s noting my iron levels are low, I chose steak or my main course, Again, there was the slight jarring of service. Bizarrely, my flight attendant could nt recommend a wine to accompany it. and even when prompted did not know the difference between the wines on this trolley. The steak with a nice French red was perfect.
I found out later that British Airways have snacks available for club world passengers including sandwiches, smoothies and chocolates for access through the flight. They didn’t mention it and I regret I didn’t check it out.
Entertainment: 8 out of 10
British Airways has “HighLife Entertainment’s Audio and Video On Demand (AVOD)”. In ClubWorld the flat TV screen is 26cm (10.4 inches). It rotates out in front of you and allowed lots of room to adjust it. noise canceling headphones are, of course, provided. The 100 movies and TV programmes included lots of Downton Abbey, an excellent Mockmentray about Monty Python’s Life of Brian but one episode only of Mike and Molly, one of Modern family, one of Big Bang and one of Parks and Recreation! There were also 50 music CDs and audio books and 20 games which I didn’t play.
My rating: 91% (5 out of 5)
Positives: Meals, Lounge, Check in, Seat
Negatives: Boarding, lack of Personal welcome
Would I fly them again? Yes, especially if you upgrade me again- but alas it won’t be on British Airways on this sector for a while
My last Trip Report: February 14: Malev – Rome (ROM to Budapest (BUD) Boeing 737