This flight, BA776, was an early morning departure at 07:15 am from London Heathrow Terminal 5. I arrived the terminal early around 5:30 am and it was relatively empty at this hour.
Being a British Airways’ Gold member, I proceeded straight to the First Class check-in area on the south side of the terminal (Zone J). As I was travelling without a check-in luggage, I bypassed the check-in counters and went straight to the pre-security zone. There was absolutely no queue. The staff scanned my boarding pass which was downloaded from my BA app, then immediately I progressed to the auto-barrier. Once again, with my BA app, I scanned my boarding pass over the scanner. Successfully verified, the gate opened and I continued to the dedicated main security. The usual routine – liquids out, laptop out, belt off, coat off, etc, and put them through the x-ray machine. I was through security in less than three minutes. It should be noted that this First Class check-in, also referred as First Wing, is only available to first class passengers, BA Gold members and One World Emeralds. The latter two can use this exclusive access regardless of the travelling class. After security, it was a very short walk along a wide corridor flanked on both sides with digital advertising. This led straight to the British Airways First Class Lounge. The whole process was seamless; from landside to airside, was accomplished in less than ten minutes. Impressive!
BA First Class Lounge
This lounge is quite large and spacious. Facilities included showers, spa, business centre, hot/cold food buffet and self-service hot and cold beverages, amongst others. The hot breakfast on offer was a typical English breakfast (sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes) along with breads and cakes. I have patronised this lounge for many years; the menu have remained the same throughout – be it breakfast, lunch or evening meals. The menu has not changed one bit. I wonder how hard could it be to refresh the menu occasionally!
BA776 was assigned to Gate 10, which was in the middle of the terminal. It involved going down one level, then through the boarding checks. A bus then whisked us off to the aircraft. When a bus is involved, priority boarding becomes non-existent.
Cabin and Seating in Club Europe
The interior cabin was fresh and very clean with newish looking dark leather seats. On this flight, the first five rows were turned into business class cabin. British Airways operates a variable cabin size in accordance to the demand of the premium seats. Essentially, all the seats in the aircraft are the same. On the business class (Club Europe) seats, they simply blocked off the middle seat.
I was seated in 1A. The seat did not recline at all; this is a standard feature on BA short haul flights. Where I was, when seated and legs rested, there was at least 16”-18” of gap before reaching the galley partition. While the seat pitch was generous in row one, you cannot stretch your legs because of the physical wall of the galley, but it was perfectly fine for a short two-and-a-half hour flight.
Overhead compartment spaces were plentiful in the front cabin.
The flight departed on time but the taxiing and queuing consumed over forty minutes before we were airborne. Early morning is a busy time for landings in Heathrow; long haul flights tend to arrive at this time. The captain did a god job updating the passengers on the progress.
I was greeted warmly by a bubbly male cabin service purser. He actually shook hands with all the business class passengers and greeted them in person individually. (A rarity these days!)
We were not offered drinks or morning papers before take off. There was no in-flight entertainment and no wifi. A small screen unfolded from the overhead compartment provided the visual display. Safety demonstration was by way of a very entertaining and amusing inflight video, featuring an all-star cast of British actors and actresses (Michael Caine, Asim Chaudhry, Olivia Colman, Jourdan Dunn, Naomie Harris, Joanna Lumley and David Walliams). It was a clever and creative way to convey safety messages in a humorous manner. But admittedly, if you are not exposed to the British celebrities or culture or familiar with its humour, you will almost certainly have little appreciation on the content. And if you do not speak English (as with 80% of the 7.6 billion world population), you will totally be in the dark (yes, even the subtitles were in mighty English).
The screen remained visible throughout the flight (except towards landing time) providing useful navigation information (flight position, altitude, distances, times and map).
A very professional sounding female captain welcomed the passengers and relayed the pertinent information about the flight. The business cabin was manned by a team of two including the purser. They were very pleasant and friendly, and were always smiling (must be the happiest crew that I have seen in BA flights for a long time).
Shortly after reaching cruising altitude, hot breakfast was served. We had a choice of omelette, English breakfast or vegetarian option, along with beverages (tea, coffee and juices). I chose the English breakfast. Overall, it was nicely presented and tasted pretty decent but the bacon was too ‘steamed’ for my liking. The hot food was individually prepared and served straight from the galley, not through the mass trolley. The dishes and empty cup were cleared promptly after I finished the meal.
Despite the delays in getting airborne, our flight arrived right on schedule in Stockholm Arlanda Airport Terminal 2. Disembarking was swift and it was just a short walk to immigration.
Overall, this BA776 was one of the better and pleasant flights that I have experienced on British Airways’ short hauls. The cabin was fresh and manned by courteous and friendly professionals who were genuinely happy to serve (particularly for an early morning flight). OK, this was no Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines long haul business class, but it was a nice change.
Airline Review: BA776 British Airways Airbus A320 London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda Business Class (Club Europe)
Date Flew: 09-NOV-2018