|European Extravaganza 2019|
My first British Airways flight, how did it go?
I’d have to admit, I wasn’t overly enthused about this flight. Yes, the A380 is an engineering wonder (that’s how Emirates wowed the world with shower capacities in First Class), but the passenger density in economy class (3-4-3??) leaves more to be desired. And yes, I was flying in economy class.
I wanted to review the newly reconfigured business class on Qantas A380 but I couldn’t find any availability and I wanted to be in London at the same day as my family. Thankfully, British Airways launched a wonderful promotion and I managed to snag a ticket for 11,375 Avios with $265 in fuel surcharges and taxes. With that, my first British Airways flight was underway!
British Airways departs from Changi Airport Terminal 1 and has 3 daily flights, 2 departing for London and 1 departing for Sydney. They also have a British Airways Galleries Lounge, which Business/First Class passengers flying British Airways can have access to, or if you have status with OneWorld, Sapphire and Emerald OneWorld members can access the lounge as well.
I personally do not have OneWorld status so I do not have access to the Galleries Lounge, so I hopped over my favourite lounge (so far) in Terminal 1, the Plaza Premium Lounge. I have access by virtue of my OCBC Voyage Card, and have done a review before, which you can check out here. I settled for a bowl of laksa, some orange juice and some light snacks (peanuts, prawn crackers, etc). One thing that left me heartbroken was that the freshly prepared free-flow sushi handrolls were no longer being served, perhaps as a form of cost cutting measures. They were easily the darling of my visits to the Plaza Premium Lounge 🙁
The British Airways economy class on the A380 was available in a 3-4-3 configuration on the lower deck, or a 2-4-2 configuration on the upper deck. Thankfully, I managed to snag a seat on the upper deck, which contains fewer passengers (more space)! Moreover, there is a storage compartment space for the window seats on the top aisle, which gives plenty of space for storage, even more than the one available on my business class flight on the Boeing 787-10.
I walked past the upper deck which housed the British Airways Club World seats, which is how British Airways terms their business class seats. They were however in an uninspiring 2-4-2 configuration, which offers minimal privacy and no direct aisle access. However, British Airways did release their new Club World seats (Club Suite) in the second half of 2019, in an effort to gain back market share in the premium cabins. And they do look stunning, and they are a seat I would love to fly the next time I am flying with British Airways.
Here’s a visual comparison of how the old and new Club World Suite seats compare:
The difference is stark and based on initial photos, the new Club World Suite looks like a huge upgrade compared to the old Club World seats.
I made my way to my seat with ease and in its place, a basic pillow, comfy blanket, eye mask and complimentary earphones were provided.
Departure was punctual and about 30 minutes into the flight, the crew started handing out refreshments. One perk about heading onto the upper deck is that with fewer passengers, service was much quicker as well. I got myself some ginger ale and pretzels.
Shortly after serving refreshments, the first meal service came along. The options available were beef with potatoes or fish with rice and I opted for the former. It was paired with an appetiser which came with smoked salmon and an apple crumble which was delightful and left me impressed.
After the first meal service, the cabin lights were dimmed to allow passengers to rest on this red-eye flight. As such, I didn’t get to take many photos. Economy class wasn’t the best for sleeping so I alternated between getting some shut-eye and checking out the entertainment options. I caught the blockbuster Ad Astra and comedy Stuber, while checking out the mini-refreshment area that the crew had prepared behind. Most passengers don’t know this, but I have found on my travels that the cabin crew in economy class always prepares some light refreshments for passengers during red-eye flights. A variety of chocolate delights greeted me, along with the pretzels that the cabin crew first served. One could also top up their beverages at the back.
I also managed to chat with one of the cabin crew member Greg. I shared with him that it was my first time flying British Airways and asked him if he had flown in the new Club World Suite. He excitedly shared with me that he was one of the lucky ones that got to experience the new Club World when British Airways scheduled familiarisation flights from London-Madrid. He encouraged me to try the new Club World Suite at the soonest possibility. It’s always nice to see friendly cabin crew taking the initiative to talk to passengers, it certainly made me more excited for my trip!
After dozing off a few more times and watching a few documentaries, breakfast was served. It was a non-fuss quiche with hot tea. We promptly descended into London Terminal 5, the home of British Airways, before making our way to Terminal 3 where we could check in to our Arrivals Lounge to get a hot shower to start our day!
My first British Airways flight was smooth, something you always look forward to on any flight. The crew was pleasant, the upper deck of the A380 was rather spacious and a dessert bar mid-flight is always welcome.
For just 11,375 Avios, this was exceptional value for a 14-hour flight. The surcharges that British Airways tags onto redemption flights is a boon, so do take note on that whenever you are redeeming Avios on British Airways.
Other than that, here I was in London, ready to start my European Extravaganza!