one of those days, and a reviewBack to Forum
It’s been about 9 months since I last took a BA long haul flight. In that time, I have flown out to Asia probably around 10 times on Emirates, KLM, Finnair and used CX around Asia, all on Business class. I have not posted reviews of those flights having reviewed them before and seen no changes.
I chose BA this time because for some reason, probably the HK 7s being on, everyone was looking north of 3K rtn but Tim F on here got me a good deal on BA outwards to HKG and returning on CX to KL and jumping on BA metal back to LHR just over 2.2K
The day started badly being stuck on the M25 carpark for an hour and a half busting for the loo, the hard shoulder kept beckoning me over but every time I almost went we started to move. Arrived at T5 and in my, let’s say, distracted state I went onto level 3 instead of level 4 for the valet park. As you may know there is no way to get back up without exiting the carpark and paying the £3.80 for the privilege of a tour around the car park. I went to the barrier and after 5 minutes crossed legged waiting for someone to answer the help button I just paid the fee drove round to level 4 and legged in to the loos before returning to my car and some confused looking parking guys.
This is my first time using the new F check in and dedicated security lane. Now I am very fussy, not pedantic but it’s the little things. I run both a manufacturing company and a pub on the side and in both cases customer facing image is everything. Factory side all customers are blue chip and have very high housekeeping standards whilst in the pub, well we all know how joe public (like me) can be. The point is that’s what I base my standards on as well as other carriers as benchmarks.
The first check in area: Nice, very nice. Friendly, professional and very efficient. But if I was the manager I would not let staff snack at their desks and leave the crumbs on the counter and drinks visible. Keep it under the desk please. Security, fast friendly and in total less than 5 minutes to check, clear and be strait in the F lounge. What a difference that makes, not having to negotiate my way around all the Duty free and walk half way up the terminal only to come back on myself to get to the lounge. Well done BA on that. On the indoor/outdoor (mezzanine?) part of the lounge they had a section with some very good craft ales and ciders which despite me usually not drinking before or during a flight I took advantage of. It was a good promotion as I grabbed one of the brewery crowd funding leaflets and they may well get a bit of my cash in the future. They certainly will be hearing from me to see if they have a supplier in china so I can stock in in my place. Other than that, the F lounge was the same as before. I bit tired, a poor cleaning regime and food that was average.
I was on the BA 31 due to depart at 18.40. Unfortunately, the aircraft had technical issues up on the tail and boarding did not start until 7. BA did an excellent job keeping us up to date with the status and I am sure the non-FF enjoyed the captains friendly banter letting us know what was going on. However, if I was a nervous flier some of the comments may have not been so reassuring but the majority had a good chuckle in a very British way.
As is the norm, no welcome for BA gold card holders. Something I always get on CX. I don’t really care about it but is ironic that as BA holder CX give it and BA don’t. The time dragged, it seemed that hit it with a hammer approach didn’t work so it was part replacement time. 8.20 still at the gate so I closed my eyes for a snooze, I blame the excellent beer for that. Next thing I know a tap on the leg to wake me for the safety vid before takeoff. By the time we took off it was close to 9PM. Mechanical issues happen and to be fair to BA it was handled very well. Wheels up, seat back and doze off again. I won’t review the seat as we all know it’s the same one for the past 20 years except to say everything worked and it was clean.
I woke about 4 hours later feeling peckish…. hit the bell and nobody came, pressed again, still nobody. I was in 56K right next to the galley bulkhead so I could clearly hear the “ping” and the crew chatting. The light above my seat went out so they must have heard it but did not respond, I was just about to get out of my seat to fetch someone when a member of crew came from the other direction and I got her attention. Upon asking for food was told service had finished and that I had not ordered any. I explained I was never asked and she said I was sleeping before take-off so did not want to wake me, I did note they woke me for the safety video and I would have thought as they saw I was asleep at ordering they might have given me a nudge at service just to check. I had no reply to that at was offered a cheese plate or choice of crisps, nuts or fruit, I opted for cheese and a huge chunk of sulking! Nothing for it then but to sleep as much as possible then. I woke in time for breakfast and as I had missed dinner asked for an extra breakfast, none was available but I could eat as much bread as I wanted, which I passed on. I chose the window seat as unlike many others I like that closed in feeling on the BA window seat and on the A380 there is lots of storage space beside you on the locker. I reached in to grab my laptop to find it soaking wet. Before takeoff they did not clear my pre-takeoff glass of water which then spilled over, into the locker and over my items, the offending glass was on the floor. Fortunately, no damage done but it did show sloppy pre-take off clearing.
We landed 2 hours late into HKG and upon leaving the aircraft I could see the floor in the galley soaking wet from a spillage, more sloppy clearing up? The galley was a mess of crumbs and bits of food. I would think the crew were taking the approach of not their job, leave it to ground staff, all in all not good for image.
To round it all off by the time I got in it was too late for me to go to the bank so I had to change my driver to the mainland from a 9am pick up next day so I could go into the branch Saturday morning…oh but its Easter so they were not open either and to top it off the driver messed up so I ended up sitting in the hotel lobby what seemed an age waiting for a replacement car. To top it off I then had the classic china shuffle at the border trying to explain that I know my Resident visa expires on the 27th and my flight out is after that but I do my renewal in China. Therein followed confused looks and lots of “no you must go home to to Visa” comments. 40 minutes later resolved by My local city police explaining to them that I can and always have renewed in country before finally being let across.
So, get to my apartment. No Tea, no milk, no loo paper! and 3-week-old eggs in the fridge. I really must have words with my PA on Monday ?
Do you ever have one of those trips where it’s just not going right? Thank god, the weekend is almost over!15 Apr 2017
Nice review Steve, I know one should not laugh at other’s misfortunes, but i did. Wholeheartedly!
It’s a shame a quick pee by the side of the road is a criminal offense in the UK and will maybe get you on the sex offenders register. I think our Continental and Asian cousins have a more relaxed attitude to natural emergencies. Mind you I still recall my old mum saying before every trip to my father and self before setting off, “have you been to the bathroom dear”. In fact when I used to visit her (in my 50’s) and before leaving she would say the same thing. Ironically without that warning I often find myself in the same predicament as you!!! Worse still, if with my boys they will make the sound of running water and paint imaginary images of waterfalls and rivers to increase my agony!
What’s interesting about your review is again it shows how BA has gone downhill compared to other carriers. I’m sure there are flights where (maybe) they excel and cabin crew are hard working, diligent and put the customer first, but I hear of more and more stories such as yours as well as from friends who have to fly BA for corporate reasons, not to mention my own experience which I’ll relate in another thread.
Every airline, including (non UK) budget ones, I’ve flown with, the staff and crew have been friendly, helpful and cheerful. Even after a 10 hour long haul flight. I must admit I fell in love with the tall, blonde maitre de cabine who came to my seat to say goodbye on arrival at Frankfurt, nicely made up, fresh looking in her impeccable uniform wearing her crew hat. Amazing and the stuff of schoolboy dreams I’m afraid.
I compare that to BA on arrival at LHR, surly, baggy eyed and a sort of grudging farewell (at the door, not at the seat) and looking as if they had flown with the window open! A complete contrast.
As for things going wrong. To often to recall now, and I tend to forget them anyway, but I’ll update when an amusing one comes to mind.
Enjoy your Easter and I hope you can hold on till you can buy some loo rolls, I’m sure even the Chinese would balk at you stopping by the side of the road for that! ?15 Apr 2017
THank you Steve, both funny and informative!
I had a “one of those days” experience last week, and it crossed over with your “one of those days” in Terminal 5.
The early morning Swiss flight from LCY to Geneva was cancelled (fog) and I was rebooked on BA LHR to GVA, mid-afternoon. It is a while since I have used T5 and three things particularly struck me.
1. Signage is poor, coupled with too much going up and down between levels. In particular, trying to get back to the upper level, it is all too easy to use the escalators at the South end, which are a dead end unless you are heading into a BA lounge.
2. The catering facilities are inadequate. The Gordon Ramsay Plane Food restaurant is closed for refurbishment, the only other adult-sounding restaurant had an oven failure (so no hot food) and otherwise you are left with places which I am sure are fine, but family-oriented. So in the end I perched at the Caviar House seafood bar….
3. …. where I was astonished to be served a king crab leg out of the shell. I asked the manager, why? How could I tell if it had been taken from the shell five minutes earlier, or five days ago? At the Caviar House seafood bar in CPH, the king crab legs are served in the shell. Well, she explained, the management of the airport will not allow it to be served in the shell, because splinters of crab shell might injure the diner.
So now I have an explanation of the reason why the Caviar House seafood bar at Copenhagen airport is surrounded by pools of blood and the bodies of customers who have apparently exsanguinated by stabbing themselves with crab shells…..15 Apr 2017
A very amusing read in which I happily realised that it’s not only me who has such niggling issues when travelling 😉
My last long haul with BA was late February, LHR to KUL (I’ve chosen other airlines instead since then) where I used upgrade vouchers to move into First.
On the outbound, there was no hot towel, no pre-flight drink, no amenity kit & no menu handed out.
The excuse given was “you must have been in the loo” – well yes, I was, for all of 60 seconds so why did no one return with said items?
I had to go and ask for a newspaper and pyjamas as well – And this is BA First class….. There were only 4 of us in the 1st cabin – seriously, how hard can it be.
Edited to add;
The food outbound was bloody awful (Venison Wellington)in which somebody had obviously replaced the pave of dead deer with the sole of the great man’s boot of the same name.
On the return, I was given the same menu as outbound and questioned to crew that it’s very odd to see exactly the same meal choices on the return sector – this comment went directly over the head of the crew member who then brought me the wrong meal and only then did she realise that I had been given the wrong menu (just like I had tried to tell her an hour before).
Good Ole’ BA – gotta love ’em15 Apr 2017
An enjoyable Saturday morning read and great review Steve.
In fact I’d say your travails getting to T5 and from Chep Lok to your apartment could metaphorically represent how BA run their business these days.
A real shame,because as you say,small touches and attention to detail cost absolutely nothing. And the smallest of expenditure could turn an average experience into a memorable experience for the right reasons,and not in your case ,for the wrong reasons.
Enjoy your Chinese Easter15 Apr 2017
Thanks, all, a former colleague of mine from the US how had been a road warrior 40 years used to say to me “it’s what we do” never a truer word spoken!
LP, stopping for a leak could land us with probably at least 5 major traffic offences, not to mention being on the sex offenders list!
Seasoned traveller, that reminds me, there were no hot towels on departure or on decent either.
My first night back in my Pub for 2 weeks and glad to see its all good. I never tell them when I am coming back, keeps them on their toes and I think BA management should do the same get out there as secret shoppers. It costs nothing to be consistent quality.
Funny enough that reminds that several months ago I got into a tit for tat on line row with a senior guy at CX about how poor quality their new A360 seats are while he was boasting how good they were. I just read they are renewing all of them after just a year for poor quality from the manufacturer. So maybe all airlines could do with listening to the customer now and then. Some of us old lags know what we are talking about ?
David, Caviar House was like a war zone, maybe that’s why BA have dedicated lane now so we dont have to see the triage station!15 Apr 2017
Great piece Steve, when things start to go wrong, it is so infuriating – I got into a similar situation in NCE car park recently, though for different reasons (and no loo urgency, thank goodness). You could kick yourself 🙂15 Apr 2017
Very funny Steve, I do feel for you, it sounds like an ‘if it can go wrong it will’ scenario. In any premium cabin I think it’s the attention to detail that makes it, yes the seats are better and notionally so is the food – but of course you didn’t get to eat much of it! If the small touches are missing then you might as well be at the back in a bigger seat.
I had a great experience recently on AZ, I was amazed how kind and thoughtful the crew were and generally I find that LH & LX are consistently good and more often excellent – they certainly leave me a happy punter.
I have recently wondered about giving BA another go on longhaul as some of the fares from FRA are really low but you’ve just convinced me not to! You get what you pay for so I’ll keep paying LH fares for now!15 Apr 2017
Agree, you get what you pay for, sometimes what you pay not too. my last 5 flights on CX HKG to SGN i have used BA points for economy but been upgraded to business every time, i dont recall ever being upgraded with BA despite being gold for more years than i can remember. As i said usually BA is out of price and i look forward to EK again next trip, I have AF the one after that. my last flight with them was about a year ago so we shall see, despite the knocks i see them get here now and then they were not half bad back then, we shall see!15 Apr 2017
I will use BA when it suits and ‘suits’ looks like
– World Traveller Plus
– Middle East (~6.5/7 hours)
– Sub £700 (ex MAN – sometimes as little as £450, depending on when you book)
In fact, I just booked two return trips, last week.
I take some granola bars and buy a 0.5 litre bottle of water and expect very little – the food is sometimes edible, occasionally vile – don’t have the fish sadayeih or what ever it is called, it’s one of the most unpleasant dishes I’ve eaten for a long time and I’m not a fussy eater).
The flight saving covers a rental car from AUH and it is a short drive to Dubai, where I work frequently.
I have low expectations and BA usually meet these 😉
Would I consider BA on a 747/777 to DXB at ~£1,100 – no chance – poor value.15 Apr 2017
I thought I would round off with the return leg.
HKG to KUL. This leg was taken of Cathay Dragon and although the connecting flight was on BA I was a little concerned about whether bags would be checked all the way to London given BA’s recent interlining changes. Proved not to be a concern as they were marked strait through however the check in staff did say it’s worth checking with BA in Kul that they would be transferred. Once again I availed myself of the excellent CX lounges before boarding the A330-300. As one would expect the service was excellent, CSD came around and greeted OW gold members, choice of 4 drinks before takeoff and a hot towel. It was a long time ago I flew Dragon air, before the CX merger and that was in economy. This aircraft looked a little old but was all in the Cathay green colour combination so maybe it was transferred from CX to CXD. The seating was 2+2+2 across and whilst the seat was comfortable it was a simple recline, approx 40 degrees and calf rest. IFE was the CX studio system but did not seem to be as full as the CX one. Food was excellent which was surprising as CX food is typically poor now, I wonder if they are using the same caterer? I am told they are less than 40% through the integration of the 2 companies. Overall for a short flight the experience was good.
KUL often amuses me, and frustrates me at times. As I had a 3-hour layover I took the opportunity to go landside and meet some friends who I have not seen in ages for a coffee and catch up. Immigration took about 30 minutes and painless, the guy on the desk seemed more interested in listening to his music on his phone that checking arrivals. After an hour back through immigration and 1st step of security which was a joke, I was the only person in business class lane and they did not even look at the screen when putting bags through. However, there is another security zone at the gates which is more thorough. Boarding was on time but in any order, no priorities. I always find the C gate zone at KLU disorientating. Its circular design should make it easy but the outer walls curving inwards throws the sense off and its way too easy to walk around in circles.
BA flight to London. We boarded on time and this was my first flight on BA’s 787 having flown on the QR ones before. I do like the Dreamliner and the fit and finish of this aircraft was good. No gaffa tape holding things together and very clean. There was no welcome from staff, no hot towel and no pre-take off drink offered either. On top of that my Ife was broken as the screen would not stay in place, it kept falling back into closed position. I sat patiently until after take-off until the first seatbelt “ping then pressed the call button. 20 minutes I waited and pressed the button 5 times, each time I could hear it as I was next to the galley and 3 times staff came past, saw the blue light, one even smiled at me and kept walking. Just as I was about to get out of my seat they came around with post take off drinks. By now I am annoyed and asked to see the CSD. She came over in a few minutes and I asked very politely if BA had officially ended the hot towel and preflight drinks. She said that it’s a short taxi in Kul so hot towels are done after takeoff, I could not counter that although the taxi was no less than LHR or HKG etc. On the drink, she said we cannot serve champagne before takeoff in KL and I explained that I didn’t want alcohol, I do not drink on flights, I just wanted some water. “oh, did they forget you” she replied. No, they forgot the entire cabin was my response which she denied. I saw them do it on the other isle and I explained I am sure they did not and I am positive they did not do this side. I will speak to my team was the outcome. Clearly, I was a nuisance. The IFE was fixed in true BA style with some napkins and a drink stirrer wedged in the gaps as there were no other spare seats. The food was ok, nothing special but perfectly edible. Somehow, I managed a full 7 hours’ strait sleep and another hour after that before landing. The Dreamliner does make a difference on sleeping ability. I shall be complaining to BA about the IFE in the remote chance of blagging some avios in return. As far as the service, I will not bother as its pointless.2 May 2017
Having been out in the sandpit working since 2011, and normally a read only member of these forums, I wanted to pen my thoughts. For the last 3 years I have used BA CW on the DXB / LHR run. Being a self financing traveler BA represents good value financially for me, EK is far too expensive, and after bad experiences we vowed never to use them again. EY we don’t consider due to the treck to / from AUH.
Prior to BA I was a QR convert, we had used them since 2003 purely for leisure travel but always in J or F, again QR represented great value at the time, service was impeccable and that is a big complement coming from me as aviation professional of 40 years standing. Initially we always used QR in J class for the periods of leave in the UK, I was QR Platinum, but o so slowly standards dropped, fares went up especially starting from DXB, the huge impersonal HIA (I missed those BMW or J class mini coaches to the Premium terminal) baggage never seemed to connect and on one short trip to the UK QR promised to deliver the delayed bags by taxi which would have arrived the day after I set off on the return. The QR London staff (3rd partly handling) assumed because I was English then my trip had terminated and I was not in a rush to receiver the bags. The QR cabin crew when we first used them were a lot more engaging and friendly (quite a few seemed to be more mature crew from other carriers) however as time progressed the crew started to be distant, never really engaged and were very clinical in their service, anything out of the ordinary was met with confusion.
So after a gap of 10 or more years I thought I would dust down my BA Blue card as it was then and try BA, fares were good value, the schedule is convenient for me – leaving DXB at 0130 arriving in LHR at 0630 I can be home in rural Hampshire by 0730 normally and the return lunchtime departure gets me into DXB with enough time for sleep before work the next day – maximizing my time at home. Sometimes I have to go to the Former Virginia Colonies for work so I use BA – again better value fares and I like the break in London between flights, these days 14 hours on a aircraft even in J class is too much to cope with.
Overall I find from BA is you get what you pay for, obviously compared to the ME 3 the cost base of crew and all ancillary services is much higher for a European carrier, but for me the consistency or lack of it is what lets BA down. When they are good they are very good when they are bad – yuck, there is no happy medium. I am now Gold and have been for 2 years, luckily I manage to always get my favorite seats on the upper deck of the dear old 747 and when you have an experienced WW legacy crew up there it makes all the difference. I find the service has improved recently, not up to other carriers standards I admit, but certainly better than some, again it is consistency, sometimes a towel service after departure, sometimes not, sometimes afternoon tea sandwiches are plated, sometimes not and are in a packet on a plate, it is these little things that matter. Overall though I have been quite content with the service, maybe I am lucky and not had a bad experience, in fact I have had some trips where the crew have gone above and beyond, only during the short stint with mixed fleet crew did I not always get greeted by the CSD / Cabin manager and at one point was addressed as ‘buddy’.
One last thing if anyone from BA is reading this could you let your flight deck crew know that it should not come as a surprise to find possible holding for DXB at 11pm, this is our version of the 6am LHR arrival bank. The flight Deck crew recently were quite put out that we had to hold at 11pm.3 May 2017