A perhaps more balanced view on BABack to Forum
Anonymous16 Sep 2011
In August, I cleared the hurdle of becoming a BAEC Gold card holder for the first time. As you may have picked up from the forum, I have been a Star Gold since 1999, and a very loyal LH Group and SAS client for many years.
As my travel pattern has changed over the years, I’ve become self-employed, and still love the privilege of being able to afford the cheaper business class tickets in Europe.
Yesterday, I entered BA T5 for my first trip as Gold, and I did have some childish expectations built up. I went to the FIRST area for check in, and was quickly processed by the nice gent who manned the “Gatekeeper Station” in the front as I had carry on only. A little banter of the right level went on.
I then entered the security which had roughly 10 people ahead of me at 18:45, and I was through in about eight minutes. I went to the Wine Store downstairs to see if the gent had anything special on offer, but he was on his break so I wandered off to my first ever trip to the Galleries FIRST lounge. Here I never made it passed the tranquility of the Champagne Bar. Perhaps it was a slow night in there, but compared to a Star Gold lounge anywhere, BA takes this hands down. I didn’t even venture beyond this because this is what I needed to wind down from the hectic week.
I wandered off to gate A21 as the last passenger onboard, and was greeted with the “Welcome Back Mr. Senator”. Sat down in 2C on the A320 in the comfortable seats of BA’s CE cabin, jacket promptly taken. Left gate 5min early, and long taxiing across the airfield. Departed 15min late, but arrived on time.
Onboard I established the rapport with the excellent crew, and I was one of few people to eat the rather nice chicken offer for dinner. I hadn’t eaten since lunch, so the 21:00 meal was much needed. The hot towel was back, and I was pleased with the meal and beverage selection.
IMHO, flying BA from LHR T5 as a BAEC Gold and in CE is an excellent experience for the prices of £250 or £400 which I pay for my ARN-LHR trips. The one downside is when BA/AY moved from T2 to T5 at ARN, it went from the excellent AY Lounge to a poor cousin in the name of Menzies Contract Lounge. Furthermore, One World find it to dear to pay for a proper Fast Track at ARN, so queues can be rather long in rush hour compared to Star. So the only downside I can find for my market is the airport experience at ARN.
I will continue to split my patronage between BA and the LH Group on the basis of having now two excellent choices for my travel needs: BA and LX16 Sep 2011
Senator: I am not sure it is a payment problem at ARN… Wherever I fly with BA, the fast track is available … but in ARN! I tend to think it is rather a SK trick there…
For the rest, I am rather happy to see you having selected a civilised way of travelling 🙂16 Sep 2011
@ Mr Senator ..
Upon reading your experience, I would so like to echo the sentiments about your flight after having taken recent flights from LHR to Houston and LHR to Miami.
Sadly my experiences don’t read like yours even though my flights had flat beds in rows 1 to 5.
Maybe BA will operate the A320s to the USA & the experience will be a breath of fresh air.16 Sep 2011
Swissdiver, you are probably right as the whole Fast Track set up at ARN is rather strange IMHO. You get access if you are flying SAS Business or Econ Extra, or have SK Gold. If you travel LH/OS/LX business you get access or if you fly Econ to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and have SEN card… The rest of Star is left out.
As you may know, SAS Ground Service does not handle many of the Star carriers at ARN including CO and LX. They price themselves out of the game.
I have spoken to a few people working for SK and LH locally about this, and it is a matter of money. SK is not willing to pay for all Star Gold to use the Fast Track, which I can understand since the carriers are not paying for ground service with them.
Overall, a confusing set up on the Star side, which makes me believe this is a matter of cost for BA and AY.
By the sounds of things, you were in BA FIRST and are unhappy with the experience. This is hard for me to comment on was I was not that flight. My point is rather simple; what can I expect for £250 return flight that is 2:20hrs long, and how does the BA product stack up against the competition? In my view, BA provides excellent value for the money I spend and exceeded my expectations. In your example, it sounds like they didn’t.16 Sep 2011
Senator, I can only wish you welcome aboard. I decided to focus on BA some years ago.
Not that I was overly displeased with the SK/EB offering, no, but there were three perks driving me:
1. Pricing, BA is very competitive.
2. Most of my business have been towards US, western US in particular. Which sadly SK does not serve, hence I would have to resort to LH and its family or Continental for semi-direct flights (United is out of question for long haul). As I have stated before, I am not particularly happy about the LH offerings.
3. Service. It is my opinion that SK at comparable level is competitive to BA service, but the LH family is far from it.
The only thing I really miss from SK/EB is the fast track at OSL. Obviously it is a hassle that I have to go to London for any pts/miles earning/spending. But with such superb lounges I can deal with that.
I envy you though, having *A Gold for lifetime. I was two years short of that.16 Sep 2011
…I would say that the experience of travelling as a Gold Card holder rarely disappoints, possibly mollified by the copious amounts of excellent refreshments on offer…..
And when the does disappoint, GCH’s are well looked after.
Of course, you can sample BA’s airbus service to New York aboard Club World London City.16 Sep 2011
I agree with most of your points. I know that it was only recently that LX returned to OSL with 2x daily to ZRH. Of the LH Group airlines, this will be my choice and I can warmly recommend it. I will be on the LX flight to LAX on an upgraded LX First next week on the A340-300. I’ve sampled the newish A330-300, but this will be the first endeavor on the A340-300 which features and older First product (to be upgraded as I understand it).
It is a bit of a devil’s alternative regarding connections; deal with CO/SK to EWR/ORD and then connect after US Immigration, or pit stop at LHR/FRA/ZRH and get directly to the destination and clear Immigration there. For the outbound I rather connect in the UK/Europe, but landing at ARN from a long-haul very nice.
The BA/AA fares to the US are stellar, I agree.. There are three caveats; The Star carriers have joint fares that allow for travel across most of the carriers, allowing for stopovers which BA/AA don’t allow, and provides much more flexibility in terms of cancellation and changes. My fare next week is routed: ARN-ZRH-LAX-DEN-EWR-LHR-ARN, cost around £2000 and is pretty flexible and I have two stopovers, one in Denver and one in London. The best I could do on BA/AA was open jaw ARN-LAX, DEN-ARN having to buy a separate First ticket on AA adding around 30-40% to the fare and less flexibility.
This posting was mostly discussing the CE offer combined with BAEC Gold which for the prices I pay IMHO, an excellent value for money.
I have sampled the “air bus” to JFK, and it is a nice service16 Sep 2011
For me, the interesting balance is between Senator’s post about an excellent experience (which BA is quite capable of delivering) and Bullfrog’s not so excellent experience (which BA is also quite capable of delivering.)
The only airline in Europe that I use who delivers a really consistent end to end product/service is Ryanair, possibly because there is really very little service 🙂16 Sep 2011
I would love to sample the new LX First, but having burnt all my EB pts and not doing intercontinental work in my new position, I figure chances are small. No chance I pay First up front from my own pocket. I can always consider an upgrade at the gate, but that is about it.
I have to say; £2000 for that trip next week, in First??? That is a bargain out of this world.16 Sep 2011
For clarity, I am on a Z-class fare (business) and using M&M upgrade vouchers to First, Still a pretty good deal with two stopovers. And it is flexible, I just rebooked the first segment free of charge.
My point was to try LX business as a good alternative to BACW if you want to stick to Star Alliance across the pond.16 Sep 2011
Indeed. Lovely F check in this evening (not the dreadful “pulled through a hege backwards and been out on the town all night” lady I had last time), and Conc Rm pleasingly unbusy this evening.
security: six minutes. Pat down not pornographic.16 Sep 2011
Checked in for Lisbon Monday night on web, said one hour late, when car arrived I checked again and it said 10 mins late. Arrived at T3, 10 minutes through Fast Track, only one gate open, others all in use for regular security. Fast Track lane longer line than others. Exit closed so you have to go down to The VAT refund exit. They had decided to check passports on Friday so queued for that. Went to BA First Lounge. Friendly greeting (I find the purple lighting in lobby a bit odd though). Checked departure board 1 hour 10 delay. Asked what inbound equipment was as only flight really delayed was ABZ. Told was Madrid showing 10 min late arrival so why 1 hour 10 min delay? Who knows.
Champagne bottles all empty and salads depleted. Could not find anyone to replenish so went back to entrance and one of them kindly ran off to find someone. 5 minutes later someone ran past covered in cold water and another 2 minutes they came out to replensih Champagne and salads. Had two glasses of champagne which was nice. Then we went to gate. Told we were aboiut to board as cleaners had finished. 10 minutes later we got on bus. Bus and up stairs but we did get stairs with a roof. Nice catering in flight with Prawn Pasta. Appetizer is always bizarre. Green paste of indeterminate origin with slightly dry stale crudites. Good service and got my coffee (though quality was usual gravy browning – improved with a Camus in it). Arrived 1 hours and 15 mins late but we had a gate in Lisbon. Cabin Crew were very pleasant and professional and flight was very smooth. A320 was looking very old and tatty, the seats were very worn with the blue colouring worn off in places. Headrest would not stay in place, no seat power.
Overall fairly standard BA CE experience to Lisbon, Late, Buses, old airbus but nice pleasant service and I do like the BA in flight map (I guess it’s like Cats and string, love all the graphics).16 Sep 2011