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Anonymous29 May 2014
LHR – OSLO
BERGEN – LHR
This was a weekend leisure trip in CE, bought in the sales for a very good deal. So perhaps this does not give me a reason to complain, but I won’t let it stop me.
Online check in both times, which went smoothly, although I had to pick up my boarding pass in Bergen. A short queue for business and it was quickly printed. Fast track security at LHR was typically slower than the regular queue. I had to restrain myself asking why the controller does not block off more queues for fast track. Instead, he seemed to relish the fact that premium passengers languished in two queues while the non-fast track tracked faster. I finally gave up and scooted to another queue and I was out while I would have been stuck for another 10 minutes in “fast track”. C’mon, BA and LHR, could do better.
Outbound, I had access to the first lounge at LHR with my gold card. Busy for a Friday evening, but not overwhelming. Food was acceptable, if not more. I sampled a bit of the sausage and mash (a bit tasteless), and a knock out cheesecake. The main downside was the fact that plates remained uncollected for the entire time I was there. I was there for a while as my flight was slightly delayed. I didn’t mind that, but the board did not register whether the flight was late or simply “lost”. Staff did not have an answer, either. 20 minutes to departure time, “go to gate” flashed on. Fortunately it was an A gate, so it did not mean dealing with the shuttle. Rushed to gate, only to find that it had not started boarding. In the end, boarding started at departure time, but credit to the staff, it was completed in 10 minutes, meaning we departed only a few minutes late. Also, well policed queue for business/priority members. Well done on that.
Inbound, there is no lounge for BA in Bergen. Boarding was a few minutes late, but again was handled speedily and we were ready to depart on time. Separate queue for business which was again handled well.
I was in seat 1F for the outbound, so I couldn’t measure seat pitch, but this was an older BA plane which meant it looked like old CE pitch. It also meant the older, more sturdier seats, which I find comfortable. Business class was almost full (14 pax out of a possible 16), and this is where things went a bit off. There was only one FA working CE, which might have been fine, but she was hopelessly overwhelmed. It took her 30 minutes after take off before the drinks trolley came around, and another 30 minutes before dinner was served. The flight was timetabled to 2 hours, but that meant only 1:40 in the air. Still this could have been fine, but there was no drinks service with the meal. Having drank my initial ddrink, I had run dry before the meal was served, expecting wine or other drinks. By the time the FA came around with a drinks trolley, we were on our descent and she did not even make it through the cabin. I had only time for a quick coffee. Which is a shame, as the meal, tandoori chicken and salad, was actually very good. It just needed something to wash it down with. As the FA was madly packing up, I asked what the problem was, and was told that they were down one FA. I thought that must be it, as I recall that usually in CE when it is busy, there are two FA’s, at least at the beginning, to get through the service. I’ve been on much shorter CE flights in which there has been proper time to eat, and with drinks served at the same time as the food, so it can be done, but not on this flight. Not the end of the world, but some of the extra cost of the ticket was for an actual meal, and this was ruined by lack of service.
On the return, I was in 1A, which is more or less the same, but with the smaller space for the middle seat. In any case, it was a completely different flight. There were only 6 of us in CE, and there was plenty of time for the FA to offer a round of drinks, plate up food and serve it and immediately offer a drink with dinner. Plus coffee afterwards. Again, I thought the food was excellent: I had a chicken linguini which was moist (the chicken) and al dente (the linguini). Given that I had not eaten in the lounge, I appreciated what was a fairly substantial meal. Clearly, BA can do a fine CE service, but it is hit and miss whether you get it.
Both flights landed just a few minutes delayed. Outbound, had to bus it to the terminal, but then quickly out to enjoy a very expensive long weekend in Norway. Return, we parked at B gates, but the airport that late was empty and I luckily caught the shuttle and quickly through passport control so I was out of the airport within 20 minutes after touchdown, a near record I think for T5.
For the return flight, I’d say it was definitely worth the extra £50 for the CE ticket. The extra space, great food and service and being out the door first was a real tangible benefit. I have some misgivings about the outbound, given the shambolic service. But the food and extra space was still good, and probably just about worth the £50 differential. But not more!29 May 2014