British Airways A321 Euro TravellerBack to Forum
Anonymous21 Apr 2014
I flew BA1498 from LHR to GLA on an A321.
Due to unexpectedly good traffic on the last working day before Easter, I got to LHR at 18.40 (well in time for the 21:05 departure) and made for the nearest bag drop with the shortest queue. The check in agent was courteous but not particularly friendly (despite my attempt at some pre-Easter chatter) and didn’t bother telling me about the priority security lane or the location of the lounge (I happened to know about both from previous visits but a friendly query costs nothing and shows customer care).
A look at the notice board showed that the queues at Security South were shorter than those in the North so I made my way up there. As BAEC silver I was entitled to use the priority line and was pleased to see that this was actually being enforced. The security staff were very chirpy and polite, being proactive in telling people what to take out and what they could keep. I only had a short wait and had a bit of a joke with a male security agent, which made a dull necessity more pleasant. I ended up being through in 10 minutes but noticed that a number of people were pulled aside for further checks.
I did some shopping at the Duty Free store as I needed to stock up on hand cream and this time remembered to use my Heathrow Rewards card so I got the points. I then made my way to the BA South Lounge where there was a courteous but not particularly warm welcome from a lounge dragon. Feeling peckish I checked out the hot options and found them unappealing – indeed, I have to agree with posters here at BT who refer to it as ‘slop’. Particularly disappointing was the fact that the options were a Malaysian curry or chilli con carne – not great for those of us who aren’t into spicy food and they both looked incredibly greasy. Vegetarian options were a mushroom pasta (which looked a little congealed) and vegetable rice (uninspiring). There were also some shrivelled jacket potatoes. I checked out the soup options, which were minestrone or carrot and ginger but ended up going for the cold buffet of cold cuts and cheese, which was tasty and freshly put out. I’m signed up to do surveys for BA when I check in for flights so did get pinged a text survey while I was in the lounge to describe my experience and I did mention the poor hot food choices. I doubt it will lead to any changes, but at least they can’t say they haven’t had any complaints.
The lounge was busy but there were still plenty of places to sit and I had no trouble finding somewhere to plonk my weary bones. Probably because it was the evening, I noticed more people requesting champagne from the lounge staff, who I thought were working very hard and were with one notable exception (a lounge staff member who gave me the serious stink eye when I accidentally dropped some tongs and ignored my apology), pleasant, friendly and courteous. They were particularly good at cleaning away plates and keeping the food topped up. I did consider asking for some champers for myself but I was heading for a boozy weekend and decided to save myself, opting instead for some ginger ale and some biscuits from a jar.
The only thing that disturbed me was the sight of a woman changing her baby into a fresh baby grow on one of the long tables set aside for those who want to eat. I only caught the end of it so I don’t know if the mother also changed the nappy but I did notice that the baby’s nappy clad bottom was moving along the table top. Before anyone has a go at me for being intolerant, I understand that babies need to be changed into new outfits before a flight and it could be that the baby’s nappy was completely clean but the mother was doing it on a table set aside for eating and there’s always a chance of germs being on the outside of the nappy and given that there are good baby changing facilities close by, I found it inconsiderate (but obviously, your mileage may vary). Fortunately, one of the lounge staff clearly spotted the same thing because she came over with a big bottle of cleanser and some clean cloths and wiped the table over thoroughly when the mother had left.
I did try to use the wi-fi but my phone’s nearing the end of its co-operative life and refused to hook up to it so I ended up reading my book.
The gate was announced at 20:20. From previous experience I knew that A7 was at the other end of the terminal, so I began to make my way over there at 20:25. It took about 10 minutes to walk up there, mainly because the terminal was very busy at that point with a number of international departures all going within the space of 90 minutes and a lot of people were milling about making last minute purchases.
Boarding began at 20:35 with business travellers, BAEC gold/silver/bronze and OW emerald/sapphire/ruby being given priority. I did note that no priority was given for passengers with young children or mobility issues – although there were clearly some who met those criteria. In the event, I think about half of us had the status qualification needed to board first, meaning that boarding wasn’t as quick as it could have been. I mean, honestly, it’s all just gone to pot since they allowed the riffraff rubies/bronzes into the priority line … /tongueincheek.
Boarding was via an air bridge and as I walked along it a member of the ground crew wished me a pleasant flight. As a BAEC silver card holder, I have the perk of being able to preselect seats for free at the time of boarding and had thought that I’d snagged a window seat but when the time came to check in the day before, I’d been moved to 5C, which is an aisle seat, and because the flight was full, there was nowhere better to move to.
On the domestic flights there’s no CE so the seats are all 3×3 across. Seat 5C was fine – comfortable enough and clean although the leather was very worn and the leg room must be uncomfortable for anyone over 6 foot tall. My row was also full so there was a bit of a polite battle for the armrests as well (nothing unpleasant – the normal British “Excuse me”).
We pushed back at 21:00 and the safety video played during the taxi. Cabin crew were proactive at going down the aircraft making sure seatbelts were fastened and items stowed away properly. We took off at 21:15 and the drinks run began at 21:25 from the front of the aircraft. Cabin crew were polite and very efficient. There’s no catering on the flight other than a light snack (crisps or pretzels) but they did give people an additional drink if you asked for it. Crew came back down at 21:45 to take away the rubbish.
I entertained myself by reading my book until about 22:00 when the cabin crew got a 10 minute warning from the Captain. Landing was very smooth and we were off the plane by 22:15. Short walk to baggage reclaim where there was a 10 minute wait for the luggage to come out. My suitcase was in the middle of the batch to come out and took about another 5 minutes. All in all, I was out of the airport by 22:35 and on my way into the city.
In conclusion, I thought the flight was fine – very efficient – but BA does need to sort out the hot food catering in the business lounge and there isn’t any consistency in service from BA’s personnel – those who are good sum up the to fly, to serve message BA wants to get across, but those who are bad are much more of the you’re here, bog off mentality.21 Apr 2014