5th February 2014 at 18:45 #569586
Anonymous5th February 2014 at 18:45 #569587
LHR – SEA; YVR – LHR in Club World
This was originally a WP+ ticket that was upgraded to CW, outbound by Avios, and return for what I assume was operational reasons. A note on upgrades. I had purchased tickets back in the summer, at which point there was no availability for the Avios upgrades from WP+ to CW. I dutifully checked regularly, both on the BA website and by phone, for availability. The outbound leg became available in November (roughly two months ahead of the flight), but the return leg continued to be problematic as there was no availability for the entire first half of 2014 on any dates. It struck me, and the BAEC staff as well, as strange that CW seemed wide open, but they were not allowing any Avios upgrades. Interestingly, I would have been happy to pay the 25,000 points for the upgrade for two tickets, but I can only assume that BA wanted to keep flexibility rather than allowing us to move up earlier.
LHR – SEA
LHR T5 First Class lounge was busy but had some tasty food to snack on. The lounge has been covered elsewhere, and I don’t have much to add. I find the food selection perfectly adequate, if not wow. The best thing was a cheesecake square that was unexpectedly delicious. My only gripes on the lounge: it is busy, there is no selection of magazines, and the “champagne bar” has only a regular and pink version of the same brand, which hardly justifies labelling it a champagne bar. First world problems, I know.
After upgrading with Avios in November, we managed to get the last two seats upstairs on the 747, which I believe is acknowledged as the better cabin on the 747. I agree; it is quieter and more spacious. For two travelling together, the BA CW seats are fine, provided you don’t mind facing your partner. The window seat has a lot of storage, which is sorely lacking downstairs, and especially private. Otherwise, it is the usual CW seat, requiring you to clamber over another seat (not your partner’s) to get out during the flight.
IFE is the standard offering, which I’ve raised before is not ideal in terms of offering or quality of picture. You must ensure that the blinds are drawn in order to see the screen, and the ability to fast forward and rewind is not smooth. We still managed to watch 3 or 4 films on this day flight.
I find that service of the flight attendants is more important on a long day flight, and I was generally pleased with the attention, humour and availability of the FAs. There was light banter, and they seemed to appear not long after wanting a top up or a plate removed. I do think it is especially difficult to serve the window seat, but the gentlemen serving us dealt with the lean over as best as possible.
Food was average; nothing spectacular and a bare minimum what I’d consider adequate for a business flight. A few questions I’d ask BA if they ever wanted to hear my thoughts: Why does BA serve nuts in their wrappers when even the US airlines warm them and serve in a cup? Why is the food always dry and overcooked? I had hoped the cod would be better than the beef, but alas, no. Why not offer port or other after dinner drinks? Why is the passenger not offered cheese AND dessert, rather than either/or? The afternoon tea is still underwhelming, although I thought the scone and sandwiches were at least moist, an improvement on previous flights. Still, in my view one should not be leaving a long haul business flight hungry for dinner!
Arrival was on time, immigration easy (one big advantage to arriving in SEA, especially later in the day when BA flights arrive and there are no competing Asian or European carriers arriving). Bags did not arrive ahead of others. Somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Verdict: a bit of a meh flight, with fine service; ok for a 12,500 Avios upgrade, but not paying full whack.
YVR – LHR
As stated above, we were pleasantly surprised by the upgrade at check in, especially as this was a 21:00 departure and I wanted to sleep as much as possible.
The lounge at YVR is adequate for an outstation, and although divided up into Business and First, the First part was so crowded that it was more comfortable in the Business section. There was not a noticeable difference in them anyway. Toilets are by Toto and outstanding! Food offerings minimal and no option to dine before you go, which I would have preferred.
Beggars can’t be choosers, and so we were happy we had two seats together window/aisle, so I can’t complain about not being upstairs. We were seated in the last row of CW downstairs, which has the advantage of not requiring the step over for the window seat to exit, but picks up a lot of noise from economy just behind the curtain (including the inevitable baby in the bulkhead seat; this is the configuration with CW between WP and WP+; not ideal for promoting exclusivity).
The big advantage of the BA CW seats is the cocoon-like seating which allows noise to be kept to a minimum, especially in the window seat. For a night flight, it allowed me to sleep about 6 hours, for once arriving relatively fresh.
That is about all I can say for the positives of the return flight. The food was worse than the outbound, with more dry fish (halibut this time) and a virtually frozen salmon starter. I didn’t bother with cheese or dessert. I didn’t get breakfast (see below), but I was informed that it was “sickly” looking and inedible.
What was most disappointing was the service. At no point was there anything resembling pleasant personalities. Food was served in a perfunctory manner and that’s it. Examples: when asking for tobasco for a bloody mary: “sorry, we don’t have that.” End of. So a bloody mary consists of tomato juice and vodka. Not even an offer of pepper. At the end of the flight, simply holding jackets out over the seats and shouting “jacket” across the airplane. Um, that will be mine, thanks. When I awoke about an hour before landing, it was after the breakfast service had happened, but before the 40 minute announcement. I went to the toilet, and wanted to ask at least for a coffee and juice. The flight attendants were all in the galley eating. When this has happened before, normally there is attention given to those who have not been served and it is offered automatically. I was not approached, and could not even get the attendants’ attention, and gave up and went back to my seat. No one ever came by. None of these are hugely offensive, but together they give the impression of a lack of care that is really noticed.
What was most interesting was when leaving the aircraft, there was the usual goodbyes, but I couldn’t help but notice that the man in front of me was effusively greeted and smiled at. None of this extended to me or the rest of the passengers. While waiting for our luggage (which by the way came with all the others and a good 5 minutes after the first class – and crew’s – luggage was on the belt), I was discussing the flight with my partner, and we were going through some of what we felt were shortcomings in the service. The same man who had left the plane in front of me turned around and said, “Excuse me, but what was your experience of the flight?” We then re-iterated the comments above, and he responded with: “That’s good to know; I work for BA.” I said that that explained why the different service he received, and indicated that we were disappointed. His only reply: “Well, you know the crew are on UK time, and the night service return can often be a bit rough as they are tired.” I was quite surprised by this response, as I thought it was inappropriate and insulting to all the crew who have provided exemplary service on night flights from the US. I do not know what he does for BA, but clearly he has no idea of what kind of service is provided to us mortals, and furthermore does not seem to think it is possible or important to provide a similar standard on return as outbound services. We left really quite shocked and disappointed, even after having received a free upgrade.
Verdict: allowed a good night’s rest, which made the upgrade a valuable gift from BA, but again as a paying CW passenger, I would be of the view that I did not get value for money. As it stands, the flights were just about worth the £1200 paid for WP+ plus the 12,500 Avios.
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