22nd November 2011 at 09:51 #556687
Anonymous22nd November 2011 at 09:51 #556688
First Impressions: Arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on a domestic American flight from Minneapolis, the AA stewardess rattled off a string of domestic departure gates, ending by saying that British Airways customers would be met at the gate as we left the aircraft.
We were escorted through the terminal to Gate K20 to a minibus then across the apron to Terminal 5 and dropped a short walk from BA gate M12 and adjacent lounge, bypassing security. A great start to the BA experience!
Check In: I had already checked in at Minneapolis through to London as a World Traveller Plus customer. The Chicago BA Lounge representative was helpful and efficient, politely declining a cheeky request to use the lounge but offered me a $400 upgrade to club class!
I immediately booked two for my travelling companion and myself, the transaction efficiently managed at the lounge desk on my credit card.
The Lounge: The Lounge at O’Hare is an extensive facility for a destination with only two BA flights a day. Spacious, modern and well equipped it provides a welcome haven from one of the world’s most hectic airports.
A dedicated dining area provides a full buffet dinner for those customers using the sleeper service on the late evening London flight. The choice of food included a fantastic beef casserole, tuna cooked rare in the centre and a fantastically fresh salad along with a selection of fresh fruit and cheeses.
There were plenty of internet connected PCs and a selection of lounge and desk seating with US and UK reading material.
Boarding: I had been advised the flight would be called at 2100 and so it was precisely this time when the lounge announcement was made. I didn’t rush out, finishing my drink, packing my laptop and visiting the facilities meant I was last out and I found the economy passengers had been given access to the First and Club lane!
I eventually got on board after a queue on the air-bridge. The Club World cabin was full and the crew struggled to simultaneously seat customers, allow economy passengers to pass, stow jackets and bags and serve a welcome drink!
The Seat: The flight was operated by one of BA’s oldest 777s. As new 777-300s enter traffic, BA is going to have to think how it can accelerate the refurbishment of these aircraft which appear worn and past their sell by date.
Club World on the BA 777 is spread across six rows and is in the now familiar alternating forward and reverse formation. My travelling companion and I were seated in backward facing seats 13E/F in the centre of the cabin.
Annoyingly the metal frame of my seat was loose and rattled and the fold out TV screen had to be assisted from its frame as the eject mechanism was worn.
The flight: After a quick push, we took off at 21:45 – not bad for a 21:35 scheduled departure. Although lounge staff had told us to eat in the lounge as the sleeper flight served no food, soon after take off crew came round taking orders for food followed by a drinks service. The crew then mislaid my order although once I pointed out I had no food, they quickly rectified this.
Supper was a choice of Seared Prawns on a bed of greens with roast beets or fillet of beef with vegetables and fondant potato. My order of prawns was tasty and had a just cooked consistency.
The entertainment system was an old style ‘loop’ system which worked adequately but is just not what customers can experience on many other airlines!
I ignored the entertainment and, after dinner, settled down for the night and was able to sleep well. I woke just before breakfast, freshened up and then enjoyed a selection of fresh fruit and a bacon roll!
Arrival: We touched down at Heathrow at 09.50. Having arrived 25 minutes early, we parked at a remote stand, unable to disembark for 10 minutes or so until dedicated transfer buses arrived to shuttle us to the terminal. Terminal 5 is great in many ways but bussing premium passengers to the terminal is not a world class travel experience!
The E-immigration line was shut so had to queue for passport control. Made my way to BA Arrivals Lounge which, at 10.30, was rather quiet but is a great facility which a fantastic choice of breakfast. I was able to shower, change and refresh before heading to Central London on Heathrow Express.
Overall Verdict: A great value upgrade from World Traveller Plus but the old Club World cabins look increasingly tired against new aircraft.
Excellent night of sleep across the Atlantic and BA provided good quality food. Great arrivals facilities at Terminal 5 somewhat spoilt by remote parking of the aircraft and lack of buses.
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