First impressions BA and its Oneworld partners have recently moved into the new Terminal 1 at Barcelona International airport. The building is not dissimilar to Heathrow T5, with a high, curved roof, and a feeling of light and space for the customer (for images see online news August 1). I had checked in online but had not been able to print my boarding pass, and in any case was carrying liquids over the 100ml limit, so I went to the bag drop at zone 404. There were two desks open, along with a Club Europe check-in counter and three self-service kiosks.
Check-in was swift, as was security checks, and I then headed to the passport control towards the gates at zone D. What I hadn't realised is that having passed through this check, you then cannot access the level of shops and cafes one floor below. I wasn't the only one to have made this mistake as I could hear a group complaining that they had wanted to visit Zara (among the large array of shops that we could see but not enter from the balcony level). When I questioned this with one of the information staff (dressed in bright green fleece tops), they said that the passport control staff were supposed to point this out to passengers before they passed through. This procedure is obviously not being adhered to, but I'm sure this will change, not least because the airport will be losing potential revenue from passengers like myself.
The only shops you can access after passport control are a Duty Free outlet, and McDonalds, so ignoring both of these I headed for gate D9. When I arrived there a member of BA staff approached me in my seat and asked to see my passport and boarding pass, and placed a blue security sticker on my boarding pass. When I enquired why this was being done, they replied that there was not enough space to do the usual final check after passing though the gate, so they were now carrying out the procedure beforehand.
I couldn't see any signs regarding internet access at the airport, but thought I would turn on my laptop and see what was available, and found a service under the name of Kubi Wireless, which offers passengers 15 minutes of free access, followed by the option to purchase further access. I only ended up using the free access, as not long after the flight started boarding at 5pm. As I was standing in the queue for boarding BA staff went along the queue mopping up anyone that didn't have a sticker already.
Boarding We were bussed from the gate to the Avro RJ100 aircraft, and having arrived outside the plane we then proceeded to stay there for ten minutes before the doors of the bus opened. It turned out that a passenger in a wheelchair was boarding from the other side of the plane, but it was slightly frustrating that they decided to transfer us to the plane when it wasn't actually ready to board.
Once on board we taxied towards the runway, but then stopped, before the captain announced that we would have to return to stand, because we had 99 passengers on board, when the airport authorities had only been informed of 98 in advance. I later gathered from another passenger that a lady had changed her flight to this one on the Friday, but this had not been updated in the airport systems. As a result of all this we lost our take off slot, and by the time the confusion had been resolved we eventually took off at 1900, almost 90 minutes late.
The seat The Avro RJ 100 is configured 3-3 across in Euro Traveller, and 2-2 in Club Europe, using the new Club Europe layout introduced in September (see online news August 26). This aircraft will soon be taken out of service, as BA is replacing its London City fleet with new Embraer 170 and 190 aircraft (see online news September 4).
Where to sit? I was sat in aisle seat 6D, the second row in the Euro Traveller cabin. I had noticed an anomoly in this cabin on my outbound flight (click here to read the review), where the first row of economy seating has just two seats on one side of the aircraft instead of three. I had thought this was just a result of where the curtain had been placed to separate the classes, but it was the same on this return flight (albeit with two seats on the other side of the aircraft). I have since had the reason confirmed by BA (see online news October 5), but the result is that there are now two seats in the first row of economy on most of BA's short-haul network which are now well worth seeking out, as you will enjoy a Club Europe offering (albeit with Euro Traveller service). Note that this will not be the case with the new Embraer aircraft, as they are configured 2-2 throughout.
The flight This flight BA8472 was almost completely full, as it had been on the outbound service. Drinks and a choice of snack (apricot and coconut cookie or a an energy bar). From the start of the flight a toddler had been screaming somewhere near the back of the aircraft, something that only stopped when he was allowed to run up and down the aisle with a rubber ball in hand. It was a recipe for disaster, and sure enough he soon ran straight into the metal armrest of one of the seats, and the screaming began again.
Arrival We touched down at London City at 2005, just under 90 minutes late, and were quickly at stand. There was quite a large queue at immigration, although this moved quickly, and by the time I was landside my bag was on the carousel.
Verdict Not exactly a smooth flight, but to be fair to BA the captain kept us informed throughout, and cabin crew were patient and attentive. Regular passengers will welcome the imminent arrival of the new Embraer aircraft.