Tried & Tested

Bmi A319 business class

25 Aug 2011 by Jenny Southan

CHECK-IN As I was transferring from a flight with Bmi’s codeshare partner Austrian Airlines from Salzburg, I was already checked in. (Click here for the full review.)

BOARDING At 40 minutes, the connection between my flights (OS5924, 1830-1925 / BD428, 2005-2125) was extremely tight, so I had to rush through security to get to my gate (D32) in time. I was issued with a boarding pass at the gate (see Austrian review for explanation why), the same time as passengers were already filing down to an awaiting shuttle bus. Once driven across the tarmac, we then boarded the plane via a set of step at the front, and at 1940 I took my seat (4F).  

THE SEAT Business class on this A319 is configured 2-2/A-C, D-F (3-3 with the middle seat kept free) across four rows. The seat is upholstered in blue leather, while the armrests are covered in brown leather. There is the same amount of legroom as in economy but with the middle seat kept free it feels more spacious and private.

There was no curtain separating the cabin from economy. A choice of newspapers including The Telegraph, The Times, and The Wall Street Journal were offered at 2000 but there was no welcome drink – not even water. Economy is in a 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F) layout.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Seats in business are all much the same but I would opt for the second row as you will get served food and drink earlier but don’t have to put up with tray tables that fold out of the armrests instead of down from the seatback in front (as in row one). Legroom is also slightly restricted in row one because of the bulkhead.

THE FLIGHT There was a 45-minute delay while waiting for a slot, apparently because of bad weather in London. We pushed back at 2030 and took off at 2045. Once airborne, at 2100 a stewardess came round to take meal orders. There was a choice of prawn linguine or butternut squash gnocchi with spinach sauce.

I opted for the latter, which was delivered to me at 2110, and found it to be flavoursome and, critically, of a good consistency (gnocchi can be pretty unpalatable when too squishy or glutenous). The was a bit too much sage though, which made it a tad bitter.

The meal tray also came with a side salad of leaves, red pepper and feta cheese with a tiny bottle of lemon vinaigrette, plus a roll, two slices of black onion seed ciabatta (delicious), and a portion of apple strudel. Annoyingly, I had to wait 25 minutes for a drink as the member of crew assigned to coming around with the trolley was taking a painfully long time about it. So I had pretty much finished my dinner by the time I got my mini bottle of white wine. That said he was generous, coming back to offer passengers two more drinks before landing.

ARRIVAL The plane began its descent at 2230, at which point the crew were coming around clearing trays and glasses. Landing was at 2255 (2155 local time) and after taxiing to the gate, there was a short delay with disembarkation. I was landside, though, by 2220.

VERDICT Although there was some delay to departure, the pilot kept everyone updated. I was impressed by the quality of the food on this short flight, and although the drinks service was slow getting started, I found the crew to be charming.

FACT FILE

PLANE TYPE A319

SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2

SEAT PITCH 32in/81cm

SEAT WIDTH 20in/51cm

SEAT RECLINE 4-5in/10-13cm

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Vienna started from £396.

CONTACT flybmi.com

Jenny Southan

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