Tried & Tested

British Airways B737-300 economy

1 Dec 2004 by business traveller

First impressions: The online check-in worked smoothly and I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 1, 50 minutes before my 9.30am flight. This is the first BA flight on a Saturday morning to Glasgow and one of six in total (in contrast to the nine on weekdays; see Terminal 1 was relatively quiet and it took just minutes to check in my bags before I was through to the departure area. I was on a flexible 'business' ticket, and rushed to the BA lounge to grab an orange juice before going to the departure gate.

Boarding: Boarding was late and there were no announcements at the gate to tell passengers what was happening, except to advise that passengers with more than one bag should check them in as the flight was full. Boarding started around the time we were due to leave, and as a result we were about 25 minutes late taking off.

The flight: As I boarded the plane I was greeted by a cabin attendant who was not wearing BA uniform, and it didn't take me long to realise I was not on a BA plane. Rather than the 757 I was expecting, we were in a 737-300 leased from Titan Airways - and this included the crew.

The plane was almost full and the seats were comfortable enough, arranged in a 3-3 configuration (being a UK flight there was no business class seating). As well as having none of the normal BA livery, there were no BA magazines such as High Life or Business Life in the seat pockets, so I was short of reading matter and regretted my decision not to take a copy from the lounge.

The crew demonstrated safety procedures with life vests clearly marked 'Property of Cathay Pacific Airways', then soon after take-off a hot breakfast was served, which was enjoyable. Unfortunately, due to a failure in the water boiler, hot drinks could not be served. Instead, cold water and a selection of juices were available.

Arrival: Time was made up on the flight and we landed less than 15 minutes late. By the time I had walked from the gate it was only a ten-minute wait for the bags.

Verdict and prices:This was not the usual experience you would expect on a BA flight, but the crew were cheerful, provided a good service and were happy to help. One-way fares cost £183; a return departing Sat and returning Sun is £154 (to depart Sat and return Mon is £97).

Editor's note: From late September to early November, BA leased a single Titan B737 from charter airline Titan Airways to 'alleviate pressure on the fleet and maintain services'. 

The B737 typically operated three or four flights daily from Heathrow to cities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Manchester. With no indication on the website, passengers wouldn't know at the time of booking that their flight would be operated by Titan.

Julian Gregory

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