Tried & Tested

British Airways B747-400 World Traveller Plus

1 Nov 2005 by business traveller

First impressions British Airways flights to Hong Kong are among the few long-haul flights departing from Heathrow Terminal 1. I arrived at 2045 for my midweek 2220 flight and as a silver cardholder proceeded to the premium zone, where I was greeted by a number of smiling faces and was checked in immediately. I went directly to security and was in the lounge within 10 minutes of arriving at the terminal.

The lounge Situated at one end of the departure area, the Terraces Lounge is spacious with a number of food and drink stations and a range of seating, TV screens and reading material. There are several desks with telephone and modem connections and modern computer terminals with high-speed internet access. The lounge also has its own duty-free shop, currency exchange and BA ticket desk. As this was the last BA flight of the day from Terminal 1 the lounge was quiet, but there was still plenty of snacks such as Kettle Chips, Twiglets, biscuits and cheese. There was also a selection of cold meats, quiche, salads and desserts such as chocolate gateaux and cheesecake.

Boarding Boarding was efficient and on time. Cabin crew were swift at offering a newspaper. Fifteen minutes after we were due to leave, the captain announced they were still accounting for passengers. A further 15 minutes later we pulled away from the gate and were airborne 20 minutes later.

The seat The seat configuration on this B747-400 is 2-4-2. The advantage of the World Traveller Plus seat over economy is a larger seat that reclines further; seat pitch is 97cm (compared with 79cm in economy) and width 47cm (44cm in economy). This flight was quiet and I was fortunate to have a row of four to myself but, unlike in economy, the armrests are fixed so you do not have the option to stretch out across a number of seats.The seat also has a laptop power supply and was adjustable with a foot rest, leg rest and lumbar support. The other advantages are a smaller, quieter cabin and the fact that you are served first, so if you want to eat quickly and sleep this can be more easily done.

BA's in-flight entertainment is similar in all classes. There are 16 audio channels and 18 video channels offering current and classic movies, drama, comedy, sport, cartoons and exploration/natural history. On this flight passengers in World Traveller Plus and above also had a choice of 17 games.

The flight At the time of the flight, BA's ongoing catering dispute was having an impact on in-flight service. There was one main course offered – a passable chicken casserole which was served with a mozzarella salad, bottle of water, roll and butter, chocolate tart and mini-Twix. A vegetarian alternative was available in limited numbers, so apart from the lack of choice the meal was as usual. After some sleep I woke about two hours and 30 minutes before landing and breakfast (a cheese and tomato croissant, yoghurt and muffin) was served.

Arrival We landed at 1715 and arrived at the gate soon afterwards. It took me about 10 minutes to clear immigration, followed by a further 10-minute wait for my bag.

Julian Gregory
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