CHECK-IN Flight BA163 to Israel’s Tel Aviv was scheduled to depart at 2230, and I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 in good time at 2000. The airport was pretty quiet so there were plenty of free desks in check-in Zones C/D/E and F.
I had already checked in online and accepted my pre-assigned seat (36A) as there weren’t many other window seats available, but as I didn’t have access to a printer I selected the option to collect my boarding pass at the airport when I dropped my case off.
As my flight had been booked for me and I had forgotten to request a vegetarian meal, I went to the customer service desk to book one for my return journey. I wasn’t bothered about having one for this sector, though, as it was a late-night flight and I preferred to get something in the airport beforehand.
I walked to security a couple of minutes away, which proved to be a quick and easy process – laptops and liquids out, coats and belts off, as usual. Once airside at 2020, I grabbed a bite to eat and did some last-minute shopping for a few essentials.
BOARDING The departure screens showed that the service was leaving from Satellite Terminal B, but didn’t come up as boarding from Gate 38B until about 2150, at which point, I caught the shuttle transfer from the main terminal. At 2200, the flight status changed to “boarding”, and after queuing for a few minutes I was walking across the airbridge to the plane.
THE SEAT The upholstery of the two-tone blue (World Traveller) economy class seats looked worn and there was no in-seat power (the only aircraft that does have it in economy is BA’s B777-300ER), but the tray tables were of a decent size and there was audio-video on-demand (AVOD) in-flight entertainment (IFE). The screen measured 6.5 inches and passengers were provided with headphones, fleece blankets and pillows.
This version of the B767 is also configured with World Traveller Plus (premium economy) across rows ten to 12, and Club World (business class) in rows one to four. World Traveller is spread across rows 16 to 39, so I was almost at the very back of the plane in row 36 – but this was fine as it meant it wasn’t too far to go to stretch my legs in the galley or use the washroom. One downside was the IFE box under the seat in front of me that restricted my legroom somewhat.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? World Traveller seats in row 16 are behind a bulkhead and those in row 27 are by the emergency exit so offer extra legroom, however, as usual tray tables come out of the arm and luggage has to be stored in the overhead locker if you sit here. Bassinets are also located in row 16 so you may find yourself near a baby.
Those in 22B and 23D, 38B and 38J, and 39D and 39F, may find being near the washrooms is annoying as people will be queuing very close to you. People sitting in window seats in rows 16-23 will find themselves over the wing, so the view will be partially obscured, but passengers in these rows will likely benefit from being served first and disembarking earlier than others in economy. Click here for BA’s seating guide policy and pricing for economy.
THE FLIGHT The aircraft was quite full. We pushed back and started taxiing to the runway at 2230, and at 2235 the in-flight safety demo video was played on the seat-back screens and the cabin lights dimmed for take-off.
Once airborne, the lights came back on at 2310, and the trolley service started ten minutes later (I ordered a glass of white wine). The IFE system was also switched on. The meal service began at 2345 – there was a choice of chicken, or a vegetarian cream and porcini pasta. Trays also came with a lemon posset in a pot, a bread roll and a cup of water. Crew were generous with the drinks but I didn’t eat much as had already had dinner on the ground. (I tried a mouthful of pasta out of curiosity, and found it to be palatable enough.)
I watched a bit of a film and then tried to sleep for a couple of hours, but on a flight of this length – about four hours 30 minutes, it was difficult. There was also the added annoyance of being sat behind and in front a group of men who swore and talked loudly (and drunkenly) for the whole journey but crew did their best to keep calm them down when they got too rowdy.
ARRIVAL We started making our descent at 0230, and landed 50 minutes later at 0320 (0520 local time). There was a ten-minute wait for everyone ahead of me to disembark via an airbridge from the front.
At immigration, the officer asked me a few questions about what I was doing in the country and the company I worked for etc, and when I requested that he did not stamp my passport (having an Israeli stamp can be problematic if you want to visit some other Middle Eastern countries) he obliged. There was a couple of minutes’ wait for my suitcase but it was through by 0550.
VERDICT A punctual flight with professional crew who dealt with problem passengers well, with good humour. I didn’t manage to get much rest on this short night flight but for those who want to stay awake there is the bonus of AVOD in-flight entertainment in economy. The food and drink was decent.
CONFIGURATION 2-3-2 (A-B, D-E-G, J-K)
SEAT PITCH 31in/78.7cm
SEAT WIDTH 17.5in/44.45cm
SEAT RECLINE 5in/12.7cm
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek flight in June cost £1,247 in economy with BA.