Tried & Tested

Inaugural Tried and Tested: British Airways B777-200 to San Diego

2 Jun 2011 by Tom Otley

First impressions this was the inaugural flight to San Diego, and so service was a little unusual, with a Beach Boys tribute band playing airside at T5 and BA’s Chief Executive Keith Williams joining us on the flight.

We were also departing from the new Satellite C at London Heathrow Terminal 5. For more details on this, click here.

We departed from Gate 55 for the 1505 departure on BA273. I had my jacket taken and was offered orange juice, water or champagne. A choice of newspapers were offered, and Elemis amenity bags given out. Shortly before our on-time departure, we were told by the captain that as a result of strong headwinds the flight time would be 12 hours and 10 minutes.

The seat The configuration of this B777-200 is three classes: economy (World Traveller), premium economy (World Traveller Plus) and Business (Club World). I was seated in 5K which is the last seat of the front of two Club World cabins, a good seat being a window seat and also having access to the aisle without having to step over anyone’s feet.

The configuration is row 1 DEFG and then rows 2-4 AB CDEFG JK and then  a row 5 of AB and JK. To see a seatplan, click here (although note that this seatplan is incorrect with regards to the numbering of the seats - this is being corrected). Walking aft there are two washrooms either side immediately before the second Club World cabin.

In this forward cabin, service is from the front so those in rows 1/ 2 get served a few minutes before the back of the cabin, but on a flight of this duration, and a day flight, it did not make any difference. There is in-seat power and so I was able to work for the first half of the flight, and sleep and relax for the second half. The inflight entertainment was Audio and Video on Demand and worked without hitch.

The flight The flight was quite full in Club World, and service normal (judged by previous trips) despite the fact that it was an inaugural to San Diego. About an hour after take-off the meal service began.

Food and drink:

  • Starters: Lobster with pink grapefruit and mango salsa or trio of tomato salad with Laverstoke Park Farm Mozzerella and basil (V). Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette.
  • Main courses: fillet of beef with peppercorn cream sauce, British runner beans and Lyonnaise potatoes; Glenarm organically-raised salmon with garlic and lemon spinach and sweetcorn chowder; basil creamed pearl barley with char-grilled asparagus and sun-blushed tomato or chilled main course salad of seared breast of chicken, green beans, fennel and parmesan. 
  • Dessert: caramel salad chocolate layer cake with a coffee joconde and pistachio; ice cream, blue Wensleydale and smoked cheddar with biscuits, a selection of fruit and chocolates.
  • Afternoon tea: individual selection of sandwiches featuring red salmon with cucumber and cheddar with vine-ripened tomatoes or artichoke and asparagus salad. 
  • Sweets: plain or fruit scones with clotted cream, and strawberry preserves, ginger cake.

Wines: As is the practice now with BA, the wine list contains a list of options, with the following listed on our flight:

  • White: Sancerre 2010, Chateau de Thauvenay, Loire Valley OR Esporao Reserva 2008, Alentejo, Portugal (it was this that was available). Hahan Winery Chardonnay 2009, Monterey California or Tangent Albarino 2009, Edna Valley, California (again, this second one was available).
  • Red: Chateau Barateau 2006, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux (available) or Crozes Hermitage 2008, Domaine Philippe & Vincent Jaboulet, Rhone, Villa San-Juliette Merlot 2008, Paso Robles, California or Chona Reserva Syrah 2008, Elqui Vlley Chile (Available). The Champagne was Lanson Black Lable Brut NV.

The flight was a long one, though a day flight, but I worked for several hours using the in-seat power to keep my laptop operating, and in the end didn’t watch any of the new films available on the in-flight system, especially since having flown to New York and back with BA and then back from Hong Kong in previous consecutive weeks, there wasn’t much I hadn’t seen that I wanted to.  

Arrival We arrived on time, and were met by a fire appliance “shower” as is customary for inaugural flights. Immigration has seven gates, which with potentially 250-plus passengers, can mean a wait of over an hour for arriving economy passengers, which is unacceptable. Business class waited 20 minutes.

Verdict An excellent new direct service to wonderful San Diego, but the immigration area needs more gates.


Tom Otley

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