After the usual long exercise that is provided by Schiphol Airport to get to the gate, the British Airways Airbus A320 was not an unwelcome sight.
The boarding process wasn’t particularly well handled, most customers ignored the announcement and then just went up to the boarding desk anyway regardless of what group they were in. I do like the new boarding arrangements, but they’re still not always particularly effective away from Heathrow. But since I don’t have a bag I need to put in the overhead lockers, I’m not too concerned that the order of boarding is sometimes a little muddled.
There was a friendly welcome from the crew on-board who seemed to be acknowledging every customer, and the pre-departure cabin check was in-depth. The crew member was asking customers with a mobile phone to confirm that they had put it in flight mode, which is a rare level of efficiency. The flight was also around 90% full with the Club Europe cabin divider being set at eight rows.
There was a choice between sandwiches or Ploughman’s, along with a scone and clotted cream, with a dessert of a cake. I was able to get my first choice of the Ploughman’s, but customers in row eight were just being given the sandwiches as the choice had run out by then.
As for the meal, the ham looked a little processed but tasted better than it looked, with the accompanying blue cheese having a decent depth of flavour. The coating of the Scotch egg was bland in terms of the taste, but the piccalilli and pickle added texture. At least some effort had also been made with the presentation of the dish, so it looked reasonably appetising. Although the appearance of the ham needs improving……
Not a complaint but just an observation, but the scone crumbled too much for my liking, although it’s not a bad addition to the afternoon tea. The bread, which sometimes isn’t provided, actually was OK, with the cake being similar to a generously proportioned Mr. Kipling’s Cake.
I only ordered this gin and tonic to test the rumour that British Airways aren’t supplying full mini bottles and are instead pouring half measures in the galley. I was pretty sure that if this was true it’d be on long-haul flights, but either way, I got the bottle presented to me and not part-poured. I also didn’t want the full G&T, so I still have most of the gin in the bottle I took with me.
The service was efficient and effective, it can’t be easy trying to get food and drink to eight rows of Club Europe in the time that the cabin crew have on this flight. There was also time for the crew to offer a second drink, and to wander up and down the cabin to check that customers were OK and didn’t need any assistance.
An interloper from the Euro Traveller cabin came and used the Club Europe toilet, something always exciting for me as I like to see what the crew say. Normally it’s a crew member who has sent the customer to the forward cabin because there’s a buy-on-board trolley in the way in the rear cabin. Anyway, the cabin services director (or whatever they’re called now on short haul) wasn’t impressed and I noted him eyeing up the customer, although he didn’t say anything. However, the customer couldn’t then get back to Euro Traveller for over ten minutes as the crew member had the trolley in the aisle and made no effort to move it as he served drinks to Club Europe customers.
Overall, the aircraft was clean, the temperature was appropriate for my needs, the crew were polite and the flight landed on time. Ideally the flight wouldn’t arrive at Heathrow T5 B Gates as it means waiting for the internal shuttle train, but I wasn’t in a rush and so the extra time didn’t matter. This flight was an Avois redemption upgraded to Club Europe using a Lloyds upgrade voucher, so the price for this flight was £25 plus 4,000 Avios.