The boarding process for the British Airways flight to Heathrow T5 was smooth and better managed than usual. Groups were called through so that Group 1 went through first, then Group 2, then Group 3 and then everyone else, sometimes it’s not quite that organised. There were also a lot of passengers with status, so perhaps that’s why they take particular care. The staff at the boarding gate were polite, efficient and visible, so first impressions were all positive.
My first minor irritation is that this is an A321 neo, which meant that my emergency exit row seat had transformed into a normal row. Not that it much mattered as I had an aisle seat and there was no-one sitting next to me so I had plenty of space. This is aircraft registration G-NEOP and it only came into service in March 2019, so it still nearly new.
I was in row 11 so I was seated in a seat which is the same as British Airways have been using in other aircraft, but these seats only go back as far as row 14. They went that far back in case the Club Europe cabin ever justifies such a number of passengers, and both plug and USB sockets have been put into these first fourteen rows. I had one under my seat and it was already damaged and knocked out of its holder, so I didn’t trust it to charge my devices on. It’s not perhaps ideal for an aircraft that is so new.
For row 15 and behind that, British Airways have introduced a new ultra-thin seat which doesn’t recline. Nearly nobody I’ve heard likes this arrangement, although handily I do. I hate seat reclines and I like the ultra-thin seats as I sit in a near bolt upright manner anyway. These seats just have USB sockets, so where possible, it’s best to be seated in the front fourteen rows when on this aircraft.
As for the aircraft, I think British Airways have gone too far with their tinkering about. They’ve taken out a washroom from the rear of the Euro Traveller cabin and this caused an evident problem on this flight as they had passengers going up and using the Club Europe toilet. One of the advantages for Club Europe is that it’s a quieter cabin, so I’m not sure what the customers will think up in those seats when there’s a queue of people standing by their seats and they themselves have to wait to use the washroom.
And British Airways have decided to remove the drop down screens, so I can’t get to watch the moving map, or more importantly, the flight safety announcement by Chabuddy G. The crew safety demonstration on this flight wasn’t really ideal, the crew member was giggling and it wasn’t entirely audible. This meant that I didn’t see many passengers actually listening to the demonstration.
Other than that the service was efficient and polite, but I can’t help thinking that the interior of the cabin is more Wizz Air than British Airways. That’s fine, but I don’t see British Airways have any choice but to keep on their downwards spiral of pricing if they’re determined to keep cutting corners.
And here was a little problem at Heathrow T5, although it caused a delay of around fifteen minutes when disembarking. The air bridge to the aircraft broken down near to the front door and couldn’t be moved. This meant that steps had to be brought to the rear door and then buses used to transport passengers to the main terminal. Given that this wasn’t expected, the delay didn’t seem too excessive to me, although there were inevitably complaints.
Given that this was a reward flight saver, the price was very reasonable and so I’m probably one of the reasons that British Airways keeps trying to save money by taking out any hint of luxury from their cabin. The pilots sounded professional, the cabin was relatively clean and so overall it was a comfortable and easy flight.