And back to the UK after a month in Poland….. I received a text from BA earlier in the day stating that my flight was delayed, which it indeed was by an hour due to the inbound plane being caught up in foggy conditions at Heathrow. I was in no hurry, given my usual tradition of allowing about eight hours between a flight arriving at Heathrow and a train going back to Norwich. And it just meant another hour in the Bolero lounge eating chocolate, so I managed to cope quite well.
The gate was all clean and organised, with the signage being clear. The boarding process was muddled and was vaguely split into groups 1-3 and groups 4-5, but there was no enforcement of that. I wasn’t much bothered, as I decided to board a little late anyway, primarily as I saw no advantage in standing in a queue. Other customers were confused though and BA should fix things so that there isn’t any confusion.
There was a specific reason for my lack of hurry with boarding, which is that BA had turfed me out of my emergency exit row seat about a week ago. When I have a seat in the emergency exit row I try to board first so that I can put my bag in the overhead locker nearby, but on this occasion I had been booted back to seat 37C. I had noticed this last week and decided not to put myself back in the emergency exit, as I’ve come to like being with my bag.
Seat 37C is right at the back of the aircraft, but it occurred to me that FLY (BA’s seating algorithm) wouldn’t seat anyone by me. This came to pass and indeed they didn’t seat anyone in 37A either, so I had the three seats to myself. I was moved back as there was an aircraft change, to the new A321 Neo, which is controversial to say the least (the aircraft, not me being moved).
So, the aircraft I had was G-NEOX and congratulations to BA for managing to get that registration, very ahead of the curve. It’s lovely and new, having been delivered to BA on 23 December 2019. This aircraft is densified, so it has 220 seats instead of 205 seats, with the bulk of the aircraft having slimline Recaro seats (the ones at the front in Club Europe, and in economy as far as Club Europe can ever go back have different seats).
The seats are thin, they don’t recline and they’re unpopular with many people. I’m entirely sold though, I think they’re comfortable, at the appropriate angle and they don’t bloody recline. And I liked being near to the two rear washrooms as I’m not that near, but they’re convenient should I ever need to use them. There’s something quite pleasant about being near to washrooms, rather than stuck on seat 11A with a trolley and 6 passengers in a queue between me and the toilets. The two rear washrooms have been rather ingeniously crammed into the space that they have, but they’re functional and sufficiently big.
I also like this seat at the rear as I could listen into any conversations which I felt were exciting, primarily connecting customers concerned that they’d be missing their flight at Heathrow. The crew were all professional and helpful, although I’m not sure that many customers actually made their later flights. The only negative about this densified aircraft is that BA haven’t taken the opportunity to put power in, even if it was just USB sockets, and they probably should have done. BA do many things better than Ryanair and easyJet, with this being an area that they could have moved ahead of their budget airline competitors.
Anyway, back to the flight. The pilot sounded middle class and professional (I’m not linking the two, he just sounded both), with sufficient updates about out delayed flight. Initially there was going to be another 40-minute wait at Warsaw as we’d missed our slot, but this was soon cancelled and there was no extra delay.
The crew were personable and friendly, lots of smiles and they ran an efficient trolley service for those who wanted to buy food and drink. Only around 10% of customers purchased anything, which likely aided their efficiency. The aircraft was clean and well maintained, although given it’s only a few weeks old, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.
The fare was £55 return plus 2,500 Avios, although I get 1,350 Avios back with this flight, so I thought that this was excellent value for money. Especially when taking into account that BA have provided lounge access at Heathrow and Warsaw, so all told, I was entirely content with the flight.