Comments on BA BOS-LHR flights, equipment

Sep 16th, 2016, 08:19 PM
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Comments on BA BOS-LHR flights, equipment

I had been looking forward to flying US to London by day and in previous decades had liked British Air. Anything, I thought, to avoid the American Air sardine-packed seating and the red-eye destruction of the next couple of days' energy.

I still would like to fly again on a daytime cross-Atlantic route - it makes a big difference. But not on the same equipment and - sorry - maybe not on British Air.

First, like other airlines, BA observes multiple levels of priority boarding. But even AA at its worst doesn't end up with less than 10% of the total number of passengers waiting after all other priority levels had been boarded. The vast majority of passengers all board in the third/fourth group of frequently flown pax, after "need assistance and slow or burdened with children" and "first class and ultra-high-poobah premium people."

Next, I abhor British Air's approach to large-craft (777, 747) seating, such that all seats other than in the last 15-20 rows -- i.e. World Traveller steerage -- are the pod-type of seat in alternating orientation: front-facing on the aisles, rear-facing by the window. Who wants to sit or recline by a window oriented toward the tail? Meanwhile, the steerage rows have about as much room as the most cramped of American Airlines seating. I'm quite short but was still nose-to-seatback, trapped to near immobility when the person in front of me invoked her inviolable right to recline. I surely can't imagine paying 3-10 times the basic "World Traveller" fare to sit/semirecline facing backwards.

Meanwhile, the amount of turbulence common in the north Atlantic airspace frequently makes sitting in the tail uncomfortably unstable. On the eastbound flight (2 days after another flight had been diverted to Ireland with injuries from clear-air turbulence), we were frequently instructed to pull seat belts tight and stay put. Frequently tortured by air-sickness, I have usually paid to upgrade to the leading-edge of the wing or forward seats in order to spot outside the plane. Futile with BA's herring-bone pods.

Also a matter of preference, but must it be de rigueur to have all the shades down - throughout the daytime 6+-hr. flight? OK so you got up at 5 to make the flight, but you get to go to bed as soon as you land and check in to your hotel. A man across the aisle and behind me was incensed that I wanted to see the horizon (helpful with vertigo) and had my shade up just 6". But I looked around and out of approx. 20 base-class windows only a handful had them raised even a little bit. The FA confirmed that that's what people do now. So why have windows at all, people? Fly military-transport next time.

As for 'cuisine' and unfortunately not unlike US carriers, the BA idea of basic food service was minimal and disappointing. For a 6-7 hr. flight the only meal came quite early and was spartan fastfood level. Thereafter, there was only another go-round with beverage cart and a "snack" (a cookie) eastbound or "tea" westbound -- which turned out to be, literally, tea. Period. Not even a cookie or 4 1/2 terra chips.

I can't speak about what was served in the other 3 classes because they were completely out of our vision, but I'd be surprised if the quality were any better, even if they may have enjoyed more quantity. Unless they're all actually placed into suspended animation in those pods.

OK - all opinion and - I'll readily admit it - a certain amount of whining (first-world problems if you can travel internationally). And not everyone has the same trouble with motion-sickness.

Still, stateside, I prefer flying Jet Blue or Delta, and if possible I will book one or the other for future international flights. And I've learned long since to bring my own Pret or Panera sandwich if I expect to need a meal. I just try not to remember too clearly the real plates, silver, and glassware with 3-course meals on Pan Am in the 60s. Or the warm cashews on American Business class of the 90s (when I had enough miles to upgrade frequently).

Am I really the only one who likes to (or needs to, to avoid disorientation) look out the window for a day flight? And am I the only one who thinks backwards/frontwards herringbone pods taking up 2/3rds of the passenger space is dumb?

OK, maybe I am.
cfc is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 07:19 AM
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Agree with all that you have described - who would ever want to fly BA if there is any other choice? And, don't get me started on those greedy fees they collect when using AA miles for BC travel. BA and KLM remain on my s-list - permanently.
travelchat is offline  
Sep 17th, 2016, 01:15 PM
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Like you, I prefer being able to keep a window shade up a bit on all flights, and do so. Reading a book or magazine is much better in daylight than any artificial light.

Traveling backwards is not as lousy as some people say. It's not common on planes but on trains and ships it approaches 50% of the seats/berths/beds. On a plane, so long as I'm in business class I'll take whatever window seat I get and if that means it's "backwards," not a problem. Plus you don't have to climb over someone to go to the loo. The only time you even can sense direction of movement is at takeoff and landing.

Same thing for food. I agree most coach food is horrid but in the "elite" classes it's usually quite better. You still get metal utensils and many provide those warm nuts you crave. You will eventually find that Delta's "business class" (called Delta One on transoceanic flights) is quite nice in most all respects.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Sep 18th, 2016, 06:33 AM
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NoFlyZone - In a small way I am flummoxed by the British and European ("Brexit means Brexit") tolerance of reverse-facing travel. With the exception of certain cities' local transit (including some MBTA lines in Boston) and individual rows (esp. those involving tables), it's quite rare in the US. People want to face forward and will fuss and change seats -- the rear-facing are the last to be taken.

In my personal case, I have an extremely difficult combination of inner-ear issues compounded by eyes that don't track motion together (calamitous if you want to play tennis or become a ballet-dancer). I truly do need all the help I can get to remain oriented (face-forward, track the horizon), because it can take me 1-2 or more days to become re-oriented once motion-sick -- as I was during the last 20 min. of the BA flight back to Boston. However, explaining that to any agent of any conveyance, esp. if there's a hint of over-entitled American in my request.

Most travelers are fortunate enough not to have something like that, but it's still odd to me to see legions of commuters hurtling backwards toward their destination.
cfc is offline  
Sep 18th, 2016, 06:34 AM
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..."However, try explaining..."

Pass the warm cashews!
cfc is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 09:31 AM
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We have taken seceral Virgin Atlantic daytime flights in Premium Economy. Lat time was out of EWR bit used Boston for earlier daytime dlight. No jet lag and love this option.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Sep 19th, 2016, 03:23 PM
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Virgin Atlantic has a great premium economy service and would certainly choose them over BA.
jmb67 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2016, 08:11 PM
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A few thoughts, as I have flown that route at least two dozen times...

1) The reverse-facing seats in biz are fine. Indeed, if you are in biz and lying flat in a forward-facing lie-flat seat, your head is below your feet, which is uncomfortable. Indeed, even as dated as the product is, I think 62 and 64 A&K on the BA 747 are as good of a business class seat as there is on the market.

2) There are so many premium cabin seats on the planes because there is a lot of premium cabin demand. End of story.

3) BA's food is terrible. No debate on that point. If it is any consolation, the food in business class is really bad too. And you can't blame the constraints of cooking on the plane, as the food in the lounge for Sleeper Service is awful too.

4) I have pretty much zero interest in looking out the window on a trans-Atlantic flight. There are clouds and sky and water below. Nothing to see and the sun can be glaringly bright.

5) JetBlue and, yes, Delta are vastly superior in coach class comfort to BA. I know that is an unpopular opinion on this board, where the reflexive assumption is foreign=better, but Delta offers the best combination of comfortable cabin layouts and coach class service of ANY trans-Atlantic carrier. I'm not even sure it is close. They fly 767s and A330s across the pond, which are in 2-3-2 and 2-4-2 layouts, respectively, which is vastly superior to any 777 or 747 layout available (especially the 10-abreast 777s). Only the upper deck A380 cabins rival either plane for comfort.
travelgourmet is online now  
Sep 21st, 2016, 05:02 AM
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Business class rules the world. We get it.
cfc is offline  

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