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Trip Report Comments on BA BOS-LHR flights, equipment

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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.

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