When flying British Air..

Dec 2nd, 2009, 05:50 AM
  #1  
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When flying British Air..

Headed for a wedding in England this month. We're flying British Air for the first time and coach for the first time to Europe (drat the economy and declining client list!). What can I expect.....pillow? food? big screen movie or my own screen? Can I buy a glass of wine? (Pretty sure that champagne won't be waiting for me this time!)

While I'm looking forward to the trip, I'm rather dreading the ride over in what everyone seems to refer to as the cattle car. I know we've been so spoiled by upgrading to First Class all these years.
Lady is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:18 AM
  #2  
 
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You can have free wine or beer. The meals are pretty good on the whole, better than many airlines, and better going to the US than from.
You will get the usual little pillow and blanket.
Depending on the plane you will have a seat back screen, and good entertainment, including some great short stories (audio only!).
Cattle class isn't so terrible. Just accept that you will get plastic knives and forks and less legroom.
hetismij is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Oh and it is either BA or British Airways, never. ever British Air
hetismij is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:27 AM
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check seat guru for find out what kind of a seat you are assigned. Make sure you have a reclining seat..some do not recline. Found thi sout the hard way when, due to economy, had to fly economy and I sat up all the way fom Calgary, AB to Paris, FR. Misery!!!
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Dec 2nd, 2009, 06:30 AM
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Free booze. Tight legroom, but no worse than anyone else. Seats are okay for economy. Personal video (on-demand, I think). You will be fed something, can't guarantee it will be edible. Don't know about pillows.

Not the end of the world, I agree, but it is very tough to go back once you have been up front. Not sure how much you are willing to splash out, but you can offer to buy up to biz at check-in. The price can be steep ($500 to $700, IIRC) and I don't believe you can do it when departing from Heathrow, but it might be worth asking if it interests you.
travelgourmet is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:04 AM
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Booze in World Traveller is free (I THINK you can buy champagne) Traditionally, the stewards' culture is to spot the lushes and indulge them (or at any rate, this lush).

Product specs are at http://www.britishairways.com/travel...r/public/en_gb. They're actually good by other airlines' standards

The problem with World Traveller is that seat pitch isn't the best, some people get irritated at no seat preselection, the funkiest versions of their IFE (seat-back TVs are now pretty much on all planes) often crash and have to get rebooted and staff MIGHT be miserable because of cutbacks. Mostly though, they understand it's the management they hate, and have never taken it out on passsengers - at least not while I've been looking. In fact they often share their views on management pretty freely with passengers.

They're probably about the sharpest on transatlantic flights at filling planes, so flights are usually close to full.

I've honestly never had an unpleasant flight with them in economy (though I've never hit a really good Heathrow total foulup) - and I can't say the same about any other transatlantic carrier except Air NZ.
flanneruk is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 07:54 AM
  #7  
 
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some people get irritated at no seat preselection

I believe that everyone can now pay for seat preselection. Not sure on the cost. As an elite, I hate it, as one thing I always loved about BA was having my choice of seats, since only elites could pre-assign. Taking off my elite hat, I thought it was a relatively annoying policy for most people.
travelgourmet is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 08:58 AM
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British Airways is way better than any US carrier I have used. At least in cattle class. Booze is free and movies are good. Not the case with Continental. And the staff are nicer.
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Dec 2nd, 2009, 09:15 AM
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Ditto what gertie said. Even on a bad day (and they do have some - T5 for example!), BA is still ahead of any US carrier in levels of service on longhaul. You'll enjoy the difference, even if it is in economy.
Gordon_R is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 09:53 AM
  #10  
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I've flown BA many times are the service, food and entertainment are all great.

If you are unaccustomed to coach then you might consider an upgrade to World Traveller Plus, which is premium economy. You will have a bigger seat, more legroom and a better recline. I've flown WT+ a few times, it's much more comfy than coach and not terribly expensive like biz class.
P_M is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:33 AM
  #11  
 
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I'm a BA frequent-flyer and I've used all classes. If I have to fly cattle (and I often do), this is as good as or better than most. One of the few still offering free alcohol and wine with dinner. Yes, you get a pillow and quasi-blanket.

BA now has their own terminal at Heathrow (5), so landing and boarding is much more efficient, IMHO.

When you book your tickets on their website, just before clicking to purchase, look at the bottom of your screen where they will offer you upgrades for a decent price. World Traveler Plus is one step up from cattle and a far cry from business, but it does offer a bit better recline, footrests (huge benefit, I think) and smaller cabin, so quieter. Same food, pillows, etc. as cattle. You can even upgrade just one way.

Have a terrific trip!
MelJ is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:37 AM
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I last flew with them a loooong time ago, but the food was quite decent as far as airline food goes. Which isn't very, but still...
persimmondeb is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 10:44 AM
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I've just had 5 flights with them about a month ago (2 transatlantic and 3 within Europe) and what everyone has said above is pretty accurate. The transatlantic to London was on a 747 and was not as pleasant as I'd always remembered - it was an old aircraft and showed its age in the upholstery and washrooms. The seat back entertainment system in my section was on the blink and had to be reset several times but never worked properly. I finally gave up in favour of sleep. From London back home the aircraft was a 777, obviously newer and felt more comfortable. Huge choice of films, audio and games that worked perfectly. Meals on both flights were quite adequate (dinner, and a snack before landing), but the meal out of London was definitely better. I was seated in the middle of the aircraft and both times they ran out of my choice of a main before they got to me. The cabin service was nothing extraordinary, and sometimes pretty surly. All drinks are free, cutlery was strong plastic and I didn't see champagne on offer (they may have it at cost) but I like that they give you the whole miniature bottle of whatever alcohol or wine you order, together with a mini can of the mixer (where other airlines mix or pour it before handing it to you). Theres enough in the miniature for 2 drinks.

On the shorter European routes (all about 3 hours long) I enjoyed the flights much more and found the cabin staff to be much more friendlier. The economy snacks were tasty sandwiches (choice of 2), served with the drinks. No nibbles anymore

You will notice on all BA meal packaging, lots of notation indicating that the products used are derived from sustainable or viable means. They even give you a mini plastic trash bag that comes with your sugar and seasonings packets. The trash bag is sealed in plastic, and that again is sealed in another plastic packet with the other bits and pieces. I had to chuckle at the irony.
Mathieu is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 12:49 PM
  #14  
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Thanks for the info. Shouldn't be too bad. DH plans to chose seats as soon as allowed. I don't care who I sit by as long as I'm on an aisle--so claustrophobic! In addition to the transatlantic flight we will also be BA (sorry for the faux pas) flying London/Vienna and Rome/London before coming home so I'll get a healthy taste of their hospitality.
Lady is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2009, 01:58 PM
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Mmmmm. Last time I flew them, you could only choose seats 24 hours in advance, a retrograde policy to which someone alluded above. Oddly enough, if you book the flight on AA as a codeshare, you can prebook seats on AA's system. Or could last month.

In general agreement with what is written above, but we have a family joke about the staff coming through the aircraft about an hour before landing offering "hot refreshing towel?" A nice touch but when you have heard it repeated the length of a 747 on many occasions, it is like saying "freckle" over and over again. We dissolve in hilarity, no doubt partly because of lack of sleep.
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Dec 3rd, 2009, 08:01 PM
  #16  
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LOL, no doubt Ackislander.

DH did have a question and he said, "go ahead and say Dummy DH". He got really excited when we found out the wedding date had been set and immediately sat down and made airline reservations without letting me help. He used Orbitz. Now he wants to try to upgrade, but BA doesn't want to communicate with him telling him to talk to Orbitz. He wants to know if ya'll know how to go about upgrading when the tickets are not through BA. Do we have to wait till gate time?
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Dec 4th, 2009, 02:54 AM
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Well, I say "Dummy DH"...

Assuming your tickets are in coach and not premium economy, and assuming you didn't spend a few thousand to book refundable coach, then you can't upgrade ahead of time. If my assumptions are correct, it wouldn't matter if the tickets were purchased from BA, from Orbitz, or from anywhere else. You can only upgrade tickets purchased from BA that are in one of the 3 highest coach fare classes, and even then only to premium economy. You can upgrade any premium economy to biz, and any biz to first class. Of course, though, the restriction that they must be purchased from BA (or select preferred TAs) would then come into play.

So... I'm afraid this leaves you with relatively limited options to upgrade, at least in advance. Even if you decided that you want to 'buy up' to a better fare class, you will be bound by the restrictions of your fare, which may make getting any real value out of the ticket difficult or impossible.

In my experience BA will not bend the rules. For example, I had a ticket in coach for some personal travel. Along comes the company and tells me I need to travel for work, making it impossible to make my flight. I rebooked into business class and the new ticket basically amounted to a schedule change, I was an elite on BA, and my company was a preferred customer of BA. BA was completely and utterly inflexible in giving me any value for my coach ticket. No refund, no credit, no changing it to my wife's name so that she had an empty seat next to her. Nothing. The ticket was non-refundable, so that is exactly what I got, despite calls to the elite line and having the corp travel agent call her contacts.

All that being said, you are not completely out of luck. For the US to LHR leg, you can ask at check-in about a paid upgrade. The price will vary, could be high and it will require availability. Also, they may or may not let you into the lounge. I don't believe that you can pay for an upgrade when departing LHR, but it can't hurt to ask.
travelgourmet is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 06:58 PM
  #18  
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Yeah, BA told him he would have to cancel the tickets (4 of them) and then rebook--assuming they had seats after canceling the original. They just gave him the impression it would have made a difference if he'd booked through them. I always book through the airline. Prices have been equivalent and they're a lot more likely to be cooperative. But like I said, this is our first time with this airline.
Lady is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 09:18 PM
  #19  
 
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I think it definitely would have made a difference if he had booked directly through BA. As MelJ wrote (on Dec 2 at 11:33am), "When you book your tickets on their website, just before clicking to purchase, look at the bottom of your screen where they will offer you upgrades for a decent price."

I just entered a dummy booking using dates later in December and was offered an upgrade to Traveller Plus for an additional $145 outbound. The inbound upgrade was $257. I don't mind the daytime return flight in coach so much, but the outbound, overnight flight is more comfortable in Plus, worth the extra $145 in my opinion.

If Orbitz gave you an actual BA booking reference, you might go onto the BA website, click on 'Manage My Booking' and see if you can bring up your booking. Sometimes you are given the option to purchase an upgrade there for several weeks.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 12:21 AM
  #20  
 
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At least at my departure airport , if WTplus or business isn't full, they offer to upgrade you for a modest fee. Last time it was $100.00 to upgrade to Plus or $300,00 for business.
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