Once one of the world’s leading airlines, British Airways has recently come under fire for it’s reduced inflight services, an IT meltdown, a former low-cost oriented CEO, and bad responses to passenger problems. Despite all this, I was very interested in flying British Airways on my trip to London, as they are one of the few airlines that connect Berlin Tegel with London Heathrow.
The experience with British Airways began with the easy and speedy check in at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The large and stunning terminal houses most of British Airways flights. Some flights still leave from the older Terminal 3.
You can choose to check-in traditionally at the counter with BA staff. Although I always choose this option with all airlines, I decided to try the self check-in. There was no line for this service and after a Passport check by BA staff, I was able to self check-in my bag by weighing and then printing a tag to Berlin Tegel. Baggage was included on my fare class as a Euro Traveller. After dropping off the bag, I picked up a BA Terminal 5 guide and a BA tag for my iPad, which was the only carry on I had.
For someone new to Terminal 5, I found the terminal guide to be incredibly useful. It let me know what time I should show up to the gate, where the planes would be, and what there was to do around the terminal. With Priority Pass membership, I was able to eat a full meal before the flight at the ASPIRE Lounge in Terminal 5. With recent changes to British Airways’ complimentary beverages and meals, I took advantage of the Lounge so I wouldn’t need anything on the plane.
The Lounge was not too far from the gate, which allowed me to board promptly about 20 minutes before gate closing time. Boarding was done by travel classes and was organized and quick.
In-flight Economy Service
I was quite impressed with the legroom onboard. I’m a tall person at 6’ 1” and I was more than comfortable. The mood lighting was also a nice touch to the very clean and sleek cabin design.
Shortly after take off, the inflight services began, which included no complimentary inflight service. You had to pay to eat or drink anything on the Marks & Spencer inflight Bistro. You could pay with credit card or with BA Avios points.
Looking around the cabin, only a few people purchased drinks and snacks. Even with few people making purchases, the cart service took a very long time. It appeared as though the iPads used by the flight attendants for payments were running slow. This caused delays along the way in the service.
In addition, due to the single isle, passengers behind the service couldn’t get up to use the restrooms in the back. This created a long line at the bathroom later in the flight.
Other than the buy-on-board service, there was no other service.
Final Thoughts on British Airways Short-haul Economy
It seems that British Airways is still British Airways with the removal of inflight service. It’s a real shame to see this, because of the high standards that are presented everywhere else with the airline. It is also a shame that checked baggage is no longer complimentary for all Economy passengers.
I would suggest only flying British Airways for short flights to/from Heathrow if you have lounge access before the flight. This will allow you to eat and drink for free, unlike while flying. Although the inflight service was disappointing, I will definitely be traveling British Airways again for short flights around Europe or within the United Kingdom.