Review of British Airways flight London Washington in Business

Airline British Airways
Flight BA217
Class Business
Seat 60A
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 08:25
Take-off 26 Nov 17, 11:25
Arrival at 26 Nov 17, 14:50
BA   #76 out of 108 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 810 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 3793
Published on 24th March 2018
Hello and welcome to the 6th and last report in this series.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to and end and, after a perfect week in Greece, it was time to head home to the U.S. Upon returning from a few days on Santorini, we spent the weekend in Athens where we did the usual tourist things, ate some delicious Greek food, hung out with friends and probably drank a little too much ^^

[Disclaimer] On the last night in Athens, I began to feel a cold coming on but powered through and stayed out (Greeks don't go out until 1 or 2AM!). By the morning we were due to fly home, I was not feeling well at all–I guess I'm glad it hit me on the last night and not before, which allowed me to thoroughly enjoy my trip to the end. All this to say that due to being under the weather, the two return flight reports are a bit on the short side, as I slept for much of the flights.


Routing

Washington Dulles IAD ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Athens E Venizelos ATH | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
Athens E Venizelos ATH ✈ Santorini Thira Intl JTR | Aegean Airlines, A320-200, Economy Class
Santorini Thira Intl JTR ✈ Athens E Venizelos ATH | Aegean Airlines, A320-200, Economy Class
Athens E Venizelos ATH ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Washington Dulles IAD | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class

Pre-Flight



We arrived from Athens at the main Terminal 5 building (T5A)

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Upon deplaning we checked the departures board and headed through the transit security checkpoint. Our flight to DC was departing from the T5B satellite so we immediately headed to the train.

As our connection was rather short, we only had a few minutes to head to the BA Galleries lounge in T5B. Sorry, I didn't have time to take any pictures as we were just in and out, to grab a bottle of water. Overall, the lounge in T5B is quite large and pleasant–hopefully I'll have a chance to do a thorough review in the near future. In the past, most of my flights through LHR Terminal 5 have departed from T5C where there is no lounge.

View of T5B from the mezzanine level upon exiting the Galleries lounge.

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Our flight was leaving from gate B38, a corner gate from which it can be difficult to see the aircraft, luckily, I spotted this beautiful Queen of the Skies on my way to the gate.

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British Airways operate two daily B747-400 aircraft to Washington-Dulles in the "Super High-J" configuration. These aircraft are the most premium-heavy in the fleet, with 86 Club World seats–with the "J" referring to the industry standard code for Business class (along with "C").

Notice that most of the aircraft floor space is taken up by premium cabins–First, Club World, and World Traveller Plus.

photo ba 747 super high j seat mapphoto ba 747-400

Booking several months in advance there weren't too many options available on the upper deck, as those are naturally among the most desirable seats.

photo ba seats 744 lhr-iad


Boarding



Arriving at the gate only a few minutes before boarding, it was crowded with long queues already formed.

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One of the gate agents went through the fast track lane to check boarding passes and kick out anyone who didn't belong. As she checked my boarding pass she noticed it had the infamous selectee Quad S's. I hadn't even noticed–lucky me for being randomly selected for additional screening! Honestly I didn't mind–the few times I'd had the random SSSS, it was relatively painless and this was the case here. Actually, it worked out to my benefit because she pulled me up to the front, along with several others with SSSS, to have the additional security screening done by the boarding door, so technically we boarded before everyone else. Good efficient system!

Considering I was originally standing in the Fast Track queue a good 50 people back, with the SSSS I ended up boarding well ahead of my original position.

Up the stairs to the upper deck we go!

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And here we are at my seat in the first row, 60A. Window seats on BA are always rear-facing, with the exception of the A-side of 767s, now operated by the soon-to-be-discontinued OpenSkies subsidiary.

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View of the intimate upper deck cabin from my seat. The Super-High J 744 fleet has been recently retrofitted with new cabins giving new life to these ageing birds.

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The new cabins look fresh and modern with the blue mood-lighting, newer generation Club World seats, and larger new IFE screens.

Window seats on the upper deck are great as they offer a lot of privacy, at least when the partition is up, and have a good amount of lateral space thanks to the bins along the side walls, which also provide convenient additional storage.

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BA Club World seats have a massive amount of legroom and, unlike most lie-flat Business class seats, do not have restricted foot space when in flat mode. Of course, the biggest downside of Club World is the lack of direct aisle access. BA will reportedly introduce a new Club World seat in 2019 offering direct aisle access for all seats.

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Another unique aspect of Club World is the forwards-backwards configuration. As I've mentioned many times before, it can be very awkward to be face-to-face with a stranger when travelling alone; however, this configuration is ideal for chatting with a travel partner.

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Aside from the traditional universal power outlets, the newer generation of Club World seats have USB ports.

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Blue mood-lighting along the side-walls

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A few minutes after settling in, a friendly member of the cabin crew came by to greet us and take jackets. She returned shortly after with pre-departure drinks, while another came by with amenity bags and menus.

As I was feeling under the weather, I reluctantly, but responsibly, opted for water. I know…that's not like me right? As a result of not feeling well, this will be a rare alcohol-free report for me.

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Nice view of BA tails during boarding on a lovely sunny day.

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Lets have a look at the menu and all the good wine options in which I will not be indulging.

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Though catering may often be hit or miss in Club World, BA consistently offer decent champagne and wine selections.



The Flight



We pushed back from the gate right on time.

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The entertaining new safety video played as we taxied to the runway.

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There is always good planespotting to be had at Heathrow!

Taxiing past an AA 777

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We were 6th in line for departure…

behind a Cathay Pacific 77W

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A British Airways 77E

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An Air Malta A320

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A British Airways 789

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And finally a Virgin Atlantic A333

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Lining up for departure

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And we're off

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Great views of BA's Terminal 5 on takeoff, starting with T5C

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T5B, from which we had just departed

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The massive main T5A building

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Shortly after takeoff our lovely flight attendant offered drinks. Again, she offered champagne, and again I reluctantly declined and requested a ginger ale. Ugh, I know, how boring.

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The meal service began as we flew over Ireland

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It is possible to pre-order entrees on some long-haul routes from Heathrow.

photo ba meals online selection

On my itinerary, this LHR-IAD flight was the sole flight for which I had the option to pre-order. This is a nice feature and I hope it is rolled out to more of the network, especially as catering is being upgraded this year.

photo ba meal selection lhr-iad

There were two choices for the appetiser course. I selected:

Confit of chicken and apple terrine with oat and honey granola and spiced apple compote

The dish was reasonable good, but a bit on the sweet side for my taste. The appetiser course also came with a side salad.

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For the main course, which I had pre-ordered online, I selected:

Salmon and smoked haddock fish pie with baby fennel, duchess potato, and a white wine cream sauce

I found the dish to be creative and delicious–a sort a creamy salmon shepherd's pie.

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A look at one of the other entree options:

Thai Vegetable curry with steamed jasmine rice

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The lack of sleep and my cold were catching up to me and I didn't even make it to dessert. I fell asleep after the entree and didn't wake up until it was time to land, so I missed the pre-arrival "Afternoon tea" service.

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It was a beautiful sunny day on this side of the Atlantic as well.

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Crossing the Potomac River from Maryland into Virginia

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We landed almost a half hour early

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Parking next to these two Avianca A320s, you would think we were in Latin America.

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Last view of the cabin on deplaning.

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Between the early arrival, Global Entry, and quick baggage delivery, we were out to the car and on our way home by the scheduled arrival time. You can't beat that!

Thanks for reading!
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Verdict

British Airways

8.3/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering7.5

British Airways Galleries Club - 5B

7.5/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services8.5

London - LHR

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.5
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.5

Washington - IAD

8.0/10
Efficiency8.5
Access6.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Despite not feeling well, it was an enjoyable flight. There's always something special about flying on the upper deck of the Queen of the Skies. And despite some less-than-perfect experiences in the past, I have a special fondness for BA.

Cabin - As far as BA Club World goes, the upper deck of the 747 offers a unique and elevated experience. The cabin was freshly updated and the small number of seats made for a private jet feel. The lack of direct aisle access is the biggest downside of the current BA Club World layout. As the person in the aisle seat in the next row slept most of the flight, I had to hop over her legs to get out of my seat and hit my head on the overhead bins several times as I contorted to get out without knocking into her feet. I slept like a baby for most of the flight, however, and the the spaciousness of the upper deck seats with the side bins and unrestricted foot space certainly contributed to getting a good rest.

Cabin Crew - Very friendly and attentive. The crew checked on me several times as they knew I wasn't feeling well and brought water regularly, which I really appreciated.

IFE - Brand new with a nice airshow and a large content library

Catering - As I've said before, my past experiences with BA catering have been hit or miss. I'd say this time it was more on the hit spectrum of things. Two choices of appetisers and four entree options is just right for Business class. The options were tasty and creative. I also liked the ability to pre-order for the long-haul ex-LHR.

Information on the route London (LHR) Washington (IAD)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 10 reviews of 2 airlines on the route London (LHR) → Washington (IAD).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is British Airways with 7.3/10.

The average flight time is 8 hours and 18 minutes.

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18 Comments

  • Comment 438543 by
    lajam 63 Comments

    Thanks for the report.

    The setting of the seats are very weird. It doesn't make sense for me except if you have a travel companion. I wonder why BA does that.

    • Comment 438561 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      HI, thanks for your comments! Yes, it is an unusual seating configuration. And yes, it's not a great setup if you're travelling along as I've mentioned, but it is perfect when travelling with someone as I was. Generally I will purposely book BA CW when flying with others, but avoid BA CW when flying alone.

      I'm sure BA created this configuration for cabin density. With the ying-yang forwards-backwards setup, they can fit 8 seats abreast on 777/747/A380 fuselages.

  • Comment 438576 by
    757Fan 595 Comments

    Sorry to hear about you not feeling well on this flight, Kevin. Flying when you're not feeling well is never fun.

    BA looks like they continue to offer a good Business Class product - and that's nice they offer an option to pre-order a meal on some flights. Reminds me of AA when flying F!

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Comment 438593 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks for your comments! Yes, flying when you're sick is a miserable experience--luckily being in Business and being able to sleep on a flat surface the whole flight makes it much easier. I liked the pre-order option and hope they roll it out to the whole network like AA does. AA's new rules about how they start service the premium cabin either from the front or the back are so confusing that I'm thankful for the pre-order option.

  • Comment 438645 by
    loukas 343 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for this report! Heathrow is indeed great for spotting and this classic Jumbo will always be one the most beautiful planes of all times. To be honest I didn't remeber BA has such a business-jet style 747s, it looks like they added some economy seats at the rear cause there was some space left and they didn't know how to use it ;) Have a good week!

    • Comment 438720 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thank for your comments! I just love 747s--they're so beautiful, I still get as excited as the first time I took one as a kid.

      "To be honest I didn't remeber BA has such a business-jet style 747s, it looks like they added some economy seats at the rear cause there was some space left and they didn't know how to use it "
      - Haha yea, the small Y section does look almost like an afterthought. This Super-High J configuration has only been around a few years and only serves a few of the highest Premium demand routes.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 438671 by
    CounterSurprise 77 Comments

    “Salmon and smoked haddock fish pie with baby fennel, duchess potato, and a white wine cream sauce - I found the dish to be creative and delicious–a sort a creamy salmon shepherd's pie. “.

    — Glad you liked it - as you say BA can be hit or miss. Back here we sometimes say that the British know how to kill a fish twice: The first time when they catch it, the second time when they cook it. Although I do feel this criticism is easy coming for a people with no culinary tradition at all :-)

    That amenity kit looked a bit basic; is it reasonably filled? Looks like a shoe bag or something; is it nice quality?

    “BA Club World seats have a massive amount of legroom and, unlike most lie-flat Business class seats, do not have restricted foot space when in flat mode”
    — I agree with you that the BA seats offer some of the best experience out there. Many people have commented that the outer seats feel very exposed but not more so than a KLM WBC seat with no direct aisle access imho. The window seats are just unique, the extra storage is unique and the privacy is great. I would gladly adjust to the “climbing over my neighbor” experience !

    Thanks for again a great report & beautiful pictures!

    • Comment 438721 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Hi CounterSurprise, thanks so much for your comments!

      "Back here we sometimes say that the British know how to kill a fish twice: The first time when they catch it, the second time when they cook it."
      - Haha, that's a good one! BA catering aside, I think British Cuisine has gotten much better since Gordon Ramsey and others have put the UK on the culinary map.

      "That amenity kit looked a bit basic; is it reasonably filled? "
      - It's pretty basic. It's got the usual eyeshades, socks, lip balm, and pen. There is also a small tube of Elemis hand creme.

      "Looks like a shoe bag or something; is it nice quality?"
      - Yes, it is a shoe bag, and no, it's cheap, haha. Despite not being very glamorous, they're more useful than most other nicer amenity kits. I can always use a couple of show bags when I travel, but I only need 1 toiletry bag (even though I have probably close to 100, lol).

      "I would gladly adjust to the “climbing over my neighbor” experience !"
      - Hopefully soon when BA introduce a new Club World there will be no climbing over but still the same basic seat design.

  • Comment 438855 by
    Arq 43 Comments

    Hello KevinDC,

    Thank you for a nice report. 747-400 is always the most beautiful aircraft, in my opinion. Gorgeous livery of BA does help a lot too. Nice report all around, although I am not sure we have that Thai vegetable curry in Thailand. Anyway, one fun fact about food is that we can always be creative and get the good result without being too dependent to the cookbook. So, I think it's nice to see more variation of the curry.

    By the way, is it possible for you to direct me to the "how-to" tips where I can make maximum use of the tools in this forum, like indexing my review into section (Preflight, boarding, flight, etc), and get the link to my previous report? I tried to search here and there, but only found the basic guide. Would appreciate if you can help. Thanks.

    • Comment 438879 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Sawasdee Krup and thank you for your comments! Haha yes, I've never seen a vegetable curry like that in all of the times I've been to Thailand either--it is a creative take on a vegetarian dish, however.

      Regarding the indexing of different sections you can click on the T↕ icon in the the menu bar of the edit screen or just type out the html tags and insert the name of each section between the [title] tags like this: [title] Boarding [/title] - Then the titles will automatically create the menu at the top of your report once you post, but you will not see it in the preview.

      For linking to other reports, you can click on the URL button in that same menu. It will prompt you to enter the URL into a box and then enter the text you would like your link to display. It ends up looking like this in html if you find it faster to type out (using my report as url example [url=https://flight-report.com/en/report/28756/British-Airways-BA217-London-LHR-Washington-IAD] Click here to see my previous report [/url]

  • Comment 439025 by
    aussenrist 224 Comments

    Thanks Kevin for sharing this flight report with beautiful aerial shots, especially the Potomac River!
    Sorry to hear you did not feel well and got the infamous 4Ss for the return, but glad you have good rest in J.
    I found the IFE is better on those retrofitted BA Queens, the resolution looks better.
    The catering is very good on this return flight and no items were flatten lol Hope it would be a good sight for the coming improved CW (I heard that it already rolled out to IAD) BTW I very dislike the BAEC will switch to revenue-based later this year! lol
    Happy Easter^^

    • Comment 439044 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Hey Ashley, thanks for your comments!

      "Sorry to hear you did not feel well and got the infamous 4Ss for the return, but glad you have good rest in J."
      - Thanks! It was a bit ironic that I was already feeling miserable and they I got the SSSS, but it was fine in the end.

      "I found the IFE is better on those retrofitted BA Queens, the resolution looks better."
      - Yes, the IFE seems better than on the A380s I've been on. I believe it's the same system on the 789 though.

      "Hope it would be a good sight for the coming improved CW (I heard that it already rolled out to IAD)"
      - Yes, I believe it's been rolled out to DC so I should find out soon how it is :-)

      "BTW I very dislike the BAEC will switch to revenue-based later this year!"
      - Yeah, the European FF programs are catching up to the US programs in going revenue based. I'm used to it by now and have found some workarounds to the changes, st least for AA, but it's definitely not as good as it used to be.

      Happy Easter to you as well!

  • Comment 440097 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling too well at the end, but thankfully it occurred at the end and not at the beginning of the trip.

    The cabin looks clean and fresh.

    Excellent spotting shots in great lighting conditions.

    Were you able to control the moving map or did it switch between modes automatically?

    “we were out to the car and on our way home by the scheduled arrival time. You can't beat that!”
    - Impressive.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 440563 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      "Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling too well at the end, but thankfully it occurred at the end and not at the beginning of the trip."
      - Thanks! Yeah, it happened on the very last night in Greece so I was able to fully enjoy my vacation.

      "Excellent spotting shots in great lighting conditions."
      - Thanks :-) Yes, the light was pretty that day!

      "Were you able to control the moving map or did it switch between modes automatically?"
      - It switched modes automatically, but I'm pretty sure there was a manual mode, which I didn't use.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  • Comment 453944 by
    GlobalNobody 2 Comments

    Thank you KevinDC for the report on the 744.
    Do you remember if there was a toilet behind your seat 60A. On seatguru it shows the toilet, but maybe they have old info.
    Did you notice the exit row seat do they have good window views and easy aisle access?

    • Comment 453974 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5377 Comments

      Hi GlobalNobody, thanks for your comments! There is a toilet on that side, but it’s behind 60K and in my experience there’s little traffic to and from the lav owing to the fact that there is another lav by the stairs on the other side and so few seats on the upper deck.

      Funny you should mention the exit row seats as I just did some flights in those seats last week and plan on posting the first report this weekend. Yes, there are good window views from those seats and the aisle access is great, unlike the normal window seats. I definitely recommend 62A or K whenever available.

      Thanks for stopping by !

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