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.
We arrived from Athens at the main Terminal 5 building (T5A)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arriving at the gate only a few minutes before boarding, it was crowded with long queues already formed.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aside from the traditional universal power outlets, the newer generation of Club World seats have USB ports.
Blue mood-lighting along the side-walls
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.
Nice view of BA tails during boarding on a lovely sunny day.
Lets have a look at the menu and all the good wine options in which I will not be indulging.
Though catering may often be hit or miss in Club World, BA consistently offer decent champagne and wine selections.
We pushed back from the gate right on time.
The entertaining new safety video played as we taxied to the runway.
There is always good planespotting to be had at Heathrow!
Taxiing past an AA 777
We were 6th in line for departure…
behind a Cathay Pacific 77W
A British Airways 77E
An Air Malta A320
A British Airways 789
And finally a Virgin Atlantic A333
Lining up for departure
And we're off
Great views of BA's Terminal 5 on takeoff, starting with T5C
T5B, from which we had just departed
The massive main T5A building
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.
The meal service began as we flew over Ireland
It is possible to pre-order entrees on some long-haul routes from Heathrow.
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.
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.
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.
A look at one of the other entree options:
Thai Vegetable curry with steamed jasmine rice
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.
It was a beautiful sunny day on this side of the Atlantic as well.
Crossing the Potomac River from Maryland into Virginia
We landed almost a half hour early
Parking next to these two Avianca A320s, you would think we were in Latin America.
Last view of the cabin on deplaning.
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!
British Airways Galleries Club - 5B
London - LHR
Washington - IAD
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.
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