After a quick trip to Iceland over the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, this time it's off to warmer latitudes over the Fourth of July Holiday. After my first trip to Greece last November, I absolutely fell in love with the country and wanted to return for the summer season to experience the beautiful beaches of the Aegean sea.
As a oneworld flyer living in Washington, DC, British Airways from Dulles (IAD) is often the most practical one-stop option for European destinations. During the high season, BA fly non-stop from Heathrow to several of the Greek isles, including Mykonos, our destination for this trip. Add to that the fact that BA operate two daily 744s to Dulles, bringing an attractive #AvGeek factor, and British Airways was a clear choice.
This report will cover the second leg in Club Europe intra-European Business class.
With about 5 hours of time between flights, on arrival from Washington, I decided to cross the UK border to get some fresh air rather than heading through the transit route. I'd previously made the mistake of heading to the lounge through the transit route and found it was very complicated to head outside during a long layover. This time I knew better and headed directly to the UK arrivals area, which I'd done many times in the past, as my two travel companions headed to the BA Galleries lounge via the transit area.
For holders of European passports, arrivals into the UK are quick and easy with automated passport control gates. It's not yet clear if these will still be available to EU citizens post-Brexit, especially considering that the UK has never been part of the Schengen area.
Coming out of international arrivals on the lower level, I took the elevator upstairs to the departures level and headed to my usual spot on the far south end of the curbside.
There's a nice view from this spot, but there wasn't much activity at that time of the morning.
It's always nice to get some fresh air on a long layover! Once I'd had my fill I headed back in to join my travel companions in the lounge.
I headed through the Fast Track lane at the South security checkpoint.
I was through airside in less than a minute as there was noone in the Fast Track lane.
Once through the South security checkpoint, one has to walk left towards the center of the terminal to take the escalators down a level to access the South lounges.
BA Galleries Lounge South
Escalators lead up to the British Airways South lounges
On the first level are the BA First Lounge, the Elemis spa, and the Concorde Room, while the Galleries Business class lounge is yet another level up.
The South Galleries lounge is large and spacious, but can become crowded during peak times. Today being a Saturday and summertime, the lounge is less crowded than normal with less business travellers.
The south side of the lounge has some nice tarmac views, but even on a less busy day like today, it is the most crowded section.
I usually prefer the north side of the lounge which tends to be much quieter.
We conveniently had the adult beverage counter close to our seats to fix healthy breakfast drinks like bloody marys and coffee and Baileys.
View of Terminal 5 from the north side of the lounge.
A little snack before having a shower.
The Elemis Spa at Galleries South
As the lounge showers are located in the same area as the Elemis spa, I was able to schedule an appointment for a facial at the same time as I asked for a shower. In the past, I haven't always been able to schedule an appointment within the window of my layovers as there is quite a bit of demand for treatments, but I was lucky this time to get an appointment only an hour later.
Entrance to the Elemis Spa and showers
I was advised to arrive a few minutes prior to my appointment as there were some forms to fill out. I arrived early and was sat at a counter displaying Elemis products as I completed my paperwork, which consisted mostly of questions on allergies to products and skin conditions.
Chic waiting area in the centre of the spa.
The facial was very nice and relaxing, especially as it was done as I sat in a massage chair. Between, the shower, the facial, and the massage, I felt fresh and relaxed. In my opinion, the Elemis spa is one of the best features of the Galleries lounges–a great way to re-energize between flights.
By the time I returned to the lounge from my appointment, our gate was finally showing on the FIDS. We left shortly after for boarding.
Boarding BA650 LHR-JMK
We didn't have very far to go from the lounge as the gate was in the main T5A terminal just downstairs.
Our A320 to Mykonos viewed from the gate.
As we arrived at the gate, the two gate agents were soliciting passengers to check large cabin baggage as the flight was completely full. In exchange for checking baggage, the gate agents offered pre-boarding. This method was successful and about a dozen Economy passengers gave up their bags for pre-boarding privileges.
While reducing the number of cabin baggage certainly speeds up the boarding process on a full flight, I'm not a fan of the idea of giving out pre-boarding for giving up bags, especially as one of our party was in crutches due to a twisted ankle and actually required pre-boarding. When boarding began we were basically stampeded by the dozen or so additional pre-boarders…womp womp
Nice views of our aircraft as we headed down the escalators during boarding.
The Club Europe cabin, which can be modified by moving the curtain separating classes, was all the way back to row 12 on this flight, the second over-wing exit row.
Row 12 is the maximum extent of the Business class cabin on the A320–that's a whopping 48 seats in Club Europe! Surely a testament to the premium-leisure nature of the Mykonos market. I'd previously seen the curtain after row 8 or 9, but never back all the way to the exit rows.
Several weeks before departure, I was pleasantly surprised to see the seatmap showing the Business cabin all the way to row 12 and didn't hesitate to select seats in the exit row, as the 30" seat pitch in regular rows is very tight.
Here are our seats in the exit row. You'll notice that there is no table over the middle seat like in regular rows of Club Europe. I confirmed with a very friendly member of the cabin crew that the central tables are not installed in exit rows as they could block the exit. She also mentioned that she'd never seen the Club curtain back so far.
As flight times between the UK and Greece are around 4 hours, on the longer side for a regional flight, passengers in Club Europe are provided with a pillow and blanket.
The veeery long Club cabin viewed from the last row
Minutes after boarding was completed, the flight deck announced that we were being held at the gate at least an hour due to congestion at Mykonos airport. They explained that, due to the many flights scheduled in to JMK on this busy high-season weekend, there would not be enough ramp space at Mykonos to accommodate our flight. This type of congestion is routine for the small Greek island airports during the summer season.
About 20 minutes after scheduled departure time, the flight deck advised that we would be pushing back to await release for departure as our gate was needed by another aircraft.
We pushed back as 12:43PM, 23 minutes after scheduled departure to begin our long wait.
The safety video played as we headed to our remote parking spot
We taxied to the north side of the terminal…
…where we parked with a nice view of arrivals on the North runway
50 minutes after pushing back, we were finally released for departure
We taxied back to the south side of the airport towards the departure runway. On the way we passed by a Qatar A330 operating for British Airways, temporarily covering some 787 during the Rolls Royce engine issues.
As always at Heathrow, there is a lot of interesting traffic for #AvGeeks to enjoy while waiting in line for departure.
Like this Qantas B787-9 about to depart for the 19 hour journey home to Perth
Closeup of this beauty
It's a Dreamliner party as an Air Canada B787-9 taxies by
A beautiful Virgin Atlantic A340-600 on takeoff roll.
Taxi time (after the long hold) was relatively short as we were able to skip the conga line and take the next spot for departure.
And we're off for the 4 hour flight to Mykonos
Our flight path on this sunny day offered some nice views on departure.
Starting with Twickenham Stadium, the 2nd largest stadium in the UK
And great views of central London and the River Thames
London in all its glory with Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the London eye on the left
The City, the Shard, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge to the right
The Canary Wharf business district and the O2 Arena
As we continue to fly east, we leave the dense London urban area behind as we overfly the Thames Estuary.
The overhead screens display the moving map throughout the flight
Shortly after takeoff lunch menus were handed out by the cabin crew.
Exceptionally on this flight, there were 3 cabin managers out of 6 total cabin crew. As we chatted with one of the crew during boarding, she mentioned that there were extra managers and crew on the flight specifically because the curtain was back to row 12, which was taken as a training opportunity.
Two of the three cabin managers were working in Business class along with another crew member. With almost 50 passengers in Business class, the three cabin crew were busy the whole flight and enlisted the help of the other three working Economy in preparing the meal service.
The service began as we reached the French and Belgian coast
Lucky for us, the apéritif service began from the rear of the cabin, so we were the first row to be served.
The appetizer course arrived relatively quickly thereafter with one of the crew making a drink run right behind.
Beetroot carpaccio with goat cheese
Then came the very long wait for the main dish. With so many passengers in Business class, many of the mains were brought to the rear galley to be heated.
It was a bit hectic, but the crew did what they could to ensure a smooth service and were making regular drink runs as they waited for mains to be heated.
In the meantime I enjoyed the outdoor scenery
We were over Croatia by the time the main dish was served.
Chicken tikka masala with saffron pilaf and gobi saag
It was fresh out of the oven and very tasty. I was pleasantly surprised that my choice was available despite being one of the last to be served the main.
I like the fact that in Club Europe, there is a cheese course and a dessert–the proper European way, rather than a choice of either on many carriers.
Cropwell Bishop Stilton with red onion chutney and oat cakes
Fresh berry pavlova with vanilla ice cream
Overall, despite the time it took to serve, it was a very good meal for a regional flight.
I finished my meal with a coffee and Baileys
Before we knew it, we were already over Greece and beginning our descent
Flying over Greece is always beautiful
The windows steamed up due to humidity as we were on short final to Mykonos, but I still got a decent view of the island on landing.
We deplaned on the tarmac, which is always fun in small island airports
Arrival wasn't particularly pleasant as it took about 20 minutes to get through immigration and the small terminal building was very crowded. I've read that the terminal will be expanded over the next few years, which is sorely needed.
Short Mykonos Bonus below:
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Super Paradise beach - one of the most popular beaches on Mykonos. This is more of a party beach with music playing throughout the beach.
From Jackie O' Beach club
Elias beach, a little quieter than Super Paradise beach
Many of the beaches on Mykonos are full service with food and drink service, which is very convenient.
Mykonos town really comes alive at night with many restaurants, bars, and clubs going into the wee hours of the morning
British Airways (South) Galleries Club - 5A
London - LHR
Mykonos Island - JMK
Overall, despite the delay and the slow meal service due to the large Club Europe cabin, it was a very pleasant flight. It helps that, with the curtain so far back, we were able to score Exit row seats for an no charge with our oneworld status. The cabin crew certainly had their work cut out for them with 48 passengers in business class, and handled it as well as anyone could have. The were friendly, attentive, and even took some time to chat.
The catering was generally quite good, and properly coursed, which I appreciate. In my experience, intra-European Business class catering is better than on a comparable flight within North America. The seats, of course, are much better on North American flights, but an exit row, made for a much better experience.
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