Hello and welcome to the third review in this series of flights.
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 first return leg of the trip in Club Europe intra-European Business class.
After a wonderful week in paradise, it was sadly time to head home to Washington, DC. Remembering how crowded the terminal had been on arrival with check-in and security queues snaking all over the place, we made sure to arrive early to avoid any issues.
We dropped off the rental car about 2 1/2 hours prior to the flight's scheduled departure time.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the the terminal was rather quiet and there were no queues for check-in at the British Airways counter.
Qatar Airways ads above the ticket counters promoting the new route
After receiving our boarding passes at the Club Europe desk, our bags were tagged to their final destination of Washington - IAD. At that time, the agent advised us that we needed to drop off our checked bags at a security scanning machine to the left of the check-in area. The queue to drop off baggage moved slowly despite there only being a handful of passengers ahead of us. However, overall the process was faster than I had expected after the bad first impression I'd gotten of a chaotic terminal on arrival the week before.
Goldair Lounge Mykonos
As we had quite a bit a time to kill before the flight, we headed to the only lounge at JMK, the Goldair Handling Lounge. The lounge is located in the domestic terminal, which is a short walk along the front of the terminal from the international area.
The Goldair lounge is a bit hard to find as it is on the mezzanine level above the domestic departures gate area. British Airways do not contract the lounge for Business class passengers, luckily, we were able to gain access with Priority Pass.
The lounge is nicely furnished and cozy…and by cozy, I mean small. This photo shows almost the entire lounge, with the exception of 4 chairs to the left outside of the frame.
There is a decent spread of snacks for such a small lounge, though there are no hot options.
Aside from the usual beer and spirits, local Greek wines were on offer: red, white, and rosé
A bit of everything on offer: croissant, quiche, pie, vegetarian sandwich, and a salmon sandwich
While in the lounge, I received a notification on the British Airways app that our flight was delayed about an hour. A quick check on flightaware confirmed that the inbound flight was indeed delayed, surely due to congestion at Mykonos, as our flight from London had been the previous week.
Note that the Goldair lounge offers high-speed WiFi; however, the airport also offers free WiFi which also works perfectly in the lounge.
Boarding BA651 JMK-LHR
As the lounge is outside of security and on the domestic side of the terminal, we left about 20 minutes prior to the delayed boarding time to allow for enough time to get back to the international side and make it through the security checkpoint and passport control. Both were quick and we were airside to the crowded gate area in minutes.
Boarding was chaotic as you would expect. After boarding passes were scanned, we passed through the boarding gate to a roped-off holding area on the tarmac to await bus transport to the aircraft.
Our BA A320 could be seen from the holding area; however, we could not walk to the aircraft as it was parked a little too far away, in front of the domestic gates.
We waited in the holding area for about 15 minutes before the first bus showed up. It seemed like a disproportionately long wait for such a short ride for just a few hundred feet.
However, it was a scenic short trip to the aircraft for #AvGeeks
Transavia Boeing 737-800
Qatar Airways A320
And here we are at our British Airways A320
As with the inbound flight from London, the Club Europe cabin on this flight went all the way back to row 12, the 2nd over-wing exit row.
Row 12 is the maximum extent of Business class on the A320, for an impressive total of 48 seats in Club Europe.
I had once again selected seats in the exit rows. Being that the seat pitch in regular rows is only 30"–way too tight for Business class–it was great to be able to select exit rows for decent legroom.
Good legroom in the exit row.
View of the long Club Europe cabin from the exit row
The Qatar Airways flight to Doha pushed back as our BA flight was boarding. It's interesting to see one of the ME3 at a small Greek island airport.
Just to show how busy the Mykonos ramp gets during high season, minutes later the QR A320 is replaced by an Aegean A320.
We finally pushed back at 2:30PM, almost an hour late–this delay meant we would have a tight connection to our DC flight in Heathrow, but barring any further delays, we should still have a little over a half hour, which is doable in my experience.
We taxied to the end of the runway, from which one can see Paradise Beach, and made a 180 turn for departure towards the north.
Takeoff with great views of the western side of the island
Beautiful views of Mykonos town and its port
Slight turn to the left
The neighbouring islands of Rineia and Dilos
The moving map was displayed on the overhead screens, which is always nice, although it would be nice to have some sort of in-flight entertainment on a flight nearing 4 hours in length.
Menus were distributed by the cabin crew shortly after takeoff.
Flying over the Peloponnese
View of the Corinth Canal
With such a large Club Europe cabin (just under 50 passengers), it seems the cabin crew decided to cut out the pre-meal apéritif in order to speed up the delivery of lunch service. With that, the starter course was served less than a half hour after takeoff.
Balik-style smoked salmon with horseradish cream
The salmon was delicious and fresh. Unlike the flight from London, during which the meal service took almost 3 hours, the main course followed shortly after. Cabin crew were very efficient during the service and constantly in the aisle offering drink refills.
Herbed grilled chicken supreme with thyme jus, truffled linguine and root vegetables
Once again, a solid main course. The chicken itself was very tasty.
Cheese course and dessert:
Croxton Manor mature Cheddar with mango chilli chutney and oat cakes
Coffee cream caramel with gingerbread crumble
Overall it was a very nice meal for a regional flight and there was lovely Greek scenery to enjoy throughout lunch.
I was thankful for the efficient meal service as it allowed me to take a good 2.5 hour nap. Mykonos is great, but I definitely didn't get much sleep that week.
Before I knew it we were beginning our descent.
It was an exceptionally warm and humid day in the south of England, with temperatures of 33-34 degrees Celcius (91-93 F).
Canary Wharf on this hot and hazy day.
View of Twickenham stadium on short final
A BA A380 in front of hangars
Passing by a Qantas A380 as we taxied to Terminal 5
Taxiing past one of the T5 satellite concourses
Luckily, we parked at the main T5 building (T5A), which would save time to get through transit security as we wouldn't need to take the train both ways from T5B or T5C.
We didn't make up much time in the air and arrived at the gate 48 minutes late. It will be tight to make out connection to Washington, but we should make it.
Thanks for reading!
Mykonos Island - JMK
London - LHR
Overall, it was a pleasant flight, due in large part to being able to grab seats in the exit row. We were lucky to have the Business class curtain all the way back to row 12 on both intra-European sectors on this trip. Thanks to our oneworld status, the exit row seats were free, whereas there is normally a fee. Having sat in regular rows in Club Europe with a tight 30" seat pitch, the extra legroom in the exit row makes a big difference in comfort. However, living in the US, I will always prefer the "real" F/J seats in the premium cabins of North American carriers over the empty-middle-seat intra-European Business class concept.
The cabin crew were wonderful and super efficient. They were a well oiled machine and managed to serve a full Club Europe cabin (almost 50 passengers!) in a timely manner and with a smile. They seemed more organized than the crew we had on the LHR-JMK flight, but that's most likely due to the fact that the previous flight was being used for cabin crew training. Although I thought it was a shame that the crew on this flight cut out the apéritif service, I certainly understand that they did so for a smoother, more efficient service, and they were very generous with drinks throughout the flight, which helped to make up for the lack of pre-meal service.
As usual on these longer Club Europe routes, the catering was very good and almost on the level of international long-haul. The catering feels premium and is certainly better than any meal service on a comparable flight within North America. While I much prefer the actual seats in the premium cabin on North American regional flights, the catering is generally better on regional European flights like this one.
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