The airline with the best average rating is Air France with 7.5/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 9 minutes.More information
Hello and welcome to the last segment in short 2-part series of flights taking us from the US West Coast to France for baby's first Christmas 👶🎄
With the 1h15m delay on the first segment from LAX, we only had about 40 minutes left to make our connecting flight to Paris. Having flown through Heathrow's Terminal 5 more times than I can count, I knew it would be tight but doable. I've made even tighter connections at T5 in the past but, of course, this wasn't flying with a baby…
Reviews in this short series:
Luckily for us…it turned out that our next flight would be departing from the same terminal (T5 Concourse B, or T5B for short). It seems that there were quite a few other passengers connecting to the Paris flight and I was rather impressed with how well BA staff were organised to facilitate the transfer. Agents called for Paris passengers in the jet bridge, as soon as we stepped off the aircraft, to instruct us to meet staff at the escalator where we would receive further instructions. From there staff guided us downstairs to pass through security within the same concourse, something I'd never done before! It saved a great deal of time and hassle not to have to take the train back to T5A (the main terminal) to pass through transfer security and take the train back to T5B, which is the usual, somewhat annoying, process.
Needless to say we didn't have time time to visit the Galleries lounge in T5B as our flight was in final boarding by the time we made it through security. It's funny because I've transited flown out of T5B numerous times over the years and always plan for reasonable 2-3 hour transit time, and always end up having a tight transfer due to delay–the end product is I've never been able to spend more than a few minutes in the T5B club.
We made our flight with time to spare! Thanks to the efficient handling of transit passengers, boarding was still in full swing when we arrived at the gate. I would say there were still a good 50-60 passengers in the boarding queue.
With oneworld Sapphire status, we were able to bypass the queue and board directly through the Fast Track lane.
Obviously we were rushed so I was only able to get a quick shot of our aircraft as we boarded.
Passing through the Club Europe cabin, I noted the lack of centre tables. BA recently removed these to save weight.
It's difficult to tell in this photo, but there are two different seat models on this A321neo. BA's new A320/321neo aircraft are equipped with the same leather Pinnacle seat BA have had since 2014 before the over wing exit rows and new very basic ultra-slimline non-reclining Recaro seats without headrests after the exit rows–again, in the name of weight savings. Yes, I know that sounds weird--this article explains it well, for those who may be interested.
Our seats in row 9 are located well before the over-wing exits and therefore are the more comfortable "older" seat model.
The 30-31" seat pitch in these forward rows is a bit better than in the back as these rows can be converted to Business class.
Each seat forward of the exit rows is equipped with a universal power outlet and USB port.
Though the flight looked to be mostly full–I'd say around 80% load factor–I was thankful we ended up with a free seat! I'd checked Expert-Flyer and noticed that the 3rd seat in our row was blocked out, presumably for the baby, which was very much appreciated!
This big guy got his own seat! Well, except for take-off and landing, that is.
Yup, we're on an A321neo and it still had that new plane smell.
Looking out the window I realised that not only were our 2 flights in the same terminal–they were parked next to one another!
The Business class curtain was only 2 rows ahead of us on this flight.
After a slight delay–I imagine due to connecting passengers–the doors were closed and we pushed back from the gate.
One last view of G-XLEC, the A380 that flew us from LAX, as we pushed back.
The kid fell asleep during taxi and didn't wake up until we landed in Paris, which was great.
Taxi time was relatively short and soon we were off.
Zooming past T5C, B, and A as we took off.
The buy-on-board service began shortly after take-off. I was impressed with how quickly the cabin crew got into the aisles. They definitely hustled to get the service done with less than an hour flying time.
After running to catch a tight connection, I was pretty thirsty so I ordered waters. I found the price tag of £1.95 per bottle to be a bit hefty for still water. That's about 2.50 USD/2.30 EUR. I can't say I'm a fan of having to pay to water, especially on a Premium Economy ticket.
Lets have a look at the British Airways short/medium-haul Marks & Spencer buy-on-board offering.
There was a decent selection of sandwiches at somewhat reasonable prices, though I still remember in the not-so distant past when complimentary sandwiches or wraps were served on short-haul.
Water, juices, soft drinks
There was also a wide selection of adult beverages, though I found the prices to be high compared to US carriers.
Wines and beers
With a flying time of around 50 minutes, we weren't at cruising altitude for very long and soon began out descent into CDG.
We landed on the north runways with a view of Terminal one lit up in patriotic bleu, blanc, rouge
Taxiing above the A1 Motorway–always a cool experience.
More views of T1, with mostly Star Alliance carriers.
It was a typically long taxi to Terminal 2A/2C from the north runways
We ended up parking next to another A380.
It turned out that Emirates A380 had arrived just shortly before our flight as there was quite a long queue in the immigrations hall, but luckily it moved quickly.
Once we arrived in the baggage reclaim area, a passenger we'd met on the LAX-LHR flight told us she'd received a message that her bags had not made the flight. Not terribly surprising given the short connection, though the aircraft were parked at adjacent gates.
We hadn't received any messages or notifications on the BA app, but inquired with baggage services and sure enough our bags hadn't made it either.
We were glad we were able to save some time and file a claim before bags even started coming out. We were informed that the bags would be expedited on the next flight arriving from London later that night and be set up for delivery the following day.
To be honest, we were kind of relieved we didn't have to haul all of our luggage with us, knowing it would be delivered in the following days. We weren't surprised the bags didn't make it and we are always prepared with sufficient clothing to last a few days in our cabin baggage.
It was nice not to have to stuff a ton of bags in the rental car and luckily a new car seat was found for us to use.
Although I'm generally a fan of British Airways, I've mostly flown long-haul in either Club World (Business) or World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy)--and the few intra-European flights I'd taken in the last several years had also been in Club, so I wasn't particularly familiar with the short-haul Economy experience. Just being an airline geek, I knew BA had introduced buy-on-board on European flights, but I hadn't experienced it personally. My admittedly very subjective impression was that it cheapened the experience. Stepping off a long-haul flight in Premium Economy, with a fabulous cabin crew and elevated service, connecting to intra-European Economy--where even water had to be purchased--somehow didn't feel right. It just made for a very inconsistent customer experience--I'm aware that this is the same exact situation on US carriers. I haven't flown an itinerary with long-haul Premium Economy connecting to domestic Economy on US carriers either, but I imagine it can be a shock.
Judging the flight on its own, for the Economy class experience, it was an OK flight. The seats are fine and comfortable for the short 1h hop. Thanks to our oneworld status, we were able to select better seats towards the front of cabin, which were equipped with power outlets and USB ports and can be converted to Business class . I don't think I would have rated the cabin 7.5 had I sat in the rear section of Economy equipped with the new ultra-slim seats with tighter pitch.
As an AvGeek, I was excited to discover we were flying on an A321neo, but the experience wasn't really any different than an A321ceo. There were no overhead TVs, unlike A320ceos, and the cabin felt generally bare bones. This brand new aircraft wasn't even equipped with WiFi. Pretty underwhelming overall.
As far as the buy-on-board goes, I'll say that BA have a decent offer, if indeed all of the options were available. I felt like the prices were fine when it came to food items, but on the high side when it came to drinks, especially alcohol.
To think, just a few years ago, one could sip on a complimentary gin & tonic and enjoy a complimentary sandwich on a sub-2 hour flight...those days are gone. I don't blame BA for introducing buy-on-board, or even densifying their cabins--US carriers did this years before BA--However, I will say that BA should consider looking at solutions to the inconsistent experience of passengers connecting from long-haul Premium Economy. Perhaps free drinks in a short-haul "Premium Economy" section towards the front of the aircraft as some carriers do.
I'll end on a positive note to once again mention that BA staff on the ground at Heathrow were well organised and very helpful, making a tight transfer relatively painless. I am also very thankful for the extra blocked seat for the baby!