Review of British Airways flight London Barcelona in Economy

Airline British Airways
Flight BA480
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:05
Take-off 01 Mar 20, 13:40
Arrival at 01 Mar 20, 16:45
BA   #64 out of 141 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 792 reviews
KévinDC
By SILVER 698
Published on 15th May 2020

introduction


Welcome to my last series of flights before the Covid-19 pandemic all but shut down air travel around the world. These flights took place between February 15th and March 1st, 2020–a short time period where things rapidly evolved in Europe and North America. Though we were aware of the outbreak and took precautions while flying, little did we know that shortly after returning from our trip that borders would be closing and transatlantic commercial air traffic would grind to a halt.

We had been staying in France since late December, where we were planning on spending a few more months before returning to Southern California in the spring, but needed to head to Washington, DC for a few weeks to work on getting our previous home ready for sale. Being in the Southwest of France, there aren't really any major airports nearby. Toulouse is about 2 hours away, but transatlantic flights tend to be expensive from TLS, so we usually make the 5.5 hour drive to fly in and out of Paris.

For this trip, however, I'd found some really good deals from Barcelona in Premium Economy on British Airways. BCN is also about a 5.5 hour drive, so I figured it would be an interesting change and a good opportunity to spend a bit of time in Barcelona. The best prices were to Baltimore-Washington Intl airport BWI, which is about the same distance from our home as Dulles IAD.

The transatlantic reviews in this series are the first on British Airways Premium Economy to or from BWI and only the second and third long-haul reviews to/from BWI. 

In this review, I'll cover the final sector in the series from London to Barcelona with a visit to the Heathrow Qantas lounge. In case you missed the first three instalments in this series, you'll find the link below.


routing


Reviews in this series:



photo 1-routing

Transit & lounge


Having just arrived from Baltimore at the Terminal 5 C Concourse, we hopped on the train to the main T5A Building, where we could catch the bus to Terminal 3. Barcelona is one of those few destinations served from T3 instead of T5–luckily, we had plenty of time between flights. 


photo img_8291

Compared to our previous experience, two weeks prior, the transit area in T5A was noticeably less crowded. Though border closures In Europe and North America hadn't yet happened, demand was already dropping significantly amidst the first rounds of Covid-related travel restrictions and flight cancellations.


photo img_8292photo img_8293

Going between T5 and T3 isn't a particularly pleasant experience. There is quite a bit of distance between the two terminals so the ride can take between 10-15 minutes on the shuttle bus. 


photo img_8295

If you're an AvGeek, the positive side is great views of the tarmac. 


photo img_8294

Upon arrival at Terminal 3, all transit passengers must go through the security checkpoint. We had access to the Fast Track queue thanks to our oneworld Sapphire status, where there was very little wait. 


photo img_8296

Once airside, I was surprised to see that the main waiting area was so crowded despite the rest of the terminal being so empty!

I've often lamented the practise in British airports of only displaying gate assignments one hour prior to departure, often times even less. I've always found this to be inconvenient, but in times of Covid, I find it to be downright dangerous as it forces passengers to crowd the main central hall. 


photo img_8297-76644

This was two months ago–I imagine things have changed and crowds like this are a thing of the past. 

One of the major benefits of oneworld Sapphire status is access to Business class lounges when travelling in any cabin. 
    
Terminal 3 offers several oneworld lounge options:
American Airlines Admirals Club
British Airways Galleries Lounge
Cathay Pacific Lounge
Qantas International Lounge

Just a short time ago, in our pre-children days, we would have enjoyed a bit of lounge-hopping, visiting all four lounges. These days we prefer to choose the best lounge for our needs and stick with it. We chose the Qantas lounge as I suspected there may be a children't play area, as I'd seen in most other Qantas lounges I'd visited. 


photo img_8298

We were greeted by a very friendly and cheerful agent who told us there was a children's play room upstairs before I even thought to ask. Love the proactiveness!
 
Having been to Qantas lounges in Auckland, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Singapore, and Sydney, I've always found them to be consistently nice lounges, and the London Heathrow Qantas lounge is no exception. 

I would love to have the opportunity to fly a non-stop London-Sydney flight one day! In a premium cabin, though–I can't imagine how painful 20 hours in Economy could be! 


photo img_8299

Social distancing wasn't going to be difficult inside the lounge as there were few other passengers. 


photo img_8300photo img_8301photo img_8302

The stylish staircase leads to the second level, which is even larger than the ground level–this lounge is huge! I suppose it needs to be with multiple A380 departures in normal times.


photo img_8303photo img_8304

The bar, and decor in general, are very chic–typical of Qantas lounges in my experience. 


photo img_8305

There is also a small lift, which was convenient for the baby and stroller. 


photo img_8307photo img_8309

We ended up with the playroom to ourselves for our entire 3-hour stay!


photo img_8308photo img_8310

As a new parent, I really appreciate play areas inside lounges. Our son has a great time playing and we can relax a bit while he is occupied with new-to-him toys and games. 


photo img_8311-60865

It was nice to enjoy a glass (or 3) or bubbly, while the kid played.


photo img_8312

There was a nice spread of breakfast items at the nearby buffet. 


photo img_8306

I enjoyed a bit of salmon and bacon with my champagne.


photo img_8313

The Qantas lounge also has shower facilities. It's always nice to be able to have a hot shower after a long-haul flight. 


photo img_8315

As we approached the departure time of our flight, the buffet was changed out with lunch items. Knowing there would only be Buy-on-board on this intra-European leg, we has lunch before boarding.

There were several hot dishes–I tried a chicken curry and vegetarian lasagne, which were both tasty. 


photo img_8317

With boarding for the ultra-long-distance flight to Perth called shortly before we left the lounge, it was mostly deserted by the time we headed to the gate. 


photo img_8318photo img_8319photo img_8320

The same agent who had checked us in wished us a good flight as we walked out, with a friendly smile and a wave. 


boarding


It was a quick walk to the boarding gate from the Qantas lounge. Boarding had not yet begun when we arrived in the gate area. 


photo img_8322

Our ride for today, G-EUYJ, a 9 year old A320 recently reconfigured in the tighter 180-seat layout, from 168 previously.


photo img_8321

Caught a glimpse of a Star Wars liveried 777 as we were about to board. 


photo img_8323

Based on the number of people at the gate, the flights was not going to be full. Of course, this didn't stop people from crowding the gate podium to attempt to board first. The "gate lice" are truly a worldwide phenomenon. 

I was pleasantly surprised when the gate agent called us up to the podium before officially announcing boarding and invited us to board with the baby. 

With that, we were the first to board. 


photo img_8325

Unlike the A321neo, which have 2 different models of seats in the forward vs rear cabin, as I'd mentioned in my recent review, the retrofitted A320s have kept the same pinnacle seat throughout the cabin, but with less pitch. 


photo img_8326

With a 30" pitch in the forward rows, which can be converted to Business, and a 29" pitch in the rear half of the plane, the configuration is definitely tight. However, I will say that the pinnacle seat is well designed in that it allows for a decent amount on knee clearance thanks to the location of the literature pocket at eye level.

At 5'10" (1.78m), my knees did not touch the seat in front.


photo img_8331

Luckily, once again, BA had blocked the middle seat for the baby, which definitely helped with feeling less cramped. I would say the load factor was about 70-75% in Economy. 


photo img_8316

Nice view of the LATAM Star Wars 777-300ER from the window.


photo img_8330

Retrofitted A320s feature 4 USB ports for every set of 3 seats. In the forward rows, which can be converted to Business class, there are also 2 universal power outlets for every set of 3 seats. 


photo img_8329photo img_8332

the flight


Boarding was completed on time and we pushed back right on time at 1:40PM


photo img_8335photo img_8333

Would love to see the inside of that LATAM 77W as it's got the new Vantage XL cabin in Business.


photo img_8336photo img_8337

View of the beautiful Concorde as we taxi to the runway


photo img_8338

After a short taxi time, we were off.


photo img_8340

Within a few minutes we reached the English Channel. 


photo img_8342

Once in the air, the blue light on the USB ports indicated they were activated. 


photo img_8343photo img_8347

Unlike most European Legacy carriers, British Airways don't offer any free snacks in short-haul Economy. They do, however, offer a rather extensive buy-on-board menu from British brand Marks & Spencer, which includes fresh items.

Let's  


photo img_8348

Snack items


photo img_8349

Coffee, tea, and soft drinks


photo img_8350photo img_8352

Spirits and liquors


photo img_8353photo img_8354

Champagne, sparkling wine, and wines


photo img_8355photo img_8356

Overall, there is a decent selection and I find the prices for alcoholic beverages and food items to be ok, but soft drink prices seem really high. 1.95 GBP (2.50 USD) for a bottle of water or a can of soda seems excessive to me.

Nevertheless, we ordered 2 waters–you have to stay hydrated when flying!


photo img_8357

After a quick flight, we began our descent into Barcelona. 


photo img_8360photo img_8361

Making a turn over the Mediterranean Sea…


photo img_8364photo img_8366photo img_8368

Then following the coastline.


photo img_8370photo img_8371photo img_8372

I had picked seats on the right side of the aircraft in hopes of getting some good city views on landing. 

And good city views I got! 


photo img_8374photo img_8375photo img_8376

Short final over the port.


photo img_8377photo img_8378

We landed right about on time.


photo img_8379photo img_8381photo img_8383

Thanks for the ride G-EUYJ!


photo img_8385

It was a long walk to baggage claim–the bright side of that being that our bags were coming up by the time we got to the baggage reclaim. 


photo img_8386

From the arrivals hall we took the skywalk out to the parking area to catch the shuttle to the BAH Barcelona Airport Hotel, where we would be spending another night. With the hotel's offer of 7-days of free parking for each stay, we were able to get free parking for our 2-week trip with our 2 stays. I definitely recommend the BAH is you're flying out of Barcelona.  


photo img_8388
See more

Verdict

British Airways

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering4.5

Qantas Lounge - 3

8.5/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.5

London - LHR

7.5/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness7.0

Barcelona - BCN

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

An overall pleasant and scenic quick hop down to Barcelona. The fantastic Qantas lounge was a haven of tranquillity during our layover and allowed us to relax and replenish prior to the next flight.

Once again, I find BA to be very consistent with their kid-friendly practises. Of the more than 20 flights we've done with our son in the 13 months since he was born (at the time of the flight), about a third of those flights have been with BA, and I can truly say that they've been the most consistent with pre-boarding, whereas it has been hit-or-miss with other carriers. I also very much appreciate that BA blocked the middle seat for the baby on each one of our 3 recent intra-European flights. The cabin crew were very friendly and stopped by to chat for a bit and play with the baby as the flight wasn't very full.

I like the BA Pinnacle seats as they are well designed with more space at knee-level and have better padding than most slimline seats. The design makes the 29" pitch tolerable for shorter flights, but it does feel tight. This aircraft was equipped with Wi-Fi, as are most A320s, and I appreciated the multiple USB ports.

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 554174 by
    NewYorker SILVER 81 Comments

    Thanks for this report, Kevin! That Qantas lounge looks really nice - I've only been to the international J lounge in Sydney, and it seems that they changed the design, and for the better. The transit from T5 to T3 also seemed quite easy. That Star Wars LATAM 777 looks awesome. I wanted to book a trip to Australia via Chile with them in the future (because why not? 😜), but now with them leaving oneworld, I sadly think that it won't happen 😥 The flight seemed pretty fine, and at least you got the better cabin, but I'm still in shock that charge for everything. Can you even get a glass of water for free? What ever happened to BA being "The World's Favorite Airline"? Anyways, many thanks for sharing, and hope you're able to publish again soon!

    • Comment 554381 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      Hi New Yorker, thanks for your comments!

      I've only been to the international J lounge in Sydney, and it seems that they changed the design, and for the better.

      Yeah all of the QF lounges have been refreshed over the past few years and the new interior design is very fresh and modern, yet warm. Qantas lounges always offer a good experience IME...the best being the First lounge in SYD...Makes me miss my Emerald Status, but alas, I don't fly nearly as much as I used to so I'm content with just Sapphire status.

      I wanted to book a trip to Australia via Chile with them in the future (because why not? 😜), but now with them leaving oneworld, I sadly think that it won't happen 😥

      I've wanted to do that same routing before, but definitely not now that LATAM left oneworld. I might take them to Easter Island some day, though since there really isn't any other option.

      Can you even get a glass of water for free?

      Nope, that's why my rating of Food/Bev is so low. Not offering free water is utter crap in my book...no matter how good the BOB menu is.

      What ever happened to BA being "The World's Favorite Airline"?

      LCCs and Cost-cutting, haha...that's what happened LOL. BA is still one of my favourite airlines, but only for long-haul.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 554416 by
    KL651 TEAM 4472 Comments

    Thanks for this FR gurl.
    I hope that practice of displaying gates at the last minute will disappear when air travel picks up.
    That BoB spoils the experience when you board a plane with these nice Pinnacle seats from that fancy T5 and yet have to pay for water.
    The AY/SK attitude would better fit a full service airline.

    • Comment 554806 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      I hope that practice of displaying gates at the last minute will disappear when air travel picks up.

      Yaasss please! We'll see though...I doubt it 🤨

      That BoB spoils the experience when you board a plane with these nice Pinnacle seats from that fancy T5 and yet have to pay for water.

      Exactly! Very well put. Especially when you have status, like we do, and are coming off long-haul Premium Economy, like we were. So you go from a premium in-flight experience, to a really nice lounge, step on a pretty nice looking aircraft, and then boom...low-cost service. Womp womp

      The AY/SK attitude would better fit a full service airline.

      I agree and would add LO to that group. Connecting Premium Economy pax should be seated in a premium section with at least free drinks. When Delta first introduced Premium Economy, connecting domestic flights booked in First class! Of course that didn't last long, as it was overly generous (though made sense since they're exactly the same product!); however, now long-haul PE pax book into Comfort+, which is just fine as you get free drinks and more space. BA should do something like this.

  • Comment 554419 by
    aussenrist 224 Comments

    Merci Kévin pour ce reportage!
    The Heathrow Qantas Lounge is lovely. The lunch food options look better than my last visit in the morning (I was the first one entering the Lounge). I did want to try their showers but it was broken then and I went to the CX Lounge lol
    The retrofitted seats look nice. Glad to see it has 4 plugs for 3 seats rather than 2
    BTW aren’t they providing drinks for the cabin (maybe my wrong memory)? I think it is ridiculous to pay for the marked-up priced bottle water. But sadly cost cutting is the trend…
    A+

    • Comment 554807 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      I did want to try their showers but it was broken then and I went to the CX Lounge lol

      Oh wow, there are several showers, so it's crazy that they were all broken!

      Glad to see it has 4 plugs for 3 seats rather than 2

      Definitely a big plus!

      BTW aren’t they providing drinks for the cabin (maybe my wrong memory)? I think it is ridiculous to pay for the marked-up priced bottle water.

      Nope, no free service at all...not even water.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Comment 555205 by
    loukas SILVER 341 Comments

    Thanks for this report, Kevin! I will never forgive BA that you need to pay for a bottle of water or coffee that, as we all know, tastes like **** on almost every plane. Unfortunately now, with all the problem aviation business needs to face due to COVID-19 it will be even worse...

    • Comment 555716 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER AUTHOR 5226 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thanks for your comments!

      as we all know, tastes like **** on almost every plane

      Haha yeah, though the BoB coffee is much better quality than the formerly free stuff. I'm ok with BoB food on short-haul, because not everyone is always hungry at the same time and free offering isn't always to everyone's liking (though, I always like free haha). I am not OK with BoB soft drinks on a legacy carrier...even US carriers, offer free soft drinks. When US Airways tried to make soft drinks BoB shortly before the merger with AA, it was so scandalous that they quickly back-tracked. Like you say, I don't see BA changing their short/medium-haul catering strategy in these times of Covid...at least we know it can't get worse...they already don't offer anything, haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

Login to post a comment.