The airline with the best average rating is Middle East Airlines with 8.6/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 18 minutes.More information
Good day folks! I bet those are hard times to all of us going through Covid-19! We all miss the skies around here!
How are you managing your days?
This report today covers my flight from Beirut to London Heathrow on board British Airways' Airbus A321neo. To note, this is BA's first flight from Beirut to Heathrow on Flight-Report.
Going back to history, until BMI was dissolved, this flight was operated by BMI's A321s that BA is currently using on Medium-haul flights to the Middle East and Russia, (G-MED- aircraft in particular) those aircraft configurations defer from BA's other A321s as they offer a full long-haul configured 3-3 Economy class and 2x1 Full flat business Class seats.
However on my flight, the equipment has been swapped from the usually assigned 321s to the A321neo. Now for me that is good news as it is the first time I fly BA's A21N, however I have already been on Air China's and Pegasus' A321neos.
So what does this mean to us on this flight, that the aircraft has a completely different configuration, we will get to that later in the report, trust me you will be shocked by what you will see, but I must insist, I cannot praise enough BA's excellent customer service and professionalism during this flight!
It was a busy morning in Beirut, but I sorted Check-In quickly on Ba's dedicated desk. To note, BA employs their own staff for Check-in and boarding. Usually two major ground handling operate in Beirut, MEAG (owned by MEA's Middle East Airlines) and LAT (Lebanese Air Transport ground handling). With utmost professionalism, Check-In was smooth and quick, I confirmed with the CSE that the aircraft was indeed a 321neo, which he openly confirmed.
After passing through security, I headed to SALT cafe, as I only wanted a good coffee before my flight as I wanted to save my hunger for the flight. I realized later during the flight that I made a collateral mistake to my body!
Airline: British Airways (BA/BAW)
Callsign: Speedbird 148 (BAW148)
Registration: G-NEOU (Airbus A321neo)
Itinerary: Beirut BEY - London LHR
Good morning Beirut, at 6:30AM. Cedarjets are definitely getting more attention here, but for me and some 70 passengers, the Union flagged aircraft grabbed our eye. Our aircraft was parked at gate 12.
Good coffee for the morning, long day with a couple of meetings in London as soon as I land. The flight CANNOT depart late at all.
ME217 (OD-MRL) is pushing back to Frankfurt, noting this aircraft is Airbus' 5000th A320 Family ever built. The aircraft wears a small special sticker on the AFT fuselage.
This is a glimpse of Salt, Beirut airport's premium restaurant and sushi-bar. I got to tell you, food quality and richness is top-notch, but pricing wise, well hehe, you got to think twice before.
Later on, boarding was called. From now on, things have started to degrade.
On flights to the UK, the Lebanese authorities implement supplementary checks to passengers, therefore passengers are subject to basic questioning and search. Now this is good, it went smooth, no one seemed to be in trouble at all.
A sneak peak to my bird. Everything seems to be running normally, until a delay announcement struck and got me the chills for a few seconds. As I said earlier we cannot depart late I have a couple of meetings I must attend to and being late to the first one will affect the others.
I approached the CSE and the cause of delay was a maintenance issue, that was resolved an hour after scheduled time of departure.
As having priority boarding, I was among the first to board. Once greeted on board, a large smile and good morning from the cabin crew were a nice gesture, every member apologized for the delay.
I had the chance to chat with a cabin crew member who's been more than 20years in the company, I was really impressed by BA's customer service compared to other airlines. I got to say many airlines have great customer service, but you can sometimes feel the falseness of the smile. With BA, that's different. You can feel that the crew has empathy and are really happy to help, those small details make you decide what airline you want to fly on long haul or in Business class.
Going back to our flight, may I present you my seat for the next 5 hours and 30 mins.
BOOM! The configuration used on short European destinations or domestic flights in the Kingdom.
I got to say, I was not very thrilled to that part. Thankfully I had a good neighbor with whom time passed quickly… and of course worked a bit.
To our right, MEA's oldest A320 (OD-MRT) was parked next to us. I was starting to envy MEA's more comfortable seats on their A320 that departed earlier to Heathrow.
First welcome announcement by the cabin crew, they apologized for the delay and explained the problem, loving the British transparency.
Right before pushback, the captain announced the flight itinerary and apologized for the delay, and then promised us to cover as much delayed time as possible, which means more technically that airline will be flying at a higher cost index. We did in fact arrive 20 mins later than scheduled arrival time, rather than 1h15mins late. This was perfect for me.
Pushback time! How beautiful is that picture?
Departure runway is 21 via KAD2D. As we aligned, throttles were set to FLEX and off we lift off to London! Notice the storm coming to Beirut.
As we took off, I made sure you could see the airport terminal and Beirut city. Notice how it already is raining in Beirut!
As we climbed towards our cruising altitude 38,000 feet, we passed through a beautiful cloud layer.
Which cleared later on.
Ahh now, surprise surprise. I saw the cabin crew preparing for the meals, and I was so looking forward to trying BA's product on Beirut's flight and compare it to MEA. Now note this aircraft is different than the scheduled, so the galleys are differently configured. What does this mean? Something I did not think of before I got my meal. The carts and galley do not support meal trays, which means, no hot meal…
At first I thought that was a started for something better later on. BUT, no that was the meal for our flight to LONDON!!! A tiny luncheon sandwich shorter than a snack bar, with a snack bar and what? Creamer for coffee! Now seriously? My row mate and I were like, haha sure this is our starter, but then asked the cabin crew, she did apologize, this was breakfast! She explained in details how the aircraft is configured and that she deeply is sorry on behalf of herself and BA, and that she felt ashamed.
I was dead hungry and this was definitely not enough for me, having a long day and having to binge a deal in a meeting (I did though). We were offered several times small bottles of water and chocolate such as KitKat, Twix, Galaxy flute.. and other beverages were served by cart twice.
Still can't believe it LOL.
After chatting with my row mate and talked her through my line of work in Aviation, we have started decent towards London. The Captain announced a rainy cold London and that we will be arriving 20 mins late. We have got priority for landing, therefore we didn't hold over London.
And then touchdown! 12:02, we vacated the runway! And had a short taxi towards Terminal 5
As we parked we were announced deboarding by stairs. Would be a beautiful view, don't you think?
Good-bye G-NEOU! Thanks for the flight to all the flight & cabin crew for their continual efforts!
Heathrow started having COVID-19 posters for all passengers coming from Asia, or were there in the past 14 days, to report to dedicated staff
Then it was rush time to London Victoria, where my meeting was. I arrived 5 mins early, now PHEW! to that!
BA customer service exceed all norms they were very professional and no one left furious after all. Every complaint was taken seriously and dealt with empathy and compassion. Well done BA. However it would have been more appropriate from the airline to inform by email about this issue or offer a discount!
As for someone who was promised a full meal on board, I was starving when I arrived to London, a quick bite at Paddington Station saved my day.