Review of British Airways flight London Madrid in Business

Airline British Airways
Flight BA464
Class Business
Seat 5A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:25
Take-off 20 Jun 22, 16:45
Arrival at 20 Jun 22, 20:10
BA   #37 out of 69 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 872 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 555
Published on 28th July 2022

introduction


Hello and welcome to the second report in this new series of transatlantic flight reviews. As long-time oneworld loyalists who've been living between Europe and Southern California for the past few years, we regularly fly a mix of American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia across the pond. However, due to the UK's ever-changing and complex Covid entry policies, we'd avoided British Airways since the beginning of the pandemic and had yet to try out the new Club Suites Business class. With the UK simplifying Covid travel restrictions in 2022, and eventually doing away with them altogether, we once again felt confident booking British Airways. 

In the previous review we covered the new BA Club Suite product on the sleek A350-1000–if you missed that one, you'll find the link below. In this report we'll cover the intra-European business class experience on the A320, BA's short/medium-haul work-horse. 


routing


Reports in this series:


Routing


photo routingphoto flight-route-lhr-mad

Transit & lounge


It's been well-known since the beginning the summer 2022 travel season that European airports have been struggling to deal with the high levels of passenger traffic that have come with the summer of "revenge travel" after two years of the Covid pandemic. London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schipol have become infamous for long queues, delays, cancellation, lost baggage and all-around chaos.

Luckily, we had over three hours between flights, so we had plenty of time to deal with long queues, if needed. Heading to transit security in T5A, it didn't seem terribly crowded…


photo img_3336

But once up the escalators, there was a queue longer than any I'd ever seen in years or travelling through T5 regularly, and of course, Fast Track lanes were still closed after over two years! I feel like Fast Track through transit security may never return at this point. 


photo img_3337

The queue just kept going and going and snaking around…


photo img_3339photo img_3340-91535

In the end it took us just over an hour to get through security. I must say between TSA pre-check and Global Entry in the US, I'm not used to queuing up for so long anymore…it was certainly a test for me after an 11h flight and a valuable lesson for my 3-year-old son on the virtues of patience.

Finally after that unpleasant experience, we headed straight for the BA lounges for a bit of relaxation. 


photo img_3341

With oneworld Emerald status, we have access to the BA Galleries First lounge at Heathrow. Access to First class lounges, regardless of class of travel, is definitely one of the best perks of top-tier Emerald status. 

The BA horse lamps faithfully guard the entrance to the First lounge.  


photo img_3351photo img_3352

The First lounge is large with plenty of natural light and runway views from the windows. 


photo img_3342-79775photo img_3344

There is a champagne bar and several buffet areas.


photo img_3345photo img_3346-97190

The buffets feature mostly salads, sandwiches, and other cold items. Hot dishes are available for order. 


photo img_3364photo img_3347-97922

I usually like to sit in the "patio" area as it almost feels like being on an outdoor terrace. The one downside it that there are less power outlets available in this section. This is usually not a problem as I take care to charge electronic devices on board whenever possible. 


photo img_3348photo img_3349-38579photo img_3353

New since my previous visit to the First Lounge in January 2022, was the return of self-serve champagne and wines–previously unavailable due to Covid protocols. 


photo img_3355photo img_3356

As mentioned above, cold items are available at the buffet, but hot dishes are available to order. Each table in the lounge has a QR code, which can be used to view the food menu and order right from one's phone. 


photo img_3359

Once ordered, the food is delivered to the table within minutes. 


photo img_3360photo img_3361photo img_3362

For some reason, our flight did not show on the departures screens just 40 minutes before scheduled departure. Worried about a potential cancellation, I checked in with the customer service desk, who indicated our flight would be departing from the B gates. 


photo img_3365


As I was speaking to the agent, I received a notification from the BA app with the gate assignment. Only 40 minutes prior to boarding is a bit short notice in my opinion, especially since the B gates are a train ride away.
 


photo img_3366

So off we went to catch the train to the B concourse.


photo img_3367photo img_3368photo img_3369

The train was packed and the terminal was definitely more crowded than last time we flew through in January, but it's also summer.


photo img_3370photo img_3371photo img_3372

boarding


Our gate was located on the end of the B concourse. I was surprised to see so many people were already at the gate considering the flight wasn't even showing on the departures boards just a few minutes prior and we had moved quickly to arrive at the gate on time. I suppose it's possible the flight display issue was only in the lounge and not throughout the general terminal. 


photo img_3373

Boarding began with group 1 right as we arrived at the gate so we were able to go through straight away. 


photo img_3374photo img_3377

Our A320 to MAD


photo img_3376photo img_3379

There were six rows of Club on this flight. As most of your know, intra-European Business class cabin size can be adjusted by moving the curtain forwards of backwards depending on demand as the seats are essentially the same as Economy but with a bit more legroom and a blocked middle seat for more space. 


photo img_3380-51701photo img_3381

Cabin crew handed out masks during boarding as Spain was one of the few BA destinations still requiring masks on board at the time. With most countries having recently dropped Covid mask requirements, the majority of BA flights don't require masks, so most passengers weren't aware of Spain's requirement–or at least weren't wearing masks upon boarding. Good foresight on BA's behalf to have masks ready for distribution.

Our seats were in row 5, which was the last row at time of booking, but an additional row had been added since–nice to see healthy premium cabin demand on this route. 


photo ba-seat-map-lhr-mad

My kid wanted the window seat so of course I obliged (begrudgingly on the inside 🤣)


photo img_3383-90097

Legroom is fine by European Business class standards at a 30-31" pitch in the forward cabin, but a far cry from the comfort of true Business class recliner seats seen in most other parts of the world. 


photo img_3388

There are combo AC/USB power units below the seats, though they are usually not turned on until after takeoff. 


photo img_3384

This aircraft is also equipped with Wi-Fi, as is the majority of the BA fleet. 


photo img_3385

Both cabins ended up being completely full. 


photo img_3386photo img_3387

Cool to be able to see the flight deck from the aisle seat as boarding wrapped up. 


photo img_3389

At the end of boarding my son wanted to switch to the aisle seat–no complaints from me! Yay, back to the window 😉


photo img_3392-17751-40470

The view out of the window. Being parked in the B concourse, the majority of aircraft were widebodies.


photo img_3390

the flight


We pushed back from the gate about on time despite a crowded terminal and long queues at security checkpoints. 


photo img_3393

A short taxi to the runway with a nice diversity of aircraft to see along the way.


photo img_3394

We took off facing east with views of T2 and T3, which is somewhat uncommon in my experience.


photo img_3401photo img_3402photo img_3403

Views towards London and Twickenham stadium on takeoff. 


photo img_3405photo img_3407

The wireless system confirmed 2h flight time takeoff to touchdown. The Wi-Fi was not available until we reached cruising altitude. 


photo img_3409

It only took a few minutes to reach the southern English coast.


photo img_3410photo img_3414photo img_3416

I was surprised to see printed menus on this flight. Something I hadn't seen in Club Europe since before Covid. 


photo img_3411photo img_3413photo img_3415

Unlike the flight from San Diego, the pre-ordered child meal was delivered promptly after take-off, prior to the regular service. 

Once again, good quality and tasty, but way too much food for a 3-year-old.  The happy-face chocolate mousse is always a hit, though. 


photo img_3417photo img_3423-98841

Meanwhile, aperitifs were served in the cabin. I had a champagne, which was a Nicolas Feuillatte Réserve 


photo img_3420

Now for the adult meal, I went for the beef option.

Starter:  Greek salad, beluga lentils, whipped feta
Main: Braised beef cheeks, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, braising jus
Cheese course: Selection of British cheeses 
Dessert: Chilled strawberry and mango macchiato 


photo img_3424

Everything was good, though perhaps the main was a bit heavy for a summer day.

Note that the appetiser and dessert portions are the same as were on the long-haul from San Diego, which definitely wasn't the case pre-pandemic, where portions were naturally larger on long-haul flights.  


photo img_3426photo img_3427

Cabin crew were through the cabin regularly checking on passengers and refilling drinks. Coffee or tea were offered after the meal. I decided to go for a digestif instead. 

Baileys on the rocks.  


photo img_3428

Water bottles were also distributed after the meal. 


photo img_3431

By the time the meal service was completed, the flight was more than halfway over, but the Wi-Fi never seemed to get turned on. No worries, I wasn't planning of buying access for such a short flight, but it was curious as no announcements were made about the Wi-Fi being inoperable. 


photo img_3432

Another feature on the Wi-Fi portal is access to the "Speedbird Café" buy-on-board menu for Economy passengers since menus haven't been printed since the beginning of the pandemic. 


photo img_3433

Arrival


Soon we were making our descent into MAD over the dry high plateaux of central Spain.


photo img_3442photo img_3443

Greener scenery in the mountains north of Madrid, where we passed closed to the summits. 


photo img_3445photo img_3446

And back to a sea of yellow and brown. 


photo img_3447photo img_3448

Short taxi to Terminal 4 as usual–especially to the T4S satellite gates, which are right there by the runway. Being that the UK is outside Schengen (and now the EU since the beginning of the year), BA flights generally park at T4S rather than the main terminal.


photo img_3449photo img_3450

Love that beautiful architecture. 


photo img_3451photo img_3452

We were through immigration in minutes–What a nice change from the chaos of London Heathrow! Madrid really is a fantastic airport–very underrated, in my opinion. 


Then it was off to the train to the main terminal to collect our luggage at baggage claim. 


photo img_3454photo img_3457photo img_3458-54517

Coming off the train was basically the only place where it was a bit crowded–otherwise the terminal felt spacious and open everywhere else despite the summer crowds. 


photo img_3459-88308

¡Hola Madrid!


photo img_3461

After a very long wait at baggage reclaim, unfortunately BA had managed to lose our stroller–again…every trip they either leave behind a car seat or a stroller!


photo img_3465photo img_3468

Luckily there's a children's play area in the baggage claim area so my son could play while we waited for the bags and subsequently filed a claim for the lost stroller. 


photo img_3469

I was glad to see that there were separate baggage service counters for Business class. So while there was a long queue for the Economy desks, there was no wait for us, which made the situation a lot easier to swallow. 


photo img_3474

The stroller had been left behind at LHR, which is difficult to understand considering the 4h connecting time and the fact that everything else made it. But this often happens with odd or over-sized items like strollers and carseats, in my experience (though it shouldn't). Luckily we didn't really need the stroller for a few days as it took 3 days for it to finally make its way to us. I guess with all the chaos at LHR this summer with baggage, I should consider myself lucky it was found at all.

Thanks for reading! 

See more

Verdict

British Airways

7.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering8.0

British Airways Galleries First - 5A

7.8/10
Comfort7.5
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Services8.5

London - LHR

6.9/10
Efficiency3.0
Access7.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Madrid - MAD

8.8/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

A decent flight in Club Europe between London and Madrid. Too bad the schedule didn't work out to take one of the many daily widebodies on this IAG hub-to-hub route. Typical of intra-European Business class, the seats are the same as Economy with slightly more legroom and a blocked middle seat--nothing terribly exciting. Where the hard product is lacking vs true recliner seats to which I'm more accustomed in North America, the catering makes the experience. Food in intra-European Business is consistently much better than what one would find on a flight of similar length within North America, which would typically be only snacks on shorter hops.

I'd love to see BA introduce streaming entertainment to personal devices on the short-haul fleet. Wi-Fi was available on this flight for a fee, but I never saw it actually working.

Information on the route London (LHR) Madrid (MAD)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 27 reviews of 2 airlines on the route London (LHR) → Madrid (MAD).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is British Airways with 7.3/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 18 minutes.

  More information

6 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 608171 by
    airberlin GOLD 1589 Comments

    Thanks Kevin for this FR. You’ve been really unlucky this time at LHR. I had more chance last weekend. Sorry to say it but I prefer it this way than the other way round 😉
    BA has a good onboard service, they adapt the meal based on travel time which is a good thing. AF, KL, LH don’t do it that way. And having a hot entrée is not that common anymore. As you said the drawback of the product is clearly the pitch. 1-2 inches more on the first 10 rows would make it one of the best European product with Aegan, Iberia, or Turkish.
    Looking forward reading the return legs now 😁

    • Comment 608199 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5845 Comments

      Hi Vincent, thanks for your comments!

      You’ve been really unlucky this time at LHR.

      I was at LHR last week for a work trip on Monday and Thursday and Monday afternoon was OK on arrival, but Thursday was a MESS! Huge lines everywhere, even Fast Track had a 45 minute+ wait through the South checkpoint. Will get around to posting those FRs soon-ish

      BA has a good onboard service, they adapt the meal based on travel time which is a good thing.

      Yes, BA consistently do a good job with the catering adapted for distance and time of day. Even their new "Afternoon Tea" service, which I experience last week, is good--and actually improved over how I remember it being pre-pandemic.

      Looking forward reading the return legs now 😁

      Hah, return legs will be on IB/AA in late August, so a little less exciting than the Club Suites, but I'm a fan of IB so I'm always happy to fly them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 608252 by
    ThomasDutch SILVER 570 Comments

    Great report as always Kevin. Had a great read!

  • Comment 608473 by
    CounterSurprise 80 Comments

    Hi Kévin,

    I read your FR with a lot of interest. Good to see that BA is once again an option, as I personally prefer them over Iberia.

    Once ordered, the food is delivered to the table within minutes. 

    That food looks really delicious. I also laughed when I saw the small cars of your son. Reminds me of how I always have to carry his around whenever I travel solo.
    This aircraft is also equipped with Wi-Fi, as is the majority of the BA fleet. 

    As a loyal Skyteam FF, I never have this luxury intra-europe. I hope AF/KLM will install WiFi in their fleet soon, as there are currently no entertainment options. Nice to see that BA does include WiFi!
    By the time the meal service was completed, the flight was more than halfway over, but the Wi-Fi never seemed to get turned on.

    Oh wow, forget my previous remark :)
    I guess with all the chaos at LHR this summer with baggage, I should consider myself lucky it was found at all.

    I guess you can consider yourself lucky indeed. I saw some movies from left-behind luggage at LHR: a never ending sea of suitcases.

    Great FR- thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 609032 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 5845 Comments

      Hi CounterSurprise, thanks for your comments!

      I also laughed when I saw the small cars of your son. Reminds me of how I always have to carry his around whenever I travel solo.

      Hah yeah, can't travel without tons of cards and stickers & colouring books in my bag anymore

      As a loyal Skyteam FF, I never have this luxury intra-europe. I hope AF/KLM will install WiFi in their fleet soon

      AF rolled out Wi-Fi on the A320 family fleet pretty quickly during downtime at the height of the pandemic and have almost completed installation--KL is another story with only about a dozen or so 737s with Wi-Fi--so it'll be a bit more of a wait for KL flyers unfortunately.

      I guess you can consider yourself lucky indeed. I saw some movies from left-behind luggage at LHR: a never ending sea of suitcases.

      Yep, I saw those too, so I made sure I didn't check any bags for a business trip to London 2 weeks ago because it was a huge mess

      Thanks for stopping by!

Login to post a comment.