The airline with the best average rating is British Airways with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 56 minutes.More information
Hello and welcome to this short two-part series of British Airways short-haul Business class reviews.
While spending the summer in Southwestern France, I needed to take a short work trip to London in mid-July. The choices of non-stop flights from my home airport of Toulouse (part of the year anyway) were between EasyJet and British Airways. Believe it or not, in this crazy summer of post-Covid "revenge travel" EasyJet were more expensive than British Airways and had a less ideal schedule with less frequency. So BA is was!
Tickets were booked in Economy and I paid the difference to upgrade to Business class with my personal funds. The price difference was reasonable and British Airways make the upgrade process easy on the Manage My Booking page–it's one of the few things that works well on BritishAirways.com.
About a week before the flight, I received an e-mail from BA about potential service disruptions.
A combination of staff shortages, very strong demand after a two-year pandemic lull, and overly ambitious airline flight schedules to meet the rebounding demand, led to London airports being completely overwhelmed during the summer of 2022. Add to that a planned fueler's strike at Heathrow and BA, along with many other airlines serving LHR, were forced to cancel thousands of flights.
BA ended up cancelling 2 of 3 daily flights between London and Toulouse most days of the week I was due to travel but, fortunately for me, my flights remained untouched.
Flights reviewed in this series:
With all the chaos in air travel around Europe this summer, I made sure to arrive at the airport over two hours before departure. Having experienced multiple delays and a cancellation on a trip to Lisbon a few weeks prior to this flight, I'd become all too familiar with how messy travel could be this summer.
Terminal D was pleasantly quiet that day.
Though traffic at TLS has picked up in 2022, it is still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, whereas many larger European hubs were getting close to 2019 volumes.
The only place that wasn't quiet was the British Airways check-in area. For some reason, the counters hadn't yet opened 2-hours prior to departure.
Even the Business class check-in queue was very long. Luckily, I'd checked in on the BA app and only had cabin baggage for my short trip so I headed straight away to security.
BA Club Europe passengers have access to the "Accès Premium" Fast Track security lanes.
I was the only one through the fast track queue at that time, so I was airside in less than a minute. It could have been 30 seconds had it not been for the time to remove liquids and electronics. I've been too spoilt with TSA pre-check access in the US where you just walk through the checkpoint without removing anything from hand luggage.
The path to the boarding gates leads through a duty free area.
My favourite section of the duty free zone.
The terminal was a bit more crowded airside, but still nothing compared to what I'd seen at Heathrow, Madrid, and Lisbon in the weeks prior.
With a little over an hour to kill before boarding, I headed to the only lounge at TLS.
The "La Croix du Sud" lounge
As the only lounge at TLS, the space is large, laid out over two levels, though it can get crowded at times.
The lower level is dark with no windows, but can be quieter.
The upper level has plenty of natural light and overlooks the concourse below. There are multiple seating areas.
The food options aren't great by European standards, with mostly pre-packaged snacks.
There is a decent selection of drinks, including soft drinks, beer, and wine, but no spirits–at least as far as I've seen.
As it was morning there were still some pastries available.
I was able to find a seat without too much trouble.
There are flight information screens throughout the lounge. My flight was still showing on-time.
As it's a bit of a walk to the gate, I left the lounge 15 minutes before boarding time. Non-Schengen flights go out of the end of the D concourse, which is down a long corridor.
Passengers exiting the Schengen area must go through passport control–there was a bit of a wait as it seemed everyone was headed to the gate at the same time.
Boarding began right as I got to the gate, so was able to queue up with Group 1.
Oops, looks like boarding began prematurely. We were held outside the door of the aircraft as the cabin was not yet ready. Normally this would not be much of an issue except that it was 39C (102F) outside and the jetbridge did not have air conditioning.
The 5 minute wait was very uncomfortable in the extreme heat, so I breathed a sigh of relief once we were finally cleared to enter the aircraft.
Upon entering, the cabin crew greeted passengers cheerfully. After laughing that the air conditioning felt so good in this heat, the cabin manager joked "just wait until we get to London; it's just as bad there!"
And indeed we were due to arrive in London on one of the hottest days in UK history. The next day was due to hit 40C (104F) in London, an all-time record!
There were 4 rows of Club Europe on the flight that day.
There were originally supposed to be five rows of Club, however, they moved the seperator curtain up one row, presumably to accomodate more seats in Econonomy on this oversold flight resulting from multiple cancellations.
A quick check of seatmaps on ExpertFlyer confirmed that the flight was completely full with every single seat occupied.
Legroom is OK for someone of average height like me (1.78m/5'10") with a 30-31" seat pitch, which is pretty standard for intra-European business class these days. However, it definitely feels tight for those who are used to true business class recliners used everywhere else outside of Europe. Luckily, the blocked middle seats help to give a bit more space.
Each passenger in the Club cabin has access to a combo AC/USB power unit. They are usually not turned on until after takeoff.
As boarding had begun a bit behind schedule, we were running a few minutes behind. Nothing major.
We pushed back with a view of the Airbus manufacturing facilities and the famously huge Airbus Beluga XL transporters.
Taxi time was short and we were off with great views of the Airbus flight line from the right side of the aircraft.
A turn to the north offered views of the city.
The Wi-Fi service was turned on shortly after take-off. There are multiple Wi-Fi package options, which I did not find worth it for a short flight like this, but usually appreciate on longer flights.
Also found on the Wi-Fi portal page are basic flight information, weather, and the in-flight magazine "High Life," which has not been in print since the beginning of the pandemic. One major thing missing is wireless streaming entertainment.
As there is no entertainment, I made sure to have some content downloaded to watch on board.
Lunch was served shortly after takeoff. There were no printed menus, unlike my LHR-MAD flight just a few weeks prior.
There were two options, a vegetatian pasta dish and a "southwestern" chicken salad. I went for the latter.
I was pleasantly surprised to find bold tex-mex flavours on BA on an intra-European route. The spice level was just right and everything was tasty and fresh.
Before I knew it, we were crossing the English Channel and beginning our descent into Heathrow.
It was a beautiful clear days over the London area and we were treated to gorgeous views of the city on landing.
Canary Wharf and The City
The City and Central London framed by Tower Bridge
The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey
Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park
Despite the late departure from Toulouse, we landed ahead of schedule and arrived at the stand a few minutes early.
We parked on the far end of the T5B satellite terminal so it was a somewhat long walk to the intra-terminal train.
It's just one stop to the baggage claim and arrivals hall.
The UK border was surprisingly uncrowded and there was no queue for the e-Gates.
Since Brexit, the e-Gates now accept US passports so I decided to use my US passport instead of my French passport, but NOPE! The US passport didn't work. An immigration agent inspected my passport and found that the biometric chip was worn out. Hah! I guess that's what I get for travelling so much!
Either way, it went quickly as there was no queue for the immigration officers.
Stepping outside the heat was oppressive. I've been to London many times, but had never experienced such extreme heat there.
And the 36C (97F) at the time was nothing compared to the absolutely brutal 40C (104F) we had the following day, which would break records as the hottest day in the UK in recorded history!
A pleasant short intra-European Business class experience. With all of the flight cancellations going on at the time, I was very lucky not to have been impacted. The cabin crew were friendly and professional and the meal was perfectly adapted for a 1.5 hour flight. The only thing missing is some for of in-flight entertainment--I'm still hoping BA will introduce streaming on-demand entertainment on the short-haul fleet at some point.