Review of British Airways flight Hong Kong London in Economy

Airline British Airways
Flight BA28
Class Economy
Seat 34K
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 14:32
Take-off 06 Feb 24, 23:58
Arrival at 07 Feb 24, 06:30
BA   #65 out of 96 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 948 reviews
wsnfu
By 1909
Published on 11th February 2024

overview


Hello everyone, this is the first flight report I am posting.
I was on a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. I had to transfer through London Heathrow as there were no non-stop flights between Hong Kong and Edinburgh. This trip report features the first leg of my journey as I fly from Hong Kong to London Heathrow Terminal 5.


Routing


Aircraft: G-ZBKA (Boeing 787-9)
Age of aircraft as of flight: 8.4 years
Flight number: BA28
Scheduled flight time: 23:40 (+8) - 06:25 (UTC) | 14h45m
Actual flight time: 23:58 (+8) - 06:30 (UTC) | 14h32m
Seat: 34K (World Traveler/ Economy)


booking


The trip starts with booking the journey. Since the trip requires a stopover, the prices are generally high, and it's quite difficult to find a flight combination with a good timing. Here are a few options that I have considered:

1. British Airways HKG-LHR-EDI (Chosen option): Good timing (so I can have some good rest at night), decent reputation, good transfer option (at their hub), lowest price
2. Qatar Airways HKG-DOH-EDI: Reasonable price but not the lowest, timing is terrible (transferring at an ungodly hour)
3. Qatar Airways and British Airways HKG-DOH-EDI: Same reason as 2
4. Cathay Pacific and British Airways HKG-LHR-EDI: Time is reasonable, decent reputation, inconvenient transferring (T3 to T5), price is not the lowest
5. Other airlines such as Swiss, Finnair, Turkish, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France: Prices are too high, transfer takes too long (Some up to 6 hours??)

A lot of people doubt about whether this is the best choice overall, but British Airways is the most suitable option I can find at the moment of booking. If there are any better options you can think of, please let me know!

This flight allows me to bring 7kg of carry-on bag and 23kg of luggage. Seats are only available for choosing after check-in is opened, that is, 24 hours before departure. Passengers can pay to choose for their seats beforehand, which makes me very nervous about the seat choice. Luckily and eventually, I can get a window seat for myself.


arrival at the airport


The British Airways check-in counters are located at Aisle J, Terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport, which is currently the only terminal in operation (Terminal 2 is still under construction). 

The Hong Kong Airport terminal is full of lanterns and decorations of such kind, as a celebration of Chinese New Year.


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There are separate lines for First class, Club World (Business), World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy), and World Traveler (Economy). Since check-in is conducted along with BA32, which departs 40 minutes earlier than our flight, the check-in area is relatively crowded. At one point, the counter staff even had to call out passengers for BA32 to use the premium check-in counters instead to speed up the check-in procedure.

The overall check-in procedure is quite efficient and quick, only except for the queueing part. All staff are locals, who are nice and helpful.


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As it is night time in Hong Kong, which is not at peak hours, the security process is done rapidly. This gives me plenty time to spare for taking a walk, getting some food and chilling a bit.


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One of the places I would like to introduce is the Sky Bridge. To be honest, it's my first time visiting it despite flying out of Hong Kong for so many times! It acts as a connection between the main terminal building and the T1 Satellite Concourse. Its entrance is between gates 12 and 24.


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Both my flight and BA32 could be spotted on the bridge, which are coincidentally parked next to one another. What is even more coincident, is that BA28 is operated by G-ZBKA, the first Boeing 787-9 delivered to British Airways (My flight, closer aircraft), and right next to it parks G-ZBJA, the first Boeing 787-8 delivered (Further aircraft).


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There is also an area for planespotting at the end of the bridge, which is worth visiting if you have some spare time before your flight. You may use the free telescopes to look at incoming planes on the Northern runway (07L/25R), as well as those taxiing and parked on the apron.


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The flight starts boarding at gate 24 at around 11:10pm, 30 minutes before our scheduled takeoff time. My boarding group is group 7, which I think is one of the last boarding groups considering the position of my seat.


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A small queue is formed at the jet bridge. Interestingly, only one jet bridge is open for boarding, meaning only the 2nd door is used for boarding. The front jet bridge is blocked (Maybe it's only used for first/ business boarding)


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cabin and seat


The aircraft I am travelling on is G-ZBKA, the first Boeing 787-9 delivered to British Airways back in September 2015, making it 8.4 years old at the time of the flight.

The aircraft, alike all other of the type in the fleet, features a premium-heavy four-class layout: 8 First class seats (1-2-1 configuration), 42 Club World seats (2-3-2 configuration with some reverse seating), 39 World Traveler Plus seats (2-3-2 configuration), and 127 World Traveler seats (3-3-3 configuration). If you're travelling in World Traveler, please note that row 41 is missing a window.



My seat is 34K, which is the 5th row Economy window seat on the right. The seat features a rather small screen which is controlled by a remote (Though I saw my neighbor being able to use it as a touch screen, I still couldn't figure that out by the end of flight), a double-sided remote which is connected to the seat in front, a USB charging port, a double-folded tray table, and a seat pocket.


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Legroom is said to be 31 inches, which is rather sufficient for me (around 5'7"), but can be quite uncomfortable for taller passengers. An entertainment box with 4-5 inch thickness is present to the right side of the seat, which uses up a portion of the leg space, so I had to sit a bit diagonally for my maximum comfort. I have placed my carry-on bag in front of the entertainment box anyway.


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A paper bag and safety card are provided in the seat pocket. However, there is no magazine provided.
A blanket packaged in a translucent plastic bag, a simple pillow (not shown in pictures), and headphones packaged in a charity donation paper bag is provided as well. 



My seat also features a headrest, which can only be adjusted vertically (upwards and downwards), but not in any other direction i.e. its "shape" cannot be changed. It comes in curved up both ways, which can act as a pretty good support if passengers are to rest their heads sideways. The headphone port is located on the side of the hand bar (I forgot to take pictures for them all).


takeoff


Since this is my first time travelling on a Boeing 787, I had no idea how to use the dimmable windows. I kept pressing the buttons but the window remained pitch black, and at one point I thought they were locked up by the crew. Then after the assistance of the crew, I finally understood that some waiting is needed for the window to turn less dark. This has resulted into me missing out the pushback and some taxiing moments.
Please do note that the button of the window is partially broken.


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Here are a few pictures during taxiing:



The safety video is original, full of British humour. It would be appreciated if Chinese subtitles are provided as well, considering that there are a lot of passengers from Hong Kong, who may not understand advanced English.


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The flight took off from runway 07R at 23:58, 18 minutes later than our scheduled departure time. After taking off, the aircraft turns South before turning West and North again to Mainland China. Due to the extremely humid weather, the clouds were low that day and very little can be seen at night. The only thing I could see after takeoff is the bright clouds caused by the lights from the buildings from the Victoria Harbor.



in-flight entertainment


The in-flight entertainment system feature a kid's zone, recommendations, movies, television, music, podcast, games, and an interactive flight map. The TV is small though, and is controlled by a remote with buttons on both sides (keyboard on the other side).


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I would like to put emphasis on the interactive flight map, as that is where I spent most of my time on (Average avgeek hehehe). Users can control how much the map zooms in, angle of tilt, and the position of the viewing frame. It also shows the cities nearby and important information like speed and altitude etc. This is very much appreciated as I can know precisely where I am, while knowing how much of the journey I have completed.


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The "movies" section feature 130+ movies, which is quite a handsome amount. I watched a third of the movie Oppenheimer, but couldn't finish the whole movie as I was either too tired or got distracted by food/ the flight map.
(The following picture also shows how I managed to get food even in case I'm asleep haha.)


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However, it is quite difficult to navigate and find what you like in the entertainment system. It's already considered impressive given the old age of the aircraft and outdated seat hardware.


first meal service | dinner


The meal service began 40 minutes after departure.

As for starters, a small bag of baked pretzels and drink service is provided. Drinks on this flight include coffee, tea, water, sodas, apple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, and tomato juice. The picture shows a cup of cranberry juice.


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The main course is served around 20 minutes afterwards. I was unsure about the timing as I fell asleep in between. The meal is served from the front of the cabin.

As for the main course, it is composed of few different dishes/ components. They include (in clockwise direction): a main hot meal, a pack of EDO cheese cracker, a babybel cheese, creamer, some cold rice salad with bell peppers, some acidic mousse for dessert, a bread roll with salted butter, and a bottle of herrogate water.

There are 2 choices available for the main hot meal: a Szechuan Chicken rice, and a vegetarian pasta (chosen option).


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This meal is terrible yet extremely confusing.

I have already avoided the worst by not choosing the Chinese option. Usually, when a non-Asian carrier provides a Chinese option and another option, ALWAYS CHOOSE THE OTHER OPTION. This strategy has been proven useful in today's case.

First off, the pasta option was rather decent. It is a fusilli with tomato, mushroom pieces and cheese. Things go terribly wrong with the Szechuan chicken though, as the flight attendant mistakenly translated it as "Curry rice", which has confused some other passengers. According to them, they only find it extremely spicy.

Next off, the bell pepper rice salad. It is not that bad, but the only thing is that the rice is slightly undercooked and a bit hard. It's still acceptable.

The thing I would like to criticize the most is the mousse dish. It is very thick, sweet, and mostly sour. Its texture is very thick and I have no idea how to describe it. It makes me very confused, as I have never seen anything like it. To this date I still have no idea what it is.

Another thing I find confusing is the creamer. Would anyone please tell me what it's for/ where it should be added to? And about the babybel cheese, do I just eat it directly after peeling or should it be used in another way?

The portion of this meal is rather large, that I couldn't eat the bread roll after completely finishing everything else. A 3/10 for this meal.

(Below is another pic of the same meal, showing how the pasta option looks like.)


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mid-flight snack


After the meal, I was extremely sleepy so I took a nap. I was able to sleep for around 4 hours, which is way longer than what I anticipated (thanks to the humidified air on the Dreamliner). I called the flight attendant for a refill of water, and so she did. As she came back, I asked her at what time would breakfast be served. She replied that would be in 4-5 hours, and suggested if I wanted some pot noodle. And so it was.


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I then went to the galley for some stretching (And maybe have a chat with the crew members). There are mid-flight snacks provided in the galley, such as chocolate, crackers, chips, bread rolls, and cheese. Drinks can be refilled as well.


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mid-flight at night


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Lights were dimmed for passengers to rest at night. Please do note that the whole flight took place in the dark, and no sunlight can be seen, which is favourable for passengers to adjust to jetlag.

I took a visit to the bathroom. For Economy class passengers, there are 4 lavatories available for use: 2 in front of the cabin, 2 other in the rear cabin next to the galley. The design is simple, and the hygiene is fine.


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I stayed in the galley for stretching for around an hour, as my legs were in incredible pain. The flight attendants are friendly and I chatted with them. Every 15-20 minutes, they would walk down the aisle with a tray full of drinks for refill. I find them very considerate.


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second meal service | breakfast


This meal service began 2 hours before landing.

The breakfast comes in one tray. It consists of a hot meal, diced fruits, a muffin, and beverage.

As for the hot meal, passengers can choose between an English Breakfast (Chosen option) and a vegetarian noodle option.


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This meal is significantly better than the dinner service. Its quality is above average.

The English breakfast consists of baked beans, cherry tomatoes, scrambled eggs, a sausage, and 2 hash browns. Fruits include diced up watermelons, cantaloupe and honeydew. 

This meal has the right portion, I find it not too filling but it is enough to fill my stomach. Everything tastes right and is pretty decent. The only downside to this meal is the hash browns being not crispy, but I guess that is inevitable for a meal that is being frozen and re-heated. Good job for the breakfast, I would give it a 8/10.


landing


The descend began over the English Channel. The flight flew over Northern and Western London, before turning back and land on runway 09L. It was extremely cloudy and humid in Southern England/ London though, that I could barely see the ground until the final 3-5 minutes before touchdown.

The aircraft landed at 06:30 in the morning, after 14 hours and 32 minutes of flight. The landing was average smooth. We then taxied to gate 590, which is a remote gate.



deboarding


Since gate 590 is a remote gate, we had to deboard through stairs and bus. This took us a while, and we queued for quite some time to wait for our turns. Eventually, I managed to get onto the bus at 7:05, 35 minutes after touchdown, which is a bit longer than what I anticipated. The bus brought the passengers to the main building of Terminal 5.


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transfer


I had to transfer to get onto my next flight to Edinburgh. Therefore, I needed to arrive at the gate before 08:05. We went through the domestic and Ireland transfer queue, which was quite slow. The machines for scanning the boarding pass didn't turn on for some time, and some of the passengers departing at 08:05 (takeoff time!) were still at the security check at 7:30. We got through that particular checkpoint after waiting for some 10-20 minutes. Overall, the security check took around 1 hour. More about the transferring process in the upcoming flight report.

After security checking, I then proceeded to my next flight, BA1442.

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey and reading my first flight report. Please stay tuned for the upcoming flight reports of my journey.


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See more

Verdict

British Airways

6.3/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering4.0

Hong Kong - HKG

9.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

London - LHR

8.3/10
Efficiency6.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

This experience is average and it has its ups and downs.

The cabin crew are caring and considerate when serving the passengers. The interactive in-flight map is highly useful for avgeeks, and there is quite a wide selection of entertainment as well.

On the other hand, the Boeing 787-9 cabin is relatively aged. The In-flight entertainment TV is small. The legroom is rather sufficient for a short person like me, but the leg space is limited. The dinner service was extremely terrible and confusing.

I would suggest that if you concern about catering and seating, BA is not the best choice for you. It's still *quite* fine if you don't have any other alternative options.

Information on the route Hong Kong (HKG) London (LHR)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 17 avis concernant 3 compagnies sur la ligne Hong Kong (HKG) → London (LHR).


Useful

La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Cathay Pacific avec 8.4/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 12 heures et 45 minutes.

  More information

5 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 644155 by
    wsnfu AUTHOR 13 Comments
    Hi there, thanks for reading this flight report. It’s actually my first time writing a flight report, so I’d love to hear about what you think and how I can improve. Thanks!!
  • Comment 644156 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6593 Comments
    Great first review with good details and photos! You're a natural, keep it up! It's surprising that BA send a 789 with old Club World cabins to HKG, being such a premium market...I guess they have to send them somewhere, but it's odd. It's also weird to think that the cabin of a Dreamliner can be considered "old" but it's true that they've now been around for a while and this isn't BA's latest cabins, which are currently mostly limited to the A350s, 787-10s, and refurbished 777s. Neither of the meals looks particularly appetising, but that's not terribly surprising in Economy on BA. I'm sure Cathay's service blows BA out of the water on this route.

    Thanks for sharing and looking forward to future reviews! Great job once again.
    • Comment 644201 by
      wsnfu AUTHOR 13 Comments
      Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed this review. To be honest I was also shocked about the low proportion of Economy class seats as well (Economy cabin is only between doors 3 and 4), and actually the premium seats have a high load factor (I think it's completely full on my flight). I agree with you that it's odd because Cathay Pacific actually operate this route too, but with a higher proportion of Economy seats. However, I think that BA's 787, A380 and A350 are mostly premium-heavy, and they used to send A350s to HKG as well, so it's just a common thing in their fleet? I'm really not sure.
      Also regarding on this subject, the Club World (Business) seats on the old 787 configuration is really not worth the money. It's narrow, old, lacks privacy (aisle seats) and some are reverse.
      Hope the 787s' cabins will get refurbished soon. The Economy class TV is really quite small, the seats are thick, and overall it just feels... old, despite it being delivered in 2015?? The seat design gives me a feeling that it's from the 2000's.
      Frankly speaking, I have been warned by others on BA's catering before flying. Back then I thought, how bad could it be, and now I somewhat regret it haha. Cathay certainly does a better job on catering than BA from my past experience before covid (CX has ice cream as well hehe)
      Thank you once again for your compliment!
  • Comment 644157 by
    wmx.the.flyer BRONZE 35 Comments
    Hey there, lovely first review here!

    A lot of people doubt about whether this is the best choice overall, but British Airways is the most suitable option I can find at the moment of booking. If there are any better options you can think of, please let me know!


    I used to fly with BA a lot between Asia (in my case, Singapore) and Edinburgh as well, so I definitely understand your routing haha, BA does have some of the more appealing pricing and timings. If you are lucky, you might also occasionally come across good deals from airlines like Swiss (with an overall better Economy offering than BA in my opinion), or the slightly more expensive Qatar Airways (I personally don’t mind the odd transit timings, and I have had significantly better experiences with them. Still, it differs with everyone).

    The seat features a rather small screen which is controlled by a remote (Though I saw my neighbor being able to use it as a touch screen, I still couldn't figure that out by the end of flight)


    Haha I remember that, those IFE systems are horrible. It always is extremely difficult to use it as a touchscreen since the screen tends to be very laggy and unresponsive, though in your case the touchscreen hardware may just as well have been broken. It’s quite unfortunate as well that newer seats with better technology won’t be getting to the BA 787-9s anytime soon either, since their cabin retrofits aren’t scheduled to be started until after most 787-8s are done.

    I kept pressing the buttons but the window remained pitch black, and at one point I thought they were locked up by the crew. Then after the assistance of the crew, I finally understood that some waiting is needed for the window to turn less dark.


    I understand that… the 787 windows take so long to dim/un-dim. The crew do have the power to lock the windows at a particular setting (which can get very annoying) though that doesn’t happen when on the ground due to safety reasons.

    I have already avoided the worst by not choosing the Chinese option. Usually, when a non-Asian carrier provides a Chinese option and another option, ALWAYS CHOOSE THE OTHER OPTION. This strategy has been proven useful in today's case.


    100% agree with you on that… Some Western carriers do try to provide an oriental style dish on routes to and from Asia, but those don’t usually work out well (especially from the airline’s hub, HKG should be fine, but the menus are still designed and developed by BA after all). Glad to hear the English breakfast was alright for you, since I also find that to be BA’s most consistent menu item.

    Thanks for sharing!
    • Comment 644202 by
      wsnfu AUTHOR 13 Comments
      Thank you for reading!
      I actually considered Swiss as well as one of my options (because I wanted to try catch the A220 haha) but prices are quite high and the overall travel and transfer time is long. That's why I gave up on that. And as for QR, I heard that the Economy experience can be quite bad so I'm actually glad that I didn't go for that. I'll try looking at QR and LX if I were to fly to the UK or Europe in general again.
      Regarding the windows, I thought the crew members locked the windows because I saw a flight review earlier that BA locks the windows on another flight. It was a day flight, though, and that makes sure passengers have sufficient rest. I realised that the crew didn't lock the window when I looked across the cabin and saw the wingtip on the other side. Didn't know how to use those windows as it's my first Dreamliner experience, but now I do!
      For the catering... Western Asian food can be quite horrifying. Non-Chinese people might be fine about those food, but I think that things can go very wrong if these oriental meals aren't prepared properly... yea, so I think that an European carrier can't mess up an European meal option.
      Thank you once again for joining me on this trip!

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