We managed to get ourselves a row of First seats on BA out to the US at the start of our holiday. I have to say the old First left a bit to be desired, too much walnut and a bit shabby, but the new First configuration is incredible. You actually get to enjoy being on an aeroplane for a change.
Starting with the Concorde lounge at T5, rather than having to spend time with self-important business travellers bugging you with over-loud conversations on their mobiles, you sit with a wholly more reflective crowd. Very good and discrete service too, nothing is too much trouble. Of course unsurprisingly, not an English accent in evidence!
Interesting faux-effect fireplaces, which you can’t photograph because they are too reflective. A kind of 1970s throw-back to G-plan furniture and angular shapes. But apart from that a relaxing place to hang out for your flight.
On board it’s all low-key mood lighting, blue leather and touch controls. All borrowed from the new Range Rover it feels as though. There’s loads of space around in your compartment and plenty of room even for a special guest to come and share a meal with you if that’s what you want. Although tortoises are by nature solitary creatures they sometimes like to share things.
Note the absence of either reading material or an iPod in the new First survival kit – you don’t need either … the TV works and there’s no one close enough to disturb you!
This varies slightly from the Economy survival kit.
Essentially the line of vodka miniatures required to completely anaesthetise yourself from the physical hell of being so close to the person next to you, so close that you can smell them, can be replaced by a more soothing glass of something else. The iPod and reading material are still required – the TV usually doesn’t work properly and more often than not the cabin crew can’t be bothered to walk around the end of the seat to serve you, constantly lowering the dividing screen and forgetting to put it back up again when they’ve finished.
It’s never been clear to me why they came up with the facing seat configuration in BA Business, where you stare into the face of a complete stranger sitting in the adjacent seat. Clearly it wasn’t anyone who ever actually uses an aircraft. Or maybe it was … just someone taking revenge on the business traveller.
Out of Copenhagen yesterday in economy. So I thought I’d just check in my bag as it saves so much hassle rushing onto the flight to get luggage rack space. Plus my colleague and I were blasé about how fantastic T5 baggage handling is these days. Mostly the bags are already going around the carousel by the time you get through passport control. Which might of course just be a testament to the inefficiency of the UK Border people. Well, what we forgot to take into account was the incompetence at the starting airport. In this case Copenhagen.
The result was arrival at T5 with no bags – for anyone on the flight! How can that happen? After logging the issue and meeting my driver I was told that he had had the same experience with several customers over the past few weeks – and all from Copenhagen. The BA baggage man who dealt with me also admitted that things are not good Copenhagen-wise right now. In fact he said that last week one BA flight arrived with 25 bags not making it at all!
Which brings me to my point: BA were fantastic. Can I believe that I have just said that?
After I explained that I had a flight to Oslo the next day and that while I could go and buy a new toothbrush and shaver, I’d really rather not, they pulled out all stops. First of all they never left me not knowing what was going on. Which meant three calls to me between logging the missing bag at around 17.30 and it being confirmed inbound on the next flight at 19.15. Second, the basic decent behaviour of the people from BA who called me. They actually sounded as though they cared. Plus the bag turned up as scheduled at around 22.30 last night.
Well, all I can say is great job BA – especially as it wasn’t really their fault in the first place – and a lesson learnt about not taking anything for granted in future.
I must not forget to mention that last Friday, Charlotte the BA Cabin Service Director on the last BA flight back to LHR from Amsterdam (I didn’t get her surname), restored my flagging faith in BA’s sadly lacking customer service ethic. Cheerful, friendly and time to talk. They need to put her into the training department for a while so she can teach some of the rest of them how it should be done. I know that the cabin crew are there for a very good reason other than serving drinks and food, but still it makes such a difference when someone knows how to make it all work.
Does anyone know if there’s a site where you can say good things about BA?