Good Advice Tried and Tested

British Airways A319 economy class

29/04/2013

CHECK-IN I checked in online within 24 hours of my flight, which meant it was free to choose my seat – those who want to have a better choice of seats need to check-in earlier than this and pay – click here for more information. Note that Executive Club members have privileged reservation options – free (except exit row seats) for bronze members from seven days before the flight, free for silver members from the time of booking (except exit row seats), and any seat free of charge for gold members from the time of booking. I changed my seat from one in the aisle to one by a window (9F), as near to the front as possible. I was unable to print my boarding pass though so opted to collect it at the airport.

I arrived at Faro airport at 1100 and headed straight for the British Airways check-in desks (one to five) opposite the entrance. I was processed very quickly as there was only one other person ahead of me. I checked in one suitcase (note that BA also has cheaper hand baggage-only fares). Economy passengers can also take two items of hand luggage – one piece no bigger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm and a smaller laptop case or bag no larger than 45cm x 36cm x 20cm. Security was only a few seconds away and, after my boarding pass and passport were checked, I was ushered through to join a long line of people. After a ten-minute wait for screening (liquids and laptops out, and jackets off), I was airside.

BOARDING Departure screens informed passengers that gate information would be displayed at 1145 – when the time came, I went through passport control (no wait) and headed for Gate B53, following the signs upstairs and then down another flight to where staff checked boarding passes and passports. There was a spacious waiting lounge with views of the stands. At 1200, the process began via an airbridge, with families and Club Europe passengers called first, followed by those sitting in row 26 forwards, meaning I was one of the last to board. The flight was almost full.

THE SEAT I was in my seat, 9F, by 1220 and the plane pushed back shortly after. Seats are arranged 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F) throughout the plane, with the front six rows on this flight dedicated to Club Europe business class passengers. The seats are upholstered in navy blue leather and have fold-down tray tables that also slide-out, making it easier to work on a laptop. Seats in the back row have restricted recline as they are in front of a bulkhead. I was just in front of the exit row (ten) and had a view over the engines.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Sitting at the very back is probably best avoided if possible because seats in row 26 have reduced recline and you will likely be the last off the plane when disembarking. You will also be last to receive snacks and drinks and the trolley service begins from the front. Sit as near to the front as possible if you can, or exit row seats with extra legroom (though you will probably have to pay extra for these).

THE FLIGHT There was a safety demo while taxiing at 1230, and the plane took off at 1245. Once airborne, eight minutes later, a refreshment service began, with a choice of chicken salad or mozzarella, rocket and sun-dried tomato wraps. I went for the latter, which was fresh, relatively wholesome and tasted good. At 1315, the same two members of crew came around with a drinks trolley, with tea, coffee, water, juice and alcohol available, though the two people sitting next to me complained that the tea tasted horrible so crew made a fresh pot and apologised. Rubbish was collected at 1405.

ARRIVAL The plane landed five minutes ahead of schedule at 1515, and disembarkation via an airbridge was very quick. It was about five minutes’ walk to immigration, and hardly anyone waiting, which meant I was through immediately. However, I then had to wait 20 minutes for the baggage carousel number to come up on screens. I retrieved my case at about 1550.

VERDICT A punctual short-haul service with friendly crew. I was grateful for the generous hand-baggage allowance and the free snack and drink.

FACT FILE:

SEAT CONFIGURATION 3-3 (A-B-C, D-E-F)

SEAT WIDTH 17.5in/44.5cm

SEAT RECLINE 4.5in/11.4cm

SEAT PITCH 30in/76.2cm

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek economy class return flight from London to Faro ranged between £225 and £924 in June depending on flexibility.

CONTACT ba.com

Jenny Southan