Good Advice Tried and Tested

British Airways B777-200 World Traveller

04/10/2012

BACKGROUND British Airways flies from Boston to London Heathrow three times daily. American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways also operate on the route.

CHECK-IN I arrived at a very quiet Boston Logan International airport at 0725 for my 0915 flight to London Heathrow, having already checked in online and selected my seat. There was no one in front of me at the fast bag-drop facility so I dropped off my case and picked up my boarding card with no delay, before proceeding to security, which took only minutes to clear. I was therefore airside within ten minutes.

THE LOUNGE I grabbed a tasty, good-value breakfast at a café, browsed the duty free and relaxed in the peaceful seating area, all on ground level. Only final call announcements are made over the loudspeaker in the lounge.

BOARDING At 0840 I took the couple of minutes’ walk to gate 7A at the left-hand end of the lounge. I boarded immediately, there being no one in front of me, and proceeded on to the aircraft via a covered walkway.

THE SEAT BA’s Boeing 777-200s come in a number of configurations, and this one was a four-class version. First class was across rows one to four in a 1-2-1 configuration (A-EF-K), with three pairs in the middle, making 14 seats in total. Business class consisted of 48 seats across six rows (10-15) arranged 2-4-2 (AB-DEFG-JK) with a mixture of forward- and backward-facing seats – the window seats faced backwards, as did the two middle seats E-F, while the rest faced forward. Premium economy comprised five rows, numbered 21-25, in a 2-4-2 formation (AB-DEFG-JK).

My class, economy, was across 15 rows (26-40) in a 3-3-3 configuration (ABC-DEF-HJK). I was in window seat 37A. Seats were comfortable and upholstered in blue fabric with grey plastic armrests, and the recline was adjustable via a button in the armrest (maximum recline 13 degrees). The seat width was 44cm and the pitch 79cm, and the class was about 40 per cent full.

There was a small individual IFE screen in the back of the seat in front of me – the front row had ones that folded out of the armrest. A table folded out from the seat in front, and below this was a magazine rack for storing small items. I could stow my handbag under the seat in front, and all seats in the class had access to the overhead lockers. A handset for controlling the IFE system and making calls was fitted into the armrest.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? The best seats are in the front row, 26. As this is the emergency exit row, there are no seats in front and there is a big gap between the seats and the bulkhead so there is heaps of legroom – much more, in fact, than the seats in premium economy. You also get served first and can disembark first. Granted, there is no storage space in front but this is offset by the extra space. Of the seats in this row, A, C, H and K are the best, depending on whether you’re a window or an aisle person, as they have even more space in front than D-F. Avoid the back row as these seats are next to the galley and toilets and D-K have a restricted recline. Also be aware that there are small IFE boxes under window and aisle seats, but these do not get in the way too much.

THE FLIGHT The aircraft pushed back at 0900, taxied for 15 minutes and took off on schedule at 0915. I was given a blanket, pillow, large foam-covered headphones and an amenity kit containing socks, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, and the safety instructions were shown on my IFE screen.

A meal was served at 1000 – there was a choice of breakfast or chicken with pasta. I chose the latter and it was a good job I’d eaten before the flight as it was very disappointing – sloppy and unappetising. Also included was a mini Kit Kat, a roll, a Danone yogurt drink, a small fruit salad, orange juice, mineral water and tea or coffee. A marble-type cake with custard was inedible.

The in-flight entertainment comprised 12 channels of film and TV, on a rolling system rather than on demand, and 16 channels of radio and music CDs (so no AVOD, though this is being introduced across the B777 fleet). There was no magazine in any of the racks in my row to tell me what was on but a flight attendant tracked one down for me quickly when I asked.

Service throughout the flight was prompt and friendly, with drinks offered periodically. A snack box was also served about an hour before landing. It contained a turkey and cheese roll, which had no discernable taste at all, a packet of dried fruit, a muffin and an apple juice. A useful video was shown on my IFE screen shortly before landing with information about arrivals, connections and so on.

The flight was running about half an hour ahead but because of congestion at Heathrow we circled and then landed right on schedule at 1935. We were off the plane ten minutes later.

ARRIVAL The passage through security was easy, taking only five minutes, and the bags were on the carousel at Terminal 5 as I arrived in the baggage hall. Mine appeared quickly, covered in gaffer tape as it had been chosen for a random inspection in the US and the zip broken in the process. There was a standard note inside explaining that it had been selected for inspection and that no liability could be accepted for damage. I wasn’t very pleased.

VERDICT A decent enough economy product but the food offering was really not up to scratch – I’d expect more from BA.

PRICE Internet rates for a return economy flight from London Heathrow to Boston in April started from £330.50.

CONTACT ba.com

Michelle Mannion