Previous review winners

Seatplans.com regularly gives away great prizes for the best flight reviews left on our site. Here are some of our previous winning reviews...

Three posters win Rhodia stationery packages worth over £40, for the following reviews:

SenatorGold wins a return first class ticket with Great Western Railway, for a review of British Airways Club Europe on an A319.

Five posters win a Plaza Premium lounge pass for the following reviews:

Aspirational Flyer wins a stay at London's St Ermin's Hotel

Review: Singapore Airlines business class between Manchester and Munich on a B777-300ER

I travelled from Manchester (UK) to Munich on Singapore Airlines on flight SQ327 in May 2015.

GROUND EXPERIENCE

I had stayed the previous night at the Radisson Blu Manchester Airport, which is directly connected to Terminal 2 by a walkway. I arrived at Terminal 2 at about 7.15am for a 9.10am departure. I easily found the Singapore Airlines check-in area. Although I was travelling in business class, as there was no queue, I was directed to use the first class check-in counter. My boarding pass was printed and I was given a lounge invitation. I was also told that I was able to use the priority security lane and a priority lane sticker was added to the back of my boarding pass.

Security was busy, however, (albeit fairly abruptly) the security team were trying to keep the line moving as quickly as possible and I was through in less than five minutes. I was slightly confused by the lounge access arrangements as my lounge invitation referred to the 'Styal Lounge', which is actually referred to as the Servisair lounge in the signs in the terminal. On arrival in the lounge I was given a warm welcome and was told that Singapore Airlines passengers had a special room for their exclusive use. I was personally shown into the lounge and was told that warm bacon rolls would be added to the room within the next few minutes.

The room has two exits, both of which have signs to say they are for the exclusive of use of Singapore Airlines passengers. I was the first person to arrive. There was a reasonable selection of food and drink in the lounge including breakfast cereals, juice, water and plenty of fruit. Wi-fi login details were left on the various tables. The room was small and it became slightly awkward when full as there was little space between seats and people travelling together ended up whispering to one another out of politeness. The space issue was arguably made worse by the fact the largest table had a reserved sign on it but was never used.

Perhaps inevitably given the main lounge was busy, non SQ passengers tried to use this section of the lounge, although they were quickly and politely asked to leave by the lounge staff. Although boarding had not commenced, I left the lounge at around 8.25 to take a slow walk to the gate.

BOARDING

Departure was from Gate 204 (206 had been stated on my boarding pass which did confuse me for a few seconds when I originally arrived Gate 206!). Boarding commenced at just after 8:35am and first class passengers were called first (albeit there didn't seem to be any at the gate). Business class and appropriate status passengers were called a minute or so later and I was the fourth person to board. The aircraft was a Boeing 777-300ER. On boarding I was welcomed to the aircraft and immediately shown to my seat. I was sitting in seat 11A (which is the first row of business class on the left side of the cabin) and another flight attendant appeared shortly after to offer me a drink: either water or fresh orange juice.

I was the only person seating in row 11, however, only 3 of the four seats behind me in row 12 were occupied. Rows 11 and 12 are located in a separate 'mini' business class cabin, which helps create a real sense of privacy and exclusivity. I briefly looked inside the first class cabin which looked great although given the level of cabin service and space available in business I wondered if I would ever be able to justify the extra cost. There was only one passenger travelling in first.

In terms of the hard product, although it is very nice overall, my seat was showing its age - the head rest really struggled to stay in place, there were a lot of scuff marks around the seat and the seat controls were quite unresponsive. In some respects, the seat does appear to be disproportionately wide as compared to its length - however, that is more than an observation than a criticism and it was the first time I had ever sat in an airline seat with there being enough room to have two large cushions either side of me.

The level of crew interaction on boarding and prior to take-off was amongst the best I had experienced - one crew member arrived a minute or so later (referring to me by name, without any iPad or papers - which I found impressive) asking to hang my jacket and then another very shortly afterwards to offer newspapers and magazine.

Further visits were made before take-off to bring me a copy of the The Economist, provide another glass of orange juice, explain how the seat works (I am assuming they knew I had never flown SQ business before), take a hot drinks order and offer hot towels. The pilot made an announcement at around 9am to state push back was just after 9am. There was a relatively short taxi (with a good view of the airfield including the Virgin 747 'Jersey Girl' and an Emirates 777-300ER) and take off was at about 9:20am.

ONBOARD SERVICE

Menus were already in the seat pocket on boarding. There are two sections to the menu: one for the Manchester to Munich leg and another for the Munich to Singapore leg.

The main course options were either: (i) a crepe with berries; or (ii) pan fried pork with noodles and vegetables. Given this was an Asian airline, I opted for the noodles which were served on a tray with a peach flavoured yoghurt, some chilli in a small dish and a glass of water. I ordered a glass of Tattinger champagne which was brought very shortly afterwards along with the cappuccino that I had ordered prior to take-off. During the flight I was approached again and asked if I would like another glass of champagne - I ordered a mimosa and another cappuccino was brought to me separately on request prior to landing.

In comparison with recent long haul flights on British Airways, the bathroom was very well stocked with toiletries including razors, shaving cream and various L'Occitane products.

Just prior to landing I called over one of the flight attendants to mention that I was having trouble stowing my table. The flight attendant had similar problems and I eventually ended up with three cabin crew around my seat all trying to stow my table, one of whom accidentally trod on my feet in his rigour to put the table away. After several attempts I was told to move seats that they would ask an engineer to look at the table on landing.

ARRIVAL

The wheels down at 10:48am and landing was just before 11:55 local time (10:55), which was 20 minutes before scheduled. On landing a senior member of crew came to my former seat and managed to put the table away. There was a short air traffic related control on our taxi to the stand at Terminal 2. We eventually arrived at at the gate at 12:05. Disembarkation was prompt and there was a fairly lengthy walk to passport control, however, thankfully, there was no queue. I then made my way to the stop for the Lufthansa Airport bus; the stop is right outside the terminal building. The crew from my flight passed shortly afterwards and onto a waiting coach.

Overall, although the lounge experience has considerable scope for improvement the onboard service, hospitality and experience were all excellent. The crew helped make a routine short-haul flight seem special. The Business Class cabin appeared to be slightly showing its age, although it was still a great experience to travel in a long haul business class product on such a short route and I'm a Singapore Airlines convert; I look forward to travelling with them in the near future.

 

1nfrequent wins a stay in a VIP room at BLOC Hotel Gatwick

Review: British Airways business class between London and Orlando on a B777-200

I flew from LGW to MCO on BA2037 on a 777-200.

This was the second leg of a tier point run/holiday I booked in the November 2014 ex-DUB sale – DUB-LGW-MCO-LAX-LHR-DUB.

Having arrived at LGW’s South Terminal at 8.35am courtesy of Aer Lingus, I took the monorail to the North Terminal and arrived at Departures at 8.40am. As my bags had been checked through already and I had a boarding card I went straight to priority security, which was again a shambles. There was only one x-ray machine and gate in operation and the staff were slow to replenish the security trays, which meant extra delays in trying to get through. I ended up getting though in 10 minutes but only because a family with a push chair were forced to wait while the security staff got their act together to process them.

I headed straight for the BA lounge and got a polite greeting from the male lounge dragon. The Galleries lounge wasn’t too busy and I easily found a table and helped myself to some toast, ham and water. It’s a shame that they don’t do bacon rolls at LGW but my waistline was grateful.

At 10.50am the gate was announced and I headed down to it. The gate area was busy but I was still able to get a seat. Boarding began at 11am with those passengers needing assistance, then Club World passengers, BAEC gold, silver and bronze members and One World emerald, sapphire and ruby.

There’d been an equipment change a few days before the flight so that instead of the normal three class 777 being used, we were given a four class one with the Old First section being used for Club World. Unfortunately, by the time I realised this Club World was completely full and all of the Old First seats had been taken. I ended up in 14K, which was clean and in good condition. A pillow, headphones and blanket were on the seat and because I was one of the first on board, there was plenty of room in the overhead locker. The cabin crew offered a choice of champagne, orange juice and water and distributed menus and amenity bags while boarding was going on.

We pushed back at 11.45am. The safety video played while we taxied and we were airborne by noon.

Cabin crew did a drinks run from the front of the cabin at 12.40pm with menu choices again being taken from the front soon afterwards. On offer was:

 STARTERS
 - smoked salmon and pea frittata with smoked salmon tartare; or
 - salad of seared asparagus, thyme cherry tomatoes and courgette.

 Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette.

 MAIN
 - thyme-roasted breast of chicken with wild mushroom polenta and a rich tarragon jus;
 - pan-seared British beef fillet with a horse radish and red wine jus and crushed potatoes;
 - penne pasta with four cheese sauce and baked basil gnocchi; or
 - seared lemon and herb marinated prawns with a caper and roasted new potato salad.

 DESSERT
 - sticky toffee crumble with praline anglaise; or
 - Isle of Mull mature cheddar and West Country brie served with fig jelly.

 A selection of fruit

 Tea, coffee and chocolates.

 The white wine offering was:
 - Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012, Patriarche Pere et Fils Burgundy, France; or
 - Klein Constantia Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Constantia, South Africa.

 The red white offering was:
 - Crozes-Hermitage 2011, Domaine Les Hauts de Mercurol, Rhone, France; or
 - La Puerta Alta Reserve Malbec 2013, Famatina Valley, La Rioja, Argentina.

Because 14K was at the back of the cabin, mine was one of the last orders and by the time cabin crew got to me the asparagus salad had already run out. That didn’t bother me as I wanted the frittata anyway but a number of passengers were disappointed.

The IFE was really second rate – very little choice of TV programmes (only a couple of episodes of different series) and although the movie selection was better (lot of recent releases) there wasn’t anything that took my fancy and I ended up just reading my book.

There was a second drinks run at 1pm (again from the front) and lunch was served half an hour later. The frittata was tasty but a really small portion and the salmon terrine had too much cucumber and onion in it for me. I didn’t eat the salad as I can’t abide the stuff. The chicken was a little dry but at the same time the polenta managed to be soggy – it was edible but not great. However the sticky toffee crumble more than made up for it – it was perfectly judged, neither too sweet nor too sickly and I could have easily eaten a second one. I was also pleased to see that BA has brought back the Lily O’Brien chocolates, which are great.

Lunch was finished and cleaned away by 2.45pm and customs forms and water bottles brought around. I then switched to MCO time so the rest of the report refers to that.

The Club Kitchen was well stocked with snacks and drinks and I helped myself to crisps and chocolate until afternoon tea was served at 3.45pm. The sandwiches were presented in their wrappers and we were given cheese and pickle, salmon and dill and ham and mustard. We only got one scone each, which was nice but small. Plates etc were cleared away by 4.10pm.

We got a warning from the captain 35 minutes before landing, at which point cabin crew brought around hot towels, which was a little weird.

We landed at 4.50pm and were off the plane at 5pm. I was first off the plane and there was no queue at all at immigration so even though I was subjected to extra questions (apparently a woman travelling on her own on holiday weirds out immigration officials). Unfortunately I was let down by baggage delivery. My suitcase was one of the last off – perhaps because it was from a connected flight – but I ended up getting out of the airport by 5.30pm.

All in all, LGW offers a second class Club World experience, which is okay so long as you get it for a good price (I certainly wouldn’t pay more than £1,000 for a return CW flight). Cabin crew were fine, the food was average and the IFE was awful. I really wish BA would upgrade the planes on this route but given how full the flights are, there’s no incentive for them to do so.

 

Mickb wins a stay for two people at the Sheraton Zurich

Review: British Airways business class between Sydney and Singapore on a B777-300ER

Arrived at Kingsford Smith 3 hours before a mid afternoon scheduled departure.

Checkin was swift, efficient and friendly. Although travelling on to London with Finnair from Singapore via Helsinki, I was able to check my luggage through to LHR. However, I was not able to get my boarding card for the Helsinki - LHR sector.

I had already chosen my sector seat on line -16a - a window seat at the rear of the Club World cabin, which from which I could access the aisle with disturbing my neighbour. Security was comparatively quick through the fast track lane and I was in the departure area within 10 minutes.

As a BA gold card holder, I was entitled to use the Qantas 1st Lounge which I thought was really excellent. In my opinion it knocks spots off the Galleries 1st Lounge and even the Concorde room at T5. Wide picture windows give great views over the runway with the city in the background. Service was punctilious without being over effusive and a I had a couple of glasses of excellent champagne followed by a delicious light lunch of Thai prawns. After a couple of very pleasant couple of hours, the flight was called and the show started to go downhill!

Boarding was somewhat disorganised although there were lines for premium cabin and economy passengers, there was a scrum. Upon boarding, the crew were mixed fleet and did appear to be very young ( probably says more about my age!). The welcome was professional but without any hint of warmth. The flight was full and it being a Saturday there were a number of children - mostly very well behaved.

Upon gaining my seat - I wiped down the table which was not particularly clean. The flight attendant came around with a tray of drinks and I asked for a glass of champagne. She replied that unfortunately they had run out as apparently the outward flight passengers had drunk it all! I settled for orange juice which was warm.

Take off was on time and because of tail winds we were scheduled to arrive in SIN 30 minutes ahead of schedule- always encouraging if one has a connection! About 20 minutes into the flight, menus were distributed and the drinks trolley appeared - in the absence of Champagne, I asked for a Jack Daniels, however apparently this had not been loaded either! I then asked for a glass of NZ Sauvignan Blanc which was one of the listed wines, however there wasn't any. I must confess to a sense of frustration! In the end, I had a glass acceptable red - not being an habitual red wine drinker, I regret I cannot recall what it was.

After a few minutes, orders were taken for lunch and having had a very acceptable meal in the lounge, I asked for a main course salad of cured meats and leaves. When this arrived, it was quite frankly inedible, the cured meat had totally dried out and was curling up at the edges and the leaves were brown.

I asked to see the Cabin service director who arrived promptly. I must say that he was absolutely charming and it became clear very quickly that I was not the only person on the plane to have voiced my opinion. Apparently, the aircraft is provisioned in Singapore for the whole round trip and not enough of many items had been loaded. He could obviously do nothing about but promised to log it in his report and also gave me a customer comment card to fill in.

The rest of the flight passed comparatively uneventfully and I decided not to have the snack offered before landing.

In conclusion I felt the service was unpolished and perfunctory and I believe that there is still a world of difference between this mixed fleet service and a good BA legacy crew.
The continuation of my flight was with Finnair to Helsinki and although the plane was an old A340 with lie flat seats, I have to say that the food, drinks and service were streets ahead of BA!

I have been a gold card holder for a number of years mostly flying short haul European flights but with 2/3 long hauls a year. I have been a big supporter of BA who can be very good, but I am shocked at how customer service standards have slipped in the last 24 months and how inconsistent the airline has become.

BA can buy lovely new planes but they need to remember that passengers have the choice with whom they fly.

 

Mizliz_uk wins a stay for two people at London's St Ermin's Hotel

Review: Thomson Airways Premium economy between Manchester and Montego Bay on a B787 Dreamliner

We checked our bags in the night before so check-in was very quick and easy next morning; premium upgrade gives us priority but it wasn't really needed as there were no queues at any of the check-in desks.

I am disabled so I had booked assistance; there was a massive queue for this so by the time we were issued with a suitable wheelchair we had barely enough time to get to the departure gate, where they were already boarding, although we had arrived at the airport 2 hours before the flight time.

If you check in your bags the night before, they recommend you arrive 1-1.5 hours prior to take off; thankfully we had allowed a bit of extra time; please note this if you are booking assistance at the airport.

The Dreamliner is a very comfortable aircraft and the 2-3-2 configuration is ideal for couples; the seat is 21.5 inches wide - very important for me as I am a 'larger lady' and I appreciate the extra comfort of not feeling squeezed into my seat.

The seat pitch is 38 inches but it feels like more - even when the person in front reclined their seat I didn't feel my space was being encroached upon.

The IFE screen is stored in the armrest rather than on the seatback in front of you so there is no issue if the person in front reclines. The only problem I could see was trying to get out of the window seat if the people in front have their chairs reclined; the middle arm rest between all the seats is much longer than normal and can be difficult to climb over. Thankfully my partner took the inside seat so that was never an issue for me.

Prior to take-off we were offered champagne or orange juice; take off was bang on time and the flight itself was smooth and free of drama. Shortly after take off there is a drinks service (which in premium economy is free); you are also given menus for the in-flight main meal which depends on the flight time, but in this instance was lunch. This is followed by another drinks trolley, then there is a duty free service, more drinks and finally another light meal just before landing; in this case afternoon tea.

The food quality on the plane was exceptional; choices were varied and the service was quick, friendly and efficient. Tea/coffee was in plentiful supply and additional drinks could be requested.

The cabin crew were friendly and helpful without exception, and maintained that upbeat level of cheeriness throughout the 9 hour flight. We arrived in Sangster MBJ airport 20 minutes early and with a very smooth landing.

Sangster airport is very busy and not well air conditioned so be warned; the queues for immigration and customs were massive, people reported standing up to 3 hours just to get through it all. However because I had assistance booked we were able to bypass the longer queues, and we had also booked the MoBay Lounge so we were met by a MoBay representative and fast-tracked through baggage collection and passport control then taken straight to the MoBay lounge to wait for our transfer bus.

This service is at an additional cost, but absolutely well worth it. We were able to stroll on to the bus cool, refreshed and relaxed having spent the waiting time in an air-conditioned environment with a cold towel, iced drinks and tasty snacks supplied.

Overall a good flight, I would highly recommend the Dreamliner as the absolute best way to travel long haul.