British Airways Club Europe flight review
Heathrow Terminal 5 was quiet for this fairly early morning departure. With Oneworld Emerald card, the check-in was done at British Airways first class section. Quick and polite service, but the main advantage is the dedicated security lane that takes you straight into the BA first class lounge. From entering T5 to walking into the First Class lounge took less than 5 minutes.
First class lounge
This British Airways first class lounge is mostly frequented by higher tier passengers travelling in Business or Economy class, with the Concorde Room at T5 dedicated to those actually flying in First Class.
The lounge is fairly spacious but tends to be busy, particularly for the early morning periods when there are many additional transit customers. Seating is split between a range of armchairs, sofas and table/chairs in the dining area.
A reasonable array of hot and cold breakfast food is offered, and there is also an a la carte menu (often rather hidden) where you request staff for additional specific dishes. With the best quality of food at Heathrow lounges to be found in lounges catered by Do&Co (eg. Lufthansa), one hopes that the more recent addition of Do&Co for part of the BA onboard catering is spread to include these BA lounges at Heathrow.
A wide range of newspapers and magazines are provided, some of the best experienced on recent trips.
A real downside of this lounge are the toilet facilities. Not only very limited in number, they are very basic (old-fashioned) and do not come close to matching premium lounge standards of 2018. Staff service cannot really be measured, since one does not interact with staff if entering from the first class check in, and it is the floor staff that one tends to communicate with.
The assigned A gate means only a short walk from the lounge, and arriving there about 25 minutes before departure there are long queues formed already. The Fast Track / Priority lane for BA flights has now been replaced by their introduction of the Group Boarding sequence system. With a Group 1 number of the boarding pass, I was amongst the first to board, but the staff at the gate seemed very new to the system and did not make any clear PA boarding calls.
A friendly welcome from cabin staff at the aircraft entrance, and quickly took my seat after stowing hand luggage in the overhead bins. Whilst business class was not full on this flight, it was surprising the number of later boarding Economy class passengers that felt it was their divine right to stuff their over-sized hand luggage into the business cabin overhead bins. Yes, this sounds pernickety, but if they’re that keen to use business class storage they should think about paying more for their ticket!
Airplane & Cabin flown
A narrowbody A320 provided a clean cabin appearance, and the usual British Airways Club Europe seat format – ie. economy style seats laid out 3×3, with the middle seats left empty with the drop down table divider.
A generous baggage allowance for Club Europe, that includes 2 check in bags at 32kg maximum each, 1 handbag/laptop bag, plus 1 additional cabin bag.
These are the standard economy style seats with the middle of each row of 3 left empty. Whilst the seat pitch is certainly not spacious, the flight is quite short at under 3 hours, and the comfort standards are more than adequate. Anyone used to business class on short haul flights in Europe accepts that this is now a standard product format, and I really see no point in complaining – more importantly, for the price paid this is quite sufficient.
Cabin & Toilets
The cabin has a fairly clean and bright appearance, the blue seat colours matching the British Airways image. A single toilet is available at the front of the business class cabin, although I did not inspect during this flight.
Boarding is completed on time and the flight departed on time. Arrival into Malaga was about 15 minutes early, so no complaints.
Food & Drink
No menu is provided or necessary for this breakfast time departure.
About 15 minutes after departure the staff serve meal trays, and drinks are offered from the cart. As a leisure destination flight, many customers opt to enjoy a glass of champagne with their breakfast and staff are quick to offer this. Choosing just an orange juice and black coffee, both are of a satisfactory standard.
The standard English style breakfast is served hot and offers a tasty option. Warmed croissants, pastries and bread rolls are offered from a basket, and the meal is all to a good standard.
This is not an option on these narrowbody aircraft in the British Airways fleet. The drop down screens display the route map throughout the flight, and nowadays most customers seem to be well equipped and use their own tablets / mobile devices for personal entertainment.
A pillow is available on specific request, but with the cabin kept to a good temperature there is no need for a blanket. A lightly scented hot towel is served to Club Europe customers during this flight.
The staff service was at a very high standard, with two longer serving crew working in the Club Europe cabin on this flight. Cheeful and chatty, they seemed genuinely keen to make the flight experience as pleasant as possible, and serves to underline that on a good day British Airways service can be up there with the best – oh that this was more consistent!
The flight arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and deplaning was quick. A short walk through Malaga Airport immigration and no queues on this day. Baggage delivery was a little slow, and the handlers at Malaga Airport seem incapable of ensuring that Priority marked bags are delivered first – on all recent trips these come out towards the end.
Qualifying this with the fact that this was quite a cheap ticket, it was an excellent flight. Of course the additional privileges I could make use of at Heathrow helped to smooth the process, but by short haul business class standards in Europe nowadays, this was one of my better flights in recent years.
This flight report is based on fully paid tickets, not airline discounted or complimentary tickets.