Since there has been a very good trip report on BA’s brand new Club World seats and service, I am not going to say much. The pictures should give you a good idea about the new seats, which I think they are better than the previous version, but I just find the cabin to be very tired looking for some reasons, not enough personal lights, and storage is very limited. Catering is very weak, which is not really news, but the ground service is just the worst aspect for this particular trip.
February 20, 2008
BA 10 BKK-LHR Lv0015 Arr0555+1 Boeing 747-400 G-BNLF
New departure time: 1:40am
I checked in from Hong Kong, as I flew in from HKG to BKK on CX. Despite on two separate tickets, CX was able to check me in all the way to Rome via Bangkok and London, and gave me all the boarding passes. That was impressive and that is why I think Oneworld in general works better than Star Alliance in these situations involving interlining and connections. When I arrived Bangkok, I headed straight to the lounge, since the transit desk was closed anyway, which was located in the G concourse, closed to other oneworld partners, such as JAL and CX. The lounge has check-in facilities and the BA agents at BKK were wonderful and printed out the real BA boarding passes and made sure my bags were connected to the right flight. The only minus point was that none of them mentioned about the delays, till I noticed it on the departure board but once I moved into the first class lounge, the agent immediately reminded me of the delay and since my connection flight did not depart till 10:30am, I was fine.
BA and QF both offer a joint first and business class lounge at Bangkok. The Business Class lounge opened nonstop from 4pm till last flight out, but first class lounge will close between 6 and 8pm. I used both lounges and have pictures. The Business class lounge is much larger in size and the first class section is half as large, but more comfortably spread out and there are slightly different food and wine selections. Both lounges offer mostly cold items, such as canapés, meat plate, cheese plate, fruit plate, various open face sandwiches, as well as various snack items such as mixed nuts, cheese sticks and crackers. Warm items limit to some warm Thai savories, such as lemongrass chicken wrapped in leaves, tofu stuffed with shrimp paste, deep fried prawns with noodles, and fish cake, as well as cream of mushroom soup. The service is a bit more attentive in first class, as there are less occupants, and the food selection is slightly more expand with a few more items here and then. Champagne in first class lounge is Moet Chandon Brut Imperial. There are sufficient amount of computers at both sections and there are complimentary wifi, unlike its flagship lounge at London. Anyway, the BA/QF lounge is wonderful and the décor is stylish with a sense of elegance and create a very warm environment for both relaxation and working.
The incoming flight was late from Sydney and did not land at BKK until 12:21am. The flight was using gate F5 this evening/early morning. The boarding gate was filled with people, and once again, BKK was just a poorly designed airport and the holding room really can barely hold a full Boeing 747 load. Thankfully there is a separate premium and economy class boarding lanes, and the boarding process, which began at 1:18am, was more orderly. The plane was very full at all cabins but door was able to be closed at 1:41am and we pushed back five minutes later. With the closure of R/W19L-1R, there is a long wait for takeoff this evening. We finally took off at 2:23am from R/W1L. Flying time was twelve hours and thirty-one minutes (plus the holding time over London). For our flight route, we first climbed to 30,000feet over the Bay of Benegal and entered the cities of Mailmein, Kolkata, Kanpur, Delhi, Chandigarh, Lahore, Pakistan, and Faisalabad before climbing to 31,000feet. We then entered the cities of Kabul and Taskhent, and climbed up to 35,000feet before crossing the Aral Sea and city of Tula. We climbed further to 38,000feet and passing the North of Minsk, South of Vilnius, North of Grando, the cities of Bialystok, Olsztyn, Szczecin and South of Bremen, and then Amsterdam and into London.
The new Club World seats are pretty much the same as before, but with improvement on the width due to the S design, better (and automatic) privacy screens, and use of better padding and lumbar supports. The 747 with the mid-J section also features a very unusual seating configuration with the World Traveler Plus (Premium economy) cabin moves to the space between door one and door two (between first class in the nose section and new club world in the mid section). In general, I like the seats and slept very well in the full flat bed with no sliding. The width is also better addressed and the seats come with electrical outlet and larger tray tables and a new laptop bin, which is very deep and can handle a few items. However, the seats really lack personal light (the only light is the side lamp I show in the pictures) and I don’t know why they have to take away the overhead lights. That personal snake lamps are not enough lights in a dark cabin. Also a small storage bin within arm reach will be appreciated especially for eyeglasses and small items. The privacy screen is better now but just hope that those privacy screens won’t break. Most importantly, a better cleaning team should be hired and more lighting is needed in the cabin.
I believe that because of the seat designs and difficulties with this cabin design, catering has to be simplified but with this cut back, the catering looks very weak. First, there is no separate linen to cover the table, which is a big no-no in any premium cabin service. Second, dessert should be all fruit, cheese and dessert, not cheese or fruit or dessert. Third, the plain white china used is boring. To give credits, the quality of the meals is pretty nice and the fruit plate in the breakfast was nice, and the entrée is very hearty and not overcooked. The new Club World kitchen looks pretty underwhelming and more gimmicky than real. When I visited the club world kitchen, the contents were pretty sparse but there are cup noodles, as well as a full fruit basket. Anyway, catering is never strong with BA new club world, so I think much work needs to be done in that aspect, such as adding some elements back to the meals and kept the club world kitchen replenished.
Wine list and Menu:
Kir Royale – Crème de Cassis gives this cocktail its distinctive taste
Buck’s Fizz – Crisp, dry Champagne and naturally sweet orange juice
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne
Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2005
Tim Adams Semillon 2005, Clare Valley
Chablis Champs Royaux 2006, William Fevre
Bangkok to London
Salmon gravlax with a lemon, mustard and sour cream dressing
Panzanella Salad with Pecorino cheese
Fresh Seasonal Salad served with Vinaigrette
Braised Short Rib of beef in red wine sauce, carrots, broccoli and celeriac mashed potato
Sake and pineapple-glazed breast of chicken with asparagus and mashed potatoes
Cheese ravioli with a roast pepper sauce
Main Course couscous salad with herb marinated shrimp and lemon olive oil dressing
Chocolate Pecan Tart
Cheddar and Blue Cheese
A selection of fruit
Between meals, please help yourself to a drink or a tasty snack. Please visit the Club Kitchen and help yourself to the selection on display.
Snack salads, sandwiches, filled rolls and wraps
Fresh Fruit salads and fruit smoothies or juice
Choice of luxury cakes
Crisps and chocolate (including organic chocolate)
Chilled orange juice
An energizing fruit smoothie
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
A selection of warm breads and breakfast pastries
Classic English Breakfast of scrambled egg, grilled bacon, pork sausage, mushrooms and grilled tomato
Mushroom Omlette with grilled tomato and hash-brown potatoes
Stir-Fried soba noodles with shrimps
Ground Coffee, decaffeinated coffee or tea
Selection of herbal teas – green tea with jasmine, peppermint, blackcurrant or camomile and honey
Well they missed me for the pre-takeoff beverage service, but not a big deal. They did not address me by my last name, but are very friendly and available throughout the flight. They always insist on you taking part of a nice cranberry apple juice or ask if you need more food or drinks. The F/As are pretty personable and always offer an extra roll or cup of tea.
The new television screen is much larger, and the AVOD is a nice addition to the personal entertainment system. Selection of TVs and movies is good and the touch screen functions are easy to use. No break down of the system, except a little difficult in starting the system shortly after takeoff.
Descent began at 7am but due to ATC, we did not land till 7:54am on R/W27R. We parked at Bay 409 at 8:05am. My major problem with the flight came after we deplaned. During breakfast time, the purser made an announcement concerning the breakdown of the luggage system at Terminal four the day before at Heathrow. He has received instruction that the system was not fixed and all passengers were required to exit immigration and custom and picked up their bags at the baggage claim despite some of us are connecting to another destination. Yes, you can imagine our faces and why Heathrow is so awful (and more, is BA ready for the opening of terminal five?) The purser came to each premium passenger apologizing about the situation and gave us the fast track invitations, which are very helpful.
So you can imagine many of us were in a hurry to leave the plane, and the immigration lines were very unpleasant and many angry passengers were trying to catch a connecting flight and faced this long line. The sad part was that no ground crew was waiting for late connecting passengers at the gate, and most importantly, no one has bothered to tell passengers that the baggage system was fixed and now we can go directly to the connecting flights and check points. Finally at the baggage claims, after waiting thirty minutes, a ground agent made the unpleasant announcement that the baggage system has been fixed and we do not need to pick up our bags and rechecked them. So now we had to travel to terminal one through the long way, and faced another long security checkpoints.
BA really drops the ball at Heathrow and how can it not send a staff making a very basic announcement after the plane was parked? At least kept the purser updated on the baggage situation, so many of us can go directly to the connecting gate instead of facing those long immigration lines and all the hassles. The flight itself was fine and gave high marks to the flight attendants, but the catering is very weak. So far, 2008 marks with these new fancy seats, but catering suffers major cuts left and right at the premium cabin. Nobody seems to work on improving catering, and the new seats do not often work as well as they should be on papers.
Anyway, I include a brief photo album on my connecting flight to FCO. Also my flight on Delta Airlines from FCO to JFK.
The next trip report will be on Virgin America’s inaugural flight to Seattle from San Francisco.
Gkyip From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 163 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 9754 times:
Good report and thanks for sharing with us! Nice pics as well!
Quoting Carfield (Thread starter): Nobody seems to work on improving catering, and the new seats do not often work as well as they should be on papers
I totally agree, it is unacceptable really that for a brand new product, the seats do not all work properly. I was travelling back from HKG last month in CW and the armrest was loose
Quoting Carfield (Thread starter): Most importantly, a better cleaning team should be hired and more lighting is needed in the cabin.
Cleaning definitely needs improving, especially with the new colours that show off dirt really well. Also, they never seem to clean the tables and surfaces and I always have to use my hot towel to clean my table.
Club World's signature feature is the flat bed and it is unmistakably the best and most useful feature.
Quoting Carfield (Thread starter): First, there is no separate linen to cover the table, which is a big no-no in any premium cabin service. Second, dessert should be all fruit, cheese and dessert, not cheese or fruit or dessert
It must be remembered that while BA have FIRST, there has to be some separation between the two cabins. Certainly, the seat is almost now of the same size and although privacy in FIRST is better, sometimes a window seat in Club can be more private. I think catering and PJs are about the only thing that would justify the huge gap in ticket prices.
Quoting Carfield (Thread starter): The next trip report will be on Virgin America’s inaugural flight to Seattle from San Francisco.
Great, can't wait!
The strength of the turbulence is directly proportional to the temperature of your coffee
SASDC8 From Norway, joined Mar 2006, 784 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 9227 times:
Thanks for another nice report Carfield. I think that the new CW seat/cabin look's really sharp, but the lack storage space is a let down. I guess that the window seats on the upper level has more storage space do to the 747's storage bins by the wall's?
Looking forward to your next TR on Virgin America.
Bellerophon From United Kingdom, joined May 2002, 586 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 8949 times:
I was very interested to read your trip report, because ... er ... I was also on your flight.
I thought your report was well written and well balanced, and made some valid points. If I may comment on some of the points you make, please accept that I am not trying to excuse or defend what happened, merely trying to provide you with a fuller explanation.
...the BA agents at BKK were wonderful ...
They will be delighted when I show them your comments.
...The only minus point was that none of them mentioned about the delays...
The delay occurred because, following the replacement of all four cargo fire extinguisher bottles on this aircraft by engineering in SYD, regrettably one of the new bottles would not test correctly. This took a considerable time to rectify, resulting in a late departure from SYD, and as you say, a late arrival into BKK.
The estimated likely delay, of around ninety minutes, to your departure would have been confirmed when the aircraft was wheels up out of SYD. At the time you checked-in, this delay would therefore have been known about for something like six to seven hours, so why you weren't told about it, I don't know, but please accept my apologies.
...door closed at 1:41am and we pushed back five minutes later. With the closure of R/W19L-1R, there is a long wait for takeoff this evening. We finally took off at 2:23am from R/W1L...
It is regrettable that runway closures are already happening at such a new airport.
Not only does it lengthen take-off queues, and thereby cause delay, but it also causes delay in another way.
For aircraft routing over Afghanistan, clearance to enter Afghan airspace, at a particular time and place, has to be obtained before getting airborne from the departure airfield. Afghan ATC issues this clearance (called a BOBCAT clearance) and then Thai ATC calculates a wheels-up time from BKK that will allow us to achieve this.
If this wheels-up time is missed, due to airfield delays, another BOBCAT clearance must be obtained, leading to further delay before take-off whilst this clearance is obtained. BA10 got airborne on its third BOBCAT clearance that night!
...BKK was just a poorly designed airport...
You might think that, I, of course, couldn't possibly comment!
...My major problem with the flight came after we deplaned....During breakfast time, the purser made an announcement concerning the breakdown of the luggage system at Terminal four the day before at Heathrow. He has received instruction that the system was not fixed and all passengers were required to exit immigration and custom and picked up their bags at the baggage claim despite some of us are connecting to another destination. ...
This was indeed the information that we received an hour or so out of LHR, and which we were asked to pass on to our passengers. I understand that the transfer baggage system went down the day before, following a software upgrade that malfunctioned.
By definition, this will only affect those passengers connecting to another destination, and as you imply, is a major nuisance and unwanted inconvenience.
...The sad part was that no ground crew was waiting for late connecting passengers at the gate...
Normally there would be, but what happened on that particular day I can't say. I can say that all available ground staff were trying to sort out the baggage chaos, with interline and missed connection bags stacking up everywhere, and office staff were even drafted in from BA's head office at Waterside to assist.
...no one has bothered to tell passengers that the baggage system was fixed and now we can go directly to the connecting flights and check points....
I don't know at what time the baggage transfer system became serviceable that day, but I can say that the crew contacted BA Ops just before the aircraft parked, and were told that the previously issued advice was still valid.
Everyone on the ground was desperately waiting for the baggage system to become serviceable again, and it was in everyone's interest to let passengers know as soon as possible that it was working. If that didn't happen, and you were needlessly sent through Customs and Immigration to collect your own bags, then no wonder you were annoyed! Again, please accept my apologies.
...BA really drops the ball at Heathrow...
It appears from what you've written that there were things we might have done better. I can only say that vast majority of BA staff genuinely do their best to help in these situations, and get just as annoyed (well, nearly just as annoyed) as you, when things go wrong, particularly when the baggage transfer equipment, which is owned and maintained by the BAA, not BA, fails.
...is BA ready for the opening of terminal five?...
Your judgement on that will be much more important than mine, but I've just been on my first visit to T5, and I have to say I was genuinely very impressed, and I hope than in due course you will be too. This new terminal could be the best thing to happen to BA in a while.
It would be naive not to expect a few teething troubles at first, but once we've settled in to our new home, I do think that BA should be able to provide a much improved passenger experience all round.
As I said at the start, I'm not trying to make excuses for any shortcomings, just trying to provide a fuller explanation.
I do hope, when you next fly with us, we'll hear your views on T5
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1982 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (7 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 8863 times:
Thanks Bellerophon for your detailed response!
I really appreciate your explanation of the problems that the aircraft faced. I was really not bothered by the delay because I flew in and out of BKK the day before and have already knew about the problems with single runway operation at BKK. I was not surprised at all. Also I booked myself a connection flight to Rome later that morning (the original purpose was to enjoy the first class lounge and got a shower before continuing to Rome), instead of the first available flight, so I was confident about making the connection.
About the baggage problem, I have a better understanding of it now but still think that BA can do a better job. But at least BAA got it fixed and I indeed got all my bags at Rome with no problem.