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GLA-LHR-GLA, Comparison Between BD And BA  
User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3254 posts, RR: 21
Posted (11 years 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5571 times:

Hi all,

I was in Glasgow for 10 days and did GLA-LHR-GLA (for work-related
reasons) twice within a week, once on BD and once on BA. I thought I'd
write a quick report comparing my experiences on the two carriers.
Notice that the ratings I give are only based on the these two trips,
so don't read too much into them.


Flight Details

The requirements on both trips were similar: catch the earliest flight
to LHR and catch a late-ish flight back to GLA on the same day. I
ended up flying on the following:

Thu, May 12, 2005
BD 001, GLA 630am to LHR 800am, A320, seat 9A
BD 014, LHR 940pm to GLA 1055pm, A320, seat 5A

Wed, May 18, 2005
BA 1473 GLA 605am to LHR 730am, A320, seat 16F
BA 1496 LHR 800pm to GLA 920pm, B752, seat 11F



In terms of frequency, BD does pretty well between GLA and LHR with 8
flights per day, but BA does exceptionally well with 10 (plus 4 more
between GLA and LGW). BD's earliest flight (BD001) leaves at 630am,
whereas BA's earliest flight (BA1473) leaves at 605am. Getting up for
the 630am flight was difficult enough, but catching the 605am was pure
torture ( what are they thinking?  yawn  ). However, BA do have one more
flight back to GLA after 6pm in the evening, giving you a bit more

Ratings: A for BD, A+ for BA



I used the self check-in kiosks in both cases. I found BD's very easy
to use. I put in my Amex, I confirmed my flight number, I chose a seat
(using a very nice and intuitive interface), and out came the boarding
pass. Would you like to check-in for the return flight? Yes
please. Out came the second boarding pass. This time, however, it
didn't allow me to choose a seat. So, I put the boarding pass back in
(the "prompt" indicated that I should do so, if I wanted to change
anything), the system found my details, then gave me the option to
choose my seat, and out came the new boarding pass. Useful, fast,
intuitive, and a piece of cake. And I got the seats I wanted (see

Even though BA's self check-in kiosk was also easy to use, for some
reason I didn't like it as much as BD's. I put in my Amex, then I was
asked for the booking reference number (which I had to fish out of my
wallet), then I had to give the flight number (and let's face it: 001
is easier to remember than 1473). It then allowed me to choose a seat,
but it only showed availability for middle seats. OUCH!  crazy 
Would you like to check-in for the return flight? Sure. At least I got
a window seat for that. I should point out that, when I got to the
gate, I asked at a BA desk whether I could move to a window seat and a
very helpful lady managed to to find one for me (she had to call and
ask someone; I assume some had been kept for very frequent flyers?).

Ratings: A+ for BD, A- for BA



Similar on both airlines. BD just called general boarding and everyone
queued politely at the gate ( it is the UK after all!  bigthumbsup  ).
On the leg to LHR, BA called pre-boarding first, then called for the
back rows to board, then the front rows. On the way back to GLA, they
just called general boarding. Neither called frequent flyers first.

Ratings: A- for BD, A- for BA


Planes / Cabin

BD's 'buses are relatively new, with clean and pristine interiors and
very pleasant colors and decoration: bright, but very tastefully done
(see picture, below left). BD has two classes, business and economy. A
moving curtain separates the two classes. On the way to LHR, business
had 8 rows, on the way back it had 4 rows. Each row can be converted
from a 3-3 config (economy) to a 2-3 config (business). In the latter
config, the row to the left (while looking forward, towards the
cockpit) of the aisle gets squeezed, the arm rests are moved so that A
and C are wider and B is eliminated (but it can still serve as useful
"storage space"). The row to the right of the aisle is expanded so
that D, E, and F are wider. An interesting observation is that the A
and C seats of the first economy row are in the business class
config. I had ended up on them a few times in the past and I wondered
whether that had happened by accident. But, the seat map at the self
check-in machine reflected this. And the A seat was available for both
legs, so this made both flights confortable. They wider seats were
nice, but the best thing about sitting on that row was the fact that I
could put my stuff on the unoccupied B seat. Both legs were almost

When I got on BA's A320 I was a bit shocked. The interior looked
really worn out (mainly the panelling, the seats were OK), and the
paint on the wing was flaking. I know that BA acquired A320s
reasonably recently so I expected it to look quite new. However, a
quick look at the wing tip showed the absence of the traditional fence
winglet, hence I can only assume that it was an old A320-100 (built in
1988-1989) inherited from British Caledonian (someone please correct
me if I'm wrong!). BA has a strange setup for their GLA-LHR flights
with the entire plane being considered as C class. All seats are
leather with movable headrests. However, on the way to LHR, the
headrest kept moving under my head and it was pretty unconfortable (it
was fine on the way back). The cabin color is mainly dark blue (see
picture, below right), which I didn't find as pleasant as BD's. The
B757 on the way back to GLA had similar seats to the A320, but the
interior was in a better condition. In that flight, I had a bulkhead
seat, and the seat next to me was unoccupied, so it was very
confortable. On the way down, the A320 was totally full. On the way
back the B757 was I'd say 1/2 to 2/3s full.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Mark Allen
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Antoine Ossadzow

Ratings: A+ for BD, B for BA


Safety Demonstration

For the safety demonstration BD played a video on pull down
screens. Some of the crew stood on the aisles during it and only
pointed out the location of the emergency exits. The video was modern
and tasteful. BA had the "old-fashioned" safety demonstration, with
the crew putting on really worn out life vests to demonstrate how to
use them.

Ratings: A for BD, B for BA


Meal Service

In the morning flight, BD offered either a hot scrambled egg panini or
a hot bacon wrap. I had the former and it was actually good (the bread
was fresh and crispy). Coffee was served in small paper cups which
made it taste ten times worse than it was. In the evening flight we
were offered a cold sandwich (I can't remember what the options were),
which was again very fresh. Drinks from the bar were free (not for
much longer apparently!).

BA did better in the morning (I assume because the entire cabin was
considered as C class) and gave us a full hot breakfast: scrambled
eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, and mushrooms, along with orange
juice and a very fresh and tasty roll. However, for me, the highlight
of the service was the proper terracotta coffee cup which made the
coffee almost taste good (BA's meal service was excellent for a less
than an hour flight; I'm not a big BA fan, but I have to give the
credit they're due). On the way back to GLA, we got a snack which
comprised a couple of cold chicken slices, some washed vegetables (my
friend Laurent's description of British salads!), a small dessert, and
a very hard and overly cold roll. I also had more coffee on an, again,
proper coffee cup. Drinks from the bar were also free.

Ratings: B+ for BD, A for BA



The F/As of both airlines were very polite and professional, but they
could have smiled a bit more. As I said earlier, BA's meal service was
more elaborate than BD's and I have to say BA's F/As did a great job
in giving out the trays, providing drinks, and collecting everything
in the short amount of time that was available to them.

In terms of flight crews, BD's were more talkative than BA's: they
made more announcements and gave us more information during the
flight. Special mention should go to BD's captain Mike Dawson. He flew
the GLA-LHR flight, but he has flown me on this route on several
occasions in the past (at least 4-5). He has a very distinctive voice
which I recognise as soon as he starts talking. And I do have to say I
get cheered up when I hear him talk. He's also very good in keeping
the passangers informed on what's happening and the reasons for any
delays, a quality that all flight crews should have in my opinion.

Ratings: A for BD, A- for BA



There were no problems deplaning from the BD planes. On both legs, we
reached our designated gate and simply walked off the plane using the
jetway. On the morning BA leg, we somehow ended up on a remote stand
and we were bussed to the terminal. This added around 10 mins or so to
the "gate-to-gate" trip. The evening leg was normal (i.e. we used the

Ratings: A for BD, B for BA



Both morning legs were basically on time: BD arrived 5 mins late and
BA arrived 5 mins early (but BA did bus us to the terminal, which
added some more time to the trip). Both evening legs were late (which
seems to be the norm at LHR). In the case of BD, we boarded late due
to the late arrival of the plane, which got us to GLA about 20 mins
late. In the case of BA, it was a similar story. However, we were also
delayed pushing back (the flight to EDI pushed back first and blocked
us while it was starting up its engines), we well as being number 6
for take off and having to wait for a number of widebodies to take off
first. At the end, we reached GLA 30 mins late. Neither delay was too
bad. But, as I had woken up before 4am on both days, I was tired, and
any minute added to the flight time felt like a century.

Ratings: A- for BD, A- for BA


Some Notes

I saw a few cool planes during these two trips. At GLA I saw a
flyglobespan.com (scottish LCC) B738 with winglets and sans
"eyebrows"; I assume it was brand new and it looked really cool. At
LHR I saw two Emirates B773s (one landing, one taking off), an
Icelandair flying pencil (i.e. B753), an Etihad A330 (I believe this
is the first Etihad plane I've seen "in flesh"), BA's B757 with the
kiddie paintings on it (it looks ridiculous), and a BA A319 with the
right fence winglet missing.

It was quite incredible how much more laid back security is in the UK
compared to the US. I did both trips with only my laptop bag. I was
not asked to remove my laptop and I was not asked to take off my
shoes, belt, or jacket (and the metal detector still didn't
beep). Also in neither trip I was asked for a photo id.

I used to teach at Glasgow University and, during the second trip, I
met three of my ex-students (two at a customer site and one at LHR on
the way back)! It was pretty weird.

Finally, I do have to mention how amasing the B757 take off was! The
plane was half-full, without much fuel and probably without many
pieces of luggage either. And as soon as the pilot throttled up the
engines, I got glued at the back of my seat. We were airborne in less
than 30 secs and at an incredible angle of attack (OK, for a
commercial airliner that is; F15 pilots please don't make fun of me!).
AWESOME!  bigthumbsup 



I liked both airlines and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
I'd happily fly either (even though I'd probably prefer BD as I try to
get all my miles on Star Alliance). Oh, and before someone points out
that the comparison between BD's economy class and BA's C class is
unfair, consider that BA charges prices similar to BD's (in fact, I
booked the second trip less than two days before I flew and BA quoted
me a price which was half of what BD quoted).

Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineHighpeaklad From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 538 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5538 times:

If I remember correctly all BA domestic flights (certainly the old "shuttle" routes) are designated as C class. They are still economy class, it just says C class on your ticket, so you are actually comparing BMI economy with BA economy. Its nice to read a good report , and even better that you take what I consider to be normal operations ie. a remote stand, or a few minutes delay in your stride and don't consider them to be reasons to "never fly this airline again" like some others.

Keep up the good work.


Don't try to keep up with the Joneses - bring them down to your level !
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5243 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (11 years 5 days ago) and read 5495 times:

Hi Tony,
interesting report at all.
Especially, while I will fly BA and BD on the same route like you in late August,
now I´ve been well prepared for it.
Markus /FLIEGER67)

User currently offlineA340600 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 4108 posts, RR: 49
Reply 3, posted (11 years 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 5484 times:


Interesting report, but you were in Y on BA too. Shame, BD wont be the same after Aug 1st Sad

Sam Smile

Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3254 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (11 years 3 days ago) and read 5283 times:

Hey guys,

I'm glad you liked the report.

Quoting Highpeaklad (Reply 1):
Its nice to read a good report , and even better that you take what I consider to be normal operations ie. a remote stand, or a few minutes delay in your stride and don't consider them to be reasons to "never fly this airline again" like some others.

If, everytime I flew and something minor like this happened, I decided not to fly that airline, I would have to row across the Atlantic from now on!  Smile Cheers.


Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
User currently onlineN62NA From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5047 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (10 years 12 months 16 hours ago) and read 5141 times:


Great report. I am especially interested as I am planning a European vacation in August and will be flying BD LHR-AMS-LHR, so very grateful for the BD info.

Chris in MiAAmi

User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3254 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (10 years 12 months 13 hours ago) and read 5127 times:


Quoting N62NA (Reply 5):
Great report.

Thank you very much. Glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting N62NA (Reply 5):
I am especially interested as I am planning a European vacation in August and will be flying BD LHR-AMS-LHR, so very grateful for the BD info.

Unfortunately, bmi will have gone low cost by then, so don't expect too much! More on this thread:


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!  cry 


Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
User currently onlineN62NA From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5047 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (10 years 12 months 2 hours ago) and read 5105 times:


Well, thanks for the heads up, though truthfully, I wasn't expecting anything except a clean plane, arrival somewhere around the scheduled time, pleasant crew and maybe a soda, as LHR-AMS is such a short flight.

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