It’s that time of year again, when I de-stress and leave my worries behind in the office and embark on a well deserved vacation. Melbourne was picked this time as I wanted something different. I decided to take a driving tour of the Great Ocean road. Driving in Singapore is a pain, with the numerous road junctions and traffic lights, one seldom gets a chance to drive long distances at high speeds. I admit I love fast cars and driving at high speeds. A drive trip to Australia would provide me with that opportunity. Furthermore, I longed to experience some nature as I was getting sick of the skyscrapers in the business district that I work in.
It just so happened that a Travel Fair was held just before the end of the year, and I managed to get myself a package to Melbourne. I had a choice of flying either BA or QF
for this trip, and I figured that it would be nice to fly BA again. I cannot recall why I didn’t choose QF
. If I had it my way all over again, I would have chosen BA outbound and QF
December came, and soon enough it was time for me to embark on my much awaited trip to Oz. I was still slogging away in the office at 4pm when I realized that I had a few last minute stuff to get for the trip. Made my way to the nearest mall and then rushed home to do some last minute packing. By the time that was done, it was almost 5pm and my flight was at 7pm.
I called for a cab and which arrived at my door step at 5.30pm sharp. Hopped on and was soon speeding down the expressway. I arrived at terminal 1 just 20 min later and met my friend at the check in counter.
Having failed to successfully check in online on BA’s website, we were left with lousy seats by the time we got to the airport. The flight was full, as it was carrying passengers who had boarded from LHR and were on their way to MEL on this extremely lucrative Kangaroo route.
Check in was done by SATS (subsidiary of Singapore Airlines), and the service was nothing to shout about. The check in agent was efficient and quick doing her job. Any request for better seats were curtly turned down… “sorry flight’s full” she went. “Any possibility of getting us the 2 seaters at the back of the aircraft?”…”sorry, flight full lah” she went again. No smiles, no eye contact, she was looking intently at her computer terminal.
We were given seats 30BC…a middle and aisle seat. That meant either my friend or me would have to decide on who gets the middle seat. For some unknown reason, my friend came down with a headache before the trip, and I had no choice but to sacrifice my comfort so that he could have the aisle seat this time round.
We headed through immigration and proceeded to the Cactus Garden for a much needed nicotine fix before boarding our flight, and later on proceeded to the gate for our flight.
Boarding had already commenced by the time we arrived at the gate. Judging by the snake like queue at security, it was clear that this was going to be a very full flight.
I wasn’t sure if boarding was conducted in an orderly fashion as more than 90% of the passengers had already boarded the aircraft by the time my friend and I entered the gate.
We walked down the aerobridge and thus began our experience with British Airways… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves from here….
were all decked in their new uniform… me thinks that the new uniform lacked character, and were in a way, boring. The male FAs wore new ties with designs that matched the FA
crew’s scarf. Come to think of it, it looked as if the female FA
were wearing the male FA
’s uniform and had the pants replaced with skirt.
The FAs seemed to be in a good mood, there were smiles all over the cabin as they chatted among themselves. However, the strange thing is that they lost their smiles whenever they communicated with the passengers.
Y seats were narrow, as narrow as the Y seats on SQ
’s 744 fleet. SQ
’s Y seats on their 772 and 773 fleets were far superior in comfort. Here’s a comparison (albeit not the best comparison as I wasn’t able to take a picture of the entire BA seat)
An inflight amenity bag was placed in every seat pocket.
Contents: Eye shades, socks, toothbrush set. Very nicely packed.
In comparison, SQ
’s amenity kit looks dated and lacking in aesthetics
So were the head sets which thankfully were not the clip on ones that are currently used on some airlines. SQ
stopped using those uncomfortable clip on earphones after 2 years, and have reverted to the very comfortable stereo sets…here’s SQ
’s head sets 2 years ago and now (BA’s headphones are as comfortable as SQ
’s new head sets, although the sound quality from SQ
’s head sets were far surperior)
(old clip on – clip ons are on the extreme left of the tray)
Announcements came on in English, welcoming passengers on board this flight. This was followed by a very rushed and inaudibly short version of the Captain’s announcement in Mandarin. Passengers were settling down and the crew stood in position to get themselves ready to point at the various emergency exits when prompted by the safety video.
Push back was approximately 20 min behind schedule and we were soon thundering down the runway at high speeds. Take off was smooth and within 15 min, the seatbelt signs had pinged off, giving the signal for the crew to begin their dinner service.
Service started with drinks and snacks…very tasty…not too salty…
Followed by dinner. No menus were provided, and I could only rely on my own imagination on how the ‘chicken’ and ‘seafood fried rice’ would look like. I picked the safer choice…”chicken”. The meal was nicely presented, spacious trays that looked like there was more space than food available… Sufficient quantity and delicious passion fruit cheese cake dessert. This was followed by a round of coffee or tea.
As dinner ended and trays were collected, the crew prepared the cabin for the night… I removed my shoes, slipped on the socks, kicked up the foot rest and tried to get comfortable for the rest of the flight….
IFE: Friends is on. Selection wasn’t great, no AVOD…I miss SQ
’s 60 movies, 200 CD
AVOD selection… The IFE control was also located at a very awkward position, requiring me to contort my arms trying to reach the controls…
The rest of the flight was uneventful. My friend’s overhead light was spoilt and he highlighted this to the crew in the galley. “No worries, we’ll just get it reset”. The lights were still down by the end of the flight, and there was no update on what whether she had tried to reset it or not…
For me, a trip to the lavatory was always necessary on flights of more than 2 hours. And once again, I cannot help but compare the state of BA’s toilets to SQ
provides extra toothbrush sets, shavers, cologn, moisturizers, mouth freshners in the lavatories on all their medium to long haul flights. The lavatories on BA looked like they were about to fall apart….hand soaps and napkins were the only things available…
BA: A whole side panel covering the paper napkins was almost falling off – unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take a picture of that…
In contrast, SQ
’s bright, well stocked lavatories on one of their older B773s…
Breakfast was served 1 ½ hours before arrival into Melbourne….Cold “all day deli”… I kinda liked the lunch bag concept… it’s definitely easier to dispose off than serving breakfast on a tray…
Melbourne just a short distance away…
We arrived in Melbourne right on time despite a delayed departure.
Overall here’s how I rate BA:
Service: 7/10 (not warm, but efficient. Minimal interaction with passengers of any race). Crew: 7.5/10 Friendly if you chat up with them. You have to initiate, else they’d rather just read their newspapers in the galley.
I hope the picture links work …
There's always a better way to fly...