Welcome to bmi British Midland International.
Route : LHR-VIE
Aircraft : Airbus A319 / G-DBCE
On arrival from Manchester, I made my way to bmi's Business Lounge entitled "ThE Great British Lounge", this lounge is little over a year old, but was formerly known as "No 1 Heathrow".
The lounge has great views over LHR ramp and active runway, huge glass windows allow daylight to flood into the lounge and comfortable lounge chairs (complete with footstools) or semi-private cabanas give an air of luxury and exclusivity to this lounge.
There are ample work area with PC's, complementary WiFi which are separated from the main lounge space by blue glass. The lounge feels quite intimate, despite being quite a large space, it is cleverly decided up. The large circular servery, compete with Aga stove and separate, well stocked "the local" horse-shoe bar further break up what could have been a large and monotonous space.
Food offerings have been improved too. Where there was once just crisps and peanuts, regardless of the time of day. However, there is now breakfast, with cereals, porridge (on the Aga, of course!) bacon rolls (yum!) and fresh fruit. In the late morning salad choices and sandwiches replace the breakfast items...as a crisp fanatic I am happy to see mountains of kettle chips, in various flavours, still available. The coffee is good too and there is a wide range of tea's, after all this is The Great British Lounge. There is also a selection of hard boiled sweets to choose from. This is defianately a lounge of temptations.
All too soon it was time to leave the land of hard boiled sweets, crisps, bacon rolls, WiFi, comfy loungers and incredible views and actually board. My craft today would be one of BDs A319s, rather than the scheduled A320. 'CE' is one of the lower density aircraft, with wardrobes and convertible seating. Oddly I find these less comfortable than the higher density 144 Y birds in the fleet. The seats are hard and legroom is more limited. In any case all BD A319/320 will get "new" seats, covered in tasteful brown leather, as Lufthnasa installs super lightweight, super slim "NEK" seats on it's own airbus fleet. Oddly this aircraft has convertible seats but no cabin divider (contrast that with my domestic flight which had a cabin divider but not variable geometry seats..bmi time indeed!). The only difference between Y and C was a thin blue edging on the headrest covers.
Eventually all forty passengers found their seats (including 4 in business class) and we were pushed back. Jackets were hung and newspapers brought round but no welcome drink was offered. The cabin manager came around to discuss meal choices, either a roast chicken lunch or mushroom pasta. I choose the chicken, no com paints with the main, but the presentation was unimpressive. The beatroot coleslaw was at cabin temperature (semi warm mayonnaise, yeuch!) and the small flapjack does not cut it as a pudding. A snack with tea, perhaps but not pudding! If anyone remembers what Business Class used to be like on BD before it was canned on UK routes, it's pretty much the same, just served on a tray and with real crockery and silverware. Disappointing. The oteh roption was the pasta, which I had on the return journey. I will inculde a picture. This was about as tasty as it looks, not very!
I slept fornthe reminder of the flight, until I was woken gently on our final approach into VIE, as my seat was reclined.
Arrival into VIE was bumpy, with a quick taxi to one of the D gates. Jet a short walk to baggage reclaim and "Exit Vienna"
I'll include some snaps of the BD domestic service in "flexible Economy" in some ways, this is better than BS' self proclaimed "comparable to Austrian" standard catering.
This caterin was also served to Economy passengers on the VIE-LHR and LHR-VIE sectors.
My return MAN-LHR was operaed by a mid-haul A321, which we boarded by Door L2, a new experience for me. This is a shot of BD's current Mid-Haul cabin. It is currently being refreshed with new brown leather seat covering.
There have been some positive changes to the BD service over the past few months, but overall bmi is still not quite there in Euro business class. By comparison this is what used to be served in Premium Economy to CAI, about 12 months ago, which was much better in size, presentation and quality.
The domestic product in "Flexible Economy" is up to par and will only be enhanced when the new seats are introduced across the entire fleet. BD needs to work a bit harder with business class on the new routes. If BD promises catering of OS standards it needs to realise that OS is several notches above this. The aircraft themselves are clean and comfortable and the crews are above average. The lounge offerings at T1 are also very good and T1 is a very easy place to connect at these days.
I hope you have enjoyed this TR, any questions or comments are gratefully received.
[Edited 2011-02-09 10:19:54]