Ryanair01
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:16 pm

Outbound

Flight: BA894
From: LHR
To: KEF
Sch dep: 0710
Sch arr: 1025
Act are: 0954
Flight time: 2h 32m
Aircraft: Airbus A320 G-EUYW


G-EUYW on its delivery flight

I’ve been back and forth between the UK and Iceland for much of this year. However, until now I’d not used BA on the route.

Wow: https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1400129
easyjet: https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1408067

Beforehand, I treated myself to a night at the Renaissance Hotel at Heathrow Airport. For those who might be unfamiliar, it is right next to runway 27R. When 27R is in use, you can actually see the pilots as the aircraft lands.

Unfortunately the 27s were not in use, but I still had a great view of aircraft taxiing to and from Terminal 2. I decided to take a trip over for dinner to Terminal 2 because there is a bar with great runway views.

Room view
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Room view
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Terminal 2
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Unfortunately the glare makes photography a bit difficult, but it was good fun to sit and watch the planes take off in relative comfort.

Next morning I got the free local bus over to Heathrow Central and then the free Piccadilly Line link from Central to T5. One nice feature of the Piccadilly Line is that has some aviation themed art.

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Having checked in via the BA app I walked straight up to security. Literally as it turns out, probably the first time I’ve managed to get through T5 security without a long wait. For some reason I buzzed, so that caused a quick trip through the body scanner. The staff were very professional.

Before long the app was telling me to head for Gate A10, a bus gate.

I did find it a little annoying the departure screens all displayed “Reykjavik”. This might seem an odd point, but Reykjavik has a passenger airport, it’s just BA doesn’t fly there. Keflavik, where BA flies, is 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

Our buses were loading by boarding group order, which ironically meant as a lowly Group 5 passenger I actually was the third person to board the aircraft.

One odd point I noticed was the passenger’s age. Being fairly regular on the route, usually Iceland flights are full of millennial types. BA seemed full of older passengers plus tourists from Asia. To see such different groups on the same route was interesting to me, perhaps showing how different airline brands are perceived.

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After walking up the stairs I was greeted very warmly by an extremely professional stewardess wearing their hat. That’ll be mixed fleet then. One interesting tit bit was that they no longer check boarding passes for short haul.

G-EUYW is one of BA’s newer A320s, delivered 4.5 years ago. Not having flown BA much recently I’m unsure if the mood lighting is featured across their fleet or not. I am a fan.

Boarding
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Seated in Row 28C (the last row) I naturally was tuned into Galley FM, if I wanted to be or not. There were two stewards, discussing that they’d only just managed to fit people’s bags in despite having 30 empty seats. The problem they concluded was coats, with Iceland being a cold place, that and “Heathrow let anything on” being the other.

During boarding there were a couple of welcome announcements, but I couldn’t understand what was being said because the crew member had a very strong accent.

Boarding was completed a little early, which the pilots thanked us for in their announcement. It wasn’t an especially comprehensive announcement, but he did let us know the weather in Keflavik was good.

BA’s new ‘funny’ safety video followed. I guess comedy is a matter of taste, but some reason this made me cringe somewhat. What do you think? https://youtu.be/LI_E42ecnn8

After take off it was around half an hour before the service started. This is noticeably slower than Wow or Easyjet on the Keflavik run. However the crew were busy preparing the trolley fairly soon after take off, leading me to think it’s BA’s logistics letting the side down.

I suspect it is because BA offer quite a wide range of buy on board items, a mixed blessing I suppose.

Menu
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Magazines
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With two crew dedicated to Club Europe, only two crew carry out the whole economy class service. This is actually a poorer crew to passenger ratio than Ryanair. As such, the service took a long time to pass through.

I decided to go for a coffee. The crew missed me, but I managed to flag them. I really dislike this coffee cup, the granules seep through and trying to aim milk pods through the hole is fine if you don’t have arthritis. Not only that, but the water was luke warm at best. A bit of a fail.

Coffee
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The cabin environment was actually quite nice and well maintained.

There are small touches which make a very basic specification seem a little nicer, such as reclining seats and the winged headrests. These are of course going soon, but it is fairly comfortable for a mid distance journey. Knee room was fine too.

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Service complete, one steward then talked ‘at’ the other without taking breath until Keflavik, except when they walked the duty free trolley through. Apparently Uxbridge has no good bars and if you live in High Wycombe the Marylebone line is nice and quick.

The cockpit came back on around 30 minutes outside of Keflavik to let us know we were running a little early. The Club Europe crew emerged to help collect rubbish. The economy stewards checked people were ready for landing, occasionally asking people with their tray tables down and seats reclined to stow them and then sometimes not bothering.

Landing at Keflavik was quite fast but very smooth. Again, it annoyed me the crew announced, “welcome to Reykjavik”, it’s a bit like landing at Stansted and announcing “welcome to London City”.

Inbound

Flight: BA801
From: KEF
To: LHR
Sch dep: 1645 (1705 actual)
Sch arr: 1950 (2005 actual)
Flight time: 2h 58m
Aircraft: Airbus A320 G-EUUZ



My time in Iceland was somewhat brisk, but I did manage to get an hour or so to sneak away and enjoy the scenery.

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Keflavik was struggling to cope with passenger volumes.

To start, the hire car return area was so busy there was no space to return my car

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Fortunately I wasn’t checking a bag, but had I been the queue was fierce.

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Here is the queue to get upstairs to the boarding pass check queue.

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Here is the boarding pass check queue.

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I couldn’t film at security, but yes, you can imagine how bad the queue was. In departures the queue for food was more than ten deep. I headed down to Zone C which has a couple of very quiet little food places no one knows about and I had a small snack before boarding. Zone C for food and drink is my top tip for Keflavik.

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The queue for non EU passport checks was so long, passengers with EU passports couldn’t reach their counters. I ended up having to just push through. At the gate a queue formed with staff checking passports and boarding passes. When boarding started, a new queue formed because we were not allowed to board yet and ended up in a holding area.

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Clearly, it was time for another queue on the airbridge. Slightly disconcertingly just as I was about to step aboard, the airbridge dropped. Whilst the drop was not massive, maybe two or three inches, it was unnerving.

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Overall, Keflavik seemed to make simple things hard.

The crew welcomed me aboard warmly and made a good first impression. I was surprised to see the Club Europe section reached all the way back to the over wing exits. BA had been pushing a £109 upgrade, but when I checked it out they system wouldn’t let me upgrade.

Once again I was seated in 28C, the final row. It was a struggle for people to find luggage space, but the crew did work hard to help out.

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The crew also made several announcements asking for passengers to help by placing coats under the seat in front of you. Once boarding was complete, the cockpit came on to let us know our departure would be delayed due to a taxiway at Heathrow being closed.

Being sat next to toilets I felt sorry for the crew as around a dozen people used the lavatories, all to find out the water wasn’t pumping on the ground and they had a hand full of soap. About a dozen times the crew had to find napkins so the soap could be wiped off.

Rather oddly, whilst we were at the gate the safety video started, then stopped. A little over five minutes later it randomly started up where it had left off.

We sat at the end of the runway with the engines at full take off power and the brakes on. Take off seemed quite long.

Once airborne the buy on board service started quickly, but with only two crew it took a full hour to reach me. I opted for a tapas pack and diet coke. It cost around £6 which wasn’t too bad.

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After the service was completed the lights were dimmed.

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There was no duty free run, rather one of the crew walked through holding a copy of the brochure up.

We circled for quite some time before a speedy landing and a taxi via the inner taxiway. Due to a computer fault our gate changed and we had to sit for around ten minutes whilst this was resolved before eventually docking at the main Terminal 5 building.

Conclusion

That kind of summarises how I feel about the service. Nothing was terrible, but most things were delivered wrong. The crews were not rude, but the service was disorganised and crew missed a lot. It was a bit like my flights to/from Sydney last year https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1401287, somehow on BA things don’t come together and low level sloppy mistakes occur more than aboard other airlines.

When I concluded about my easyjet flights between London and Keflavik two weeks ago I said, “overall it was a very professional experience. At just £46 return, new aircraft, operated on time by professional crew - there is very little bad one can say”.

By comparison, BA was more expensive, the aircraft older, less on time and the crews were less professional. I can't therefore recommend them over easyjet from a quality perspective, although BA weren't 'bad' by any means.
 
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ClassicLover
Posts: 4477
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:40 am

Ryanair01 wrote:
After walking up the stairs I was greeted very warmly by an extremely professional stewardess wearing their hat. That’ll be mixed fleet then. One interesting tit bit was that they no longer check boarding passes for short haul.

G-EUYW is one of BA’s newer A320s, delivered 4.5 years ago. Not having flown BA much recently I’m unsure if the mood lighting is featured across their fleet or not. I am a fan.

The crew welcomed me aboard warmly and made a good first impression. I was surprised to see the Club Europe section reached all the way back to the over wing exits. BA had been pushing a £109 upgrade, but when I checked it out they system wouldn’t let me upgrade.


They haven't checked boarding passes at the door for short haul in a long while now. It makes perfect sense to me - you've just had it checked in the terminal to get through the gate, so checking it again is superfluous. It makes sense on long haul as people need to be directed to the correct aisle, and also left or right.

The mood lighting is across the entire fleet. It went in when the seats changed several years ago. It's quite nice and makes the cabin look pretty slick.

It's a shame you weren't able to snag the £109 upgrade. I would have taken their hand off at that price. BA often have Club Europe back to the exits - they certainly sell a lot of business class tickets on some short-haul routes.

I can understand your feelings on the why pay more aspect. That being said, BA is often really cheap as well - far more than people expect. I purchased a same day return last year in November for a flight about 10 days later and it was €78 in total DUB-LHR-DUB. It was out and back on a Saturday or a Sunday, but there are bargains to be had.

Really nice report! I have heard Keflavik is a zoo because of the current popularity of Iceland as a tourist destination. Those crowds are grim!
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
KLDC10
Posts: 1175
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:15 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Tue Nov 27, 2018 6:33 pm

Nice report, thanks for sharing.

The BA shorthaul service is what it is. I don't like it, and I'd choose other airlines over BA, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to avoid it if the price were right.. Ordinary passengers still associate the British Airways brand with a premium service offering and I consider their short haul economy service to be extremely stingy. That said, I'm given to understanding that Club Europe is still a solid offering, and that there have even been some improvements in the catering area. The slow service is unfortunate, and I'd recommend flying with Icelandair if ever you return to Keflavik/Reykjavik. Usually cheaper than BA, hot and soft drinks are included, and there is always more than one trolley service in economy (usually two FAs work front to back, while one or two also work back to front).

Keflavik Airport is far too small for the number of passengers now passing through on a daily basis. I have used Icelandair for transatlantic travel on multiple occasions, beginning in 2014, and the increase in passenger numbers since then has been marked. Unfortunately, the planned expansion cannot come quickly enough, and using the airport has become a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Food at the airport is also extremely expensive, which makes the experience even worse.

Thanks again for the report.
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747fly
Posts: 22
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Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:05 am

Slightly disconcertingly just as I was about to step aboard, the airbridge dropped. Whilst the drop was not massive, maybe two or three inches, it was unnerving.

That will be the automatic levelling function - as the aircraft gets heavier, it gets lower so the air bridge automatically goes down do stay level with the aircraft. If it didn’t there’s a risk the aircraft could get damaged, including the door being ripped off. Next time you board from an air bridge, have a look under the door, there should be a pad which detects movement.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1838
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:43 pm

When I flew from London to Bucharest the BA fare was 300 pounds one way compared to 100 pounds on Tarom. Also Tarom give a small meal unlike BA. The only negative was that the toilet seat had not been cleaned in 20 years and was permanently brown but I can live with that especially saving 200 pounds.
 
RJNUT
Posts: 1644
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 1999 1:58 am

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:09 pm

thanks for the post

this made me laugh!

"Service complete, one steward then talked ‘at’ the other without taking breath until Keflavik, except when they walked the duty free trolley through. Apparently Uxbridge has no good bars and if you live in High Wycombe the Marylebone line is nice and quick. "
 
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stl07
Posts: 904
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 8:57 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:53 pm

Have you ever flown on London city-KEF?

I thought crowds die down at KEF during the winter - guess not.
 
RamblinMan
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Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:57 pm

Most of the world considers KEF to be "Reykjavik." It's not unique in that regard, FCO, for example, is also quite a ways from the Pantheon, and Fiumicino is its own town, but the destination is "Rome." ICN would be another example of the exact same thing. Both Rome and Seoul have smaller closer-in airports with the main international airports located in the outlying towns, but the destination is still the larger city. Calling it "Keflavik" on departure boards would only confuse people who aren't familiar with Iceland and only know they are heading to Reykjavik.
 
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mke717spotter
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 9:32 am

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:41 am

Nice trip report and pictures. The explosion of flights going in/out KEF in recent years is sort of amazing. I'd like to do a road trip around Iceland in the next year or two. Is one night in the city of Reykjavik itself enough?

Ryanair01 wrote:
I did find it a little annoying the departure screens all displayed “Reykjavik”. This might seem an odd point, but Reykjavik has a passenger airport, it’s just BA doesn’t fly there. Keflavik, where BA flies, is 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

Listing it as "Reykjavik-Keflavik" would be more appropriate IMHO.
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Ryanair01
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:15 am

ClassicLover wrote:
It's a shame you weren't able to snag the £109 upgrade. I would have taken their hand off at that price. BA often have Club Europe back to the exits - they certainly sell a lot of business class tickets on some short-haul routes.

Really nice report! I have heard Keflavik is a zoo because of the current popularity of Iceland as a tourist destination. Those crowds are grim!


It was a real shame and not the first time it has happened to me. As KEF is classed as a band 4 route I think would have been a very enjoyable service.

The crowds at KEF caught me be surprise, it was my 10th trip through KEF this year but I'd never travelled at peak hub time before. Outside of it KEF is a very user friendly airport, but gees it was grim.

mke717spotter wrote:
Nice trip report and pictures. The explosion of flights going in/out KEF in recent years is sort of amazing. I'd like to do a road trip around Iceland in the next year or two. Is one night in the city of Reykjavik itself enough?

Ryanair01 wrote:
I did find it a little annoying the departure screens all displayed “Reykjavik”. This might seem an odd point, but Reykjavik has a passenger airport, it’s just BA doesn’t fly there. Keflavik, where BA flies, is 50 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

Listing it as "Reykjavik-Keflavik" would be more appropriate IMHO.


That's what most airlines do and it seems to work fine. If Reykjavik (IATA: RVK) wasn't a fully functioning passenger airport, then it wouldn't annoy me. Kind of ironic after the fuss BA used to make about the budget airlines and their airports.

RamblinMan wrote:
Most of the world considers KEF to be "Reykjavik." It's not unique in that regard, FCO, for example, is also quite a ways from the Pantheon, and Fiumicino is its own town, but the destination is "Rome." ICN would be another example of the exact same thing. Both Rome and Seoul have smaller closer-in airports with the main international airports located in the outlying towns, but the destination is still the larger city. Calling it "Keflavik" on departure boards would only confuse people who aren't familiar with Iceland and only know they are heading to Reykjavik.


I'm not sure it confuses people as every year passengers on every airline other than BA cope just fine. The Rome comparison is a little different, there is no passenger airport called Rome, there is Rome Ciampino and Rome Fiumicino. There is an airport called Reykjavik (IATA: RVK) which has passenger flights. To say you are flying there when you are not is a bit inept.

stl07 wrote:
Have you ever flown on London city-KEF?

I thought crowds die down at KEF during the winter - guess not.


I've not as it has always been too expensive.

RJNUT wrote:
thanks for the post

this made me laugh!

"Service complete, one steward then talked ‘at’ the other without taking breath until Keflavik, except when they walked the duty free trolley through. Apparently Uxbridge has no good bars and if you live in High Wycombe the Marylebone line is nice and quick. "


Pleasure, that's Galley FM for ya!

lychemsa wrote:
When I flew from London to Bucharest the BA fare was 300 pounds one way compared to 100 pounds on Tarom. Also Tarom give a small meal unlike BA. The only negative was that the toilet seat had not been cleaned in 20 years and was permanently brown but I can live with that especially saving 200 pounds.


BA can have good deals, but the assumption that they're better on service doesn't really hold true in my recent experience. I think some of the lesser known airlines have to try harder.

747fly wrote:
Slightly disconcertingly just as I was about to step aboard, the airbridge dropped. Whilst the drop was not massive, maybe two or three inches, it was unnerving.

That will be the automatic levelling function - as the aircraft gets heavier, it gets lower so the air bridge automatically goes down do stay level with the aircraft. If it didn’t there’s a risk the aircraft could get damaged, including the door being ripped off. Next time you board from an air bridge, have a look under the door, there should be a pad which detects movement.


That would make sense. I've probably never been right on the pier's end when it's happened before.

KLDC10 wrote:
Nice report, thanks for sharing.

The BA shorthaul service is what it is. I don't like it, and I'd choose other airlines over BA, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to avoid it if the price were right.. Ordinary passengers still associate the British Airways brand with a premium service offering and I consider their short haul economy service to be extremely stingy. That said, I'm given to understanding that Club Europe is still a solid offering, and that there have even been some improvements in the catering area. The slow service is unfortunate, and I'd recommend flying with Icelandair if ever you return to Keflavik/Reykjavik. Usually cheaper than BA, hot and soft drinks are included, and there is always more than one trolley service in economy (usually two FAs work front to back, while one or two also work back to front).

Keflavik Airport is far too small for the number of passengers now passing through on a daily basis. I have used Icelandair for transatlantic travel on multiple occasions, beginning in 2014, and the increase in passenger numbers since then has been marked. Unfortunately, the planned expansion cannot come quickly enough, and using the airport has become a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Food at the airport is also extremely expensive, which makes the experience even worse.

Thanks again for the report.


Thank you. I think Icelandair have one of the nicest short haul products in Europe. I do find it funny people associate BA with superior service, they've never ever really had 'superior' service based on my travels, but they can be quite solid on occasion.
 
Ryanair01
Topic Author
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: BA Heathrow to 'Keflavik' - why pay more?

Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:45 am

mke717spotter wrote:
Nice trip report and pictures. The explosion of flights going in/out KEF in recent years is sort of amazing. I'd like to do a road trip around Iceland in the next year or two. Is one night in the city of Reykjavik itself enough?


Thank you.

One night or two? It kind of depends. Reykjavik is a nice enough place but you could do the attractions in the morning, laze in a thermal pool in the afternoon and have the evening out. Geysir and Gullfoss Falls are worth a visit and are an easy day trip. I also like some of the lesser known attractions on the Reykjanes Peninsular like Búri cave, Krýsuvík (steaming volcano vents), Gunnuhver (boiling bubbling acid clay). So if you hire a car to do some of those things then probably two nights. I wouldn't really bother just going to Reykjavik.

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