crdaus
Topic Author
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:13 am

Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:52 pm

This is the fourth in a series of Trip Reports detailing my flight experiences on a trip to Europe from Australia in July, 2007. My first report SYD-BKK is here New QF 1st Lounge & BA10 SYD-BKK 1st Class (by Crdaus Aug 30 2007 in Trip Reports), and my second report is here TG BKK 1st Lounge & BKK-SIN SQ 1st Class (pics) (by Crdaus Sep 4 2007 in Trip Reports), and my third report is here SIN-LHR BA 777 1st Class (pics): Continuing Saga (by Crdaus Sep 18 2007 in Trip Reports).

This report covers my experience flying BA, AB, and JK on short haul European hops in business class and affords me the opportunity to compare service offerings of these airlines.

As mentioned in my last report, we were en-route to Berlin and after landing in LHR transferred to T1 for our BA flight to TXL. It was early morning and the 1st class BA lounge was crowded with business commuters crawling all over the abundant breakfast offerings in the lounge. I decided to have shower and change before having anything to eat.

The bathroom was, although smaller than the one I had experienced in T4 on a previous trip, much cleaner:




After a refreshing shower, I returned to the lounge and had a cappuccino and a bacon roll. By this time the lounge was less crowded and I had a few minutes to catch up on local news before boarding the flight. On the way to the boarding gate, I took this picture:



LHR-TXL: BA982. Departure: 08:55. ETA: 11:40. Duration: 1:45
Business class. Cost of 2 tickets included in overall BA international fare from Australia.

I had a window seat in the second row on the right:



The first thing I noticed about the aircraft was that almost half the cabin was configured as business class seating and the pitch of the seats was extremely tight:



I don’t care what the airlines say about seat pitch – if my knees touch the seat in front, then the pitch is too short. Considering I was flying business class, this amount of leg room was appalling.

Soon enough, we were airborne and the F/As busied themselves handing out breakfast trays:

consisting of orange juice, melon and pineapple fruit slices, brioche, and hot breakfast of omelette, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and tomato:



The breakfast was OK and of the usual standard found on BA short-haul.

The flight itself was un-eventful. On descent I took the following pics:




Taxiing to the terminal:



Landing at TXL is like landing at a country airport. It is difficult to believe that this is the main gateway to Berlin. It is very sparse and, at late morning on a week day, quite deserted.

Anyway, this made catching a taxi easy and soon we were at our ultimate destination in Berlin, the Ritz-Carlton in Potsdamerplatz. A nice surprise on our arrival at the hotel was being upgraded to a Club floor room. In my room was this welcoming plate of chocolates:



Notice that the little basket of chocolates itself is made of chocolates:



This is a picture of the club floor buffet (blurred I am sorry to say):



The Ritz-Carlton is an excellent hotel. If you are interested, you can read my review of the hotel here http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...e_Ritz_Carlton_Berlin-Berlin.html.

We stayed in Berlin for a week and although we experienced un-seasonal wet and cold weather, we were overwhelmed by the place. It is just so full of historic significance yet displays youthful energy.

The next leg of the journey was a flight to Copenhagen from Berlin. I booked the seats on-line with AB only a couple of days before the flight so probably didn’t get such a good deal price wise. Two oneway tickets TXL-CPH cost E460 total. The flight, AB8092, was one hour’s duration so I didn’t take any pictures. Suffice to say that I was most impressed with the airline, operating as it does a new fleet. My seat on a 737-800 had more legroom than the BA flight from LHR. So much so that I thought I was travelling business class when in fact it was economy! The service from the F/A’s was also top notch.

Copenhagen was the port for embarkation on a Baltic cruise, while Stockholm was the ultimate destination. From Stockholm, we flew direct to Barcelona on Spanair business class. Here are the details:

ARN-BCN: JK048. A320. Departure: 15:00. ETA: 18:30. Duration: 3:30.
Business class. Cost of 2 tickets: E386 total.

I had booked this flight via the internet many weeks prior to leaving Australia on this trip and obviously got an excellent price. I was seated in the first row on the left with a window seat. Here is a cabin view from my seat:



Note the loads of legroom behind the bulkhead, and a few empty seats.

Before lunch, drinks were offered. I chose some red wine with peanuts:



Lunch consisted of a cold savoury starter, followed by a hot dish of steak and vegetables, a small cheese plate with the cheese slices served with a bit of jam, and some sort of custard dessert. Pretty tasty overall and most un-expected for a flight departing at 3pm:



By the time I had consumed the meal and finished the very luscious Spanish red wine I was drinking, we were descending into BCN. Overall, an impressive service and excellent value for money from Spanair. I’ll be flying them again.

After a week in beautiful Barcelona and catching up with friends and relatives of my travelling companion, it was time to return to Australia.

The first leg of this involved flying to London.

BCN-LHR: BA481. A320. Departure: 18:30. ETA: 19:45. Duration: 2:15.
Business class. Cost of 2 tickets included in overall BA international fare from Australia.

Checkin at BCN was chaotic as usual. In this case the luggage was being checked through to Melbourne and I was watching for any stuff ups and sure enough nearly had one when the distracted counter clerk mistakenly tagged one of the cases. I alerted him just before the case sailed off on the conveyer belt. He also seemed to fiddle with the boarding passes more than usual – he couldn’t print the passes for the connecting flight for some reason – but later at the departure gate, handed them to us. The last thing you want when embarking on a long journey, namely BCN-LHR, LHR-BKK-SYD, SYD-MEL (about 30 hours elapsed) is hassles at either end of it.

We had some time to kill before departure, so rested in the Iberia lounge where at least the seating was comfortable but refreshments were sparse, and the whole lounge was in a poor state of repair with stains on the carpet, in-operative monitors, and staff more interested in talking to each other than looking after guests.

Anyway, on board things improved, but only slightly.

As usual, the leg room was very tight:



After takeoff, the F/A’s eventually got around to offering drinks – and a crummy offering at that:



Dinner was just appalling:



That chicken tasted like cardboard. The “cheese” had no taste whatsoever.

This was not a good start to the long flight home.

Conclusion:
On this trip, the short haul sectors, four of which I have described above on BA, AB, JK, and BA, and QF and SQ (described in my previous reports), have given me the opportunity to compare services on these airlines. While AB wasn’t “business class” the leg room, modern aircraft, and pleasant crew more than made up. In the case of JK, they certainly provide a superior product to BA (and, if memory serves me correctly, IB). In fact, I think that BA short haul is dreadful. In future, if the BA fares are not included in my long-haul international ticket price, I won’t be flying them if I can avoid it. They pack as many business seats in as they can and provide leg room/seats which I would class as economy. Indeed, QF domestic business class in Australia has more leg room and better service. And for BA to serve such poor food at a designated meal time (departure at 6:30 pm) while JK serve a great meal on a flight departing at 3pm – go figure!

Based on these experiences on short haul flights, the so called “full service”, or should I say “legacy”, airlines like BA and IB are quite inferior to the newer carriers AB and JK. Indeed, combining newer short haul carriers like these from continental European gateways with international carriers from Australia such as SQ, EK, EY, TG, QF, etc. now offers the dual attraction in future of avoiding LHR, and BA short haul.
 
upperdeckfan
Posts: 1000
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:59 am

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Fri Sep 28, 2007 8:44 pm

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
while JK serve a great meal on a flight departing at 3pm – go figure!

You got a meal because it was a spanish carrier, didn't you notice what's lunch time in Spain while in Barcelona?

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
In the case of JK, they certainly provide a superior product to BA (and, if memory serves me correctly, IB)

Your memory is OK

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
They pack as many business seats in as they can and provide leg room/seats which I would class as economy.

Most of european carriers do the same on short haul J, that's the problem of the so called "convertible cabin", you'd experience the same in IB, AF, KL, etc. In fact some of them even offer the same seat as Y only leaving empty the middle seat, BA is one of the few that offer a different seat.
748,744,742,741,772,773,762,763,
764, 789, 732,733,735,737,738,739,
752, 722, 717,74M,DC10,DC9,M82,
M83, M87, M88,310,319,320,321,332,
333, 343, 346,359,388,L1011,CR2,
CR7, CR9,CRK, E175,E190,ATR42,
DSH8, CS1,CS3
 
B747forever
Posts: 13814
Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 9:50 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:18 am

Thank you for this TR.

Nice pics but why didnt you take any pics in ARN???

Thank you for the comparing.

JK looks great.
Work Hard, Fly Right
 
Door5Right
Posts: 691
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:29 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:43 am

The chocolates look wonderful!
My soul is in the sky...
 
alangirvan
Posts: 522
Joined: Wed Nov 08, 2000 2:13 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:20 am

Noting that Air Berlin have taken over LTU and now Condor, I think AB will be a possibility for Australian based travellers - if their long haul will be as good as you found their short haul.

LTU already flies to some Asian ports. If you are not opposed to flying to Asia with Jetstar and maybe staying one night in one of those Asian cities to connect (Phuket, KL or Bangkok) AB will be a good way to get to Europe.
 
taichen
Posts: 212
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 7:33 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:17 pm

well, 3pm is still lunch time in Spain --- that's why you got that meal  Smile On the other hand, I doubt you would have got one at 6pm, which is not by Spanish standards.
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8300
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:22 am

Good report, thanks.

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
The first thing I noticed about the aircraft was that almost half the cabin was configured as business class seating and the pitch of the seats was extremely tight:

- How tall are you? - The front of BA's Short Haul Fleet have increased pitch over the seats down back, sonethinglike 34" I think, I've always had plenty of room, an 5"8.

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
We stayed in Berlin for a week and although we experienced un-seasonal wet and cold weather, we were overwhelmed by the place. It is just so full of historic significance yet displays youthful energy.

- Berlin, great city, love the place!

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
We had some time to kill before departure, so rested in the Iberia lounge where at least the seating was comfortable but refreshments were sparse, and the whole lounge was in a poor state of repair with stains on the carpet, in-operative monitors, and staff more interested in talking to each other than looking after guests.

- IB lounges are pretty poor in comparison to BA's Terraces etc, shame really.

Quoting Crdaus (Thread starter):
That chicken tasted like cardboard. The “cheese” had no taste whatsoever.

- That's a shame, I've had this same mea a number of times, always found it nice and refreshing.

Regards

Mark
111 732 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739,7M8 BBJ 741 742 743 744 752 753 762 763 764 772 77L 773 77W L15 D10 D30 D40 AB3 AB6 312 313 318 319 320 20N 321 21N 332 333 342 343 345 346 359 351 388 CS1 CS3 I86 154 SSJ CRJ CR7 CR9 CRK 145 170 175 220
 
freckles
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:29 am

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sun Sep 30, 2007 2:37 am

I agree with you on BA CE (Club Europe)

Appalling. Only word that is justified.
 
AIR MALTA
Posts: 1786
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2001 6:45 am

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:25 am

Quoting Freckles (Reply 7):
I agree with you on BA CE (Club Europe)

Appalling. Only word that is justified.

Well I do not agree with that. Had a CE flight with BA and it was really great!

You have also to the level of service with the flight duration. A BCN-ARN flight is much longer than a BCN-LHR.
Next flights : BRU-ZRH-CAI (LX)/ BRU-FCO-TLV (AZ)
 
A340600
Posts: 3898
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2003 10:24 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Sun Sep 30, 2007 8:57 am

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 6):
- How tall are you? - The front of BA's Short Haul Fleet have increased pitch over the seats down back, sonethinglike 34" I think, I've always had plenty of room, an 5"8.

I'm 6ft 1 and have never found it a problem at all. Also the left of the aircraft is a much better choice when flying Club Europe, I always bag it, only 2 seats across.

Quoting Freckles (Reply 7):
I agree with you on BA CE (Club Europe)

Appalling. Only word that is justified.

Haven't seen you around for a while Wink. How are you? While you are entitled to an opinion I truly believe that length of flight is an important factor, for example, on the CDG sectors upon which you base your opinion one cannot expect much in the way of service.

However, that is no excuse on the flights you specified. And a cold meal coming back from BCN at dinner time?! BCN is referred to as a Band 3 flight with BA and always used to be a hot meal at that time, have things changed? I have flown in CE numerous times on a range of flight lengths and have never had a bad experience so it is unfortunate to see yours.

The Spanair offerings look rather good, might consider giving them a try in the coming winter, thanks for sharing your details,

Sam
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
 
crdaus
Topic Author
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 9:13 am

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:16 am

Quoting B747forever (Reply 2):
why didnt you take any pics in ARN???

Sorry, next time I will. I love Stockholm, so I will be going back.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 6):
How tall are you?

6'3", so I need lots of leg room which is one of the reasons I travel 1st preferably, or business if there is no 1st.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 6):
Berlin, great city, love the place!

I agree. I can't wait to go back. I love the energy it has. And it is the best history lesson I have ever had.

Quoting AIR MALTA (Reply 8):
A BCN-ARN flight is much longer than a BCN-LHR.

Not that much longer. BA shorthaul seems to me to be an exercise in gouging - what with all the extra Club seats - more like an economyplus than business class. Even QF 1 hour flights MEL-SYD have a far superior product in business.
 
airnewzealand
Posts: 2310
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2000 6:00 pm

RE: Comparing Spanair, Air Berlin & British Airways

Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:35 am

Hey Crdaus,

Great report as per usual!! Looking forward to reading the next installments...Might have you onboard one day  Smile...

Take Care

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: PHAVR and 13 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos