British Airways

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September, 2015

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Check-in for our British Airways 7.10pm flight to Johannesburg from Terminal 5 at London Heathrow was efficient and we were quickly through a Business Class security channel. The lounge had an Elemis Spa but all the treatments, except a chair massage, were fully booked until 8pm. I queried this on the basis that treatments cannot supposedly be booked in advance, but was told first class passengers can reserve treatments. However, the receptionist gave me a goody bag and complemented me on my newly tinted eyebrows! The lounge had a wide range of seating and we had a couple of glasses of wine and although there was a range of soup, sandwiches and cakes we decided to save ourselves for dinner on the plane.

C56 was a satellite gate reached by train. It was a good job I checked how long it would take to get to the gate, as with the escalators and walking it was a good 15 minute trek. We arrived just as business class were boarding and so were straight onboard for our pre-take off glass of fizz.

We pushed back on time at 7.10pm but didn’t actually take off until 7.35pm but as soon as the seat belt sign was off, we were once again quaffing fizz and munching nuts. We had pre-booked meals online with Roy having a beef fillet, whilst I tucked in to a good Asian style salad with salmon. There was a great range of films and after a couple, we bedded down for the night and slept well on our flat beds until arriving on time.

Our return trip was from Cape Town with its separate BA lounge, where there was a great selection of seating, food and drinks (including a Simonsig fizz we had tasted on our tour of the vineyards). However, bearing in mind dinner on the flight awaited, we limited ourselves to a packet of crisps. With hindsight this was a slight mistake as although the menu read well, the food was disappointing. The knife that carved the smoked tuna for the carpaccio must have been blunt as instead of thin slivers, we were presented with hefty portions of thickly sliced fish and bland tomato vinaigrette. Maybe we should have chosen the feta cheese, squash and beetroot salad. My artichoke and wild mushroom ravioli again was an off-putting huge portion and slightly slimy which was not disguised by another bland accompaniment, this time a roasted red pepper sauce. Roy fared slightly better with his pan-fried Namibian hake fillet with a white wine, chorizo and clam sauce and olive oil infused mashed potatoes. We got the impression that the person writing the menu was better at his job that the chef! Cheese was a Simonsberg 12 month mature Cheddar and a Fairview Camembert but both were simply presented with no grapes or fruit and a packet of uninspiring crackers. The choice of in-flight entertainment was not as extensive as on the Heathrow to Jo’burg route but as this was a night flight, sleep was more important and we both slept well until being awoken for breakfast.

Whilst the breakfast sounded tempting, we learned the lessons from dinner the night before and instead waited for a sausage sandwich in our local greasy spoon on our return home.

However, in praise of BA, they are to be congratulated for getting my case of South African wine home in one piece despite my scepticism when checking it into the hold!

Helen Jackson

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