British Airways

Star Travel Rating


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September, 2017

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I’ve always been a big believer in flying British Airways, and not just because of their Avios points. They were therefore our carrier of choice for our flight to Johannesburg.

We were soon whisked through the business class check-in and sipping fizz in their lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 – however, we did note that the fizz is not on display like it used to be, but it is available on request.

Once onboard, with another glass of fizz in hand, we watched the “Safety Video”: specially made for Comic Relief which starred Gordon Ramsay, Rob Brydon, Thandie Newton, Ian McKellen and Gillian Anderson amongst others. The end was particularly funny as it featured Rowan Atkinson, as Mr Bean, trying to put lose change into the envelope which rolled away and all over the place. Everyone was laughing out loud, but it would be interesting to know what non-British passengers thought to it.

We departed at 7pm and dinner was very good. We both started with ‘smoked paprika and lemon marinated prawns with lemon, cayenne curd and seaweed’ which was tasty but light (there were three prawns). We’d ordered mains online in advance and Roy had ‘seared fillet of British beef with savoy cabbage, bubble and squeak and a Madeira and tarragon sauce’ whilst I had ‘chicken jalfrezi with Bombay potatoes and coriander rice’. It was then a ‘duo of desserts featuring baked vanilla cheesecake, and apple, almond and blackberry crisp tower with raspberry coulis’ and cheese and biscuits (Coastal Cheddar and Cropwell Stilton). This was all washed down with a couple of glasses of New Zealand Tiki Sauvignon Blanc.

The inflight entertainment had a good selection of films and I can highly recommend the excellent and uplifting Hidden Figures. It was then time for a snooze with the flat bed being comfortable even for a 6’2” man.

Breakfast, before we landed on time in J’Burg at 7.15am, was a smoothie, rolls and jam and fresh fruit as we both avoid cooked breakfasts on flights.

We flew home via Nairobi, which was where the fun and games started. Firstly, we had to queue for security at the gate, and having just put shoes, belts, coats and watches back on and returned the laptop to hand luggage, we turned a corner to find we had to do it all over again. Apparently, the first is airport security and the second, British Airway’s security as they obviously don’t trust the former. It was at the latter, we were told that the Malawi gin we’d bought in Lilongwe, couldn’t be taken on board as it was not bought in Kenya. This was despite us checking when we bought it, and it being in a heat-sealed bag with a receipt from duty free attached. So, after a bit of a fuss, it was reluctantly left at the gate, leaving someone from BA airport security to have a good night!

This was an overnight flight, and as it was nearly 11.45pm by the time dinner was served, we decided to skip it, shut our eyes and sleep all the way home.

HOWEVER (and I do realise my capitals are shouting), my big beef with BA is that having paid for business class flights, to be sure of sitting together, we had to pay for seat reservations. I used to have Bronze Executive Club status which allowed you to reserve seats a month in advance but we’ve now been down-graded to Blue, which means you can only reserve 24 hours before. I was initially unwilling to pay out and monitored the position every week, but with three weeks to go, found that unless I paid £364 for seats on both our flights, it was unlikely we’d be sat together as was the case with someone I spoke to on board.

Our Avios points are now dwindling further as other airlines are becoming more attractive.

Helen Jackson

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