Brussels Airlines – a Rolls Royce Service compared to TAP Air Portfugal

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September, 2023

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Brussels Airlines

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In June 2022, we flew to Uganda, via Brussels, from London Heathrow. At the time, my review of Brussels Airlines, was entitled, ‘Not the best, but not the worst’. So when we were booked on the same early morning flight to Brussels, before continuing on to Sierra Leone, we were not unhappy. Once again, we stayed overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3, as our flight took off at 6.50am.

Check-in was efficient and after a short detour via the Lufthansa Lounge, we were soon seated in 2a and 2c (a regular cabin but with an empty middle seat). We took off late but landed on time as the flight time was only 40 minutes. However in this time, the crew managed to serve breakfast to business class passengers (coffee, tea or juice, grapefruit, yoghurt, roll and cream cheese, croissant and jam and biscuits).

On landing in Brussels, we eventually found the lounge, despite the information desk trying to send us to zone T by bus. Despite this, we had time for a couple of glasses of fizz and a light snack whilst waiting for our connecting flight to Freetown.

Once again, we were in seats 2a and 2c but this time, business class had an interesting configuration with the rows on the left and middle alternating between 1 and 2 seats, with the right-hand side having single seats. The seat adjustment button, which was right at my elbow, meant frequent, unintended reclines and although the flat bed wasn’t perhaps the best, we could lie out even if your knees and below, were under the seat in front.

At the scheduled time, a missing passenger was misisng, which meant offloading bags, however, they appeared at the last minute, and we took off 40 minutes late. Champagne was served before taking off and once in the air, we continued with a champagne aperitif, served with cashew nuts.

Lunch was one of the least interesting inflight menus I’d seen for some time, despite being created by a Belgian Michelin star chef, Mario Elias. We shared starters of soba noodles, smoked trout cream and tarragon mayonnaise topped with roasted veal, and sautéed prawns with pickled blue radish, ricotta sauce and ponzu. Both were fine, but so chilled, the flavours hadn’t developed. Roy opted for chicken filet with a nutty, herbed spelt risotto, celeriac, yuzu and maple syrup sauce, whilst I had a bizarre vegetarian dish of purple, orange and yellow carrots served with polenta and parsnip cream. Even with a beetroot sauce, it was dry and tasteless, and a dish of the nutty spelt risotto would have been better. There were two cheeses on the tray, which gave them chance to warm up, but only bread, rather than crackers. The dessert was a white chocolate and parsnip ganache, yoghurt gel, pear and pistachio sponge cake. There was the choice of two whites, a French Pouilly Fume and a South African Sauvignon Blanc and we had a glass of port with our cheese.

The inflight entertainment selection wasn’t great in terms of choice, but we both found a film we wanted to see.

A savoury and sweet snack basket came round just before landing.

Despite taking off late, we landed virtually bang on time at 5.55pm, and as not everyone was getting off as the flight was going on to Monrovia in Liberia, we were virtually first off.

Our overall verdict: not perhaps the best of airlines, but having flown home with TAP Air Portugal, it felt like a Rolls Royce service.

Helen Jackson

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