In Flight Reviews, Flung writers provide key information about flights they take in order to leave the flying public better informed in an age of frustration, obfuscation and increasingly unfriendly skies.
LHR –> JFK on British Airways
Flight: British Airways Flight 0175 from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s John F Kennedy Airport.
Terminal: Heathrow’s Terminal 5 Departures offers everything from luxury goods to basic travel necessities. Food and drink options include the basic Pret-A-Manger and EAT, kid friendly Giraffe, and the over-the-top Fortnum & Mason Champagne Bar. All are open from 5:00/5:30am until the last departing flight. Free wi-fi with registration. I satisfied my early morning hunger with a sandwich and a coffee from EAT.
Date and Time of Flight: August 14, 2015. Takeoff at 9:40am.
Boarding: BA has a separate counter for travelers without checked bags, which had no line, and security was a breeze. The boarding gate announcement was delayed from 8:25 to 9:50, so I waited in the A gates area next to the British Airways information counter, then proceeded to C gate area by a transit train once a gate was announced. The C gate area is smaller, with about 10 gates and a cafe. The boarding process itself was quick and uneventful–priority followed by general. Departure was delayed by 30 minutes even though the flight continued to be listed as on time.
Seats: I had an aisle seat in standard Economy with average width and leg room. I usually experience severe discomfort on long haul flights due to lower back problems, but found the shape of these seats more comfortable than most and did not feel the need to recline, which I normally do. BA charges a fee for choosing a seat before online check-in opens, which I declined to pay. I was able to change my seat for free after checking in online, although the options were limited by that time.
Entertainment: The touchscreens were of the ancient variety, small and grainy, and operable from the armrest. However, it was possible to connect my personal earbuds to this relic. Still, movie and audio selections were minimal, and I did not take advantage of the in-flight entertainment, opting for a book and nap instead.
Food and drink: This was close to the worst food experience I’ve had on an economy flight, and I am not a picky eater when in the air. In included the usual complimentary long haul food and beverage service, including beer and wine. The larger meal was provided two hours after takeoff, and a sandwich with coffee/tea two hours before landing. I did eat my chicken and mashed potato concoction but stopped at a salmon and half cooked potato salad. The sandwich was forgettable.
Staff: I didn’t have any specific complaints, but I wouldn’t say anybody was particularly friendly or pleasant.
Bathrooms: Two serving the middle section and four at the back, all predictably small. I couldn’t wash my hands without the faucet spraying water on every surface.
Arrival: We landed 20 minutes behind schedule.
JFK’s Terminal 7 Arrivals is a dismal place. Cattle and slaughterhouse come to mind. Although passport control is usually fairly quick here for U.S. citizens, waiting for your luggage to tumble off the rickety old baggage carousel can be excruciating. I opted for only a carry-on, saving myself a potential hour-long wait,and managed to be off the plane and on the AirTrain in under half an hour.
Misc: Flight time was approximately seven and a half hours. Complimentary pillow, blanket, headphones, and a small toiletry kit were provided.
The author’s ticket was purchased 36 hours before departure using Avios miles, plus $95 in taxes and $500 to cover a miles deficit. A total of 33,000 miles were necessary for a return ticket but only 26,000 miles were available at the time of purchase. The author does not qualify for elite status with this airline.
-by Anya Khait