Review: British Airways Club Europe Madrid London
British Airways disappointed me all around on this flight. Although it is nice to have a lie-flat seat on such a short flight, I would appreciate good service too. The flight was delayed an hour, the IFE screen was ancient, and the food was dismal.
The Pros: Lie-Flat seat for such as short flight.
The Cons: Terrible Crew Service, old IFE, mediocre meal.
The Noteworthy: I got to see the Queen of the Skies on approach to LHR while we were also on approach.
For more reviews, see here.
I booked my flight using BA Avios. I transferred 18.5K points from American Express membership rewards to book my flight. Fuel surcharges were, surprisingly, low (around $80). The flight would have cost me around $650, so I personally felt happy with my redemption.
Check-in at Madrid
So, the first thing that blew me away was that you cannot through check bags on Oneworld carriers if they are not on the same ticket. I don’t know when that started, but it begs the question why have partnerships when you can’t even check bags all the way through. Besides that hiccup, check-in was quick and efficient. The nice agent pointed me to the fast track lane, and in no time I was past security.
Airline: British Airways
Cabin: Club World
Route: Madrid to London (LHR)
I left the Iberia Lounge about 20 minutes before boarding was meant to start. The 777 looked majestic at the gate, surprising that such a large aircraft would fly the short route to London. When I approached the counter to ask where to wait in line, the agent (who did not work for IB or BA) told me to wait while she got a supervisor. After 15 minutes, the gate agent arrived, (this was 5 minutes before scheduled boarding). She took her time, and 5 minutes after boarding was supposed to start, she announced the lanes for each group of passengers. By the time premium passengers boarded, it was well past 20 minutes since it was supposed to begin.
The Cabin and Seat
British Airways was one of the first airlines to offer lie-flat seats in business class. These seats felt quite old and were quite narrow. Although I have flown on them before, these seemed to be even narrower. The cabin looked quite dated, and the seat’s padding was almost gone.
There were a few compartments for storage, but these were very small.
Seat controls were to the side of the seat, as was the privacy divider. The IFE remote was tucked almost behind the seat. It reminded me of the ones I saw the first time I flew a 777 around 2001.
There is a footrest at the end of the seat, which is part of the lie flat bed.
The IFE screen had a pretty bad resolution, and there was no wifi on board. BA does not start their IFE programming on the ground, so for the ensuing delay, we had nothing to do.
Note on the cabin: The seats are staggered in a yin-yang configuration. Some face back, and others forward. Window seats face backward, which is a unique view, especially when you see the wing. But that means that the 8 across the cabin is very crowded.
Delay, Take-off, and Service
When boarding was done, it was 30 minutes past departure. At that point, the captain said that we would need to wait until a new one was confirmed because we would miss our landing slot. After 20 minutes of waiting, the captain said there were even more delays at LHR. In order to prevent delays in the air, we would wait on the tarmac. During this time, not once did FAs come through the cabin. There wasn’t even a pre-departure beverage or water offered during the delay. At one point I fell asleep and woke up 20 minutes later at pushback. IFE was still not on.
After take-off, flight attendants came by with drink options and packaged nuts. I ordered water. The meal options were a chicken sandwich or a cold salad. I chose the sandwich. It came with a small potato salad and a mouse cake. The sandwich was basically tasteless. I even added butter to it to make it a bit saltier, and that was just a mess. I was 100% let down by the meal, I feel American offers better meal service. It also took the FAs a solid hour to clear the tables, which meant that I had a whole 15 minutes to sleep.
Thankfully, the captain’s promise of less airborne wait time was true. We went in a holding pattern for 5 minutes and then we were cleared to land. There were some amazing views of the city and the British countryside as we approached Heathrow. We landed about 1 hour late, and the only apologies came from the captain.
BA’s Club Europe product was a total letdown. I can live with the average food, and with the delay. What really bothered me was the FAs’ total lack of interest. I would honestly hesitate to fly BA again in Club Europe, I just can’t justify the cost. The worst part is the aircraft is used on long-haul routes. I cannot imagine being on such a worn-down seat for a flight as long as Bengaluru (where the aircraft had flown just a day prior).
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews