The Boeing 747 will soon slowly begin to fade from British Airways’ fleet. They are due to be replaced by the newer, more fuel efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner and in the not too distant future, the Airbus A350. During the winter season BA operate the 747 to Vancouver in place of the Airbus A380, giving me the perfect opportunity to get a hands on look at the Queen of the Skies.
No1 lounge terminal 3:
Prior to my departure from Heathrow, I had booked myself into the No1 Lounge in Terminal 3 as a nice relaxing way to start my trip. The lounge offers complimentary food, drink and Wi-Fi to all customers, as well as complimentary use of one of the few shower rooms that are on site. After my drive down from Birmingham earlier that afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to freshen up before my 9 hour 30 min flight to Vancouver.
The shower rooms themselves could not be faulted, all essentials such as towels and shower gels/shampoos were provided free of charge. My only complaint with this is the actual walk in shower itself, it seems the water temperature has only 2 settings: Boiling Hot or 3rd Degree Burns Hot! For anyone who was booked into the lounge in the near future and intends on using the showers, my advice would be to re adjust your hair or makeup in the bathrooms that are separate to these shower rooms as they can become very hot and humid when the shower has been running!
The complimentary meal options at the lounge were limited, I was given a choice between 4 cooked meals and eventually chose to sample the Fish Finger wrap. When served to me at my table overlooking Runways 27L-9R, one issue immediately jumped out at me, the portion size. Now, I know with complimentary food you can’t go In expecting a 5 course feast, but this really did look like something served from a kids menu at a fast food restaurant. With a limited selection of snacks from the self serve counters, the catering really does let the lounge down.
If I had not of booked this lounge at a discounted rate to that advertised on the website, I probably would not have booked it at all. I would however, recommend it to any passengers transiting through Heathrow T3, as those shower facilities are a god send.
BA85 LONDON HEATHROW – VANCOUVER:
Sitting in the waiting area of Gate 31, gave me the opportunity to witness British Airways’ new boarding process by inviting passengers to board by ‘Group Number’ as issued on their boarding card, in this instance I was assigned Group 3. It all worked without a hitch and the time between arriving at the gate and boarding G-CIVA, my Boeing 747-400 aircraft was minimal.
Taking to my assigned seat 15K (a seat that I had to pay £45 to pre book), I was immediately impressed with the amount of legroom a the the World Traveller Plus cabin offered. Seating in this cabin boasts an impressive 38” of legroom. Now the extra legroom is brilliant to have when flying, especially when that flight is long haul. Seat width however is something that needs to be improved in this cabin. Not being the smallest person in the world I found it difficult to sit comfortably in the old style seating with a width of 18.5”. The personal IFE remote is housed on the inside of the arm rest, and can become very uncomfortable when sitting for a long time as it digs into your thigh.
The In Flight Entertainment offerings were impressive, with a range of the latest Hollywood blockbusters and TV series’ available to browse and view. The system did show it’s age however as the software was slow at responding and the screen was tiny when compared to rival products such as the Emirates IFE System. The noise cancelling headset came in handy, especially due to my seat’s proximity to the engines.
We pushed back from the gate on time, and taxied for 20 minutes down to Runway 27R for our departure. I was very surprised to find that when the throttle was pushed forward to being our take off roll, I wasn’t pushed back into my seat by the power of the engines as I have been in the past, especially when flying on the Boeing 757. Our climb out took us north passing over Coventry and Liverpool.
Once the seat belt signs had been switched off, the first inflight drinks service and small bag of Pretzels was provided by Jennifer, who was fantastic when looking after us in Traveller Plus. As we climbed to our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet and headed towards Iceland, the meal service began.
I had pre booked my meal prior to checking in online for the flight, this service is offered complimentary and allows you to guarantee yourself a tasty chicken or beef option. I opted for the Chettinad chicken with Tadka Dal and Coriander Rice. Passengers in Plus are treated to the same appetiser and desert as their fellow passengers in World Traveller, but get to choose from one of two main meal options offered from the Club World menus. Plane food doesn’t have the greatest reputation amongst fliers, but I can assure you that the chicken option on this flight will not leave your taste buds dissatisfied. For those with a sweet tooth, the Salted Caramel and Chocolate dessert is the perfect treat to enjoy whilst watching a film.
Following the meal I grabbed some sleep, but was woken about 90 minutes before landing by the crew handing out snack boxes. These contained a sandwich and biscuit, both of which I chose to leave and decided instead to sit back and take in the beautiful scenery we were passing over.
The descent into Vancouver was smooth and before long the bright lights of the city came into view. We touched down on Vancouver’s Runway 26R and pulled onto the stand at 1830, 40 minutes ahead of schedule. During disembarkation, I was lucky enough to be invited up to the flight deck by the First Officer for a quick chat and photo opportunity. I found out that British Airways intends to keep the Boeing 747 in the fleet for another 5 years before sending them off for retirement.
With a flight like the one I experienced, I can see why BA has become so attached to these aircraft. Their long range and large passenger and cargo capacity makes them favourites for flying to destinations such as Vancouver and Nairobi. World Traveller Plus itself is well worth the upgrade on a long flight, the exceptional service and smaller cabin size have certainly made me think about flying economy again. On a newer aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner I’m sure this cabin is unfaultable, that being said; I can’t take anything away from the unique charm of the Jumbo Jet.
Check out our BA Premium Economy 787 review to see how it compares!