I had a business trip to Munich in November, so I decided to fly in Club Europe. That’s the British Airways short haul business class product. I wanted to see what the experience was like now they had had some time to recover from the pandemic.
I booked this trip utilising the upgrade with Avios option BA has. Which meant, I had to book an Economy ticket and upgrade to Business using my Avios. There’s an article coming on that exact process later this week, so I won’t go into too many details here.
The short version is I had to phone BA three times to get the right department to book the kind of ticket I wanted. I booked Economy outbound and upgraded that with Avios points and a Business return, all in one ticket. Both flights were going to be on A320’s and I chose my seats early, thanks to my Silver Executive Club status.
I’d considered flying hand luggage only as they let you take a bag and a laptop or handbag sized bag on, but as I was away for a week my luggage was quite heavy, so I checked it in.
Check-in at London Heathrow
I asked my partner to drop me at the airport as it was a quiet Sunday, and the drive wasn’t too bad. It was a good opporunity to try out the new charge for dropping off at Heathrow, I’d setup my car to be automatically charged. I was dropped at the 4th door along, which is right by the Business Class check-in area. There was practically no queue, and my bag was checked in within minutes.
There is a fast-track queue at Heathrow for Business Class (and those with airline status) at both ends of the terminal. The signs by the entrance to security tell you which of the two security area are the quietest. They were both the same when I arrived, so headed to the nearest South security area.
Once through I checked that my flight was due to leave from A gates, they tell you this on the information boards, then I headed to the South Lounges. If your flight is B or C gates then I always recommend you use the B gates lounge, it’s always quieter. If you are A gates then you have a choice of two Business Class lounges, North and South. I always go South, I don’t know why, I just prefer it.
The T5 lounge
I was pleased to find that the catering in the lounge had returned to normal. There was a huge range of breakfast choices, from hot food to cold continental, fruit, porridge and pastries. Plenty of drinks choices, so being a Sunday and wasn’t driving, I went for a bucks fizz. As it was mid-morning they started the change over to lunch while I was there.
I was pleased to see the hot food was left alone and the cold was replaced with lunch foods, salad and snacks etc. In addition, they have installed new tables with power beside many of the chairs. These included a wireless charger and an adaptor with most phone connectors on it so you didn’t need to dig out your charger, very handy.
When it came time to board, I headed to the gate. The flight was full so they were offering to check bags in for anyone who wanted to. I’m glad I did mine earlier now. They boarded by group number, so as I was in group 1, I was first onboard.
This was a new (1 year old) A320 NEO, which was fitted out in the domestic layout. So there was no tray table in business between the seats and no curtain to divide the section from Economy. Now I’m going to sound like a snob here, but the curtain and the little table on the seat next to you really makes it feel like you are in a different section, which you have actually paid for. It’s bad enough that you don’t get extra leg room or a more comfortable seat, but now the only difference is a guaranteed empty seat and better food.
BA should try looking at America or Asian airlines. Their short haul Business Class (or First as they call it in the States) is a much better product!
Without delay, we taxied and took off. We were offered a full bar service and a light meal. I chose the beef option, which was very nice. It came with bread, butter and a dessert. I took champagne and water, because why not? They kept coming back offering more drinks, and on a 2 hour flight you could get quite a few in if you wanted.
Upon arrival in Munich, we headed to passport control. Then we got to relish the joys of Brexit with a very long queue of non-Europeans waiting to go through. Half an hour later and I was there.
As a little side note, my actual destination was in Austria and I took the RailJet, Austria’s alternative to flying, and found it to be a very nice and comfortable train ride. Particularly in their First and Business Class seats (for some reason Business Class is better than First on RailJet).
Overall, it was a nice outbound flight. As I say, it’s a shame that European airlines like BA don’t put much effort into having a better hard product for their short haul Business Class. That being said, the soft product was great. Good food, drink and lounge options for the trip.
Given I upgraded with Avios, I think it was a fairly good deal