Flight from London Heathrow (LHR) to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)
Airplane: 747-400 (Jumbo)
Time of Departure: 10:10am (10:23am Actual)
Time of Arrival: 09:25pm (09:21pm Actual)
BA Economy Review
Next in my series of Airline reviews is a review of BA’s economy service on a long-haul flight to Nairobi, for a bit of sun, sea, safari and much, much more….
I booked the flights only a few weeks before my 24th of November departure, with the outbound in economy and the in-bound flight testing out BA’s premium economy product. The booking was made using the BA mobile phone app which was as simple as using their website.
The flight is one of the rare BA flights taking off from Heathrow Terminal 3, admittedly it did feel strange arriving at T3 and heading to a BA counter over my usual Virgin Atlantic or Emirates. As there are relatively few flights BA flights from this terminal there was virtually no queue. Check-in was a quick process, and I was offered the option of a paid upgrade to Premium Economy for £280, which declined.
After my obligatory ‘random security check’, I settled down at Oriel for my pre-flight breakfast and a glass of bubbly. It’s rude not to, right?
The boarding process, surprisingly the most efficient I’ve seen of any airline over the past few years in economy. BA in August 2016 announced that all of its Jumbo’s were going to be fully refurbished and updated, unfortunately it looks like 14 months on, I unluckily ended up with an older aircraft awaiting it’s turn.
Thanks to having a read through on Seatguru before online check I tactically picked seat 52B, which I appreciate is at the back of the plane but row’s 51 to 53 are the only ones that have a 2-4-2 seat configuration, the others have a more cramped 3-4-3 configuration. 52B has extra space between the seat and the wall which meant I had plenty of room to stretch out the whole flight!
I can’t fault the team on board, they were pleasant at all times and happy to have a conversation with tips about places to visit, restaurants to try etc whilst in Kenya.
Over the years, lots of frequent flyers I know both on and offline have been complaining about the cutbacks on board with certain airlines, and BA are one of them. Lunch was served approximately 2 hours into the flight. In economy the two options were a vegetarian pasta or a roasted chicken breast with a tomato and onion sauce. I opted for the latter and it was barely edible. I left the main and the starter (red slaw) and opted for the pudding and the sandwich that I bought from Pret at the airport. Starting to feel peckish a bit later I went to the galley to see if there were any snacks available. Unfortunately, due to the cutbacks the snacks are one of the perks to have been axed.
An hour before landing, we were presented with the BA Tea Time boxes, a vegetarian option or chicken. Once again, I opted for the chicken, which was much better than the earlier meal but the portion size was awful. Not what I expected at all.
In Flight Entertainment (IFE)
As someone that hardly sleeps on planes, this is a key thing for me on board. I appreciate we were on an old Jumbo jet but the screen size was tiny. The IFE to be rebooted twice for the whole plane due to it not working for many of us on board, I appreciate that can happen with technology. The viewing options on board were terrible, not many movies or television shows to choose from in comparison to Delta, Air France or the big middle-eastern airlines. I’m glad I had my laptop to hand, with a few shows downloaded from various UK channels.
My view of BA on this front is a bit mixed here as you can tell from above, the soft product with the service on the ground and on-board crew cannot be faulted. The hard product however, I think there are some issues, the cutbacks with the meals/snacks, the IFE is at least a decade behind other carriers. I appreciate, that I was on an older 747, but having flown with BA on newer long-haul planes you can see that they are still behind on this front. I appreciate they are trying to cut back on costs on certain elements to be more competitive, but in order to do so alongside cutting back costs on board, they need to cut back the fares to be more compete with the middle-east airlines or Turkish airlines.