Category Archives: British Airways

Lounge Review: British Airways Terraces Lounge Berlin Tegel (TXL)

The British Airways Terraces Lounge in Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) airport is a decently-sized lounge. I used this lounge prior to my flight from Tegel to Doha on Qatar Airways.

Entrance to the British Airways Terrace Lounge

Entrance to the British Airways Terrace Lounge

The lounge has a couple of different seating options: some bar seating, some chairs, and at least one small secluded room. Unfortunately, there were not enough power outlets at the seats.

Counter seating

Counter seating

Seating

Seating

There’s a typical bare bones assortment of lounge beverages. There was a coffee machine, soft drinks, alcohol, wine, and beer.

Coffee machine

Coffee machine

Wine

Wine

Alcohol

Alcohol

Beer and wine

Beer and wine

The food options were also pretty basic. There were some sandwiches, chips, pretzels, pound cakes, apples, bananas, and mini marshmallows. I found it amusing that the chips were “Hungarian” flavored, but I think that just means that they’re flavored with paprika.

Chips and pretzels

Chips and pretzels

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

Cake

Cake

Overall, not a place where I’d want to stay for very long, but your lounge options at TXL are very limited, so you’ll have to make do.

Lounge Review: British Airways Terraces Lounge Manchester Airport (MAN)

Let me first say that transferring from an international to a domestic flight in Manchester is confusing. Possibly because it’s relatively uncommon to do so. For most airline transfers at Manchester, you don’t go through the normal immigration process, but you instead have to head to the transfer point, which in this case was a bus gate. You then wait for a bus (that doesn’t come as often as it says it does), then get dropped off at a transfer security gate, and then you get spit out somewhere in the terminal. I found myself in a deserted gate area and had no idea where I was going, so I wandered around until I found some police officers with extremely large guns who told me where there were shops and such.

Anyway, my first stop after transferring was the British Airways Terraces Lounge. This is a large nearly circular lounge with plenty of natural light and a view down to the concourse below. It wasn’t particularly crowded when I was there given the schedule of flights BA has.

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

Work areas

Work areas

Looking down on unwashed masses

Looking down on unwashed masses

Since I had come off a red-eye flight, my first order of business was to take a shower. The shower had both overhead, side, and nozzle sprays. The shower didn’t drain very well, but there was a depression in the floor right under the shower, so the bathroom didn’t flood, but it seemed a bit strange.

Shower room

Shower room

Shower

Shower

For food options, there were pretty typical continental breakfast type options: pastries, breads, fruit, yogurt, cereals, oatmeal, and chips. There was also a self-service full bar.

Food area

Food area

Coffee

Coffee

Pastries and crisps

Pastries and crisps

Fruit and yogurt

Fruit and yogurt

Drinks

Drinks

Overall, this was a pretty pleasant domestic business class lounge. Definitely a step up from domestic lounges in the US, so no complaints from me!

Lounge Review: British Airways First Class Lounge PHL

If you’re a oneworld emerald member flying internationally or flying British Airways first class, the only “true” first class oneworld lounge in the Philadelphia airport is the British Airways lounge, which has a dedicated first class side. All of the other oneworld lounges are AA Admirals Clubs, which are open to domestic passengers (the previous US Airways Envoy lounge that was reserved for international passengers is now a generic Admirals Club).

That being said, if you have AA frequent flyer status, the only time you’re supposed to have access to the BA lounge is when you’re flying internationally. There are reports of people being turned away because of overcrowding (even when it’s not very crowded), but I’ve never had any issues in the couple of times that I’ve tried.

Entrance to the lounge

Entrance to the lounge

To the left is the first class side; to the right is the business class side. The lounge itself is pretty small and has somewhat limited seating, so I can understand why they might turn people away.

Seating (the far end of the picture is the business class side)

Seating (the far end of the picture is the business class side)

Awkward heights for table and chairs

Awkward heights for table and chairs

There is a “First Dining” section of the lounge, but that’s only open when the British Airways flight with first class is departing, and I believe only people who are actually flying first class on BA are allowed in.

Closed off dining section

Closed off dining section

Beverage area

Beverage area

Wines

Wines

Liquors

Liquors

The food options at this lounge when the dining area isn’t open are okay for a U.S. lounge but really sad for an international first class lounge. There are cheeses, hummus, sandwiches, fruits, crudités, chips/crisps, and candies. I’ve definitely been in the lounge and overheard passengers berating the lounge staff for the meager options (which honestly is not helpful because the lounge staff can’t do anything about the fact that the food options aren’t great). The food selection is slightly better than the food selection in the Admirals Clubs, but that might change when they make a flagship lounge in PHL.

Vegetables

Vegetables

Miscellaneous snacks

Miscellaneous snacks

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

The wifi in the lounge works fine, but the lounge is somewhat lacking in electrical outlets. If you’re in PHL, you don’t have any better lounge options, so you might as well come here if you have access. But don’t be too disappointed if the lounge agent doesn’t let you in since you’re really not missing much.

Lounge Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge LHR Terminal 3

I’ve visited the British Airways Concorde Room and Galleries First Lounge in Terminal 5 before. This is a review of the Galleries First Lounge in Terminal 3.

Again, there are three oneworld lounges in Terminal 3: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and American Airlines. While there’s really no reason to visit the AA lounge, the BA lounge is best if you care about alcohol. I’m not a big drinker myself, but others have told me that this lounge has by far the best selection of liquors.

This lounge is also pretty sizable with a number of different seating areas. Make sure to explore before committing to where you sit. There’s also a small dining room at the far end of the lounge.

Seating

Seating

Work area

Work area

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

Seating

The lounge is an odd combination of self-service and wandering servers who will bring you things. They have menus floating around the lounge, but there’s also a self-service buffet as well as a dining room. I’d probably check out the buffet first to see if that suffices for you and then try asking someone for things off the menu.

Water bar

Water bar

Beverages

Beverages

Liquor

Liquor

Wines

Wines

Champagne bar

Champagne bar

Coffee

Coffee

I don’t think the food options in this lounge are any better than the Cathay lounge. The buffet is a bit larger, and there seems to be more frequent turnover of food, but the selection of items seems more limited to me. In the mornings, it’s a pretty typical English breakfast spread with some more egg dishes on order.

Menu

Menu

Food

Pastries

Food

Cold cuts, cheese, fruit, yogurt

Food

English breakfast hot foods

Food

Porridge and toppings

Food

Dry cereals

Overall, if you want to drink, come to this lounge. Or I guess if you really want kippers or porridge. The lounge is large and can accommodate a lot of people, and it has a designated play area (not pictured here because kids were using it when I visited and I didn’t want to look like a major creeper). On the other hand, the bathrooms are not the cleanest, the food is pretty meh, and the lounge agents seem more interested in watching cricket than serving.

Lounge Review: British Airways Terraces Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)

Apologies in advance, but you’re going to get another Cathay Pacific first class flight review coming up…

I flew Cathay first class out of Chicago on the midnight departure. The only oneworld lounge open at this time was the British Airways Terraces Lounge, which is a business class lounge. So no first class lounge for people on the midnight departure.

Given that this was the midnight departure, the lounge is essentially all passengers on the Cathay Pacific flight, since there are no other oneworld flights departing at that time. This also means that some of the other amenities aren’t open, like the First Dining section (although that would likely be reserved for British Airways first class passengers anyway).

Entrance to the British Airways Terraces Lounge at ORD

Entrance to the British Airways Terraces Lounge at ORD

This lounge isn’t great. For one, there are no windows. This matters less when you arrive at 11pm for a midnight departure, but I can imagine this getting depressing if you’re there during the day. Second, the food options are pretty standard for a US international business class lounge, which means they’re relatively meager. It’s not a lounge where you’re going to fill up before your flight so you can go to sleep immediately upon takeoff.

Seating

Seating

More lounge seating

More lounge seating

Computer stations

Computer stations

In terms of food, there were some sandwiches, snack jars, soup, chips, and fruit. I believe because of the Cathay Pacific flight, they left a couple of bowls of instant noodles in the corner. But they weren’t even classier brands of instant noodles like Shin Black. They also have an average drink selection.

Drinks and snacks

Drinks and snacks

Drinks

Drinks

Snack mixes

Snack mixes

Fruit

Fruit

Hot soup

Hot soup

Attempts to appeal to Cathay passengers

Attempts to appeal to Cathay passengers

I will remark that the service in the lounge was good. There were people going around and cleaning up and making sure that people had what they needed. But otherwise, this lounge is nothing special and not worth getting to the airport any earlier than you need to for your departure.

So British Airways Sent Me An Email Saying My Account Was Compromised…

And this was their explanation:

This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to your Executive Club account.

We understand this was login information relating to a different online service which you may have also used to access your Executive Club account.

This is complete BS. While yes, I realize that it’s common for people to reuse passwords, I use a password manager to generate unique passwords for each of my online accounts, so it’s impossible for “login information relating to a different online service” to have provided access to my British Airways account (well, okay, it’s not completely impossible, but I can’t imagine that there’s an underlying predictability in the randomness of the passwords generated by my password manager that allowed hackers to generate the password that I would have used for my BA account).

Of course, it’s much more convenient for them to blame someone else rather than admitting that they themselves were hacked, which is what they’re doing.

Two thoughts on online security:
1) You really should use a password management system. Reusing passwords is kinda a big deal. It can’t always help you (like in this case), but it does give me confidence that none of my other online accounts were hacked since I haven’t used my BA password for any other accounts.
2) You should use two-factor authentication for any service that offers it. For example, email, Twitter, Facebook, financial accounts, etc.

Okay, I’m done preaching and ranting.

Heston Blumenthal’s Mission Impossible for British Airways

As someone who loves both travel and food, I found this episode of Heston’s Mission Impossible for British Airways interesting. He takes on the task of improving airplane food, which is often universally panned.

I’m actually a fan of airplane food, just because I think it’s already magical that a giant metal tube can get off the ground and transport me somewhere else in the world in such a short period of time, so it’s even more remarkable that someone will feed me food that’s not completely disgusting during this magical feat. Plus there’s the fact that many airlines will cater to just about any dietary restriction, which boggles my mind logistically.

But here are some of the interesting tidbits from the video:
1. While your ability to taste salty and sweet foods diminishes at altitude, your ability to taste umami does not. This means if you’re looking for flavorful foods, you should search out entrees with ingredients like tomatoes, soy sauce, and shiitake mushrooms.

2. Since airplane ovens essentially have only two temperature settings and it’s hard to know how long your meal will sit in the oven, it makes sense to hedge your bets and choose saucier dishes that are more resilient to drying out. Things like curries and stews are probably good bets.

3. Heston Blumenthal thought that the drier air at altitude made it harder to taste food, so he had people use a nasal douche before eating. Could be something that you add to your carry-on bag.

British Airways New First Class Tracker

I’m not sure who the people behind ftdashoard.net are, but whoever they are, they should get a gold star for creating and maintaining an awesome site.

As mentioned in my trip report about new first class on British Airways, I used this site to track whether the new first class product was being used on the flight from LHR to SFO that I was going to take. As I was flying BA 285, I regularly checked the page specific to that route to see what kind of aircraft was used on that route for the day of the week I was flying. Leading up to my flight, that route had featured the new first class for each of the previous 4 Tuesdays, so I felt optimistic that my flight would also feature the new first class. Luckily, it did!

While past performance is no guarantee of future success, it’s a useful site to see if there are certain flights that are more likely to have the new first class. The overview page in particular has helpful aggregate statistics over the past two weeks (although I recommend searching for your airport code to find the relevant flights). For example, it appears that BA 282/283 to and from LAX is slightly more likely than BA 278/279 to and from LAX to feature the new first class, which might help you decide which of those flights to take if you have flexibility in your schedule.

British Airways Announces Boeing 787 and A380 Routes

British Airways has announced that Toronto and Newark are going to be the first routes that will be served by their new Boeing 787s. Toronto is starting on September 1st on BA 93/92 while Newark is starting on October 1st on BA 187/186.

The flights are supposed to be bookable as of today, and they have some decent promotional fares for travel to/from these cities, starting at $787 roundtrip in coach, $1290 in world traveller plus, and $2787 in club world/business. Note that you can upgrade from coach to world traveller plus or from world traveller plus to club world for only half the Avios needed for a coach ticket, which would be only 10,000 Avios each way for the upgrade on these routes. And since booking a flight in world traveller plus is technically a premium cabin, if you credit to American, you get 1.5 elite qualifying points per mile.

British Airways will also start flying the A380 on routes to Los Angeles, starting on October 15th, and to Hong Kong, starting on November 15th.

Around the World in 100 Hours: British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


British Airways 285
London Heathrow (LHR) to San Francisco (SFO)
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Depart: 11:45am
Arrive: 2:35pm
Duration: 10h 50m
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 4K

Prior to the flight, I had been monitoring the British Airways new first class tracker to see what the odds would be that we would have the new first class product on our flight. While this didn’t guarantee anything, I did see that this flight on Tuesdays had been served by the new product for the past 5 weeks, so I felt reasonably confident that I would get to experience the new first class.

I also checked the seat map about 24 hours out and saw the bassinet in front of 5F, which made me doubly confident that the plane would have new first. But then I asked an attendant in the Concorde Room if the flight had new first and she typed a couple of things in her extremely old-looking interface and said that it would not. Sad pandas.

When I relayed this to my travel companion, he suggested potentially switching to the later flight. At this point, I had my spa appointment, so I told him to go for it if the later flight had new first. When I came back from my spa appointment, he told me that the lounge attendant had been mistaken and that our flight did indeed have new first. We went to talk to the same attendant, and she told me that she had just learned how to look up whether or not a flight would be served by new or old first and before she had just guessed. I can’t blame her for being unable to use an archaic computer system, but she was so confident in her earlier proclamation when she was just guessing…

Anyway, onto the flight itself. The first class cabin is in the nose of the plane on the lower deck of the 747, but they add in 4 more seats than carriers like Cathay Pacific. So the cabin definitely felt a little crowded, and there’s not as much privacy or space as other first class products. It’s probably comparable to some of the nicer business class hard products like the new US Airways Envoy Class or Cathay Pacific Business.

First class cabin

First class cabin

More views of first class cabin

More views of first class cabin

As for seating advice, I would definitely avoid the middle seats in the 4th row as they have the least amount of privacy. Being in 4K, I could see everything that 4F was doing just by turning my head.

My seat, 4K

My seat, 4K

Footrest with seatbelt and in-flight entertainment

Footrest with seatbelt and in-flight entertainment

Closet space

Closet space

Motorized window shades

Motorized window shades

Compared to the overworked and unhelpful service I got in the Concorde Room, I loved the service that the crew provided on this flight. It was a group of older British gents serving the first class cabin, and they were friendly, jocular, and willing to serve. I think they also won the prize for addressing me the most times by my name. Every single time I interacted with one of them, it was, “Mr. ____, what can I do for you?”

They passed out amenity kits and sleeper suits prior to departure. I was pretty excited as I’d read good things about British Airways pajamas, and they’re branded oh-so-subtly and say “First” where a logo normally is. In terms of comfort, though, Emirates has them beat hands down (and surprisingly, the Emirates pajamas are less ostentatious than the BA ones).

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

Sleeper suit aka pajamas

Sleeper suit aka pajamas

While most people started with the main meal service, I asked for turndown service immediately after taking off. I hadn’t slept at all in London, and I wanted to readjust to San Francisco time (do you need to readjust when you’ve been traveling continuously?), so I figured I would try to sleep for as long as I could after takeoff.

Turndown service

Turndown service

This turned out to be a great plan, as I slept soundly for over 6 hours (and didn’t have any jet lag upon returning to San Francisco). The in-flight entertainment system also happened to be inoperable during the flight, which didn’t really matter to me as I slept for so long, but probably sucked for most passengers since this was a daytime flight.

After waking up, I decided to get some food. I knew that I had to try the tea service, but I also ordered some appetizers from the main menu just to sample more.

DSC02098 DSC02099 DSC02100 DSC02101 DSC02103 DSC02104

Sandwiches for tea

Sandwiches for tea

Poached lobster and cod timbale

Poached lobster and cod timbale

Asparagus with poached egg in truffle sauce

Asparagus with poached egg in truffle sauce

Scones and clotted cream

Scones and clotted cream

Tea pastries

Tea pastries

I really enjoyed the scones and clotted cream, and I was surprised that the truffle sauce on the asparagus actually had a slice of truffle in it. Overall, I thought that the food was good, but I would have thought that they would have served something more substantial than tea service as the second meal on a 10+ hour flight.

Prior to landing, the crew apologized profusely for the inoperable in-flight entertainment, and they proactively handed out cards for everyone to fill out so we would get compensation. I thought it was the right way for them to handle the situation, and it was a nice 20k Avios bonus for this flight.

While British Airways might not have the nicest hard product in first class, I loved the service and slept really well, which is as much as one can ask for. I would happily fly them again, although it’s not as aspirational as many other carriers.