British Airways

Economy - Domestic

737s, 757s and A320s quite cramped, probably 30 inches or so for seat pitch. Snacks served only, usually a sandwich. No inflight entertainment.

Economy - International

They call it World Traveller. Just to confuse you!

Got the seat back videos on newer planes, with a resonable selection of movies and other viewing items. Bit like Virgin or Singapore inflight entertainment about 7 years ago. And better than Qantas International's "multi-award winning inflight entertainment". A selection of movies, replayed every 2 hours or so - if they remember. Oh, and whoever invented touch screen seat back monitors is completely insane. BA, like Qantas, have those, and people seem to enjoy stabbing their fingers at the screen all night - with all the implications that has on the passenger in front. I've found that a very severe stare usually stops the seat stabbing. Air France also have this stupidity.

Seats are lightweight, and feel very flimsy, and have no internal backing. So you can feel the person sitting behind you stick their knees into your back, or lift the magazines out of the seat pocket, etc. Legroom, as with Qantas, is pretty poor, probably 30 inches. I can't sit straight in them for any length of time, and the foot rest means I can't even get my legs underneath when the seat has reclined. Have a look at this picture to get some idea - my knees are pressing into the seat pocket.

World Traveller is 3-4-3 in 747s. World Traveller Plus costs extra and is 2-4-2 - and looks very nice, similar to Singapore Airlines 777 Economy in seat pitch, but with a wider seat.

Food is pretty good, service is much better than Qantas, which is why the food is probably better than Qantas too. Service can be very cringingly English at times. And slanted towards children (imagine: 'Hello Mums and Dads, boys and girls' - cringe!), unfortunately not managing to keep them quiet like Singapore Airlines staff can do.

Summary: Better than Qantas. One of the better Europeans that isn't saying anything.

Business - International

Well, after years of people telling me that British Airways Club World (business to you and me) was the best in the sky, I was quite looking forward to my first experience. And what a disappointment.

Yes the backwards/forwards facing side-by-side seats in Business are a novel concept, and clearly allows BA to cram a large number of people into the Biz cabin - a 777 is 2-4-2 in layout. And the seats go completely flat, although with my 194cm I couldn't completely stretch out - they probably allow up to 180cm height only.

Entertainment system is dire, same system that Qantas uses, no video on demand, just a rewind every 2 hours set of 8 films and documentaries. Sigh.

Catering was nothing to write home about, not helped by the crew asking me on one flight what I wanted at the start, then telling me right at the end of serving that they had run out, and I had to have the one remaining main course they had. Even then the preparation was indifferent.

Summary: When an airline is put on a pedestal by fellow travellers, the real experience brought them down to earth with a hard thump. Yes, BA are due to revamp their biz product - it might have been a market leader once upon a time, but it's tired now. Next!

Last updated by Philip Smith on .