Normally a flight in economy between two European cities, probably wouldn’t be worthy of a trip report, as they’re pretty much of a muchness. However my flight from London to Munich yesterday was a little bit unusual.
For those that aren’t aware, some of British Airways cabin crew are on strike at the moment, in protest at the very poor pay and conditions that they’re on. I’ve written about this previously, in context of the overall cost-cutting programme that they’re going through.
So to cover the shortfall, British Airways have been ‘wet-leasing’ nine Qatar Airways Airbus A320 aircraft to fly European routes for the duration of the strike. My flight to Munich was operated by one of these aircraft.
Being a British Airways Gold card holder (oneworld emerald), I had access to the British Airways first class lounge at terminal five. This is essentially just a lounge for emerald card holders are real first class passengers have access to the Concorde Room instead. However it’s not bad and got there around 12.30 for my 15.05 flight.
They have a nice terrace area overlooking the airfield however they appear to have some kind of promotion going on in that area, in partnership with Kew Gardens and a variety of gin and tonic suppliers. They also have some horrid fake astro-turf down, but given the amount of interesting gins they had, I could forgive them that.
At about 14.15, there was a gate given for the flight, and it was the dreaded A10 – that means a bus journey to the aircraft. I’m told the reason for this is that the Qatar aircraft have what’s known as a bulk loaded holds i.e. they just throw the suitcases in loose. All British Airways aircraft and indeed the terminal five luggage system is designed for containers. Having the aircraft on remote stands gives them a bit more room to load the aircraft. Apparently.
Anyway, after being given the scenic tour of terminal 5, as the aircraft was parked out beyond the furthest satellite of T5C, we were able to board the aircraft.
The seating on board was all very red, however I had 14A which was the first row of the two exit row seats. There was lots of leg-room plus there was also a foot rest. Business class rather than the convertible seats that most European airlines had was three rows of 2 x 2 recliner seats. The crew even managed to do pre-departure drinks for passenger which is a definite step up from the normal Club Europe service.
There were five cabin crew aboard the aircraft, which is one more than British Airways would normally have on an A320 – the service was definitely better as a result. The purser also came around to me and gave me a personal welcome as a Gold Guest List member and said that if I needed anything at all just to ask – this was a lovely touch again one that I very rarely get on a “real” British Airways flight.
After the standard Heathrow queue to take off, the crew started their in-flight service. It essentially was the old Euro Traveller service, before BA introduced the awful buy-on-board offering. That meant free snacks and free drinks, so I had the obligatory gin and tonic, which they were more than happy to serve.
After around ninety minutes after take-off, we landed at a rather grey and cool Munich terminal one, parking up next to a rather green S7 Airbus A320.
Disembarking via the jet bridge, we all ambled down to passport control, where there was no-one. The border police seemed to be on their break. So we all waited for about 20 minutes before a couple of officers decided to turn up and process us all.
Overall thought, the British Airways operated by Qatar Airways European economy class experience was a lot better than the current woeful product on a regular British Airways flight. The product was better, the crew were nicer, and the flight was on time. What more could you want?