It’s been a long time away from the blogging scene (almost a month). There comes a point when you realize you underestimated the amount of time school takes up and I think I reached that point just after I made the pledge to catch up on trip reports. And then there was spring break, which pretty much translates to alarm bells in my head: get as much travel under your belt before classes start again. Anyway there is the good side to this and the bad. The good part is that there is no shortage in content to cover, the bad part is that there is so little time to cover it.
I’ve decided to not going into another in depth review of British Airways Club World since the product hasn’t really undergone any evolution in a year. BA however claims to have made some changes for the better, especially in Club Europe. I always thought that BA had one of the better in-flight catering services when it comes to Asian Vegetarian Meals. And this held true for the most part with their catering out of Houston, but everything else including the service made me rethink my previously held opinions.
BA CLUB WORLD: HOUSTON –> LONDON-HEATHROW (DINNER)
Starter: Cucumber and Asparagus Salad
BA’s vegetarian starters out of the U.S gateways appears to be the same each time, some seasoned cucumbers and chewy asparagus with a tomato garnish. Nothing to write home about and pretty much the most boring part of the meal. This part of the meal was the same as the one I had last year.
Main Course: Naan with Vegetable Rice, Bhindi Masala, and Malai Kofta
The main course was of really good quality for an airline meal, but it continues to be disappointing that everything is just thrown into one single tray. I think people would enjoy their meal a lot more if there was as sense of separation between the various side dishes. Singapore does a better job of this by offering each item in a separate container.
Dessert: Key Lime Pie
The meal actually came with Gulab Jamun (which was apparently the best my mom has ever had on a flight), but I opted for the Key Lime Pie, owing to my terrible experiences before.
Service: Service was absolutely terrible throughout my flight. There were large spans of time during the meal service when many people sitting next to me were left without their drink refilled. For some reason the FA attending to me kept bringing on the Diet Coke. I guess I was easy to figure out? Anyway my dad’s tray was not taken away until almost 30 minutes after they had dimmed the lights and readied the cabin for passengers to sleep.
Breakfast service was an absolute joke. The cabin crew turned on the lights about 2 hours before landing and proceeded to ask everyone if they wanted breakfast. After that they gave passengers cereal without milk and offered the bread basket to only a few passengers. I personally didn’t have breakfast, but I saw this happen all around me. And believe me passengers weren’t too pleased about this.
BA CLUB EUROPE – London-Heathrow –> Rome-Fiumicino (LUNCH)
On our connecting BA flight, the cabin crew were extremely prompt and courteous, but the food left quite a bit to be desired. The offering was a Paneer (Cheese) Salad with Fruit and a Bread Roll. Everything was served on a single tray and drinks were refilled almost immediately. The arrangement was nice, but the flavor really wasn’t something I cared for. It seemed like I was pretty much eating spiced raw vegetables.
BA CLUB EUROPE – Rome-Fiumicino–> London-Heathrow (LUNCH)
On our flight back from Rome to London, there was yet another variation of the same dish as the earlier Club Europe flight. This time there was even less flavor than before because in lieu of the veggies, it was just plain steamed rice. I’ve mentioned this before, I hope airlines realize that vegetarians aren’t cows because this pretty much had no flavor whatsoever.
BA CLUB WORLD – LHR–> IAH
Starter: Dhokla with Shredded Carrots and Squash
The dish looked better than it tasted. The tomato sauce was ridiculously spicy and the Dhokla was rubbery so it was pretty much inedible.
I did enjoy the ample serving of bread though because well I was pretty much starving at this point after having not eaten anything in the morning or on the earlier flight.
Main Course: Steamed Rice, Okra (Bhindi Masala), Pakoras, and a Mystery Dal.
Again flavorless, spicy, and tasteless (there was no salt in any of the food). Though it was better than any of the worst airline meals I’ve had, it wasn’t for from making that list. At least they didn’t think I would eat grass for lunch I suppose.
Dessert: Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
The cheesecake was as you would expect: unhealthy, airline quality, and not very much caramel sauce. I normally would’ve skipped this portion, but the rest of the food left my mouth burning and unsatisfied.
Tea Service (Just before Landing): Grilled Cheese sandwich with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Onions
Believe it or not that so called grilled cheese was the highlight of the entire meal service. The downside to the tea service is that they totally skipped out on serving me the promised scones though they did give me the strawberry jam that goes with it. So much for the BA signature evening tea service.
Extremely efficient for the lunch service, but extremely inefficient incomprehensible for the afternoon tea service. Some people didn’t get their requested beverages , and others like myself didn’t get the scones. Service was all about getting the job done rather than making it a somewhat memorable in flight experience. Luckily one of the FAs saw that I liked Diet Coke and offered me a few cans before heading off.
Contrary to BA’s statements of intent to improve catering and service across the board, the Club World experience has been on the constant decline lately. There is no attention to any sort of detail and service just seems to be almost machine like at times. It seems a little ridiculous for passengers to get an evening tea service without a beverage or scones, and cereal without milk. Furthermore, I found it extremely annoying that the cabin crew decided to turn on the cabin lights more than 2 hours before landing. That is peak sleeping time for most people on this transatlantic flight! They should consider asking those who want breakfast well ahead of time (like Virgin does with their breakfast cards). People don’t want to wake up because one passenger wants breakfast.
Given a choice among carriers on flights to Europe, I now believe that I place BA toward the bottom of the pack. Their seats are outdated, service is on the decline, and food appears to be OK at best. And since there have been no fare sales as of late on British Airways, and the AARP discount has been cut in half: I don’t see any reason to continue flying them on my way to Europe.
My new ranking of transatlantic carriers with regard to in flight dining is as follows:
3.) Virgin Atlantic
4.) American Airlines
5.) British Airways
6.) Air France
Not Ranked: Delta Airlines (never flown them on any transatlantic flight)