June 19, 2024

A triumphant return to the skies

For my first long-haul flight since the pandemic began, I was not left disappointed.

THE FLIGHT: I flew in the World Traveller cabin with British Airways (BA) on flight BA0115 from London to New York on a Boeing 777-300.

CHECK IN: Given how regularly the rules for travel to and from the UK were changing around the time of my trip, I found myself quite apprehensive about the check in process. However, by the time I arrived at the airport I was confident I had everything I needed to board courtesy of the VeriFLY app. The process of collating the test results, vaccination proof and other required information into the app was quite fiddly, however once completed it allowed my check in experience to go smoothly. With my VeriFLY pass I was able to check in online and head straight to the self bag drop upon arrival, avoiding the long queues at the check in desks.  

BOARDING: I noted a lack social distancing from other passengers throughout the boarding process, but justified this with the thought that everyone boarding the plane had proof of negative results and/ or vaccination. Still, it felt strange to be in such close proximity to so many people where social distancing was an option.

Upon entering the aircraft we were greeted warmly by the cabin crew and offered a Dettol sanitising wipe. I later found a few more wipes stashed in my chair pocket. Masks were worn at all times onboard, except for when eating or drinking. This guidance was repeated multiple times throughout the flight.

THE SEAT:The Boeing 777-300 was largely configured for Business and Premium cabins, with the World Traveller (economy) cabin feeling much smaller in comparison. Seats were laid out in 3-4-3 formation except for back four rows which were 2-4-2. My partner and I had chosen a pair of the two seats at the back to ourselves in a bid to keep some distance from other passengers. 

My seat, 50K, was compact but not uncomfortable. I was pleased to find both USB and USBC charging ports, and two headphone jacks. The IFE was extensive and I enjoyed the fun of choosing my watching for the flight – a novelty for my first long-haul flight post-COVID. I also found the FlightPath 3D app interesting to peruse. Scrolling through the different destination profiles proved great for travel inspiration. 

The inflight shopping platform was easy to access and browse, though eventually my arm did start to ache due to the height of the touchscreen. 

A plastic-wrapped blanket, pillow and headphones were provided, and the height-adjustable headrest proved supportive throughout the flight. A worry of a seat so far towards the back of the plane is its proximity to the toilets, but never before this flight have I actually thought a plane toilet smelt nice – it was, quite literally, a breath of fresh air!

DRINKS: Drinks service began shortly after take off. We opted to try the Brew Dog Jet Stream beer, brewed in partnership with BA, which we enjoyed. Sour Cream and Chive Penn State Pretzels accompanied the drinks, and whilst they were deliciously moorish, they perhaps weren’t the best choice with the mask mandate! 

FOOD: The crew were sympathetic to me forgetting to book a vegetarian meal amongst the stress of collecting all other required documents to travel. I alerted them during drinks service and they assured me they would save a vegetarian meal which put me at ease.

The main meal was a delicious vegetable Biryani, which proved to be a subject of envy to my meat-eating partner. It was served with a small couscous pot and a chocolate dessert. A bottle of water accompanied and service was followed by tea and coffee. It’s always a pleasant surprise when tea served inflight actually tastes nice! 

About an hour before landing, we were served hot drinks and a Do&Co sandwich. I chose the cucumber, cream cheese and mint sandwich on wholemeal bread. I found it to be a little soggy in places but enjoyed the mint-cucumber combination of flavours.

THE VERDICT: For my first long-haul flight since the pandemic began, I was not left disappointed. I found new appreciation for all the small things that make up the inflight experience – the food, the drinks, the crew, the IFE and more. The ‘joy of travel’ I had been longing for since March of 2020 has finally been reignited!