THE FLIGHT: I flew as a Club Europe passenger, British Airways’ Business Class within Europe, aboard an Airbus A320. My flight was BA2644 from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) to Malta International Airport (MLA).
THE CHECK-IN: Flying as a Club Europe passenger meant I was able to check in to my Thursday morning flight at the British Airways’ desk dedicated to Business Class ticket holders.
My flight to Malta was scheduled to takeoff from Gatwick at 7.20 am so I arrived at the airport a little before 5.00 am. To my surprise, Gatwick was busy even at that early hour and the check-in at the dedicated area had quite a long queue when I arrived. However, the check-in was fast and efficient.
Travelling as a Club Europe passenger meant I could use the Premium Security line, so getting airside took little time. It also gave me access to the British Airways lounge, a sharp left after exiting security.
The welcome at the lounge was nice and warm, and the staff were chatty. I asked them how many British Airways passengers were due to fly from Gatwick on the day of my flight. They answered that the total, in all classes of cabin, was approximately 6,700.
The lounge reflected the airport in that it was fairly busy but getting a good breakfast was fairly quick. I opted for a cooked English breakfast with beans, sausage, eggs and bacon. There was plenty of freshly chopped fruit, yoghurts, fruit juices and pastry options to choose from too.
Beers, bubbly and other booze didn’t appeal to me at 5.30 am but they were there if people wanted them. I opted for a hot drink dispensed by one of the machines serving coffee and hot chocolate.
The large lounge offers great views over the runway. I took a seat in the colourful lounge seating rather than heading to one of the many desks to answer emails.
The lounge has showers for use by travellers. If I have one mild criticism of the lounge it’s that there was no hook in the toilet stall, meaning I couldn’t hang my jacket.
BOARDING: There were no flight announcements in the lounge, so I kept checking the screens for departure information. Gate 20 was about 400 metres from the lounge and I made sure I was there in good time.
As a member of Group One, I was among the first people called to board the aircraft. There was next to no waiting time. Boarding started promptly about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time of 7.20 am. I was handed a bottle of Harrogate Spring Water and the cabin crew were chatty as other passengers filed past the Club Europe section.
Boarding went smoothly and boarding was completed by 7.11 am. However, this is when things started to go wrong. The captain of the Airbus A320 made an announcement that there would be a delay of 20 minutes while a catering issue was resolved. In due course, several small catering boxes were loaded but they contained the wrong items. As the day ticked on, we were told that the caterers would take stock from a nearby aircraft to speed up our departure.
At one stage, the captain came into the cabin to chat with passengers, which was a nice touch. In due course a couple of trays were loaded aboard our aircraft – I was expecting a lot more – and, after a delay of 40 minutes, the door was closed.
Push-back was 43 minutes after the scheduled departure time and we joined a queue of six other aircraft waiting to take off as Gatwick came to life. In the end, we took off a little over an hour late.
THE SEAT: My leather window seat (6A) had a 30-inch pitch, meaning I had plenty of legroom. I noticed that the LED lighting around the seat adjusted automatically to the ambient light level for the duration of the flight. The headrest was adaptable and I felt comfortable during the three-hour 10-minute flight from Gatwick to Malta.
The seating area was clean and tidy and the middle seat was blocked off.
THE SERVICE: Once we were airborne, the cabin crew started their service with bottled water and then offered a choice of soft and alcoholic drinks.
After serving those refreshments the crew went through the almost full Club Europe cabin and took breakfast orders. With a distant view of Paris, I opted for the Full English breakfast – my second of the day – rather than the alternative of boiled eggs. The hot breakfast was served on a rectangular porcelain plate. Gazing out from my window, 37,000 feet above France, it was tasty.
When drinks were offered I went for an orange juice. After the cabin crew cleared away the empties they brought around a snack basket and I chose a bag of Tyrrells crisps.
Our delayed departure meant I was concerned I might be late for a business meeting scheduled with colleagues who were due to arrive into Malta on a different flight at roughly the same time. I asked a member of the cabin crew if it was possible to get information about the progress of my colleagues’ flight. Jasmine dealt with my request efficiently and quickly informed me that their flight was about 100 miles in front of our aircraft.
We arrived at Malta International Airport at Luqa, four miles southwest of Valletta, about 90 minutes after our anticipated landing time.
THE VERDICT: Overall, British Airways’ flight BA2644 to Malta was good but let down by the delay caused by the snag in the catering operation. The cabin crew were professional, helpful and prompt in delivering service to my comfortable Club Europe seat. britishairways.com