This short sector was a positioning flight to connect with a Finnair flight to Miami later that day. After the baggage delays we experienced returning from Mexico City, I decided to travel with only hand luggage. I booked a BA business class seat, so there’d be no quibbling over my two carry-on bags. BA’s schedule was being affected by cancellations and I was overly anxious about this journey because I needed to make the connection in Stockholm. Read on learn how my flight with British Airways in Club Europe on an A320 went…
Flight No: BA0776
From/To: London (LHR) to Stockholm Arlanda (ARN)
Departure time: 07:10
Ticket Class: Business (Club Europe)
Flight time: 2 hours 20 mins
Oneworld Tier Points: 40
In this review:
- Check-in & Fast Track
- Cabin Configuration and Amenities
- In-flight Entertainment
- Drinks Service
- Food Service
- BG1 Verdict
Check-in & Fast Track
To allow for delays, I took the earliest flight I could. I arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 around 05:30, which is just before the morning rush kicks off. Although I was only travelling with hand luggage, I hadn’t completed the online COVID document checks, so I needed to show my COVID pass at the check-in desk. I was misdirected to a couple of closed check-in counters, which caused a bit of confusion at the First Wing check-in area. That being said, I checked-in in a couple of minutes and I sailed through the very quiet fast track security lane. Arrival to lounge was little more than 10 minutes.
British Airways business class tickets include access to the Galleries business class lounges. There is one at the north and at the terminal and another at the south end. There is also a lesser known lounge at the 5B satellite terminal.
I opted to use my gold status and went into the BA First Lounge, which is located at the southern end of terminal 5. Being early on a weekday morning, it became progressively busier during my visit. I found a seat and table on my own, however the surrounding seats quickly filled and I was sharing a table with a friendly couple by the end.
The order at table system was still in operation – scan a QR code on the table to launch a web-based menu, enter the daily code (which appeared to be the same as the WiFi code) and then add your food and drink items to the shopping cart. I received my full English breakfast in less than 10 minutes. I couldn’t use the app to order teas and coffees. Instead, I had to order them from a staffed bar that had been installed in front of the coffee machine.
The good news was that the gold champagne bar was back in action! Self-service wine, water and soft drinks were available throughout the lounge without needing to order at the table. I think this blend of table service and self-service remains at significant step up from the pre-pandemic lounge experience.
Please, BA, fix those awful toilets, please! They’re terrible worn-out and are the worst part of visiting the Heathrow lounges.
Boarding was via gate A10 in the main terminal building. This meant no need to take the train to 5B or 5C satellite terminals. The only downside is this is a bus gate (split into A10a, b and c). After passing through the gate formalities, everyone was packed into a bus like sardines. The driver had trouble closing the doors, but we were soon driven to the plane at break-neck speed, cornering as fast as possible. Fortunately, it was a short ride because the aircraft was parked just at the end of the B terminal.
It was a beautiful sunny morning to climb the steps up to the 14 year old A320 aircraft and to be greeted by two cheery members of the cabin crew. After being handed a Detol antibacterial wipe, I went straight to my seat that was diagonally opposite the door.
Cabin Configuration & Amenities
Aircraft type: Airbus A320-232
Number of classes: 2
Number of seats in flying class: 48
Position: Front row, right-hand side
There was a single washroom at the front and two at the rear of the aircraft. The front washroom is typically reserved for the 40+ business class passengers. I saw a queue form quickly after take-off and at least one person was waiting to use the washroom at any given point in the flight. I think my fellow passengers must’ve been drinking a lot or had exceptionally weak bladders!
Although looking a bit tired, the washroom was clean and well-stocked when I visited near the end of the flight. White Company hand soap and moisturiser was provided alongside some regular foaming hand soap.
BA don’t offer amenity kits with their short-haul business class product.
Because mask restrictions were lifted in both Sweden and the UK, the crew advised that masks did not need to be worn. The majority of passengers on the flight chose not to wear a mask.
An antibacterial wipe was handed to each passenger.
The crew were very cheery and appeared to be having a nice time. The cabin manager was very bubbly and charismatic. Her smile was quite infectious – she was doing her best to make up for the lack of inflight entertainment. Things were dropped on the floor and it all became quite a calamity. Most of the business passengers seemed to be fine with it and I thought the crew were an improvement on the usual Hetty Wainthrop matron types.
Despite the friendliness of the crew, the aircraft configuration lets down this part of the review. One toilet for 48 passengers is pushing it and I’m not surprised there was a constant queue throughout the flight. The washroom was showing its age and the other amenities in this premium cabin product are seriously lacking.
The Club Europe seat is just a normal economy seat with the exact same pitch and recline. The only difference is the middle seat isn’t used and a table is usually placed over it. Front row seats don’t have as much room to stretch out, but these seats don’t feel as claustrophobic as those further down the cabin.
Access & Storage
I think seat 1F is a good option for those needing easy access. While 1C and 1D would be the best for wheelchair users, 1A and 1F offer good levels of access for passengers who can’t walk or stand for long.
There was plenty of room in the overhead bin for 2 carry on bags per passenger.
Because I was sat at the front bulkhead of the cabin, there was no under seat storage – everything had to go in the overhead lockers.
While the seat offered a small amount of recline, it was essentially an economy class seat. I wouldn’t consider it particularly comfortable for sleeping. Blankets and pillows aren’t offered on short-haul routes.
My seat and the area around it were generally clean. I noticed some drinks marks on the table dividing the two seats that hinted it hadn’t been wiped since the last flight. I also noticed crumbs on the neighbouring seat, which again suggested it hadn’t been dusted or wiped between flights.
Power & Wi-Fi
I found a mains power socket and USB port below the seat.
Inflight Wi-Fi was activated after the seatbelt sign had been turned off. I managed to clock 1.3 Mbps down and 1.2 Mbps up. I paid £4.99 for an hour’s access to “full internet”. A reduced service for only messaging was priced at £2.99 for the duration of the flight.
There was no WiFi for the majority of journey over the North Sea. For this reason, I would only ever buy an hour of WiFi on BA short-haul routes.
What is the best seat on British Airways A320 Club Europe?
On short-haul business, 1A and 1F are the best seats. You have a window view, you’re first to be served food and drink from the trolley (you’ll always get your first choice) and you’re the first to disembark at the other end. Avoid 1C and 1D as you’ll have your knees continually knocked by the trolley and a queue for the washrooms will form right beside you.
I do my best to avoid the final row of Club Europe. It’s last to be served and have sometimes ended-up with kids in the economy row behind kicking our seats, while their worn-out parents just look on.
There’s no inflight entertainment on British Airways short haul aircraft. This is an area where BA could improve the very basic premium cabin product.
Bring a device to watch or a book to read. While WiFi is available on most routes, it’s patchy and very slow when it’s working, do download movies before you board the aircraft.
About 20 minutes after take-off, the crew passed through the cabin with a drinks trolley. A full bar was on offer (including champagne), along with soft drinks, teas and coffee. With a long flight later that day, I played it safe and went for a cup of tea and some orange juice.
Drinks were offered several times during the flight and I could hear champagne corks popping throughout.
Breakfast was served from a trolley about 40 minutes into the flight. No menu was handed out prior to food being served.
Three options were offered:
- A full English breakfast
- A warm vegetarian frittata
- A cold continental platter
The tray came with a small bowl of mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) and a bowl of coconut Bircher muesli or porridge – I couldn’t tell and didn’t have a menu.
Pastries were offered alongside, although there was no plate to serve them onto. It was just plonked on the tray.
Overall breakfast was fairly good. The cold cuts plate tasted fresh and the cheese wasn’t sweaty. The berries tasted like they had been carefully chilled after picking and hadn’t been anywhere near a freezer. I understand Do&Co have been working with BA to improve the breakfast experience. I think there’s still some way to go – how about some avocado? Or smoothies? Or just bowl of fruit and yoghurt? The presentation seemed like an afterthought, as if the items had all be designed in isolation and not as a combined experience. That being said, it was better than previous breakfast flights and it surpassed expectations.
We arrived in Stockholm Arlanda slightly behind schedule, but we were disembarked quickly via an air bridge. As my final destination was Miami, I was told to transit airside. I explained that I was on separate tickets and they said that was fine if I’d already checked in and had a boarding pass for the next flight. I did, so I was directed to a locked door that I needed to buzz through.
After a short wait, airport security arrived to screen me back through into the departure area. I then had to walk down a small spiral staircase and take a bus to another part of the airport. The only challenge was it was the wrong departure area. My flight was departing from another part of the airport that I couldn’t reach.
After much walking and asking questions, I concluded that it would be quicker to enter Sweden through passport control and head to the check-in desk. Once I did that, things ran a lot more smoothly. Next time, I will tell the border guards that I haven’t checked in and don’t yet have a boarding pass!
Given the disruption affecting BA’s short-haul flight schedule, I was bracing myself for the worst. In fact, it was fine. They got me to where I needed to be in time for the onward flight and I was well-fed, both in the lounge and on the flight. BA’s cabin amenities and hard product should be improved to maintain the premium experience. Is a British Airways A320 flight in Club Europe worth it? It might be if you pay with Avios or get a revenue fare under £250. Fares above £300 are where I struggle to see how I’d get value for money and would sooner book an economy seat.
- The Good
- Attentive and friendly crew.
- The breakfast was good.
- The Bad
- Ageing short-haul aircraft and premium cabin product.
- The long-running baggage handling issues mean I no longer feel comfortable checking in bags with BA.
- Stockholm Arlanda has very poor signage and isn’t setup for airside transit passengers.
If you want a good meal and beverage service, book a seat as far forward in the cabin as you can. The crew operate from the front galley and frequently pass the first few rows, making it easy to get their attention. BA load a limited number of meals onto each flight. You’ll most likely get your first choice if you sit near the front and you’ll get is quicker.
Don’t forget to sign-up to our weekly newsletter to get our latest updates delivered straight to your inbox.