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British Airways Longhaul Economy Review

I have had the pleasure of flying BA’s Singapore to London route 3 times over the past 5 months (and booked again for August). British Airways gets a lot of bad press and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by both the service levels and state of the cabin on all the flights. The upside of this route is that they tend to stick the A380 on it. Which really does lend itself to a much more luxurious journey, even if you are in Economy.

Flight Booking

Use Skyscanner to check what deals are going on. It’s always been the case for me that British Airways is the cheapest option. I seriously don’t understand how Singapore Airlines can price their fare at double that of BA for what is a fairly similar Economy product. I usually end up booking through the BA website. This way I can also use my Avios to get a discounted price.  If you haven’t already done so, make sure your kids are signed up to the Avios programme and you can get a Household Account. And nick all their miles.

It’s worth signing up to BA’s updates to find out when they are releasing their sale flights. You can occasionally grab a bargain.

photo of A380

How full are the flights?

On all my outbounds (SIN-LHR), the flight has been chocabloc.  The flight originates in Sydney, so if you are clambering onboard at Changi, it’s hard to know the load of the flight.  The return leg is usually quieter.  BA operates two flights at similar times. According to my friend in the know, the earlier flight is often busier as that’s the one the standby staff will book.

At Changi T2

You must go to visit Changi’s new jewel in the crown, Jewel. It’s essentially a souped up shopping mall but it does contain the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Your best bet is to check-in and dump your bags. Then walk across the road to Jewel.  There are excessive dining options including Shake Shack and good old Din Tai Fung.

photo of Jewel Changi Waterfall

Once you’ve had your fill and returned to the Terminal, don’t do as I did and queue up at the wrong BA Gate. I paid no attention to the flight number, clocked a queue and promptly joined it (I am terribly British). It was only when we got to the front that the staff checking my boarding pass realised the error.

At Heathrow T5

If you’ve got the kids with you, head to the ‘Family Zone’ where you can check in with actual humans. Alternatively you’ll need to go to the machines.  Once you are through, there’s a huge range of shopping. Jetlag & Mayhem love the Harry Potter store!  For food, I like Wagamana or Plane Food.
There’s a Stay & Play kids play area near Gate 7 although this does close by 9pm.

Where to sit on the A380?

Seatguru will give you seat reviews. Unless you are a premium customer, you have to pay in advance to select your seat.  However they will group families together.  I have never paid in advance but am always there on the dot of the 24 hour check-in opening. I always seem to get an aisle seat. The Upper Deck is nice at the Economy cabin is smaller and therefore staff seem more attentive. There’s also only one bassinet in Economy on the top deck so you have less of a chance of screaming babies (although to be fair, the babies I have recently encountered on flights have all been impeccably behaved).

On the Lower Deck, the Economy cabin is 3-4-3 but upstairs it is 2-3-2. So if you are traveling alone, sit upstairs. When I am flying with Jetlag & Mayhem, we go downstairs so I can be in a 3.  Choose a seat mid-way in the cabin so you are away from the noisy toilets and galley.

I’m not going to go into detail regarding the seat. All you need to know is it’s an ok ride.  I’ve experienced worse legroom and pitch.  I get a bit annoyed when people recline their seat immediately as it starts a domino effect.  Overhead storage is standard but if you have a lot of items, it’s worth queueing to board first.

What to bring?

In a previous post, I’ve listed some handy items to bring for further comfort.  Temperatures can get pretty icy so pack layers for all the family.  If you are flying with a baby, here are my tips on the bassinet and a baby packing list.  Gone are the days when they’ll dole out a pack containing socks and a pen, so bring your own bits including eyemask, decent headphone and flight socks.

How’s the food?

Order your children’s meals in advance.  The BA kids meal is pretty decent in comparison to others (I’m talking to you Cathay Pacific). I don’t tend to eat on planes but I would say the adults looked pretty average. The snack selection is worth a walk to the toilet though, mini cheddars and chocolates galore!

photo of BA kids meal

They didn’t provide a bottle of water with the seat so you may want to purchase your own (or better, bring a reusable one that you can refill before you board the plane). At Changi, Security is at the Gate, so you won’t be able to bring bottled water through.

Inflight Entertainment

Their AVOD is excellent, one of the best in the business. You can watch from the moment you get onboard unless the system is down. This has happened to me several times recently although they did manage to eventually reboot it.  In addition to the movies/tv selection there are some great audio. I find this relaxation track helps me to sleep (especially if you’ve packed your own comfortable headphones).

 

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