It’s time for a snapshot, this time examining the passenger experience aboard British Airways 296 between Chicago O’Hare International and London Heathrow in World Traveller (Economy Class).
In case you’ve forgotten how we do travel write-ups on Economy Class and Beyond, I have two major travel writing styles:
- Trip Reports – These are full deep-dive reports taking you into the experience and the small things… as well as the big things!
- Snapshots – These are bite-sized reviews that show you the basic product in some nice gentle headlines (and normally, only images shot on the phone).
Today, we’re on the Snapshot. The full in-depth review is very near completion.
Check-in at O’Hare Terminal 5 was near door 5D. There was no need to complete VeriFLY or other pre-check-in requirements to be accepted for travel.
Both bags were accepted for travel.
I inquired about the cost of upgrading to World Traveller Plus – but found this to be around $500 (a major jump over previous years). I declined the spending for this short flight segment (considering it was £279 online).
I took the left-hand security at Terminal 5. With Southwest, Delta and Frontier now in Terminal 5 (along with the international airlines), Terminal 5 has gotten a lot busier.
As such, it took around 15 minutes to pass through this security checkpoint.
The public area has changed very little, although Dunkin Donuts has turned up in the airport to offer a value option (compared to the ripoff that is Hudson news).
Editors note – if only fruit came in its own protective wrapping…
Also new were these Farmer’s Fridge vending machines.
However, those who are used to the gate numbers at O’Hare T5 will need to adjust, as the entire terminal has had its gates renumbered.
They’ve only gone up…
The only lounge that was accessible to me was the British Airways Lounge.
The lounge had an order food by smartphone system, allowing pasta, burgers, children’s snacks and drinks to be ordered.
In addition, I was granted access to the pre-flight dining due to my status.
There were a limited amount of pre-packaged snacks out, as well as a help-your-self salad bar.
Boarding would be from Gate M17 at Terminal 5- which is diagonally opposite the lounge. This is the old M11/M12 area, which has been heavily expanded.
Boarding was controlled by groups, with ground staff following the groups’ rules.
Once the boarding pass was scanned and the small portion of it detracted, a facial scan was taken, to mark that I had left the country.
Today’s aircraft would be a British Airways Boeing 787-10.
This offers British Airways full four-cabin products of First Class, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy Class).
Passing through Club World, this aircraft had brand new seating installed, with the Collins Aerospace SuperDIamond in business class, new World Traveller Plus seats and Recaro CL3710 seats in World Traveller.
The World Traveller seat is pitched at 31″ with a 17.1″ seat width, with a 5″ recline (which is obvious when used).
None was provided. There were headphones, as well as a blanket and pillow at each seat.
A new IFE system was installed on this aircraft, with a 10.1″ IFE Screen installed.
The IFE system featured a new mapping system by FlightPath 3D.
Onboard connectivity was provided. Due to the flight being a night flight, I chose not to avail myself of the internet access fee.
Service on this flight was made up of three services – a snack, a Dinner service and a pre-arrival breakfast snack.
Pretzels and drins were offered for the first pass.
The first service offered was either a chicken dish or a pasta dish
The second service was a choice of muffins, which were served cold.
The aircraft landed at Heathrow slightly early and was directed straight to a gate due to a medical emergency onboard. Disembarkation was held until the paramedics could board.
The aircraft docked at the “B” Gates of Terminal 5, which required the use of the transit shuttle to reach T5A and the UK Border.
From landing to the ground side, the process took around the best part of 53 minutes.
The full trip report featuring British Airways 296 is coming soon!
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I’ve given up on BA after many years. The writer here apparently has Sliver (or higher) frequent-flyer status (not specifically indicated, but should have been) on BA (which is increasingly difficult to maintain). That provides lounge access most passengers will not get. It also provides the ability to choose a seat in advance, which otherwise is a $100 expense
US airlines (at least Delta and United) are far better options to London, IMO. They offer free seat choice at time of booking *and* their equipment has better seat layouts in Economy, with only two seats on the sides – so no middle seat. They offer increased legroom options in Economy (which BA still cannot offer) at reasonable cost. BA is a take-it-or-leave it expensive Premium Economy option (which still doesn’t get you free seat choice)
After flying BA predominantly for +20 years, travel during Covid (as a dual UK/US citizen I could always go either way, although with difficulty) showed me how superior the US airline offerings have become, while BA is racing to beat Ryanair to the bottom, it seems. Did you know BA still wanted their $100 to choose a seat in advance in the middle of the epidemic? You were supposed to indicate your seat on the plane on the Passenger Locator form, but even though BA was flying planes with only ~20 passengers total, they would not waive the fee! Talk about cheap and tone-deaf. Can’t fill out the form until you get your seat. BA won’t let you choose a seat (without charge) until 24 hours before flight. I’m done with them
The US airlines also offer credit card tie-ins that guarantee a first-checked-bag free, which on the cheapest fares is also extra on BA. I am not aware of any credit-card tie-in with BA offering that perk?
Terminal 5 is a bit of a curate’s egg – good in parts. Its function as a shopping mall has been somewhat diminished by tax changes, not that it stops the shopping getting in the way of travel. C gates are in a veritable wasteland for passenger amenities (worse than some poky regional airports). At least the rail links were thought out and don’t require a mile-long hike