Flight check: Brussels to London aboard British Airways

By Andrew Potter

Andrew Potter brexits Brussels for London Heathrow aboard British Airways flight BA389.
Zaventem Airport, Brussels.
Zaventem Airport, Brussels.

The plane: An Airbus A320-200.

Price: Not sure, I'm not paying.

Flight time: A sharp 50 minutes in the air - with a heap of wasted time on the ground beforehand.

My seat: I'm in 09F in British Airways' Business Class, or as they call it, Club World.

Fellow passengers: A mix of European business types, students, and an enormously tall man with a grey ponytail. Seriously, his head nearly reaches the panel above him. The woman sitting next to me is wearing two pairs of gloves, and it's not even cold!

How full: Full to capacity. BA seems to be fond of overselling on its European short-haul routes. We'd originally meant to be flying out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol a day earlier, but we couldn't get on (see below) and no more seats were available on flights that day, or until mid-afternoon the next.

So we caught a train from the Netherlands to Belgium, stayed in a hotel, then went to Brussels Airport for an early morning business departure.

Entertainment: BA's Business Life magazine offers 58 pages of relatively interesting insight for the business traveller, including the story of a 31-year-old entrepreneur who plans to grow a company "bigger than Google". Good luck pal!

The service: BA's motto is "To Fly. To Serve", but they've severely tested our patience on this trip, especially when their unsympathetic staff in Amsterdam wouldn't let us check in because we were deemed late (65 minutes early for a European short-haul flight is pretty reasonable, right?). The crew on this flight are perfectly pleasant though.

Food and drink: Traditional English breakfast of sausage, eggs and bacon with orange juice and coffee, served with stainless steel cutlery and a solid-feeling ceramic cup. Very nice at this time of the day.

Toilets: Standard A320, one at the front and two at the back. Business Class has one to itself and a curtain is drawn to prevent cattle dwellers getting above their station by using it.

Luggage: We've got piles of kit with us, making the generous Business Class luggage allowance very helpful. It's the reason we booked this fare. Each passenger can take on two quite large carry-on bags too.

The airport experience: Brussels main airport was the subject of a dreadful attack by terrorists in April last year, which left 16 people dead. These days soldiers dressed in combat fatigues with assault rifles are everywhere. There are three layers of checks before you can make the gate. Between these we stopped in at the BA Business Class lounge which was functional, but unremarkable. I had a cappuccino from a machine and a croissant.

Would I fly again: BA has the feeling of a creaking British institution: solid and reliable but severely lacking in charm. In my opinion other European airlines, like KLM, offer a superior Business Class experience.

- NZ Herald

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