In this exciting episode, we enter the world of International long haul flights and the airlines that provide them.
Airlines tend to put the best foot forward for long-haul flights, those that cross the Atlantic or Pacific heading to faraway places. That is not uniformly true, especially with United Airlines announcing new service to the U.K. from Seattle recently. They are guaranteed to suck because it’s a vital part of their culture. So let’s talk about the process of finding that great roundtrip to London.
Going across the pond opened up the possibility of using a foreign carrier. The choice was rather limited considering the travel time, the layovers, and the increasing chance of luggage not making onto every flight. Whenever possible I prefer direct flights. Yes, they can be more expensive but consider all the factors. As I studied the advantages and disadvantages of using multiple partner airlines to get from here to there it became clear that, at least to me, there are swiftly diminishing returns considering value for money.
Some flights take you from Portland International to New York, or Atlanta, some hop from there to Iceland where you get a layover hours long then a flight into London where you get to arrive absolutely exhausted. Sound like fun to you? Is that the dream vacation?
The answer is the direct flight aboard British Airways (BA) from Seattle to London Heathrow where the airline has a huge dedicated terminal that provides easy connections via various means to central London.
That flight is advertised at less than ten hours flying time which is still a long time to spend in an economy seat. I opted for the premium economy after looking at the business class. It was the right choice.
Business Class seating is very poorly designed on that airplane. Look up business class BA on YouTube and you will see the seats are built with narrow surrounds that alternate facing forward and facing backward. You end up staring directly at the person next to you. That’s where the issues start. There are just way too many things wrong with the whole setup.
Premium Economy gets you a wider seat with a foot rest. Meals and all beverages are provided at no extra cost. You are served Champaign pre-flight with a warm towel to freshen up.
You are provided with noise canceling headphones and a comprehensive entertainment system with every movie currently in theaters along with classic films, television shows, or play video games if you prefer. That’s all included.
The menu is taken from business class items and is a full three-course meal with two choices of mains. A quick breakfast is served just before landing. Afternoon tea is included as well on return flights.
You also get a comfort kit with blanket, pillow, eye shades, and a toothbrush, I really liked the flight socks.
In short, this was the business class experience without the funky seating. The only thing lacking was a bed. However, their premium economy seats recline farther than the regular economy and there is still plenty of room for the person behind you. The section for the premium economy has three fewer seats per row compared to the economy and is in a separate section between business and economy. No screaming children. Heaven.
The pilot caught a tailwind and we arrived at Heathrow early. Now ordinarily that would be a good thing. I could have stayed on that plane a little longer.
I should point out that British Airways is in the process of replacing the aircraft we flew with new Dreamliners which should correct the issues in business class and make premium economy even better but it’s not necessarily good news for economy passengers if the seating plans I’ve seen so far hold true.
So, Winner..British Airways
Thanks for the nice ride.