Airline; British Airways
Flight: BA 0774
Route- Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda
Class of travel: Club Europe
It’s a two and a half hour flight between London and Stockholm and, to be honest, the British Airways Euro Traveller product is generally more than comfortable enough for such a short flight. However, the chance to fly Club Europe seemed a great way to start an auspicious trip, so I took the upgrade. Here’s what I found;
BA use Airbus A320’s on this route. Unlike the domestic version of this plane, which has two rows of seats in a three abreast configuration, this variant has a dedicated Club Europe section up forward.
It features rows of seats two abreast, upholstered in smart blue leather, with an additional seat pitch of up to 34 inches, and a width of around 19 inches. For someone with a five foot six frame, this was well and truly ample.
The middle seat is removed, and replaced by a small table. Normally an avid aisle fan, I sometimes go for a window seat in a two across scenario. On this flight, I was very glad that I did.
Overhead locker space was fine though, to be fair, I took only a laptop as hand luggage. The seat did recline, but I didn’t feel the need to put it back at anytime. I had more than enough personal space to feel comfortable.
I was allocated seat 2A, on what seemed a very full flight. Boarding was quick and efficient at Heathrow, and followed a decent couple of bacon butties, enjoyed in a very busy Club Lounge up in Terminal Five. CSM came round at once, checking to see if anybody had coats or jackets that needed hanging up. The plane pushed back bang on time, and we were very soon clawing at the sky above Middlesex.
Differences between Club Europe and Euro Traveller were quickly obvious in the upgraded services and stemware. I was offered water in a glass rather than a plastic cup, and also asked if I would like ice and lemon ( I did). That does not happen in economy.
Entertainment options are pretty much pointless on such a short flight. A side order of gently rolling clouds and sharply defined land masses drifted past my window like a surreal slide show; one enhanced immensely by a nicely chilled split bottle of Pommery. CSM asked me if it was cold enough before offering me it- a nice touch, and not one that always happens on other airlines.
Lunch was a diverse, decent cold platter of meat cuts; parma ham with melon made for a tasty diversion. And while the food was good and plentiful, it is the way that food is served that makes all the difference.
There’s real silver cutlery, albeit on a small scale. A decent sized, proper coffee cup, as opposed to the tiny, tuppeny plastic affairs doled out in economy. There’s space enough for you to dine comfortably, rather than hunched over a small folding tray. And, best of all, there’s a complete absence of any kind of the plastic packaging that erupts like a firestorm once you’ve opened everything out in an economy seat.
The net result was a far more languid, laid back inflight experience. Hugely enjoyable, it did make a big difference to the start of the trip. Another chilled Pommery washed away any residual fatigue from an early morning start. I was even offered a third one, but declined that one.
Service throughout was consistently good and the crew were obviously on top of their game. Announcements were low key, and only made when necessary. Some airlines could learn a thing or two here.
We landed at Stockholm Arlanda bang on time. Quickly off the flight, and through a brisk, typically efficient Scandinavian customs and immigration service that treated you with actual courtesy. Imagine that.
Luggage collection was quick and painless and, before I knew it, I was exiting Arlanda’s Terminal two, and en route into Stockholm.
Is Club Europe worth the upgrade cost? On a flight of this duration, I’d say yes. Especially on the outward leg of a journey that you’ve anticipated quite keenly. The little extra touches combine enough extra space and smiles to make the experience memorable. As much psychological as anything else to be sure but, nonetheless, worth doing, especially at the price points that are often offered on certain routes.
All round, a job well done, and very smartly executed by all parties concerned, from ground and lounge staff to pilots and cabin crew. Full marks to BA for this one.