One of the first things I did, once the shock of being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer had sunk in, was look at my Avios account and work out where I could get to first class. After all, these points have a value that dies with the holder!
Despite having paid for my step-daughter’s business class honeymoon flight to New York, I still had a decent wedge of points left to use. And after ruling out Dubai, New York, Washington and Philadelphia as destinations I settled on Boston with the idea of a New England driving holiday with Chris.
Now I’m more than happy with business class flights long haul and see them as a treat. But I’d decided to burn every mile I had so opted for first class. Once in a lifetime and all that. Maybe I’ll model my “all inclusive” British Airways pyjamas after the flight!
British Airways is fully deserving of its London Airways nickname. While Branson’s mob will happily fly me from Manchester to Boston (and their posh seats are dirt cheap at the moment for doing just that) BA insist on shuttling me down to Heathrow before getting on a proper plane, with dubiously named “first class suites” taking us across the pond. Suite is the word that’s pushing it.
The Manchester to London flights were a one class affair that resembles Ryanair without the stag party on board. At the turn of the year BA even scrapped the free drinks and half a bag of crisps service forcing customers to buy an overpriced cuppa and some M&S Percy Pigs or an M&S sandwich if they fancied a nibble. I’ll cope without thanks.
Anyway, despite allowing me to book seats for free on the transatlantic legs, BA see fit to charge £7 a pop for their first class passengers to sit where they want for a 35 minute flight from Manchester to London. £28 to sit in pretty much identical seats to everywhere else on the plane across our two shorter flights? No thanks, I’ll sort it out for free at check in.
An exciting email this morning tells me that BA have now turned their domestic flights into a two class service. Positive news. And as our ticket is first class we are being moved out of cattle class into the shiny “Club Europe” cabin.
Now this does appeal but … Club Europe is, bluntly, crap. Ok, it’s better crap than I’d originally booked us to fly in but the seat has the same leg room. There is an empty seat between you and the next passenger with a tray on it. So you have a little more elbow room and somewhere to store your phone. Not that BA have invested in the option of charging your phone on board. Extra luggage allowance and getting on the plane first are already part of the booking. As is lounge access. At some point on each short flight we will get some free food instead of having to hand over cash. I suspect food will consist of a few green leaves and a contrasting colour of squiggly sauce to make it look pretty. And that’s about it.
Oh, one other improvement. I can now pre-book each seat for £16 a go. What would have cost me £28 before is now £64.
I’m pleased to get the upgrade. But it’s not exactly high quality flying.