British Airways Airbus A321NEO, Club Europe, MAD-LHR

This Trip: 

➔ British Airways Club Europe, Airbus A321NEO, LHR-MAD
➔ Iberia Express Business Class, A321 MAD-PMI
➔ Melia Palma Marina
➔ Palma: City Guide
➔ Iberia Express Business Class, Airbus A321, PMI-MAD
British Airways Airbus A321NEO, Club Europe, MAD-LHR

Introduction

The final flight of the long weekend. And it was back to London Heathrow. 

Initially I had booked on to the Boeing 777 service that British Airways operate once a day between London and Madrid. However, a matter of days after booking, I received an email saying that flight had been cancelled. 

Inexplicably however, I was reboooked on to a flight that left Palma at 06:25 and connected on to a flight from Madrid at 19:40. As far as I could see, the originally booked flight from Palma was still operating. Yet I wasn’t given that option online. 

I could have gone for the Iberia widebody flight, however that left just 50 minutes after the incoming flight from Palma was scheduled to arrive. And from past experience, they don’t have the best track record when it comes to time keeping. So it was a phone call to the BA call centre. It only took a week or so of trying in the end, but I was given my original flight from Palma and the connection on to the British Airways flight that left Madrid 85 minutes later than the one I had originally booked. As it turned out, the later flight would be operated by British Airways Airbus A321neo, which still holds some novelty value over the older generation. I wonder how long it will be before the novelty wears off though?

The downside being that this meant another circa 5 hour layover in Madrid. Much like the outbound journey, it wasn’t quite enough time to make a meaningful journey to the city, but maybe a little bit too long to sit around in the terminal.

Although with the outside air temperature pushing 40 degrees, it wouldn’t have been particularly comfortable with a bag in tow anyway. Also much like the outbound journey, the Iberia lounge wasn’t open. Luckily, McDonalds was though.

I made my way through passport control as the inbound aircraft landed.

British Airways A321neo

British Airways
BA463
Madrid – London 
Airbus A321neo G-NEOS
Seat 1A
July 2020

Boarding

Boarding was a little more organised this time around. Even more so than at Heathrow. Purely for the fact there were signs, so people could organise themselves rather than rely on any announcements.

Much as standard in Madrid it would appear, the 19:00 boarding time came and went. In fact it was nearer 19:30 when boarding did get underway. 

British Airways A321neo

Luckily, most seemed to stick to the rear to front boarding and I was able to get my bag above my seat.

British Airways A321neo Club Europe

An unpublished benefit of having British Airways elite status is that you get a blocked seat next to you if there’s space. So unpublished is this benefit is that the cabin crew are rarely aware of its existence. As such, as soon as the boarding complete call came, the guy sat in 2C was given the all clear to move to 1C. Really? Does it make that much difference being a few inches nearer to the front?

Anyway, the captain gave his welcome speech and said the now 30 minute delay was caused by a technical issue with the aircraft that needed to be sorted. Although I suspect the excruciatingly long boarding process had something to do with it too.

British Airways A321neo Club Europe

Once boarding was complete, a pack with hand sanitiser and an antibacterial wipe was handed to everyone on board.

Departure

As mentioned, pushback came a good 30 minutes or so behind schedule. As it really wasn’t that busy at Madrid, it was a quick journey over to the runway before lifting off into the hot evening. 

British Airways A321neo Wingview
British Airways A321neo Wingview
British Airways A321neo Wingview

Onboard Service

The service began shortly after the seatbelt sign went off. I was welcomed by name, and gave my order. The CSM seemed quite insistent that I had something a little stronger than a sparkling water but as I was driving on arrival, I had to decline. This time around, the drinks came with a rather Tesco value looking bag of nuts.

All the while my new seat mate was fidgeting away. It’s one thing that he moved there in the first place. But now his constant leg twitching moving the entire row of seats and general inability to sit still was becoming a bit of a nuisance.

Shortly after the drinks round was completed, the meal boxes were distributed. There was a choice of chicken and coleslaw sandwich or hummus and beetroot sandwich. I can only assume the chicken was the more popular option…

Once again, it was very tasty and miles above what Iberia are currently offering. After I had eaten, a further round of drinks was offered. I went with a tea.

IFE

In flight entertainment on the British Airways short haul fleet consists of WiFi. Despite the portal loading, there wasn’t any connectivity. Although I probably wouldn’t have used it anyway.

Arrival

As expected, there wasn’t any holding into Heathrow.

There were some reasonable views of London on approach. Although it was starting to get a little dark.

I had seen online that arrivals could be a little on the busy side. However I’m guessing that this certainly wasn’t the rush hour. Arrival came on to stand A18, just under 20 minutes behind schedule. Most seemed to obey the instruction to stay seated until their row was called. However, my fidgety seat mate felt the need to jump up straight away.

I was one of the first off, into an eerily quiet terminal 5. You can see further thoughts on the arrival process here. 

The crew had mentioned a couple of times that all arrivals from Spain now had to quarantine. UK Border Force were a little more laid back with their approach however.

I’m willing to bet that on that nearly full flight from Madrid, more than a few went about their normal business the following day.

As the only T5 car park open was the short stay, I was in my car less than 10 minutes after disembarking. A new record for Heathrow!

Verdict

Again, another good flight with British Airways. Despite the well documented issues that all British Airways staff are currently facing, they remained enthusiastic. Far from the demoralised crew that the press seem to know all about. I was addressed by name throughout and was genuinely made to feel welcome on board. 

With regards to the service, the beetroot and hummus sandwich seemed to be a slightly odd option. However the chicken one I had was very tasty. I’m tempted to say that if the plastic cutlery and cups were to be replaced with the previous offering, this would make a very acceptable offering on the shorter sectors to Manchester/Newquay/Paris/Brussels etc.

Undoubtably the British Airways A321neo is a little bit of a backwards step from the ceo fleet. The slimline Recaro seats at the back aren’t too comfortable and the lack of a centre table in Club Europe is missed. However, it is handy to have somewhere to plug your phone in…


www.ba.com

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