➔ British Airways Club World, Boeing 777-200, Gatwick – St. Lucia
➔ Club Aspire Lounge, London Gatwick North Terminal
➔ Harmony At Coconut Bay Resort, St. Lucia
➔ British Airways Club World, Boeing 777-200, St. Lucia – London Gatwick
Following a relaxing week on the island of St Lucia, it was time to head back to London. And into lockdown.
Although for most of the week, it was debatable whether this flight would go ahead. From the information I had, the flight was cancelled. However after a little digging, I discovered that it was only the GND-UVF sector which was cancelled. The wonky British Airways IT systems couldn’t deal with this though, and was just showing the whole route as being canned.
As such, online check in was more than a little complicated. I remembered only the new version of BA.com was showing the flight as cancelled. On the older version of the site, everything was in order.
Therefore, I had to find a page which re-directed to the old version of the site in order to check in online. Eventually, I managed this but it was far from seamless.
The morning of departure, I received an email:
We are currently investigating an issue with the ba.com website which is showing your flight as cancelled.
We would like to assure you that your flight is operating as planned for an on time departure.
We also understand that you may not have been able to check-in online for the flight because of this error message. Please proceed to the Airport where you can check-in for the flight.
We would like to apologise for any distress and inconvenience this has caused.
We look forward to seeing you tonight and welcoming you on board.
I guess everyone else on the plane was experiencing the exact same issue.
The Day Of Departure
The day of departure was a little wasted. With a 20:45 departure, in theory, I had the whole day to myself. In reality though, the hotel stuck by their 11am check out policy and refused to budge. With the local rules stipulating that you weren’t allowed off site, and nowhere to change and shower there was little option to spend most of the day in the hotel reception.
Still, it allowed me to catch up with a few things. And as it turned out, there was a pretty big rainstorm which drove most people indoors anyway.
After a long wait, it was back to the airport, via a private transfer arranged by the hotel.
As I arrived more than two hours prior to departure, check in and security was deserted.
It was at check in that I was informed that British Airways no longer paid for the lounge here. An increasing theme across the network I’ve found.
Once clearing security, the departure lounge itself was a little… tired.
So I made my way up to the lounge anyway and found that I was able to access it using my Curve card for a reduced rate.
An extra kick in the teeth was that there was a huge model of a BA 777 on the front desk. I suggested that maybe they should remove it if BA are no longer paying them…
The lounge itself wasn’t overly special. Basically just a room with a few tired chairs and sofas. Plus a few Brits that had no doubt gained access in a similar way to I had.
The dining was… not exactly gourmet.
If you had paid many thousands for a fully flexible first ticket, or even just a few thousand for a Club World ticket, either way you’d be left disappointed I think. Either having access to this very basic lounge or being left to wait in an even more basic departure lounge.
Shortly before boarding was due to begin, I made my way down to the gate in order to head back to somewhere in the UK.
St. Lucia – London Gatwick
Boeing 777-200ER G-VIIY
When reaching the gate, it became apparent that this wouldn’t be a very full flight. Boarding was called from rear to front, as per the usual these days.
A few came forward, yet despite this the process went on. I ended up being the first to board in the Club cabin by a long way, meaning I was able to grab a few shots.
The whole boarding process took no more than around 15 minutes. Which is pretty good going for a 777! Once this was done, the now standard antibacterial packs were handed out.
As it turned out, the crew was the same as on the flight to St. Lucia. They recognised me and welcomed me back on board.
As everything was closed up way ahead of time, we were able to get going ahead of schedule.
Due to the lack of taxiways at Henowarra, the bulk of the taxi involved heading down the runway and then a very drawn out turn once we reached the end. I’d imagine pulling such a manoeuvre off in a wide body in the dark isn’t the easiest of tasks. Although I guess the crew of the 747’s that Virgin Atlantic sent here back in the day had it a little harder.
Once this move was completed, the GE90’s spooled up and we were off into the darkness.
The service began with the amenity kits and bottles of water being handed out. Again, these were identical to what was handed out on the outbound flight. Although most airlines don’t tend to differentiate too much. The only example I can think of is Emirates, who only provide them on night flights.
Shortly after, the bar service began. I opted for the Speedbird100, and doubles were dished out.
As the CSM made his way back to the front, another was passed my way.
Then the main meal service began. There was a choice of two starters and three mains. I opted for the quinoa starter and the pasta main. I can’t remember what the other choices were!
This was finished with tea.
Like most food back into the UK, it was average at best. However, the Club Kitchen was set up to grab a snack or two during the night.
Being a night flight, I didn’t pay too much attention to the IFE. Instead I watched a couple of things on my iPad before settling down for the evening.
After seemingly only a few minutes sleep, the breakfast service was getting started. I must have slept well!
As I was in the washroom when the trolley passed my row, I figured I would have to wait until last. Luckily, the CSM was on the ball, spotted I had returned and offered me either a egg and bacon panini or a cheese and tomato ciabatta. I took the panini and it was ok. Nothing spectacular though. Although I may have felt differently had I not just woken up.
With 40 minutes to go, the first officer made the usual pre arrival speech. He mentioned that it would be a little misty on approach, and that those of us with a window seat would have a good view. Although I’m not sure what the view would be of?
Touchdown came into a fairly quiet Gatwick and we were on stand at the North terminal a good few minutes ahead of schedule.
Disembarkation was done by row number from the front. The North terminal was a little on the quiet side, although I noticed that there were a couple of departures. By the time the walk and wait at passport control was completed, my bags were coming around the carousel.
The British Airways Club World product is the one that everyone loves to hate. But is it really that bad? My personal opinion is no. Sure, there are much better products available but the one thing that always puts BA above the rest is the crew. Even on an off day, they are generally better than the rest. Now if only they can hurry up and return the full service….