Disclaimer: We use British Airways a lot, and we have a rather large point balance with them.
Why, you may ask, do we have a large BA point balance instead of using those beautiful little things to purchase more travel?
Because BA makes it ridiculously expensive to use your points, that’s why. They also don’t like to award those points (or avios, as the program calls them) to someone if their system has made a mistake and seem to purposefully make it difficult to reclaim those points. I am two weeks short of the time limit for reclaiming points on flights we took with them this summer and they have stonewalled me for five (!!) months.
Also, they seem to clock in at more expensive than most of the other airlines we look at, although if you are booking through a site like Expedia, that difference seems to disappear.
Their own website is also ridiculously buggy, and a lot of people have noticed it. There don’t seem to be moves to fix it, however. I guess they have enough business without having to do so.
BUT: Comfort-wise, you know what you are getting with BA, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with their flight attendants. Once I flew into an airport on the same plane my husband was flying out on. We did not have time to see each other as I left the plane and he boarded, but when I mentioned the situation to the flight attendants, they took a short love letter I hurriedly scrawled on the back of some index cards I had used for a presentation and placed in a bank deposit envelope and passed it to the ground crew, who did whatever they had to do to the letter to make sure it was safe and then passed it to the NEXT flight crew, who gave it to my husband. Who, interestingly enough, was sitting in my exact seat on the flight out!
And THAT is some amazing customer service right there.
Also, there was the time the flight attendant asked me if I wanted to read a newspaper and I whispered, quite embarrassed, to ask if he had the Daily Mail.
“Oh Love!” he told me. “You don’t have to hide the Daily Mail on a British Airways flight!”
Best. Flight attendant. EVER.
BUT 2: They are great with kid travel. And we do a lot of that. One of my children wasn’t feeling well, being struck by a headache after a long travel time, on one leg of a trip into Rome. The flight attendant came by twice and felt her forehead and patted her head. She also brought tea. It was so sweet I almost developed diabetes.
Score big for BA, right there.
BUT 3: They go everywhere. Except Zambia, which is still on their doors in the Terminal 5 shuttle, so they should probably fix that since they stopped Zambia service in October 2013.
BUT 4: If you get upgraded to First Class, it’s like flying in a castle. Seriously – I’ve been upgraded to First (yay! like winning the lottery!) on multiple airlines, and BA has taken the cake for that one on their DC to Heathrow run. It was FABULOUS. I wanted a longer flight. No joke.
BA flies into Terminal 5 at Heathrow, and I can vouch for the ambiance there. If you don’t have lounge access, you still have a ton to do, as the whole terminal is basically an upscale shopping mall. Missed Harrods in London? They’ve got you covered. And what better way to while away a layover than buying a purse at Gucci? Um, well, I’d probably put the Gucci purse money toward a plane ticket somewhere else, but if that floats your boat, you’re welcome to it.
The British Airways lounges are decent as well. As far as food, they seem to be in the top five. I’ve heard complaints about their offerings, but I’ll take curried chicken and rice over the boiled hot dogs they seem to have every time I’m in a Lufthansa lounge.
The showers aren’t so hot, the drains make these terrifying whoosh noises that make me wonder what is stalking the drainage system of Heathrow and if it is hungry, but the ability to take a shower after 15 hours of flying about various continents is priceless.
However, you can’t buy in, and you aren’t getting in unless you have silver or gold membership or a business or first ticket. If you are traveling with children and not in business or first and the children don’t have their own silver or gold status, those kids can just wait outside.
I’m not quite sure what to make of that. Their house, their rules – but my money, my rules. When I travel with my children and I have a long layover without first or business class seats, we generally choose another airline.
* Terminal 5 photo By Terminal 5 Insider (Heathrow Terminal 5 – Gate Seating) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons