June 20, 2014

REVIEW: A Touch of Class, British Airways Style

When my family and I originally booked our vacation to South Africa, we were going to be spending some time in Kwazulu-Natal and, following that, would need to get to Cape Town. From our previous trip to South Africa on British Airways, we had accrued some air miles that we really couldn’t find a use for until it came time to search for a flight from Durban to Cape Town. Enter the availability of flight miles, and for the miles we had, enter the notion of Business Class (“Club” on British Airways). British Airways (operated by Comair) operates flights between the two cities we needed and happened to have seats available. So, for the mileage we could use plus administrative costs, we decided to treat ourselves to a little indulgence courtesy of — as they advertise being — The World’s Favorite Airline.

Jump ahead to the day prior to departure. Checking in online 24 hours before the flight, get our seats, plug in the number of checked bags and get the boarding passes. All in the usual efficient British Airways manner.

Move to the day of departure. We arrive at Durban’s new King Shaka International Airport in plenty of time to drop our bags at the bag drop counter and confirm our seats. King Shaka International Airport has only been open in Durban since 2010 and shows its newness very quickly. Entering the terminal, we are immediately surrounded by the hottest trends in South African shopping. Roll the baggage trolley with our bags to the escalator and go up to the departure level – yes, in South Africa, you can use the baggage trollies on the escalator – just put on the brake. We arrived at the baggage counter, checked in the bags and headed to security. Being a Wednesday afternoon and in plenty of time for our flight, there was not a big line for security, so we were passed through quickly and arrived at the gate to await our flight. Thirty minutes prior to departure, the call was made to form two lines for boarding; Club World and frequent flyer members on one side, Economy (as coach is known in South Africa) on the other side.

The boarding process started and now the Club experience started to kick in. Immediately walking through the door of the aircraft, each passenger is greeted. We then took our seats in the extremely comfortable leather seats and immediately sunk into another world. Once all the economy class passengers had boarded and filled their seats, the flight attendant brings round a tray with water and fruit juice and takes your order for the post takeoff drinks. Our ride to Cape Town this evening was a Boeing 737-400 registration ZS-OAG, the staple of the British Airways (operated by Comair) fleet in South Africa. Following the push back and short taxi to runway 06, we powered down the runway and into the air with a left turn heading for just over 2 hour flight Cape Town.

BA6306-01Once the seat belt sign went off, the business class experience really takes hold. First, salad and warm bread rolls were served on a tray with cloth napkins and real cutlery. Each tray also had a Swiss chocolate served as well. While eating the salad, the drinks orders that were taken prior to departure were served individually to each passenger. When the salad was finished, the choices of hot dinner were offered. The choices were beef with potatoes, chicken a la king with rice and a vegetarian pasta/rice dish with a creamy mushroom sauce and zucchini. All three of us had a difference meal for our dinner and all three of us agreed that the meal was superb. Following the main course meal, a dessert was offered with a choice of cheese and crackers, traditional South African melktert or a glass of Amerula cream, another South African delicacy. Again, the desserts were of the highest quality. Finally, after the meal trays were cleared away, another round of drinks of the passenger’s choice and all passengers had the opportunity to sit back and relax while the food and drinks settled in our stomachs.BA6306-02

Throughout the service on the flight, the crew in Club World was incredibly friendly and professional. They made the experience for our family an immensely enjoyable one, even at one point, the lead flight attendant bringing my son another of the Swiss chocolates. When he replied that he wasn’t sure if he should have another one, her reply was “They are only going to throw them away after the flight and you seem like a special VIP to me” – a very impressed and happy 10 year old.

Unfortunately, all great experiences have to come to an end; after what seemed to be the shortest of flights, we commenced the descent into Cape Town followed by a very smooth landing on runway 01. A taxi to the hard stand away from the terminal and then the bus ride to the terminal we thought ended our experience, but upon arriving at the baggage carousel, our bags, adorned with Club World tags were already making their way around the carousel. So it was just a matter of quickly grabbing them and heading to the car rental location to start the next portion of our vacation adventure.

In talking to my family after the flight, both my wife and son concluded that this was one of the best flights they had experienced. Neither had expected the dinner, the quality of service and level of professionalism that they had experienced. So, from a very happy author and his family, thank you to the incredible crew of British Airways (operated by Comair) flight 6306 for giving us that amazing insight to traveling in that special class – Club.

Mark Lawrence is a NYCAviation producer and a south Florida-based aviation fanatic that has been around the industry since he was a small boy. As well as being an avid photographer, he also runs his own blog.

About the Author

Mark Lawrence
Mark Lawrence is a NYCAviation staff member and a south Florida-based aviation fanatic. He has been around the industry since he was a small boy. Mark can be reached at [email protected]



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