'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit', is a sayingattributed to Oscar Wilde.
In this review of my recent experience on BritishAirways Club Class from Heathrow to Bangkok return, I am tempted to
use those words to accurately describe events.
First...the reason for my booking.
It was in response to the folk who contacted me to askwhy I had not included BA in a detailed comparison review I did,
which compared the quality of Business Class cabins on five major
airlines that flew the same route. They had a point.
So, tickets booked, I arrived at LHR terminal 5 tocheck-in for my flight to Bangkok. Previously, I had made a request
to BA's Public Relations department to conduct a short, informal
interview with the day's Duty Manager. Such interviews requested of
ALL the other airlines were granted, during which I gained much
information. But...BA said, NO!
However, at check-in, I asked if I could meet with theday's duty manager whilst in the lounge. 'No problem', I was told,
'we'll arrange it so please identify yourself at the Club Class
lounge desk'. Did anyone arrive?...you've guessed it - NO. When
querying the non arrival at that lounge desk, I was told that the
meeting would take place in the departure hall. Did it? - NO.
So, onto the aircraft, a 17 year old Boeing 777. Onelook around the cabin and my expectations fell . The layout of the
'lay flat' seats was such that passengers were forced to climb over
each others legs to reach an aisle. It was at that point that my
first thoughts of 'sarcasm and wit' came to mind.
Were BA 'taking the Mickey' out of the business classpassengers? I mused before a more hilarious thought hit me, Maybe
Disney's Mickey had designed the seating arrangement and, tongue in
cheek, presented it to Willie Walsh, who made the decision to
implement it!!! Hmm, yes, my use of sarcasm...justified or not?
Take off was 45 minutes behind schedule but that was tobe expected...no big deal. Seat belt sign off...drinks offered and
food items on the over exaggerated menu selected.
OK I thought, I'll sip my preferred tipple and have ascroll through the on board entertainment system to choose what to
view during the 12 plus hour flight. Well, that would have been so,
if the screen unit would stay in one place...but it wouldn't...it was
broken. Emergency DIY by one of the bearded cabin crew (all but one
male was so adorned) as he forced a teaspoon between a gap in the
framework. Voila, as the French would say, it held. Now the only
problem was squinting to focus images on the tiny, outdated screen.
At 30,000 feet or so, conversation was all butimpossible if using one's normal voice as every cupboard door and
fixture on the aircraft rattled continuously. At around that point,
the cabin crew served the chosen meals. More sarcasm, I'm afraid.
I'd ordered beef and beef it was. The stainless steel knives wouldn't
work...'tough' doesn't describe the meat. Sawn into half-inch thick
slices by a cobbler would have yielded soles for boots. Left on the
plate, I 'passed' on a dessert and asked for Cheddar Cheese, crackers
and a cup of coffee. It was easy to snap a piece off a cracker, but
to do the same to the quarter inch thick slice of cheese came as a
surprise...as was being served lukewarm coffee. No sarcasm or wit
needed here – just disappointment.
Now...here comes another scene taken from a Fred Carnofilm script starring Charlie Chaplin. For a cabin crew member to
serve food or drink to a passenger not seated at an aisle, he/she had
to reach over the aisle passenger, then a plastic divider to present
the tray/dish/item, meaning that person had to balance it before
putting it onto their own sliding table. Good eh?...well done
It was during this time, that I received unasked-for redwine...right into my lap! Oops! A rush to gather paper tissues and
the impossible task of trying to mop-up the liquid. The passing of
uncomfortable hours did eventually help my Chinos and shirt to dry
but left behind the telltale tide marks edged in pink.
The seat itself? The narrowest I've ever had to sit onand IN TWO SECTIONS! To rest ones feet, a separate piece of equipment
had to be unlocked and risen to a chosen height. Then by the use of a
row of hard to see buttons, the other half could be moved to finally
make one piece. OK, well, putting that complicated lot together then
raised the question, 'was it comfortable?'Maybe so if every passenger was less than six feet talland as slender as a Vogue model. So the answer has to be NO.
Sleep on was not possible (for me anyway) so I passedthe time reading and playing Solitaire on my mini
tablet...interrupted occasionally by glancing at the TV screen to
monitor the aircraft's progress.
The wheels finally touched down at Bangkok airport andwe all disembarked.
En-route to the city hotel by taxi, I was wrangling withthe events on the flight and now, in full daylight saw the results of
the wine spill incident and reminded myself to email BA's UK office
and inform them what had happened - and the cost of replacement. As
of today (almost a month later) all I have received is an
acknowledgement and an incident number. I'll wait a while longer
before I trigger the sarcasm bit.
Some days prior to my return flight I had a fall – abad one as I crashed onto a marble floor, my left hip bone taking the
brunt. From that moment, I was in severe pain and could only walk a
few paces with the aid of a walking stick. 'What was my 13 plus hour
flight to the UK going to be like?' I kind of fretted.
I emailed BA immediately to advise them of the incident,asking for special assistance at Bangkok airport, throughout the
flight at Heathrow, where a car would be waiting to collect me. Guess
what?...no reply, not even an acknowledgment. Anxious, I emailed
again the next day...and the next day...still no reply. I was
concerned, not knowing was worrying. Explaining to the hotel
management, it too was concerned and made numerous telephone calls on
my behalf to BA's Bangkok office....No response.
Nevertheless, a taxi was arranged. The driver depositedme at the nearest drop off point to reach the BA check-in. Very kind
and thoughtful. Surprise, surprise, when I limped to the Club Class
desk, the Thai girl manning it immediately beckoned a wheelchair
porter standing nearby and welcomed me with the words, “Sawadee ka,
Mister Fisher, I received the message about you from your hotel.
Please, everything is arranged for you.” How nice eh?
Luggage tagged, wheelchair occupied, I was pushed at asteady pace through immigration etc, where all the Thai staff were
gracious and helpful, and onwards to the lounge which BA uses for
its Club Class passengers.
Relieved and relaxed I imbibed a whisky, ate a freshsalad and read a newspaper. At the arranged the porter appeared,
helped me into the wheelchair and off we went to board the aircraft.
Word had been sent ahead, as when having my boarding pass examined,
the porter was given the authority to take me straight to the
aircraft door. There, awaiting, was the BA Thai duty manager, a
delightful girl with a charming smile. A few Bahts into the porter's
hand prompted a wide smile and a genuine Wai and I was helped to my
seat on row one.
When seated, the Thai manager came to me and we began aconversation. It centred on the total lack of concern by BA's UK
Customer Service. She was certainly deeply embarrassed that I had not
been dealt with properly. I was the only passenger on board and I did
notice the BA cabin crew glancing in our direction and talking among
Boarding complete, the captain announced a timelydeparture and a probable earlier than scheduled arrival at Heathrow.
At cruising altitude, the senior cabin crew supervisor came to me. It
became clear that she now had been appraised of my problem bythe Thai duty manager because she expressed her concern, asking me to
call for assistance at any time during the flight.
The flight. Same old 777, same rattles, uncomfortableseat, small, rickety entertainment screen, mediocre food, galley
running out of the snacks clearly advertised as being available at
the touch of a button.
I found it impossible to lay without pain but that wasnot the fault of BA, but a softer, wider seat would have helped.
Throughout this daytime flight, the cabin crew concerned did
acknowledge each of my needs and were kind and careful.
Heathrow at around 1730 hrs and the scramble todisembark began. I was beckoned to leave my seat as a wheelchair was
ready and waiting so I did, and managed to get myself and my luggage
to the aircraft's exit...BUT...no wheelchair...someone else had
commandeered it. That left me in the middle of a scrum of passengers
trying to get to the ramp first. I had no option but to limp up that
quite long ramp, where at its end, stood an empty electric buggy.
Fred Carno comes to mind again, as when three of usneeding help gathered there and waited. Finally, a man of Asian
origin arrived and he set off along the mile long passageway to the
immigration desks. The buggy was allowed though a special gate and
the immigration officer soon had us cleared to proceed to the baggage
collection carousel. That was it - end of special assistance. We
three were on our own, As our luggage came into view we helped each
other load it onto our trolleys, said our goodbyes and hobbled away.
That is my narrative as to flying British Airways clubclass. I've nothing but praise for those kind Thai people who ensured
I received as much help as needed. BA staff and senior management
however, only attract my disdain. Uncaring, dismissive, rude and
The CEO's office, refutes the appalling and negativereviews by passengers, stating that BA was flying more passengers
than ever. My reply to that, Mr Cruz, is what Eric Morecambe would
have said, 'RUGGISH'.
The olympic games ranks medals - Gold, Silver andBronze. My ranking for British Airways, is TIN.
P.S. Just received an email from BA refuting the winespill incident because...NO MEMBER OF THE CABIN CREW LOGGED IT!!!! So
now I'm a liar eh?
I think BA is flying more passengers as they concentrate on European holiday routes and to be fair, I got a brilliant deal to Zante last year( although I ended up not being able to go) On longhaul, flying east, BA has the advantage of flying straight to the major business hubs, whereas their competitors mainly have a stopover.
The complaints aspect- I have seen some classic ones. The worst one was where someone had to go the whole long haul flight with no cushion to sit on- ie the metal frame. He was given a joke response. BA offer paltry amounts of avios for everything nowadays. Many years ago we were diverted to Frankfurt on our way back from Singapore and had a night at the airport hotel due to a strike at Heathrow. We were treated really well and then given 50 000 BA miles each- and we were flying economy! Changed days now.
For future reference- photos are good to have when complaining about a seat or wine splattered clothes and of course ask to see them logging the complaint.
Regarding Oscar Wilde's "Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit" I once quoted this to my mother who immediately responded with "But the highest form of intelligence" 😥 😉
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