In this review:
- Introduction to this series of reviews;
- Barcelona Business Class Lounge;
- Club Europe “business class”.
For some work, I had to be in Europe, so I booked my return flight as a roundtrip between Barcelona and Shanghai, on British Airways via London. It was exceptionally cheap, at barely 1400USD the entire way. Normally this would be it, another review with pretty NSFW commentary and a bit of rant about how come I am still single, but yet, this one is at least a bit different. I used 27000 avios to upgrade my inbound flight from Shanghai to London into First Class, and now, I get to rant about my single status in first class. So that is something you can look forward to, hooray~!
The series of reviews are the following:
- British Airways A320 “Business Class” Review(this page)
- London Heathrow Business Class Lounge-hopping
- British Airways B772 Business Class Review
- British Airways B772 First Class Review
- London Heathrow First Class Lounge-hopping
Let’s begin with the most underwhelming of the bunch, A320 from Barcelona to London.
My incoming flight from Sofia landed before 9am, and the price of taking Ryanair was that there were no connecting services available, so I had to enter immigration, pick up my bags, ride the courtesy bus around the gigantic airport like a parade for my imaginary girlfriend, and finally get to the check-in desks of British Airways a solid forty minutes later. There were a few people ahead of me in the priority line, but it beat out the snaking economy queue, so I thankfully did not have to participate in the British national sport of waiting in lines.
I got my boarding pass and bags checked within minutes, and headed straight for priority security, because I was practically starving after nearly 5 hours of foodless sprinting. The priority security was fast, yet there was no priority immigration, so I was funneled down the twisting lines among a full flight departing for Beijing and another one for Shanghai. Damn I hate the Chinese tourists! Oh wait I am one too!
After the immigration, I was swiftly denied entry to the Miro Lounge, the flagship facility at the airport. Why? Because I could only enjoy 4 hours of lounge time per rules, and I was 30 minutes too early as my flight for London departs at half-past 2. What in the diggity-dong is this? Thank god it is not an excellent lounge anyway (spoiler warning), otherwise I would arrive a full 20 hours ahead and get denied entry! After a Burger King meal (yes I am trashy) to burn away the time, but definitely no the calories, I was finally allowed inside the space.
The lounge is underneath the main hall level, but overlooks the intra-Schengen area. It is gigantic, probably able to accommodate about 300 people at the same time. Crowding was not too big of an issue, as I was able to have one of the coveted working tables all to myself. The only oddity is in the above photo, as there was barely anybody in the dining area, strangely, probably because everyone prefers sofas and lounge chairs.
The good decor definitely is a plus for the place, as the dark marble contrasts well with the stripe lighting in the air, giving a solemn yet classy feel. It is definitely not Cathay Pacific lounges’ design which invokes tranquility and elegance, but for a generic airport lounge this is already an outstanding accomplishment. One down side is that the entire thing is lodged inside the structure, providing no tarmac view whatsoever, which is a bit devastating to an aviation enthusaist, but I have much less interest looking at my 140th Vueling A320 that day, so that would be okay for me personally.
Good thing about the place is the wide use of natural lighting, with one side of the lounge completely covered by window panes facing the airy terminal. There are quite a few seating options, ranging from business-oriented pods, to work-based workstations, couple dining tables, family sofas and tea tables, as well as a separate prayer room and quiet room. There are two buffet areas with exactly the same layout and content, yet one is extremely crowded while the other was deserted like Death Valley national park.
Interestingly, there is a SPA facility built inside the lounge, and is only accessible if you are already admitted into the place, yet it still requires extra money since this is just a business class lounge. Meanwhile a horde of cleaning staff work nonstop piling up the mountains of trash scattered everywhere by the busy people coming and going, doing their damn best to keep the place spotless and fresh.
On the black marble counter sits the food and beverage offer. There is a relatively limited spread of cold cuts, bread, jam and sandwiches. While there are four kinds of juice, a few varieties of milk and yoghurt, as well as a full collection of soda to drink. Cereal is the only option that is not completely refridgerated. Alcohol is aplenty, yet nothing super high quality can be noted. As a result, for breakfast it is quite disappointing, since I was looking for something at least resembling waffles or sausages, yet the closest thing I could get was a line for the only toaster, which I wished take a bath with.
On the topic of electrical appliances, a nice thing about the place is that there are plenty of sockets available, and the internet is relatively fast despite the large amount of guests flooding in and out constantly. So I was able to get some
cat videos work done while sipping pure water as there was nothing else interesting to drink.
Yet the situation did not ameliorate as lunch time rolled around, as it seemed like Miro lounge does not have any hot food to offer. Cold food such as hummus and gazpacho took over the cereals, and a fancy fruit salad subsitutes the breads. I am not saying it is not pretty, but honestly a gooey pasta dish would make this warm food-loving boy much happier.
By the time my flight was about to board, I found myself keep looking at the departure screen hoping for the gate to open as soon as possible, as the entire place made me just go like “meh”. Do not get me wrong, as this is not a bad lounge per se, and for what it is worth, it serves the purpose perfectly.
Barcelona is not exactly the transport hub of Europe, and is more like a destination locale for the beachgoers from the rainy frozen north and first-time-in-Europe American college fuckboys on their European tour to catch as many STD’s as possible. As you may have guessed, neither groups are particularly known for flying premium. So for just anyone on my flight hopping on a flight home to London and needed 1 hour to chill, this lounge is more than enough. But I believe for some of those folks who are gonna hop on a 14 hour flight in business to Shanghai or San Francisco, or ready for a truly extravagant experience on Qatar or Emirates, this is not exactly the best.
As I left the lounge towards my boarding gate, I appreciated the good views of the runways thanks to the elevated departure level at a whopping 6 floors above ground. By the time I arrived at the gate, my boarding group, group one, had already finished boarding, and I hurried to the sign indicating my superiority, hoping that an agent would notice me and let me cut in line, as dozens of lowly group 2 economy passengers were congregating around the scanners.
Sadly that was not the case, and I had to scurry to the end of Group 2 for boarding, and eventually hopped onto the jet bridge with a full group of people.
BA745 BCN-LHR A320 Club Europe
I got onto my seat 6A with nobody next to me. Nice, I thought to myself. Even though many folks had complained about the intra-Europe business class as an economy pig with lipsticks on it, but it was not that bad. Come on, look at this ample legroom! I can sit a bit forward and still have quite a bit room to spare, and the cushioning is very comfortable. The entertainment screen is perfectly responsive, and there is ample storage for every esteemed business customer that should be treated with utmost respect and appreciation. Honestly, I do not think there is anything wrong with this seat for most of the short haul flying, since who needs a flat bed when the flight is barely long enough for you to turn your seat into a flat surface? Why is there so much controversy surrounding what I think is perfectly suitable seat for business class, right?
OH WAIT, that is Japan Airlines ECONOMY CLASS. This is what the real business class on a British Airways A320s look like, down below.
Ahhhh yes, the lack of legroom, the blocked middle seat with a tray table so flimsy and wonky that it was kept in the down and unusable position during most of the flight by sheer gravity alone. A small screen dangling from the top of the head for all your entertainment needs: a moving map, because who offers earphones and news to business passengers on God’s green flat Earth anyway? This is no doubt one of the worst business class seats I have ever experienced, so much so that you may have noticed the quotation marks I put around a lot of titles to prepare you for this insane concept. What does economy have then? Paying an outrageous price for a cup of orange juice. Oh wait, they actually have to fucking pay for orange juice!!!
So that is all I will say about the seat, as normally it should take up quite a few paragraphs, yet you are not here to read about the intricacies of a 15-year-old economy seat structure. Before take off, my seatmate sat down at the aisle seat, and the entire plane was filled to the very brim. A hot towel service came, and with no place to rest the used towel, I put it on the middle tray, which was promptly ignored by the flight attendent during collection. We pushed back just in time and taxiied 15 minutes till being cleared for take off.
Right after lifting off we took a sharp left turn towards the sea, and the seatbelt sign switched off after 15 minutes. I passed out from coming in from a Ryanair flight, and completely forgot about the afternoon tea service. I was woken up by the sound of utensils clinking on the china, so the flight attendent and I met eyes as he was serving the last row of the 7-row business class. In another world it would mean a Pokemon battle and probably everyone would be dead, but in this case he quickly asked if I needed a meal as well. I nodded and was presented with the plate within no time. Kudos to the great flight attendent for not letting me go starving! Oh wait that was exactly what those economy passengers were experiencing.
Surprisingly, the meal service is actually great. Bread felt fresh but not soggy, and the sauces were perfect, albeit the entire meal is heavy on carbs and the other option was not having it. What impressed me the most is actually the scone. It was fluffy, warm, perfectly seasoned, and wonderfully full of raisins. This is actually a very serviceable and British light meal, and there was not a single flaw with the selection besides maybe the unhealthy nature of every British meal. One little gripe was the fact that since only 1 flight attendent was serving the 28 business class passengers, it took a while for the drinks to come. In fact, by the time I got my ginger ale, the scones had already disappeared! The service in general is good thanks to the sole flight attendant’s great attitude, but it may vary widely thanks to the small sample size and diverse crew British Airways has got, so I will chalk it up to luck here. Yet even for that, the flight attendant was nowhere to be seen almost the entire flight.
I passed out again after the meal, and was woken up by the captain’s announcement as we reached the skies of British Isles. We made a straight entry into Heathrow and arrived a shocking 15 minutes before schedule. The entire flight was as eventless as it could be, so I simply hopped off the plane and continued to my journey across 4 lounges in Heathrow, as you may see in the next part.
What can I say? This is a European mainline airline’s intra-Europe flight, so the base line starts with “shit”. The lounge in Barcelona is fine for a short flight but no hot food seems like a blatant middle finger, and only 4 hours of stay on the ticket? Are you joking? What I do not question is a joke, however, is the seat. Economy seat with a blocked middle might as well be business class for the year of 1919. The food on board is very good, and the service is at least not carried out by someone with as much enthusiasm as a slave working in the sugar cane fields in Jamaica for the same empire 200 years ago. So the flight is what you may expect: a passable flight that should not be called “Business Class”.
- relatively airy lounge
- good food on board
- cheap ticket price
- on time performance
- 4 hour lounge rule, fuck you
- no hot food in lounge
- boarding chaos
- the seat makes Spirit Airlines’ big front seat fit for kings
- no wifi
- old entertainment, oh wait, more like no entertainment
British Airways A320 “Business Class” Grading
- Ground Service: 95
- Hard Product: 10
- Soft Product: 100
- Food: 140
- Value: 100
- Total: 455 【BAD】