Review: British Airways A320 Business Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, British Airways

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To return from Mykonos to the US we decided to fly British Airways, given what a convenient routing they had available.

Redeeming miles on British Airways

Getting from Mykonos to the US same day without leaving at the crack of dawn is a challenge. Furthermore, it’s great to be able to skip Athens, given how frequently delayed flights between Athens and the islands are.

So I felt really lucky when I found award availability for two people on the following flights:

BA651 Mykonos to London departing 1:45PM arriving 3:45PM [Business]
BA239 London to Boston departing 7:55PM arriving 10:20PM [First]

We booked this using British Airways Avios — the cost was 100,000 Avios per person, plus $341 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges.

While British Airways is known for their steep surcharges, they vary greatly depending on where you originate, and these were among the lowest transatlantic fuel surcharges I have ever seen for travel on British Airways.

While 100,000 Avios is a lot, in reality I transferred over Avios from Amex last year with a 40% bonus, so I was really paying 72,000 Amex points per person, which I didn’t think was too bad.

This would also allow me to try British Airways’ new first class service for the first time, and it would also be my first time flying first class on their 777 (I’ve flown first class on the British Airways 747, 787, and A380).

See this post for all the best credit cards for earning British Airways Avios.

Departing Mykonos Airport

While our flight from Mykonos to London was scheduled to depart at 1:45PM, I know we’d be delayed. The inbound flight from London was about an hour late due to an air traffic control delay, and the plane wasn’t arriving until around 1:50PM.

We ended up getting to the airport at around 12:30PM. All the stories I had heard about the airport sounded horrible, so I wanted to be sure we were leaving plenty of time.

The airport wasn’t far from the hotel, and upon pulling up to the airport it didn’t seem to be too crazy at first.

Mykonos Airport exterior

The terminal was incredibly compact, though, given how much growth this airport has seen (even Qatar Airways flies here now!). A majority of the terminal consisted of queueing lines, so there was only a very small area where you could actually walk.

There were two check-in counters for British Airways, with one being for business class, and one being for economy.


Mykonos Airport check-in


Mykonos Airport check-in

We were checked in within about 10 minutes. Ford had a checked bag, so he had to get in a separate line to drop off his checked bag as well.

There are a couple of different security checkpoints, depending on what part of the terminal you’re departing from. There was one checkpoint for gates 1-3, and we were also through within about 10 minutes, which was pretty good.

The terminal was crazy busy, especially as there were three flights departing from these gates around the same time — a flight to London, a flight to Beirut, and a flight to Doha.


Mykonos Airport gates

Even though there are three separate gates, the problem is that they can only board one flight at a time. That’s because once your boarding pass is scanned you’re brought out into a “pen” outside, where you’re then made to wait until your flight is ready for boarding. So only one flight could be boarded at a time.


Mykonos Airport gates

Mykonos Airport doesn’t have a lounge that’s currently operational. I believe the airport used to have the Goldair Handling Lounge, which belonged to Priority Pass, though the lounge is closed (I’m not sure if that’s just for this year, or permanent).

Our inbound flight arrived at 1:50PM, and boarding for our flight was scheduled for 2:30PM, according to our boarding passes. However, at 2:15PM we were let into the outside boarding pen.

There then seemed to be some discussion about whether we had to be driven to the plane in a bus, or if we could just walk there, given how close it was.

British Airways A320 Mykonos Airport

Sure enough, at 2:30PM we were told we could walk to the plane, which wasn’t far away. They had setup stairs both in the front and rear.

British Airways A320


British Airways A320

British Airways 651
Mykonos (JMK) – London (LHR)
Thursday, August 15
Depart: 1:45PM
Arrive: 3:45PM
Duration: 4hr
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 1D (Club Europe Business Class)

Ah, intra-Europe business class. While it might not be much to get excited about, it was luxurious compared to my outbound flight on EasyJet.

This was the biggest business class cabin I’ve ever seen on an intra-Europe flight, as business class went all the way back to row 12, which is the exit row — that’s nearly half the plane!

As is the norm within Europe, business class simply consists of economy class seats with blocked middles.

British Airways A320 Club Europe seats

I selected seats 1D & 1F for us. While I’m not usually a fan of bulkhead seats, the exception is intra-Europe flights, where I go out of my way to select these seats, since it’s better to be in a bulkhead than to be in a seat with 30″ of pitch.


British Airways A320 Club Europe seats


British Airways A320 Club Europe bulkhead legroom

On the center seat was a table that could be used to store things during the flight.


British Airways A320 Club Europe blocked center seat

Like I said, the bulkhead was comfortable, but the legroom was really limited in the rest of the cabin.


British Airways A320 Club Europe seats

Since I was in the bulkhead, the tray table was in the armrest.

British Airways Club Europe tray table

Unfortunately, this British Airways A320 didn’t have power ports or wifi. British Airways is progressively installing both of those things on these planes, though go figure this flight didn’t have either. That sure would have been nice, given that this is one of the longest routes operated by the BA A320 (but I get that’s not how aircraft assignments work).

Waiting at each seat was a decent enough pillow and blanket, which is more than you get on most British Airways regional flights.


British Airways A320 Club Europe pillow & blanket

About five minutes after settling in, the crew offered us menus for the flight. This was a mixed fleet crew (British Airways’ generally younger and less experienced crews), and while they were well-intentioned, they weren’t particularly polished.


British Airways Club Europe menu

At 2:50PM the main cabin door closed, with 32 of the 48 business class seats taken. At 3PM the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 3hr45min, and he explained the reason for the delay — “it was purely that we had a big slot delay out of Heathrow and we just had to sit there and wait for it.” He said we should be departing shortly.

Unfortunately, at 3:20PM the captain announced that ATC gave us a 4:05PM departure slot, so we’d have to sit and wait longer. At this point, quite a few passengers were at risk of missing their connections, since that represented a delay of over two hours.

As we sat there I observed some of the traffic out the window. The Qatar Airways A320 departed…

Qatar Airways A320 Mykonos Airport

An Aegean plane pulled into its spot.

Aegean A320 Mykonos Airport

Meanwhile, an EasyJet plane came and went.

EasyJet A320 Mykonos Airport

The most intriguing plane at the airport was an unmarked 737. I immediately recognized that the tail number started with “A6,” meaning it was a UAE registered plane. After looking up the full tail number, it appears this was a swanky looking Emirati business jet.


Royal Jet 737 Mykonos Airport

I couldn’t help but feel like the crew was kind of lazy. Or perhaps more accurately, I find that British Airways does the least to encourage their employees to be proactive during delays. At a minimum, you’d think they could have served some water in plastic cups, given that we had already been delayed prior to that. But there was simply no service.

At 3:40PM the captain once again got on the PA. “Bad news, unfortunately, things are looking worse.” After saying that he stopped his announcement for about 30 seconds, and then returned. “We just got a slot and can leave right now, please take your seats right away.” Hah, it seems we literally got good news mid-announcement.

At 3:45PM we started our taxi.

Taxiing Mykonos Airport

Mykonos Airport is tiny, so within a few minutes we were back taxiing on the runway, and by 3:50PM we took off on runway 34.


Taxiing Mykonos Airport

Taking off from Mykonos

The wind had died down a bit on our day of departure, so it wasn’t too bumpy on the climb out. Bye, Mykonos!


View after takeoff from Mykonos


View after takeoff from Mykonos


View after takeoff from Mykonos

The seatbelt sign was turned off just three minutes after takeoff, and at that point, I walked to the back of business class, just for some perspective on how big the business class cabin was.

British Airways Club Europe A320 cabin

The service began pretty quickly after takeoff. The lunch menu read as follows:

Warm towels were offered about 15 minutes after takeoff.


British Airways Club Europe warm towel

Then 25 minutes after takeoff the first round of drinks was served. I had a glass of champagne and some sparkling water, and was offered packaged snack mix to go along with it.


British Airways Club Europe drinks

While the first round of drinks was quick, it was 75 minutes after takeoff before the meal was served. What I found puzzling was that no drink refills were offered in the meantime. In other words, the crew came and took empty glasses, when you’d think they’d see if you wanted something else to drink.

75 minutes after takeoff two carts were rolled down the aisle — first, there was one with the food, and then there was one immediately behind it with drinks.

For my meal, I selected the grilled North Atlantic cod, Mediterranean tomato and caper sauce, ratatouille, and fennel mousseline. That was served with a starter of cherry tomato and mozzarella salad, along with a small portion of cheese, and a dessert consisting of lemon curd crumble with meringue. There was also a bread roll to go along with it.

The food quality was quite good, all things considered — British Airways now has DO&CO catering on these flights, and it is a noticeable improvement. However, not surprisingly there’s not much difference in terms of what you get on this 3hr45min flight vs. a flight half the length.


British Airways Club Europe lunch

Ford had the lighter option, which had all of the same sides, but for the main consisted of a tikka marinated British chicken salad, pomegranate, and cucumber raita.


British Airways Club Europe lunch

Overall the meal was pretty good and the flight attendants were friendly, though I found the lack of ongoing service to be puzzling. The crew didn’t once come through the cabin to ask if anyone wanted anything else to drink, there was no separate tea or coffee service after the meal, etc.

Of course I could have asked for any of those things, but usually, I find that crews are a bit more attentive on intra-Europe flights.

Given how big the business class cabin was, the only downside to being in row one was that it was right by the bathroom, and there was almost a constant line for it.

While I took the below picture towards the front of the flight, towards the end of the flight the bathroom was absolutely filthy, to the point that I took it upon myself to clean it a bit (by taking a couple of paper towels and using them to remove all the toilet paper from the floor). I understand it’s not the crew’s duty to clean the lavatories, but a little bit of refreshing would have been nice.

British Airways A320 lavatory

I’d also note that starting about halfway through the flight there was no more running water in the lavatory sink. Nice.

I spent most of the flight working on my laptop, and at around 4:55PM London time the captain announced we’d be descending shortly and should be landing in about 30 minutes.

Moving map to London

Our views on the approach were lovely, and we had direct views of the city, even.

View approaching London


View approaching London

We touched down in London at 5:25PM.


View approaching London


Landing at Heathrow Airport

It ended up taking about 15 minutes to get to our arrival gate, as we stood still for nearly 10 minutes after vacating the runway.

Heathrow Airport taxi

British Airways A320 business class bottom line

Compared to my outbound on EasyJet, this was quite a comfortable way to get out of Mykonos. The food quality was fairly good and the delay wasn’t British Airways’ fault.

However, beyond that I found the product to be quite underwhelming. The crew seemed well-intentioned, though wasn’t attentive or proactive at all. Furthermore, the lavatory was filthy, and stopped having running water halfway through the flight.

Furthermore, while I’m happy British Airways is finally adding power ports and wifi to their planes, mine had neither of those, which was disappointing for such a (relatively) long flight.

If you’ve flown British Airways’ A320 business class, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. Not sure how well intentioned they could be if they didn’t offer any drinks while sitting on the ground, or refills, etc. I’d call that lazy instead.

  2. Dana, the avios got him all the way to the US…..this was just a review of the first leg of the trip

  3. Basic comprehension seems to be a challenge given some of these comments. 100k avios was for the entire trip which is clearly explained!!!

  4. A caveat on Europe business bulkhead seats: they’re fine on A320 family aircraft, but on 737s the fuselage narrows near the front and back, so the seats in the first few rows are narrower, and it’s particularly noticeable in the first row where there’s usually fixed armrests further narrowing the available seat space.

  5. I went on 2 BA flights in business class last month and they were both pretty good. the crew came through with drinks every 20-30 minutes and were very good. Meals were nice as well.

  6. I went on BA business class last month and the crew came through asking if anyone wanted a drink every 20-30 minutes on both flights. Food was decent too.

  7. I’m guessing there’s a bit of misunderstanding that 100k avios got you to LHR and not BOS. I presume this flight has a lot of award redemption since there are 48 seats! Wow.

  8. I just flew MAD-LHR yesterday on their noon (12.10) A321 which, although marked wide open 3 hours before on Expertflyer, was packed to the gills, I think an earlier IB flight was delayed or cancelled.

    The meal you are showing is nowhere near what was offered on that 2.10 hr flight (ref your mentioning that your catering was not so different from what they offer for half the time flights). Ours was much more similar to what you get on CDG-LHR, 35 minutes. And YES, no pre-departure drink. My request for a glass of water was not well received, especially when I sent it back with a request for ice.

    Of course, if you add that MAD-LHR is an absolute monopoly of IAG, it all makes sense.

  9. Surprised we haven’t “theluxurytraveller” opinion/comment on this. He seems to enjoy his luxury trips we Iberia and British Airways. LOL

  10. Sounds like typical BA. Ridiculously tight intra-Europe business class seats (you were smart to get the bulkhead, though only because it’s slightly less lousy than other seats in the section) and bad service. I’m sure your first class flight to Boston was immeasurably better. But BA is still trash compared to most of the established Asian, Middle Eastern, European and even U.S. carriers.

  11. Steve – name a single European carrier that offer anything better for intra-European flights? 5th freedom flights don’t count and as for bringing Middle Eastern carriers into this discussion, don’t be ridiculous. They operate at a loss/are heavily subsidised

  12. @matt Turkey joined the EU and we didn’t notice? Regardless, the point here, as was made in the article above, is that BA EU business class is competitive for the EU market. Turkish who are only arguably European do have a roomier seat, i can’t argue about that.

  13. @mark

    How about TK? Wonderful in J even on short 1.5-2hr hops. Fantastic service, catering, legroom, entertainment… Often fly wide bodies with fully flat seats on short flights from IST to DUS/FRA/MUC etc. Then there’s also SU, which has really good amounts of legroom and a recliner seat. You just have to know about these flights…

  14. @TLS~ sorry mate, you’re flogging a dead horse to point out to Americans that a bathroom and a toilet are entirely two different things! Even more uncouth is the universal aviation-speak description of ‘lavatory’. Maybe knowing the French root of that word would make it more palatable to American sensibilities.

  15. Intra Europe business class is all pretty much the same, but I swear BA pitch is worse than Lufthansa. It just seemed like my knees weren’t squished on my LH flights like they were on my BA flights. BA food was nicer though.

    Last time in Mykonos, I stood in the international terminal for the longest time until someone helpfully pointed out that domestic flights left from another building. Then the power went out while my things were in the X-ray. It was quite the little airport.

  16. @ Jordan

    “How about TK? … Then there’s also SU…”

    And they would get you from Mykonos to LHR how, exactly?

    The unreality of some of these comments is almost tragic. Looking at the main travel hubs in Europe, getting from A to B is a competitive market. In this case Ben had a choice of BA, or ULCCs (maybe LCCs?).

    We know that customers are mostly buying cheapest, not best-quality. So, to compete, every airline is trying to crush in as many pax as possible, and to cheese-pare the cost of service.

    You might as well have compared this Mykonos flight to, say, a Qsuite from Doha to Sydney, then slagged off BA for not providing pyjamas. It’s so obvious that Qatar ULH is better than BA Club Europe that it doesn’t need to be said.

    But how will that help you to get from Mykonos to LHR? And how would the economics work?

  17. My partner and I are both London based so we’re pretty much tied to BA for most of our outbound flights so this review comes as no surprise to us having used BA club Europe several times. It’s disappointing though that the toilet was left like that.

    We recently flew back from BKK with a mixed crew and it was obvious that the more older trained members in the team had to prop up the newbies. Gone are the days when you’d only have mature skilled crew on long haul flights but what was most shocking was that they’d ran out of food in the galley mid flight!!!

  18. @The nice Paul.

    He was clearly asking about other intra-European airlines with better service. I answered of a couple off the top of my head. Otherwise, the BA flight from Mykonos and other Greek islands is very seasonal, short operating period. At any other time of year, you’d have to connect. I’d much rather take an 8 hour trip via Istanbul on a TK lie flat (or even recliner) with amazing catering, than an Aegean or Lufthansa 6-7 hour trip via Athens or horrible Frankfurt. No need to draw extreme comparisons… just voicing an opinion

  19. @ Jordan

    Yes, but, with all due respect, you are an avgeek. You *love* flying. Most people are not avgeeks, and they prefer to minimise the total travel time and, if at all possible, avoid any “complicated” transfers mid-journey.

    I get so bored of commenters on here telling me that I have so much better choices than BA when I need to travel for business from LHR to, say, EZE or SCL. Really? Only if I introduce a transit instead of a non-stop, and then I increase the risk of the connection being broken and me not arriving on schedule (as well as potentially being stranded in the middle of nowhere).

    And I explain that to my boss and my clients by saying, well, by travelling on Qatar I got vastly better service, air nozzles at every seat, *and* free pyjamas?

  20. Nice to see that the UAE sheikhs are finally acknowledging their true selves and flying to the LGBTQ party capital of the Mediterranean. Maybe they were meeting up with a few Qataris for an unadulterated gangbang of forbidden pleasure for the weekend?

  21. @ The “nice” Paul

    In case you haven’t noticed, this blog is overwhelmingly populated by avgeeks for avgeeks. What Jordan did was point out options. You on the other hand, get all huffy and puffy!? Are you an adult or a peevish teen? Perhaps a different sandbox for you and your so called “nice-ness” to play in?

  22. Your comments are consistent with my most recent experience in Club Europe, VCE-LHR, a couple of months ago. On that flight the crew served the meal ( only 3 passengers in J) and proceeded to chat in the galley for the remainder of the flight. Not so much as the offer of a drink/tea/coffee. Highly unprofessional, replete with loud giggles and an semi audible conversation of what appeared to be a risqué nature.
    When a passenger wanted something he had to use the call button. Very ordinary for the crazy premium they charge.

  23. @ the truth hurts

    Passive aggressive much?

    Let’s ground this in the article that started it off, which is the FACT that for the route taken, this was a comparable product to all available options.

    The OPTIONS Jordan puts forward are double or 1.5x the journey time, which are not optimal for anyone other than a mileage runner, someone with no onward connections, or someone who places little values on their time.

    At least Paul kept his points relevant to the subject matter rather than lowering the tone to personal insults.

  24. Curious why didn’t you use 80K AA miles plus the same fuel surcharges for F instead of BA? The metal is the same.

  25. @The nice Paul,

    Of course, there’s no substitute for a nonstop. But as someone who also has to justify any extra travel hours and costs, I’d usually (8 times out of 10) go for an option max 1.5x longer, which potentially provides me with a fuller meal, comfort to work/be productive, etc. This saves me time and energy at my destination. Little to do with being an avgeek. To each his own.

    @Mark

    Again, any time outside of the BA nonstop season, the option I put forth actually isnt significantly longer than other options. And as I laid out for ‘The nice Paul’ above, there are definitely benefits to longer routes sometimes. Different priorities.

  26. @TLS he is american, in america we use the term bathroom or restroom for any kind of facility that is meant for those purposes, whether they include a shower, bathtub, or not.

    Don’t try to make him conform to British language by saying he should’ve used the term “toilet”. That’s british english, not american english. 😉

    #TheMoreYouKnow

  27. LHR is my home airport, this review reminded me why I never fly BA because there’s always a better alternative even if it takes longer, has a transit and costs more.

    FWIW Turkey is signed up to all the EU aviation agreements and although Turkey is not in the European Union Turkish Airlines might as well be.

  28. Mykonos, Naxos, Santorini – I have seen the latter featured in the “world’s worst airport” lists, and with good reason. The Greek island airports are shockingly bad. They seem to have been built in the 1960s for very light traffic, and had zero investment since. I have been to the lounge at Mykonos, and it’s pleasant enough. Good service in the lounge, when i was there, September ’18. But you look down into what quite literally appear to be cattle pens for economy passengers below. Not to be a business-class reptile, but i was in Santorini a few months ago, flying Aegean business class. There was no lounge, but also not even a business class check-in counter. I was told to wave my ticket and just push to the front. Hardly gentile behaviour. So I joined the line, but then why pay the extra?
    Given the vast volume of traffic through the Greek island airports, it is inexcusable that there has not been any investment. You just have to wonder where all the tourist revenue is going.
    At Santorini earlier this year, there was probably not even one square metre of space in the departure hall, with only three flights leaving in the space of an hour. I think it was at Mykonos that you check-in, then have to carry your own checked baggage back through the terminal to the truck.
    I love Greece, I love the Greek people, I love the Greek culture. But somebody is making a lot of profit and avoiding investment and it is shocking.
    After my most recent trip to Santorini, I searched the web to find the volume of traffic the airport is built for, and the volume today. Today it is abotu 2.5 million a year, but I could not find the planned figures. I would be very interested to read them if anybody does.

  29. @Jordan
    @The Nice Paul

    Both of you make good points.
    But when it comes to (paid) premium travel, I think we should let @Endre decide who is the winner.

    Personally I used to take longer detours to get disconnected and catch up with whatever I need in the air. Now with WiFi everywhere, I can’t go off the grid anymore. I emphasize on arrival time.

  30. @Mark

    You’re incorrect. Paul deserves to get called out. Did you not pick up on his aggressive tone? It was as if his method was the only correct way. While everyone else who differed was wrong. What Paul tried to do was shut down a perfectly good discussion. I’m glad he was called out, and if the response seemed a little harsh to you, then so be it. Bullies don’t respond to being molly-coddled.

  31. @ Shaun

    Hey, I’m all for debate. It’s one of the things that makes comment sections more interesting. I even like a bit of madness if it’s done with the intent of amusement (Credit/Debit was clearly insane, but his occasionally hysterically funny posts made the rest of his more tiresome posts worth it for me. Others thought differently).

    Equally I’m not sure what was aggressive in my posts. Sorry if they made you bristle. But I do strongly agree with your implied point that different things work for different people. It’s precisely why I made the first post: “alternative” routes from Mykonos to LHR that involve a change in, er, Istanbul are simply not credible to non-avgeeks — or to people whose travel is paid for by their employers. YMMV.

    @ Schaefer

    There’s a lovely example from a US “plain English” translation of the Bible. It involves the Old Testament story of a hermit who had spent decades living in squalor in the desert, who is visited by a prophet. The hermit is overwhelmed with spiritual joy. In most translations, he runs into his cave and defecates himself: but in this mealy-mouthed Bible he runs into the cave “to go to the bathroom”.

  32. Just never understand the BA hate. Intra European business class is what it is, period, and it doesn’t matter which carrier you’re flying with.

    We almost always use Avios when flying within Europe, and often we just toss in the extra for biz. Always have friendly flight crews (if you’re nice to them — shocker! — they’re nice to you), the drinks refills constant, and the upgraded catering = a perfectly nice time.

    Just did LCY => EDI to attend Fringe. Not only was the FA a sweetheart, but she also recognised us at a performance and came up to say hi and that she hoped we were having a good time.

  33. It’s correct to say that the airports on the islands are not built to cope with the traffic of today. Thirty years ago the only islands with a runway that an A320 could use were Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and Kos. The rest were served only with latter day Dash 8s.

    It’s not that there isn’t a will to expand the airports but just go out and look at the terrain – there’s no where to go in the main. Runways often hug a cliff edge or are on a narrow coastal strip even somewhere like Heraklion or Rhodes. There is no where to build that is suitable.

    Also bear in mind the economy of Greece, there isn’t huge money for infrastructure projects.

    It is what it is, it’s not about to change so if you want to go to the islands you need to adjust your expectations accordingly.

  34. I guess the “no tea or coffee” might have something to do with the “no running water in sink” problem…let me know if I’m wrong, but lav sink water = potable water = coffee brewer water (and, usually, brewed plane coffee = used lav sink water tastewise).

  35. Atleast you had a menu. On my recent MUC-LHR flight the flight attendant just asked if we wanted a mushroom Quiche or a plate of cold cuts. There wasn’t even enough Quiche for everybody. And the business class was just 3 rows.

  36. Shame for Pierre as I was on the MAD-LHR A350 flight on Tuesday & had exactly what Ford ordered & thoroughly enjoyed it.

    The meal selection on the outbound earlier that day was equally as generous & tasty.

  37. “name a single European carrier that offer anything better for intra-European flights? ”

    @Mark: Air France because on 1st class their meals is much more than just “decent”

    As for Mykonos and Santorini ,they ve become places of tacky Mass Tourism so i much prefer Paros & Antiparos islands nearby.

  38. @Caroline as for their short-haul business class I’ve flown it and it’s not better or worse than BA

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