Review: British Airways Club Europe A319 London to Brussels

Filed Under: British Airways

I arrived at my departure gate, A20, at around 12:05PM, and boarding was already underway. British Airways is one of the few European airlines that at least does a decent job with enforcing priority boarding, as they do have a dedicated “Fast Track” lane that I could use to cut the queue.

London Heathrow Terminal 5 departure gate

Once my boarding pass was scanned I proceeded down the escalator and onto the super long jet bridge.

London Heathrow Terminal 5 departure gate

Jet bridge for flight to Brussels

British Airways 394
London (LHR) – Brussels (BRU)
Wednesday, July 23
Depart: 12:35PM
Arrive: 2:45PM
Duration: 1hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Seat: 3F (Club Europe)

At the door I was greeted by the customer service director, Michael, who was actually extremely friendly.

British Airways Club Europe A319

I quickly settled into 3F. As is the norm in intra-Europe business class, the cabin simply consisted of coach seats with a blocked middle. On this flight there were a total of four rows of Club Europe, and the cabin was half full, with eight of the sixteen seats taken. The aisle seat next to me remained empty.

At the moment British Airways actually does have marginally more legroom in the first few rows of the cabin (which are usually used for Club Europe), though they’ll soon be installing slimline seats, and in the process will have the same seat pitch throughout the cabin.

British Airways Club Europe A319

British Airways Club Europe legroom A319

Shortly before scheduled departure time the captain came on the PA to introduce himself and the “senior first officer” (I don’t know what it is with BA and every first officer seemingly being referred to as a “senior first officer”), and informed us of our flight time of 45 minutes. He explained that due to congestion at Heathrow we’d be pushing back about 10 minutes late, and then would have a bit of a wait for takeoff as well.

London Heathrow tarmac view

Sure enough we pushed back at 12:45PM sharp, and began our taxi to our departure runway, 9R.

British Airways 767-300 London Heathrow

The traffic ahead of us for takeoff was quite interesting to look at, including a British Airways 767, Transaero 737, Thai Airways 747, etc.

Transaero 737 London Heathrow

Thai Airways 747-400 taking off London Heathrow

Queue for takeoff London Heathrow

London Heathrow Terminal 5

At 1PM we were cleared for takeoff on Runway 9R, and rocketed off after a quick takeoff roll.

Taking off London Heathrow

As is the norm on these short intra-Europe flights, I was glued to the window for the entirety of the flight.

Taking off London Heathrow

View inflight

About five minutes after takeoff the cabin crew sprung into action. The curtains were drawn between the galley and the cabin, and a couple of minutes later the CSD emerged with the “snack.” He referred to it as “chicken served three ways.” It was actually quite tasty, along with the dessert and roll.

British Airways Club Europe snack

British Airways Club Europe snack

I should note that the CSD was an absolute delight, first and foremost because he actually smiled and was friendly, but also because he was extremely attentive. The amount of drink refills he offered on a 45 minute flight was impressive.

A couple of minutes after leveling off at our cruising altitude of 19,000 feet we began our descent, which was bumpy due to quite a bit of cloud coverage.

On descent into Brussels Airport

Before I knew it, the gear dropped and we were on our final descent into Brussels.

On descent into Brussels Airport

On descent into Brussels Airport

On descent into Brussels Airport

On descent into Brussels Airport

On descent into Brussels Airport

We touched down on Runway 1 at 2:40PM.

Touchdown Brussels Airport

From there we had a roughly five minute taxi to our arrival gate. Brussels Airport is one of the more civilized and pleasant airports in Europe, in my opinion, and I was happy to see we got a gate rather than a remote stand.

Taxiing Brussels Airport

Taxiing Brussels Airport

Taxiing Brussels Airport

Taxiing Brussels Airport

Upon deplaning I headed towards immigration, which was quick enough. However, it took quite a while to get through customs, as they were pulling a lot of people over.

British Airways Club Europe bottom line

Intra-Europe travel leaves a lot to be desired. I’d take a US first class seat with no service over the coach seats with a blocked middle and service offered within Europe. That being said, British Airways does deserve credit for offering a bit more legroom in Club Europe, though that’s going away soon.

This was one of my better intra-Europe flights, with a great flight attendant and actually edible snack.

  1. Ben,

    Do you ever take the train? It would be interesting to see your review the ICE, TGV or Eurostar.

  2. @ John — Yep, and I’ll be reviewing the TGV from Brussels to Paris later in the trip report. 🙂

  3. Lucky- Could you make a post about what goes in to making a trip report? Ie the process of it and how you remember all the details etc.?

  4. Whenever we’ve traveled intra-europe, we are always amazed at the level of meal service offered on such short flights, and how incredibly efficient they are at doing that. I agree re: the seats, but feel there are opportunities for the USA carriers to learn from European service in the soft product.

  5. Chicken served 3 ways as a snack? Looks like a meal! 🙂 I see fried chicken, but I guess somewhere there is grilled? steamed?

  6. In case you were interested, the scenic shot you posted immediately after your last LHR photo is of the harbour at Dunkerque, France. I took a similar shot when I flew BRS – BRU four years ago.

  7. Thanks for a great review again
    I love the service in Europe – so much better in all classes. Long way to go for US and Canadian airlines.

  8. Looking forward to that TGV report! It will surely be an interesting change of perspective.

  9. (I don’t know what it is with BA and every first officer seemingly being referred to as a “senior first officer”)

    Senior First Officer is a distinct ‘rank’ within BA, from what I remember you enter as a First Officer (2 bars) and once you meet certain requirements you are promoted to SFO (3 bars).
    It may be possible to get direct entry to SFO.

  10. I think the systems on regional Asian and Middle Eastern airlines trumps what you get in both Europe and North America. You get the service and food or Europe with the seats you get in the US (and in many cases, much better seating than what you get in N America).

  11. @ Andrew — Interesting. Kind of odd that every two person cockpit crew I’ve had has included a senior first officer. Not so senior if everyone has the rank, IMO. 😀

  12. @ Lucky – Same here I can’t recall not having an Senior First Officer. I think the requirements are 4 years of service and an easily attainable number of hours, plus an interview with management. If BA haven’t hired in a while then there probably aren’t many basic FOs around. It’s just the way they structure career progression and they aren’t the only European airline to do it (LH for example.)

  13. Regarding the gate: with all the traveling I did in Europe, the only airport that’s horrible with remote stands, is Frankfurt. After having flown 8 hours, I’m really not in the mood for a long drive in a crowded bus, all through Frankfurt’s dungeons. I really like Lufthansa, but I really really hate Frankfurt Main.

    In Amsterdam it happened to me once (and that’s my home airport), although that was a Fokker 70, which simply doesn’t fit at a gate. Leaving LCC carriers out, the only airport where I’ve regularly had remote stands (75% of the time!) is Frankfurt. It’s a shame, the rest of the airport is actually quite nice.

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