A very very quick trip to New York in World Traveller Plus (almost!) With a cancellation…..

New YorkNew York

Well, where to start?!  That was a “long” weekend although I only spent 24 hours in New York!  So what on earth was I doing and what happened?

Back in one of the cheap economy sales (yes I said it shudders) myself and some friends booked a weekend in the Big Apple.  We paid a smidgen over £200 each for a return in economy after using 5000 Avios to apply a £100 discount.  I booked economy. **** what was I thinking?!  So as soon as I was offered an upgrade in the app, I began to ponder it.  BA was offering around £230 on the outbound and £270 coming home from New York.

Spoiler alert – I did it.  I didn’t pay that much, and no it wasn’t worth it.

The Upgrade

As I said, I pondered the upgrade for days.  Anyway one night I decided that was it. I wanted a “better” seat.  I opened the app and went through the motions.  I was almost there.  I could smell it.  It failed.  So I thought ok, time for a quick call to BA.  I was told that the app was wrong and the upgrade wasn’t available.  However, upon me mentioning screenshots wheels started to move.  I sent them in and didn’t hear anything back.  I left it a week or so, and then called up again to discuss a friend’s booking I was trying to modify.  They couldn’t help with that issue, but when I mentioned the phantom upgrade the agent was determined to fix it for me.

Mr Khosla, I can see the ticket now, can I place you on hold briefly?

Of course.

HOLD MUSIC…

Sir, the cost to upgrade will be £232.

At this point, I take a step back from my phone – stare into it, as if I have just won the lottery and place it back to my ear.

Are you sure?  Is that return? Both ways?

Yes, Mr Khosla, I have double checked – it’s an upgrade for both ways.

Can you check once more, please?

HOLD MUSIC…

Yes, sir, it’s £232 – would you like me to use a saved card on your profile?

YES YES YES!

But that wasn’t it.  Far from it.  He had moved me off the flight I wanted with my friends due to space; apparently, I wasn’t going to argue for that price, so I accepted it.  But it never ticketed.  Unsurprisingly.

Another week went by, and I was coming back from visiting a friend in Brighton when the phone rang from what looked like a BA number.

I won’t go into the call in detail, but – turns out they wanted Avios or one of my upgrade vouchers to complete the change.  I disputed this and told them to go and replay the calls.

Another week and nothing….notice the theme here!  Anyway, the date was looming so I called the Gold Guest List Line to inquire.

The agent was very helpful, read all the notes then asked if he could listen to the calls with a supervisor.  I agreed and off they went for about 15 minutes.

He came back –

Yes, sir, we have listened to the calls, and you are correct.  At no point was Avios or a voucher mentioned so we will honour the price quoted.  Would you like your original flights in premium economy?

Perfect.  Back on my original flights in World Traveller Plus for a bargain price of £232!  Yes, it took a while, but well-done BA for eventually sorting it.

The Friday, London – New York

First Wing Heathrow

First Wing Heathrow

I could bore you with the First Wing, the Concorde room, and the copious amounts of fizz.  But I won’t!

The gate was called at about an hour before departure, and off we trundled.  Two of us got in the Group 1 queue first (both Guest List) and prepared to board.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry to announce that your flight to JFK this evening has been cancelled, ple…….

NO! DAMN! GRRRRR!

A commotion was happening, so we stepped out the queues and away from the gate while calling BA.

They answered quickly, and it was confirmed that I would be put into the Sofitel at T5.  They also confirmed my seat on the first flight in the morning.

I asked the agent if I had to wait for a voucher for the hotel.  Thankfully after a quick hold, while they called Heathrow Operations, it was stated my voucher would be waiting at the Sofitel for me.  Bravo BA.  Excellent news!  At this point, I was already almost back at the UK border control with my other Gold Guest List friend.

Once you arrive at the Sofitel, there is a separate check-in for delayed/cancelled flights, so we queued up there.  I was first, and check in was easy and smooth as she had my voucher someone from BA had just brought over.  Again – thank you BA!

Sofitel Heathrow

This is where it went a bit, Pete Tong.  Despite my friend and another both being Gold Guest List, their vouchers were still in Terminal 5.  Oops.

We also had three Gold card holders in our party.  They were now in the First Wing waiting for vouchers.  I got a message –

They are offering Holiday Inn Express vouchers, what shall we do?!”

Uh oh – we didn’t fancy different hotels, but I can understand the BA stance.  They can’t possibly put everyone into the Sofitel!

Fast forward about ten minutes, and they all arrived in the Sofitel bar!  BA gave them all a Sofitel voucher when it was mentioned others were in the Sofitel!  Again – thank you BA!  But the two other Guest List members still hadn’t arrived?!  One arrived thoroughly annoyed at BA, but with a voucher, and the other with no voucher as the queues were building in Terminal 5.  In the end, he paid for the room, and will hopefully claim it back!

So to confirm –

Myself – Voucher was taken to the Sofitel and rebooking done.

GGL 1 – No voucher despite being told it would be at the Sofitel – had to collect from the First Wing. Rebooking was done.

GGL 2 – No voucher and had to pay for his room. He was rebooked, although onto a later service.

Golds – Sofitel vouchers after “debating” it and flights sorted.

A mixed experience by all counts.

The fun didn’t end here though – apparently, BA had made multiple announcements that the late cancellation was due to a crash on the M25.  What happened to standby pilots?  Anyway, a car crash isn’t the weather.  It’s crewing issues, so I called BA again that night to confirm and open an EC261 claim.

Off I went to bed – booked onto the 8.25AM to New York.  An early start after a long day.

Saturday, London – New York (take two!)

It was 6 am, and my alarm sounded….perhaps that last pint in the Sofitel bar wasn’t needed.  Never mind as a good friend would say!

I trundled into an empty T5 and the CCR again.  The staff were surprised to see me, again!  I had about three glasses of Apple Juice and went for a powernap on the day beds on the terrace.  Before I knew it, boarding was called, and take two began!

Concorde Room Terrace at Heathrow

Boarding was underway when we got to the gate, so we walked straight through the Group 1 lane and onto the plane, and I took my seat in 33K in World Traveller Plus.

 

 

This pic was taken on the flight home – hence darkness!

So? That’s it.  That is World Traveller Plus on a refurbished 747.  Its, well lacklustre. It screams “we could do better”.

 

The seat configuration is 2-4-2 in WTP, and each seat was fitted with the new IFE (untested).

I was the only person in our group in WTP.  Soon I could visibly see the CSD giving Gold Welcomes….even to my friends in economy.  They all then received the fizz from WTP before me.  Odd?  I put it down to a last-minute seat swap which meant my status could have been dropped.  Wasn’t the end of the earth.  They all had blocked seats between them too.  So what was I getting extra?

We had to wait for de-icing and slot clearance before push back begun.

The Catering

BA was due to start new WTP catering in February.  If this is it – why did they bother?

Here is the menu I was given –

And here is the breakfast –

Yes, I agree – not bad.  But nothing amazing.  And when those in economy got the below, I started to wonder more what the word premium meant?

So you are paying for the presentation?!

Yes, my seat was slightly wider and might have reclined a bit more than those in economy – worth the money?  Not to me.

The rest of the flight was uneventful, just watched some Netflix and youtube via the onboard WiFi which worked very well.

About halfway through I had another drinks service which was accompanied by these –

Probably the dullest snack I have ever eaten. Boring with a capital B!

But it got better; no it didn’t, sorry!

This was the pre-landing light bite –

Look away now if you don’t have a strong stomach!

It was edible.  Just.

Again to compare with economy –

I know what I would rather have had!

Is the Yellow Cab the best way into Manhattan?

The smooth flight was over.  We touched down in JFK and were all landside quickly.  Those with Global Entry were through minutes before me with just an ESTA – yes I ran off the plane, however!

One last thing from the outbound.  Don’t take an NYC yellow cab.  They are death traps.  Here is ours.  He was eating, chatting on one phone and using WhatsApp on the other.  All while weaving through the traffic.  He also whacked a ridiculous tip on my friend’s card when we paid.

We were soon into our hotel and had a few hours to kill before the others arrived on different services from London –

The way home – quickly.

I won’t write to much about this – it was an overnight flight back to London after a very pleasant time in the Concorde room.

What I will say is.  The Mixed Fleet crew we had onboard were amazing.

Nothing was too much.  LPGS from First?  Done. Warm nuts sir?  Yes, it’s not expected, but it’s a nice touch.

The CSM came round just after take off for a quick chat.  He thanked me for being a loyal BA customer as part of the “Guest List”.  He also mentioned that there were only three onboard today and that once he had seen them all, he would find us some more comfortable seating.  I laughed and said I knew the other two, and one was asleep!

Five minutes later and 3 of us, 2 GGL and 1 Gold, were sat in Club World enjoying some drinks before a decent nights sleep.

THANK YOU, BA.

The Conclusion

A few pointers –

  • I wouldn’t pay to fly WTP again (unless I needed the tier points)
  • I wouldn’t use Avios to upgrade into it either.
  • Or a Gold Upgrade Voucher (GUF)!

It is woefully disappointing.  To me, WTP is a way to get into Club cheaply with Avios or a GUF.  Nothing more.

Get a blocked seat in economy, and you have a very similar product.  I am doing that in June – I will report back!

To the BA handling of the cancellation.  For me it was great, but to others, it left a lot to be desired.  Consistency is key, and it didn’t happen.  Same on the flight out.

However, a great crew that go above and beyond is why BA is still king of the skies.  For me anyway.

Don’t worry; my next flight is in 1A 😉

24 Comments on "A very very quick trip to New York in World Traveller Plus (almost!) With a cancellation….."

  1. Nice review. Surprised you got local taxi. Uber/Lyft all the way, when in the US

  2. Philip Harrison | 17 February 2019 at 6:11 am | Reply

    Great review

  3. Hi Paul. Your outbound experience certainly seemed lacklustre and whilst I’m pleased to see you “thank BA” multiple times for making the bad experiences, better, it does seem that all of these service recovery fixes were purely down to you being GGL. Even the golds had hotel voucher issues, so anyone Silver and below were probably well stuffed?

  4. BA premium or Business class is not worth paying any money.
    I had 3 complementary upgrades from economy to business class with BA ( I don’t know why!!!). I am a frequent economy flyer and I enjoy my economy seat and bad meal and poor customer service (BA crew always disappear after serving meal on the plane).
    I use my Avios to redeem tickets as much as needed to fly with my family of 5.
    Best economy is Qatar Airways/ Singapore. I will only paid cash money with them 2 or Cathay Pacific for real business or premium experience.
    Only positive note is that BA has always quickly and successful paid out any delays compensation / damaged baggage/ hotels expensive even with my economy fare at a good price.
    So for that thank you BA !!!

  5. What you should have pointed out was that £130 of your £232 upgrade was additional air passenger duty. £132 for a better seat, nicer food, smaller cabin, 140 extra tier points and 5,186 avios (for a blue) is good value to me..

    Moaning about not being recognised as a gold (I’m a gold too) does come across as a bit needy.

  6. I travelled several times on WTP and think it’s a worthy step up from being on a cramped seat in economy, the extra space and recline can make a flight considerably more bearable plus you also get more luggage allowance.

  7. What’s a blocked seat in Economy, Paul?

    • If the plane isn’t too busy BA will sometimes block the seat next to a Gold to keep it free for them – its a soft perk and not guaranteed!

  8. I once flew LHR to Dubai, outbound economy, and inbound economy premium with BA.
    I rarely fly >4 hours in economy,but the two times I had with BA, including this flight to Dubai, I swore never to do this again with them. It is miserable, especially if the flight is full (both day and night flights).
    My inbound in premium economy was not really blissful but way better. I could get some sleep on the night flight and get straight to the office relatively fresh. Now would I pau apprx. 200£ for the upgrade each way? It depends, if it is to arrive in the office fresher and dave half or one day off work, then definitely. Outbound to a long holiday destination? Hm, we tend to have higher tolerance levels in such cases.

    One thing I wholeheartedly agree with you though Paul, is that, yes, there are some staff members both ground and air, who are absolute gems. But many are not, a few are awful and they tend to improvise according to their mood and character. Consistency is lacking even at First, and I don’t like to risk it

  9. Subway from JFK to Manhattan is the cheapest and quickest and a known price! Yes you make one change and you wheel your bag. So what. It works for us each time!

  10. I think that WTP is a worthwhile upgrade providing you don’t have to pay full whack for it. Use Avios to upgrade and for me it is worthwhile. Not a patch on Club World even though CW isn’t that great either.

    I am doing a one-way JFK-LHR in WTP in 3 weeks. I shall bear your experience in mind.

    Good report though… thanks 🙂

  11. Wow, Paul! That is a very good review, thanks. I suppose there’s only one thing I disagree with you on, slightly. I’m Italian, and that one “snack” they tried to give you which is supposed to imitate a “pizza” is definitely not edible, hahaha!

    Yes, it’s true that on BA the hard product can vary. I like the WTP seat on the 787, and consider it worth it over the economy seat (7 across as opposed to 9 across). But on the 747, as you said, it screams “we can do better”.

    And as george said above, the BA cabin crew can vary greatly. Some of them are absolute gems. I had the best cabin crew ever in J class on a flight from NRT-LHR in December, but then 2 days ago the CSD spoke to me in such an abusive manner on a flight from FCO-LHR that I was genuinely shocked, and when I tried to speak with him about it later during the flight, he threatened that he could get me in “a lot of trouble”. I had a panic attack on board, something that’s never happened to me ever on a flight, and he was more interested in protecting himself at that point than providing assistance.

    My flight back to FCO today made up for it though, with the lovely cabin crew that I normally interact with on BA. So I’m torn as to how to handle this. Part of me wants to write in, part of me wants to just fly other carriers, and part of me wants to stay with BA and just hope I never see him again. I’m an EC Gold, BTW.

  12. Why did you have a MF crew on a JFK?? they don’t operate the JFK route…, and are you saying the incharge crew member upgraded 3 of you to Club onboard for being GGL?? (despite you saying you paid for WT, then got a cheap upgrade to WTP prior to departure?)

  13. You didn’t mention the upgraded journey back to the airport!! X

  14. Is an offer like this even for a weekend worth it to NY?

    2 nights in a hotel? I was thinking about the £175 ticket after Avios but decided against it. I felt like it wasn’t worth it.

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