READER REVIEW: Flying British Airways Club Europe from Gatwick to Turkey

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Today’s review is from reader Debbie.

Thanks to all those that have shared their experiences with TLFL. It allows me the odd day off when I am travelling and to also increase the amount of travel experiences we can feature. There have been some unpleasant comments on previous reader reviews. Please bear in mind that reader reviews are contributed from their own goodwill with no payment received. They are not professional writers so please don’t trash them in the comments or people will stop their valuable contributions!

 

The Check In Experience

Gatwick check in 2022 (from previous article)

I had booked a BA holiday to Turkey a year ago for May and it would not be an understatement to say that BA did their best to discourage us from going – cancelled flights, change of time, change of date, change of airport and the icing on the cake, an extra charge. Having negotiated my way through all of these obstacles (and spent three hours on the phone to overturn the extra charge), I set off with my travelling partner and husband to LGW South. Pre-pandemic, I had always enjoyed the checking in experience here because the Club check-in was clearly separated from the main areas and had an air of calm and efficiency.

We arrived on a Saturday morning, considerably earlier than I would normally have planned as I was well aware that airports were having problems. I am certainly very glad that I did. We headed immediately over to Club check-in, to be faced with a huge queue of people. It was puzzling but soon all became clear. Since the First check-in has been removed, BA has added a World Traveller Plus Check in right next to Club and there were many many people waiting in that line which had merged into one.

After a small intervention from ground staff the lines were separated, but we continued to wait another 30 minutes before we reached the front. At this point, the same ground crew member brought a family in front of us as they were about to miss their flight. Directly following them though, were a number of people (more about these later) who were clearly annoyed at having to wait so simply stood behind them. This particular group were also travelling to Dalaman. No attempt was made by ground staff to remedy the situation which was becoming quite heated due to irate passengers who had spent the same time as us in line.

Escaping this chaos, we headed for the priority security line and walked straight through to the scanners. Unfortunately here too we encountered further issues. The standard line is now managed by automated screens advising passengers which section they should go to. Nothing for us and no member of staff, so we simply stood forward and found our own spaces. Understandably this caused some confusion and quite honestly was utterly unnecessary.

BA Club lounge Gatwick (pre-covid)

We gladly arrived at the Galleries Lounge. Table service with the usual QR code, and help yourself drinks were the order of the day. Unfortunately some people, and I can only assume they were travelling for the first time since the pandemic, failed to understand this and regularly went into the roped-off food areas to help themselves. I suspect bigger and better signage may well be in order moving forward… The food provided was very good and the fizz Hattingley Valley which I particularly appreciate.

 

The Flight

Boarding was on time and ordered. We had 1A and C and were first on board and greeted by the crew. As I happily people watched the boarding process,  I recognised the group that had cut the queue from earlier. It then became apparent that they were off duty BA employees as their seat numbers were dolled out by the lead and their conversations with the crew gave them away. I think I’ll end my comments there…..

The flight was busy and the Club section full, stretching back 9 rows. Once in the air, the crew handed out the menu and offered us drinks from the bar. It was refreshing both to have a menu choice and to experience a lovely drinks service from the CSM Donna. 

I chose the pumpkin tortellini. Whilst it was all presented on one tray, I was given another drink- this time the Malbec- and offered warm bread rolls. The tortellini was absolutely delicious and I really enjoyed my meal. I rarely eat dessert,  but I was assured that the sticky toffee cheesecake was sublime. The only complaint I had was that the cheese was served sitting on top of the chutney which made for messy fingers, but it was still tasty.

Sadly my favourite Malbec was in short supply on the four hour flight and we had to switch. Surely this should not happen on an outbound flight? Anyway, we experienced a very pleasant and fast flight made better by the crew. The IFL specifically wanted this mentioned when I offered her the feedback because as she says, it’s the hard-working crew who suffer for the faults of the business as a whole.

 

Conclusion

I was so disappointed with the check-in experience at LGW South. What previously had been a welcoming sanctuary has now turned into utter chaos. This needs rethinking or funnily enough, more ground staff to manage the passengers. It’s to be expected that there are only a couple of check-in desks open, I suppose, but processes can still be improved throughout the whole journey into the lounge. The flight was enjoyable and made so by the competent, happy and professional crew. I do though, still remain cautious of BA when travelling and look forward to significant positive changes in the future.

If you want to read more about travelling from Gatwick and a previous recent experience, check out this article. 

30 Comments on "READER REVIEW: Flying British Airways Club Europe from Gatwick to Turkey"

  1. I recently flew to TRN from LGW on BA Club and I can confirm that the new check-in process is chaotic. The two lines, Club and WTP, aren’t clearly indicated and it causes confusion. As for the lounge, I also proceeded to the counters thinking we could help ourselves as in the past, to be told food had to be ordered using the QR code, so yes better signage, please. Overall the choice of food in the lounge has deteriorated. When my sandwich arrived had curled up edges having been on display too long, it reminded me of the old jokes about British Rail sandwiches. I am afraid I had a less than favourable experience on the flight too. BA obviously stopped serving hot food on my route but now the choice is of the same two salads, ploughman or something else with pumpkin (which seems to be the ingredient of choice on BA these days!). On my return journey, the crew didn’t even bother to offer a hot drink so a noticeable deterioration in service BA…

    • Yes the lack of tea/coffee has been across the board on my recent flights. I can’t understand why as surely it can’t save much money and it’s a pretty basic part of the service.

  2. Mark Wilkins | 3 June 2022 at 6:35 am | Reply

    Excellent appraisal on the current situation on the ground & in the air. Looks like things are slowly getting back to normal, but the lack of sufficient staff at checkin seems to be self evident. I actually enjoy LGW, so am looking forward to my Club flight to Paphos in Sept based on the current experience of budding reporters!

  3. Maria Garcia | 3 June 2022 at 7:08 am | Reply

    I’ve not been to GTW BA lounge pre pandemic but it was excellent before. It was airy, modern, clean and with very nice and efficient staff. I’m looking forward to being there again soon.

  4. Mairi Turner | 3 June 2022 at 7:27 am | Reply

    I flew out of LGW to Malta on 14th May travelling Club an experienced the same poor check in and security experience. The lounge experience and flight was good. Only check in and security let down what should have been an excellent experience.

  5. I was on this flight and same cabin four weeks ago. All very relevant and observations are good. My partner and I were also in the front row although that was tagged as 2D and 2F.

    On our return there where two off duty BA staff who had an almighty and very public row with the gentleman in 1A. All because he asked the couple in 2A/2C to lower their voices: they had been drinking and now loudly discussing various topics very with the crew! Yes the crew. Cabin manager asked the fare paying passenger to calm down, the two lads made a very public scene as they moved to row 4 and threw a few more comments into the mix aimed at the man in 1A. The crew member who was part of this whole scene returned soon after with multiple bottles of champagne for the aggressors, more booze was something they didn’t need. Luckily they fell asleep.

    Something you didn’t comment on was that BA is using really old A320 aircraft with standard and very dated seating. No IFE and No drop down in for screens. Four hour plus flight in economy seats and the centre table was missing/broken.

    So for me the food was the only benefit for a premium fare.

  6. Larry Beard | 3 June 2022 at 7:59 am | Reply

    Sad and frustrating that BA cannot get the check in to be seamless , this requires leadership on the ground , it seems to be lacking , we had a similar experience in boarding a BA flight from Heathrow , were it was more like a Rugby scrum
    Come on BA get the basics right!

  7. We had similar check in problems for an early morning flight. In the end we used the bag drop. Not ideal when you have paid for club. Great review.

  8. Particularly keen to see how things are doing ex LGW which will soon be my ‘local’ airport when I move to Hove Actually this summer. I’m heading to AYT on a BA Hold double tier point run shortly too. This is a useful report- thanks. I have to say, the food looks pretty underwhelming to me- has it now gotten so bad that we’re really lowering our expectations on BA? Can’t bear queues so it’s really disappointing they haven’t sorted the basics yet but at least the cabin crew seemed organised from this report. Thanks.

    • I’ll be heading to LGW this weekend so it will be interesting to see how it is on a busy weekend.

  9. Debbie Mitchell | 3 June 2022 at 8:52 am | Reply

    Great review – thank you
    It is so sad to read that there have been unpleasant comments on other posts – totally unnecessary.
    Keep doing what you do well TLFL

  10. Hi Debbie,
    A polished and professional report. You should do this more often!

  11. Thank you for the review. Our next flight is in Club World out of Gatwick, so I hope it’s going to be less chaotic by September! WRT drinks, they don’t seem to be loading as many any more. I only drink lager so my choice is always Heineken – on all of my flights in the last year in Club, they’ve been low on stock on both legs. On the way to Dubai, the crew told me they only loaded 6 x 250ml cans (they’re also smaller than they used to be) for the whole of Club. On the way back from Cyprus, they only had 2 cans for the whole of Club. That’s how it’s going these days :(.

  12. I’m glad I’ve booked Emirates First to Sydney and not BA. BA are heading south.

  13. Recently flew club Europe and whilst the crew are great everything else is a let down. Advertise Ciroc – serve Smirnoff , no ice , no tanquery gin , no cups loaded both ways – everything in disposables . No excuses , simply cost cutting . Lounge food awful as well, tasteless bacon roll . Have done a few club Europe flights recently and all the same !

  14. Would not fly BA if it was free. They are not British, they are Spanish owned. I fly business on Emirates and never had a problem. I love being picked up from home to go out and back. I love being taken to my destination at the other end. We’ll worth the extra.

    • they are British owned with the HQ in Heathrow. BA is not by a long way the worst airline out there

      • What is British about Qatar’s 25% stake in IAG?

      • Journeying John | 3 June 2022 at 9:03 pm | Reply

        You should do some fact checking IAG are registered for tax and othrr purposes in Madrid.
        The most British thing about BA are the subsidies both literal and via grandfathered rights given by the government.

  15. WTP Needs to be moved outside of premium check-in zone. BA themselves have always been clear that “It’s economy plus NOT business light” so let’s just take the sheeps clothes off the wolf shall we. Give WTP it’s own expanded check-in desk area but keep it out of the area for J, F & Elites. All you’re going to do is p**s off your highest paying and/or loyal customers by muddying the check-in area & process

    • Totally agree. And I also think it would be good to have first check-in back for gold card holders. Given that they have long haul business class customers that could have spent thousands of pounds to fly Club, I think it’s very short sighted to put in the new arrangements. What they should have done was replaced one of the economy desks with WTP which is where they would have been queued up before generally instead of taking a position in the premium area. They may have no first class but this means there are more Club passengers on each flight so they should have kept the same number of desks for first and Club in the premium area.

  16. I vowed to never ever fly British Airways again after extremely poor service preceeding and during a flight from LHR to Abu Dhabi in 1982. I read the comments above with interest, but no surprise. After more than 40 years as an active worldwide traveller in the energy exploration business I have successfully avoided BA. I fly Singapore Airlines whenever possible. It does not matter what Class you pay for, SQ’s service is above and beyond any other airline, whether you are checking in, flying, or collecting your baggage after arrival.

    • James Harper | 4 June 2022 at 9:33 pm | Reply

      I don’t think you can have flown with SQ any time in the last five or six years. Like others, they now trade on past glory but in business and first the service is mediocre on a good day and I say that as a PPS member.

  17. Excellent review I thought. Fair, accurate and honest. In my experience, BA started a rush to the bottom under Walsh, which has continued under the new “leadership”. I feel sorry for BA staff, who have been treated appallingly by management, and are not being given the tools with which to provide the service they would wish to provide. BA are cutting corners at every possible opportunity – the inevitable result is that whilst not being the worst airline out there, BA are a long long long way behind the best. Airlines like Singapore Airlines, JAL, EVA are so far ahead of BA as to be out of sight – and that applies to Economy as well as the other classes. People like the BA managers and Walsh failed to realise that it can take years to build up a good reputation as a world class airline….. but only 1 bad flight experience to destroy that reputation with the customer. I had that unfortunate experience with Virgin over 10 years ago in Economy and haven’t used them since, and won’t again in the future. BA are very close to joining that ” refuse to fly with them” club – saved only by the majority of crews who are polite, helpful, and do the best they can with the tools they e been given.

  18. When BA failed to checked their bedding packs on a recent flight to Dubai, thus some were used and badly soiled how low can BA go? They claim it is a First world problem, thus going without a blanket now equals 30 pound in compensation. The BA exodus is now growing and it won’t be easy to attract those old customers back.

    .

  19. I flew out of Gatwick North to Madrid a week last Thursday & back last Tuesday. I used EasyJet I only use BA for long hall with Airmiles.
    The airport security was working well we only had carry on cases, & only took about 20 minutes to get to the lounge.
    I flew BA Business in March to Dubai & I was most disappointed with the Business Class lounge, both here & in Dubai. All the food was not fresh but warmed up. I have also used Emirates Business class & they are light years ahead of BA.

  20. Wing it One World | 3 June 2022 at 11:17 pm | Reply

    I see from the menu that brandygate is still no further forward🙁🙁🙁

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