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Review: British Airways A321 Economy Class (AMS-LHR)

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We started heading towards our gate as boarding was called in the lounge. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is notoriously poorly designed and difficult to navigate, and it took a good 15 minutes of navigating a series of walkways before we eventually made it to our gate just as pre-boarding was starting.

IMG_0818British Airways Amsterdam Airport Boarding Signage 

A short announcement was broadcast explaining the boarding process. Shortly afterward, all oneworld Elites and Business Class travelers were invited to board the aircraft.

IMG_0819.jpgBritish Airways A321-200 at Amsterdam Airport 

British Airways 441
July 8, 2017
Origin: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) Gate: D27 Dep: 19:10 (19:15)
Destination: London Heathrow (LHR) Arr: 19:15 (
Duration: 1 hr 5 min (1 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A321 
Seat: 9A (Economy Class)

I was welcomed by the Customer Service Director and turned left into the cabin. I managed to catch a glimpse of the Club Europe cabin. As is the case with all European airlines, “Business Class” seats essentially consist of a blocked middle seat. At least unlike Finnair, British Airways places a center console between seats to place drinks and other items on.

IMG_0820British Airways A321 Club Europe Cabin 

One of the benefits of European-style Business Class is that it allows the cabin size to be adjusted to fit the flight. On this particular flight, the Club Europe cabin featured only 8 seats, with the rest of the aircraft being Economy seats.

British Airways’ regional seats are decked out in blue leather that makes the cabin look smart. Each seat comes with an adjustable headrest which features the British Airways “speedmarque” logo.

IMG_0822British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin 

All seats are 17 inches wide and have 30 inches of seat pitch, which is 1 inch less than most legacy European carriers offer. In comparison, Ryanair offers passengers 30 inches of seat pitch while Easyjet offers 29 inches of seat pitch. British Airways has recently confirmed that they will be reducing the seat pitch on some regional aircraft to 29 inches in Economy.

Thankfully, British Airways opted to install Rockwell Collins Pinnacle slimline seating, slightly reducing the squeeze on passengers knees.

IMG_0823British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin 

While many have criticised these seats for being poorly padded, I beg to differ. While they aren’t as comfortable as Cathay Pacific’s Economy Class product, the padding was quite plush and decently comfortable for the hour-long journey to London.

IMG_0824British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin

My mothers oneworld Sapphire status allowed us to select exit row seats in advance. I selected seat 9A, which had an abundance of legroom thanks to the exit row and the missing seat in front of me. Unfortunately, the tray tables are in the armrest on exit row flights, slightly decreasing seat width. This also means that the armrest cannot be moved.

IMG_0825British Airways A321 World Traveller Exit Row Legroom 

In my opinion, seats 9A and 9K are the best on the aircraft. Not only do the seats offer copious amounts of legroom, but they both feature a window. While seats 23A and 23K in the other exit row on the aircraft both feature the same amount of legroom, they are missing a window.

Boarding was swift and efficient, with the vast majority of passengers appearing to be tourists.

IMG_0826British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin During Boarding 

We were parked next to a Small Planet A320.

IMG_0827British Airways A321 World Traveller View Of Wing 

Shortly after boarding was completed, the crew screened the safety demonstration before coming through the cabin with their final pre-takeoff checks.

IMG_0828British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin During Taxi 

We taxied past as many KLM aircraft as one might expect when in Amsterdam…

IMG_0835KLM Aircraft at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 

At this point, the mood lighting was switched on, which gave the cabin a cool and modern ambiance.

IMG_0838British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin During Taxi 

We also taxied past an EVA Air 777-300ER, which writer Ethan has reviewed extensively both in Premium Economy and the new Economy seat.

IMG_0839EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport 

Shortly afterward, we were cleared for takeoff.

IMG_0852British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Takeoff

We got some really nice views of the area surrounding Amsterdam as we took off.

IMG_0855British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Takeoff 

When the seatbelt sign was switched off, I pulled open the tray table, which had some disgusting stains on them.

IMG_0859British Airways A321 World Traveller Tray Table

This was my first British Airways short-haul flight since they scrapped a complimentary snack in favor of a buy-on-board concept with items supplied by M&S. You can find the latest menu here. 

When the cart came around, I asked for a sandwich since I was feeling a little peckish. I was surprised to discover that they had one sandwich left. I later heard the crew saying that they had loaded two sandwiches for the roundtrip to and from Amsterdam. This is pretty ridiculous, especially when you consider the fact that the flight was departing around dinnertime.

Since I wasn’t all that hungry, I decided to pass and instead got a bottle of water and a cup of Wasabi peas. Payment was by credit, debit or British Airways Avios only.

IMG_0860British Airways A321 World Traveller Snack 

The peas had a nice kick to them, though it was unfortunate that they weren’t free. To provide some context, at the time we were booking tickets, KLM, which offers complimentary drinks and snacks, was charging around $100 less than British Airways was. The biggest issue that I have with the new buy-on-board concept is that they aren’t charging lower prices to complement their lower service standard.

IMG_0863British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin During Cruise

One of the only good things about the new buy-on-board service is that it’s much faster, meaning that the meal cart isn’t blocking the aisle for as much of the flight.

The flight was too short to get a real sense of the cabin crew. However, they were perfectly friendly from my (limited) interactions.

I spent the rest of the flight admiring the view outside the plane and trying to catch up on summer reading (ugh).

IMG_0864British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Cruise

Before I knew it, we had started our descent into London. The cabin crew came around the cabin with their safety checks, and the mood lighting was once again switched on.

IMG_0875 2British Airways A321 World Traveller Cabin View During Descent 

We got some really nice views of London and the Thames River as we descended into London Heathrow Airport.

IMG_0867 2British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Descent 

IMG_0867British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Descent 

We touched down slightly behind schedule and started our painfully long taxi to our gate.

IMG_0887British Airways A321 World Traveller View During Landing

We passed by Heathrow’s Terminal 3, where I spotted a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER.

IMG_0890London Heathrow Terminal 3 

We eventually made it to Terminal 5, which had as many British Airways aircraft as you’d expect.

IMG_0903British Airways’ London Heathrow Terminal 5 

We parked next to a British Airways Airbus A320.

IMG_0910British Airways A320 at London Heathrow Airport 

We made our way to immigration, which was a clusterf***. The “visitors” line was insanely long, and it took an hour to even get to the front of the line. The situation was so bad that staff members were on hand to distribute water bottles. The wait was made even worse by the fact that I was desperately in need of a bathroom break. I guess that’s London Heathrow for you…

Bottom Line: British Airways A320 Economy Class

Overall the flight was fine. The seat was pleasant, and plush, which is way more than what can be said about most intra-European carriers (Lufthansa and Swiss, I’m looking at you).

However, there’s no denying that British Airways has come a long way since its days as one of Europe’s better carriers. While they did the bare minimum to make our flight pleasant, they still get away with charging a price premium above other carriers, due to the reputation that they’d built up for themselves many years ago. Now they take their passengers for granted, and carry a sub-par soft product with a lackadaiscal attitude in economy.

If I didn’t have status I definitely wouldn’t choose BA for the $100 price premium and the lack of free food, and even though I do, I’d still hesitate before flying with them again on a shorthaul flight.

Read more from this trip:

Have you flown British Airways shorthaul before? How was your experience?

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