British Airways operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner between London Heathrow and Baltimore/Washington airport among other destinations. The aircraft is the first in service to feature a largely composite fuselage which allows for a lower cabin altitude to provide a better passenger experience. Coupled with larger windows and advanced Rolls-Royce engines giving a quieter ride, it certainly seems like the name is appropriate.
Security in Terminal E at BWI is fast and once completed I relaxed in the Chesapeake Club lounge until boarding time. Priority boarding is announced after passengers requiring assistance and I was quickly on board.
BA228 – Baltimore/Washington to London Heathrow (BWI-LHR)
7 November 2016
Boeing 787-9 G-ZBKE
Seat: Club World 7A
Departure: 19:30 Arrival: 07:30+1
On board you immediately notice the generous size of the windows which are much larger than other aircraft. The windows are electrochromic meaning the glass is dimmed electrically and as a result there are no window shades.
Seats in Club World are virtually identical to the rest of British Airways fleet with the same yin/yang pattern. People at the windows face the rear and those in the aisles face forward. Cabin Crew offer pre-departure drinks featuring a choice of Champagne, juice or water and as always it was bubbles for me.
Boarding proceeded quite swiftly which is always a good thing.
Safety On Board
Once passengers are on board, a video safety demonstration is played on each person’s individual entertainment screen. You are encouraged to review the procedures in the safety card.
Happily there was no need to refer to the card again during flight as all was uneventful!
Time To Go
Dreamliner engines sound different to other engines on start up which I found interesting. Our taxi to the active runway was brief and soon we commenced our take off run. The usual vibration of the runway was substantially reduced and on rotation there was virtually no vibration at all. Some aircraft groan and clatter on rotation, but not the 787-9.
During the climb out my initial thought was the Dreamliner felt particularly solid in the air and I don’t know why that is. It is very quiet inside, perhaps even quieter than the Airbus A380. The sound reminds me of sitting ahead of the wing on a Boeing 727-200 where all you can hear is the rushing of air moving past you. It was like that but even the rushing air is quieter!
Many British Airways flights from the east coast of the USA are designated as Sleeper Services meaning you eat in the lounge before flight so you can sleep on board. Flights from BWI are standard services so a full meal is provided on board.
There is an option for a Goodnight Express meal but I am doubtful many people would select this as the departure time is almost perfect for a full dinner. Cabin service starts immediately after take off with a bar round.
My Kir Royale featured too much Crème de Cassis which is a shame as the taste was overpowering.
Dinner Time – Starter
British Airways offer no choice of a starter in Club World so it was salad, salad or salad. Pardon me – seasonal mixed greens with red peppers and toasted sunflower seeds. The tablecloth is on the tray and Cabin Crew deliver it as one unit.
Delivering the dessert on the same tray as the starter is very economy class, isn’t it? I certainly would expect the dessert course to come out on its own at the end of the meal, so this took a shine off the so called premium experience.
The vinaigrette accompanying the salad was delicious and the new crockery looks much more modern than that it replaced. Alas there is no bread plate so there is quite a bit of mess when trying to spread the rock solid butter onto your bread roll.
Dinner Time – Main and Dessert
Next up is the main course which is delivered once you are done with your starter. I chose the chicken, which is billed in a highfalutin manner as Roasted organic breast of chicken with Romanesco, dauphinoise potato, caramelised carrots and a red wine jus.
Vegetables were appropriately crunchy and the meal was very tasty. When done, the cabin crew take away the main dish and offer more wine. I was looking forward to my Key lime pie with mascarpone cream and wanted white wine. I requested “the Californian”, not realising there were two on the menu. A rookie mistake!
Red was delivered and I kept it rather than sending it back. The crew member asked if I’d like to taste the red before he poured but I declined. In a great show of proactive service I was then offered the cheese plate to accompany my wine which saved me having to ask.
The obliging crew member also stepped on my foot accidentally but I was amused by this more than anything!
A Dreamliner Loo
Efficiency extends to the toilet facilities on board the Dreamliner. I found the cubicle to be as small as it possibly could be with every spare inch of space fully utilised.
The baby changing table is quite a bit different to ones I have seen before. Usually they seem to come down from the wall above the toilet but on this aircraft it is up on the side wall instead.
As someone who does not have any baby to change, I am in no position to tell you which arrangement is best!
Sleeping on aircraft doesn’t come easily to me and unfortunately the Dreamliner was no different. British Airways offer a snack bar called the Club Kitchen for people to avail of during the flight. This is in a little area in the galley. The concept is excellent, the execution is extremely poor.
On offer are shortbread biscuits, Sweet Shop sweets, salted cashews and raisins, Joseph’s popcorn with caramel and sea salt, Cadbury snack size chocolate bars and three types of Kettle Chips. While an attempt has been made to keep it premium by using higher end brands it all falls short of how good it could be. Bottles of wine and other drinks are also in the Club Kitchen to self pour should you desire.
Serving a signature drink or smoothie is always the key to a good breakfast for me. I started with the fresh fruit and “An energising fruit smoothie of strawberry and kiwi”.
I took two danish and threw them down as well. Delicious! Finally I also had the warm bacon roll which is always quite nice on British Airways. The ketchup came in a sachet! I’ve been begging for Aer Lingus to offer one sachet of ketchup with their breakfast for years to no avail so this was very pleasing indeed.
Essentially I had all the breakfast available apart from the Greek Yoghurt and I enjoyed it. Once everything was cleared away we descended into London Heathrow and landed without incident.
After landing I noticed I was unable to see out the window. For some reason the cold of the flight or something had caused some kind of mist between the panes somewhere meaning I could barely see out. Interesting!
My expectations for the Dreamliner were high considering all the marketing information I had read about the lower cabin altitude, quietness and all the rest of it. The aircraft is quite comfortable to fly on and I noticed and appreciated the higher humidity in the cabin. I felt tired when I arrived but not dry which was good. The aircraft rides really well which was something I didn’t expect but which struck me at the time. British Airways offer a variable business class product with their Club World offering seeming to not know whether it is a premium cabin or premium light. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Update: A member of BA Cabin Crew contacted me to explain the meal service from the US East Coast. “Departures 18:00-20:00 are ‘Goodnight Service’ (such as your flight above) – one tray with a generic starter and dessert all on the tray, choice of three mains or express meal and cheese on request. Departures after 20:00 are ‘Sleeper Service’. No starter at all and usually a salad with a hot protein element or a pasta. The ‘standard’ meal on these routes is a choice of two starters, four mains and then cheese/dessert served separately.”