Date: January 9, 2018
Flight No.: BA5
Route: London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita
Airline: British Airways
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
The last flight of my Christmas and New Year’s trip to Europe took me from London Heathrow back to Tokyo. It was my second time flying on the route. And, while the last time I took the flight – almost 20 years ago – it was operated by a 747-400, this time it was operated by one of British Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
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Boarding Flight BA5 from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita
I arrived at Heathrow onboard a British Airways A320 from Milan Linate and then spent a couple of hours in the Aspire lounge which belongs to the Priority Pass network. I left the crowded lounge around 12:30PM to do some shopping.
With the necessary gifts bought, I hopped on the automated train that connects the different concourses of Heathrow airport’s terminal 5 and got off at the second “C gates” stop as my flight was departing from C53.
When I got to the gate shortly after 1PM, a British Airways 747-400 was being pushed back at a nearby gate which reminded me of my trip to Japan more than a decade ago onboard the aircraft.
And, at my gate, G-STBL – a Boeing 777-300ER delivered to British Airways in 2014 – was ready for its journey to Tokyo.
Priority boarding for my flight, which was scheduled to depart at 1:50PM, started at 1:17PM with the rest of the passengers being invited to get onboard just a couple of minutes later.
Walking down the jetway, I took a quick picture of a British Airways 787 parked at the gate next to ours, grabbed a copy of The New York Times, and got onboard the aircraft where I was welcomed by the crew.
British Airways Boeing 777-300ER Cabin
British Airways 777-300ERs are equipped with 299 seats in four classes – 14 in first class, 56 in business or Club World as the airline calls it, 44 in premium economy or World Traveller Plus, and 185 in economy or World Traveller.
While I didn’t have a chance to peak into the first class as it was to the left of the L2 door through which I boarded, it is in a 1-2-1 configuration with 4 rows of seats next to the windows and three pairs of seats in the center of the cabin.
To get to my economy class seat, though, I had to walk through the aircraft’s business and premium economy classes both of which are in a 2-4-2 configuration. Neither the business nor premium economy class seats looked especially comfortable compared to some of the other airlines out there.
Even though the premium cabins didn’t look particularly comfortable, I have to commend British Airways for offering a 3-3-3 configuration on their 777s as compared to the now common (and way too tight) 3-4-3 seating.
Also, the seat itself came with enough legroom and was well padded. Besides the IFE screen, there was also a USB port and the IFE remote control on the back of the seat in front of me. (Shared) regular power outlets could be found under the seats.
The economy class seats didn’t feature a footrest, but if you prefer having one, make sure to check my article about inflatable travel foot and leg rests.
Separately, upon boarding, earphones, a donation envelope, a pillow, and a plastic-wrapped blanket were waiting on my seat, 48D.
Economy Class Lunch Onboard a British Airways Longhaul
Boarding was completed at 1:46PM and two minutes later, the Captain let us know that we were “not quite ready to go” as we were still waiting for some bags to get loaded. He also mentioned that our flight time would be 11 hours and 25 minutes, and that it was about 5 degrees in Tokyo.
The pushback finally commenced at 2:22PM, more than half an hour behind schedule, and another twenty five minutes later – at 2:47PM – we took off from Heathrow’s runway 09R.
From there, it took another hour until the meal service commenced.
First, a drink service was done. While no nuts or crackers were served with the drink, that should have changed since then – and so my review of the return flight onboard a 787 in May should feature a slightly improved meal service.
Forty five minutes after the drink service, the actual meal was finally served. There was a choice between chicken and pasta – and I went with the former.
While I appreciated the nice design of the main’s cover, the food itself was mediocre at best. While the chicken itself was alright, the vegetables were extremely overcooked.
British Airways In-Flight Entertainment System
The meal tray was cleared shortly after 5PM, and then I decided to check out the in-flight entertainment system a bit before trying to catch some sleep.
While there was a remote control under the screen, the system could also be controlled using the screen itself.
There was a fairly extensive selection of movies as well as TV shows – with several episodes of each.
Besides the usual radio stations and music albums, there were also audio books and podcasts that passengers could listen to.
Finally, the entertainment system also included some games. Although, I never get around to actually playing any of the games offered in the IFE systems.
What occupies my screen the most instead is the airshow. However, on this flight (or at least at my seat) the moving map wasn’t working. I was still able to see the basic flight information, though.
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British Airways English Breakfast Service
With the meal finished and IFE checked out, it was time to sleep.
Just as I was about to fall asleep, one of the cabin crew members came by to ask me to disconnect my cellphone from the USB port if I was going to sleep. I happily obliged (although it was the first time for that to happen to me) and went to sleep.
After quite a few hours of comfortable (to the extent possible in economy class) sleep, I woke up just as a drink service was being done. It was around 7AM Tokyo time, I went with a cup of orange juice, and we still had about four hours until landing.
As such, after finishing the juice, I went back to sleep and the next time I wake up was when the breakfast service was being done.
The choices included English Breakfast or omelet of which I chose the former.
Landing at Tokyo Narita Airport
Since there was more than an hour left until our landing in Tokyo, I decided to watch a couple of The Big Bang Theory episodes – my in-flight entertainment choice whenever it is available in the IFE system.
During a quick visit to the restroom, I noticed that the cabin temperature was set to just 22 degrees which explained the “freezing” temperature throughout the flight.
At 10:21AM, the Captain announced that we were “approaching the top of the drop” with the flight computer saying that we had less than 300 miles to go. He also mentioned that we would start our descent in about 15 minutes.
The descent started a bit earlier than he promised, and the seat belt signs went back on at 10:39AM when the cabin crew was told that we had twenty minutes until landing. Eight minutes later, he told the cabin crew that there was a “change of plans” and that we would be landing in ten minutes.
Then, at 10:49AM, he asked the crew to take seats for “immediate landing,” and at 10:57AM – exactly ten minutes after the Captain revised the plans – we touched down at Tokyo Narita airport.
We arrived in blocks at gate 72 at 11:03AM – about half an hour behind schedule.
British Airways 777-300ER Economy Class London – Tokyo Summary
To sum it up, British Airways offers a perfectly fine long haul economy class service. While the first meal could have been better, the breakfast was decent. And, so was the in-flight entertainment system.
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On top of that, the one thing that would make me pick a British Airways flight over that of its peers would be the spacious 3-3-3 seating that is getting harder and harder to come by on the 777.