Tag Archives: low cost airlines

Is a British Airways Charter Flight better than Low Cost Airlines?

Every summer we usually take a week’s break in Europe. Perhaps the north of Mallorca, Portgual’s Algarve or France.

Although buckets of British Airways air miles means we could travel from Edinburgh via Heathrow or Gatwick and connect to a Club Europe flight, we’ve sacrificed the lounge access and slightly wider seats for more convennient direct flights with Jet2 or Easy Jet.

Until this year when I booked our villa in Mallorca’s Pollenca region through James Villas and they offered me a BA CityFlyer Charter.

British Airways Charter Flight
BA CityFlyer Embraer 190

I knew that CityFlyer use the spare capacity during London City Airport’s weekend downtime to offer charters, mainly through Barrhead Travel, and I immediately agreed to those flights and not Jet2.

The BA flights worked out at about £170 each which I thought was great value having paid nearly £1000 for three seats last year on Jet2.

Knowing that my BA silver card provided no advantage on a charter, I asked James Villas if I could pre-book seats.

They said, “No it’s not possible.”

Being a stubborn Edinburgh traveller, a quick Google search revealed a hidden BA CityFlyer Charter website where you can indeed book seats for £6 a pop.

BA CityFlyer Charter Website

I even had the courtesy to write back to James Villas and point out that you can, indeed, pre-book seats? They were kind enough to reply and tell me that I was wrong and it wasn’t possible to pre-book seats.

I enjoyed reading that email whilst clutching my seat confirmation with a wry smile.

British Airways Charter Flight
2×2 Seating with 34in pitch throughout

For the outbound at 7.30am on a Saturday, Edinburgh Airport bulged with people. We approached the usual BA check in desks. I asked the lady managing the queues if we could we check in here? She said that the charter check in was at the other end of the check in hall.

I mentioned we were travelling hand bags only and she very kindly used her work station to print our boarding cards. Great service.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

Without the benefit of lounge access we waited at the gate for BA to call the flight. Once onboard G-LCYS, one of the newest Embraer 190 aircraft in the BA fleet, we sank into our roomy 2×2 leather seats with their ample 34in pitch.

Once comfy, I heard the lady behind me moaning to the Purser that she and her husband and children had been split up at check in. The purser apologised and said that you can’t pre-book seats on BA charter services (strange that the cabin crew don’t know about the website where you can pre-book).

Anyway this lady whined to anyone who would listen about how upset she was. I was going to enlighten her about the website, but the child she was with was so badly behaved throughout the flight, kicking my seat back, that I decided they could carry on moaning.

Took off bang on time and the crew began the inflight buy on board service. You can see the menu in the photos.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

I drank a giant cup of tasty Saile and Sabga Gourmet Cafe Arabica coffee, and ate a hot bacon panini. The coffee could be the best I’ve ever had on an aircraft.

The crew came through the cabin on a second run towards the end of the three hour flight.

On the inbound, with only two BA flights, check in at Palma is civilised and not the multi-queue scrum you find for Jet2 or Thompson.

My only criticism of the operation at Palma is there was no facility for hand luggage only customers. We had to queue with those with luggage – actually we might have been the only passengers travelling without checked bags. Still we only waited about 15 minutes.

British Airways Charter Flight
Menu Booklet

Same aircraft and the same crew and the same service on the way home except I had a beer with my coffee and bacon buttie.

The moaning lady was also on the flight, and although sat with her husband and kids this time, all she did was moan about how they were split up on the flight out. Bet she’s a barrel of laughs in the pub.

Overall it was great flying on a BA CityFlyer Charter. You get the extra leg room and the professionalism of BA Mainline, with the extra quantities of food and drink from buy on board.

I’d do this over Jet2 any day.

Now it’s your turn:

Have you travelled on a British Airways Charter Flight? How do you think it compares to BA Mainline or other low-cost airlines like Jet2, Easy Jet and RyanAir? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own reviews.

Should we get free food on a short flight or is buy on board food best?

When I started flying regularly from London to Edinburgh there was lots of free food on board. Massive breakfasts, three course hot evening meals, and lovely afternoon teas with warm scones and sandwiches.

In fact BA and BMI’s caterers were falling over each other trying to out do the other with the amount of their grub.

And this was in economy not business or first class.

On an hour-long flight you would get a drink before dinner, a hot meal with dessert, wine, and coffee or tea afterwards. Breakfast would include cereal, full English, warms rolls and big glass pots of marmalade or jam.

The downside? Fares were high.

Then Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Go came along. They were no frills airlines and they were about cheap fares. They gave no free food away.

If you wanted a coffee you had to buy one – you still do. If you were hungry you could buy a sandwich. You still can.

From then on BA and BMI’s started to cut the free stuff. Hot evening meals became smaller cold salads. Huge breakfast trays became smaller ones with tiny sausages, a couple of mushrooms, and a wafer thin slice of bacon.

buy on board food

At all other times the service is simply a free drink and a packet of nibbles (or birdseed as it is affectionately known by travellers on domestic routes), a tiny drink from the bar or a thimble full of coffee.

By continuing to offer a token free drink BA claims it’s a “full service” airline. But this is stretching it a bit isn’t it?

If I can’t eat before an evening flight home I go hungry on BA but I could buy a meal on Easy Jet.

So is it better to have a buy on board service or pretend to offer a full service which challenges the word “full”?

I think I am now in the place where I think BA should stop pretending with their economy product and consider a move to buy on board food.

Over to you: Do you prefer to buy on board food? Or perhaps you take a picnic? Do you need serving anything at all? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.