What it’s like travelling trans-Atlantic for business right now

INSIGHT

What it’s like travelling trans-Atlantic for business right now

Heathrow Terminal 5

When the US border reopened we couldn’t wait to get back out to the States again. Thanks to our friends at British Airways and American Airlines, Alexandra Cronin was able to experience what it’s like to travel trans-Atlantic again. In this blog, Alexandra shares what it was like to fly after her return trip from London to New York in November 2021 (she took all the photos too!). 

British Airways in a Club Suite: London Heathrow Terminal 5 – New York JFK

 

The VeriFLY app is extremely useful

In COVID times, there’s no denying that travelling can be a bit tricky, particularly when it comes to collating all the documentation and information you need. But that’s what we love about British Airways’ partnership with the VeriFLY app. A secure, mobile wallet where you can store your vaccination proof, test results, entry and attestation forms and passport details, it serves as a speedy solution for housing everything you need to travel right now, all in one place. It’s also a great guide, telling you all the requirements you need for your destination of choice.

Crucially, it’s accepted by British Airways with open arms – so all you need do at check-in/boarding is flash the green VeriFLY ‘tick’ on your phone at the desk agent, and they know you’re ready to fly. Simple.

At the airport

Having your very own dedicated terminal is a pretty impressive feat. I wouldn’t say I’m massively patriotic, but it certainly does imbue a sense of pride when you walk into London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and clap eyes on a sea of British Airways check-in desks, and an abundance of branding. I can’t be the only person who feels that way either, given that the terminal has been named 'World's Best Airport Terminal' six times!

It exudes a calm, clean and cool vibe, akin to that which the modern British Airways boasts also, and is brimming with BA ground staff should you ever get stuck or need assistance. It’s hands down one of my favourite terminals and a real bonus to flying with our national airline.

British Airways Club Suite

Onboard: Club Suites are amazing

It’s all about the door. British Airways is currently undergoing one of the biggest cabin class revamps in its history, with the introduction of Club Suites. Replacing Club World seats on all aircraft by 2025, these private, comfortable and exclusive Business Class havens are a real game-changer. On most Business Class cabins the first thing you want to know about is the lie-flat bed. But here, it’s ALL about the door.

Yes, the Club Suites have amazing seats, all with direct aisle access. They covert to a fully-flat, 6.6-foot bed, have a vast 17-inch monitor screening the latest entertainment and you get a delicious menu in the sky (maple pancakes, we’re looking at you). But the crowning feature is undoubtedly the door.

Latched for take-off, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about this sliding treat at the start of your journey. As soon as you’re in the air however, it comes into its own. Whether you’re planning to bed down for your entire journey, or just catch a movie (or three) in complete privacy, the addition of the door makes you feel like you’re in your own bubble. That’s something we could really get used too...

Always service with a smile

Just like us, the people at British Airways are passionate about travel. And that shines through when you’re onboard, with crew keen to cater to your every whim – often knowing what you want or need before you do!

During my latest Club Suites experience, about an hour before landing, a member of the cabin crew appeared with a glass of Champagne without me even making the request. It was as if he’d simply received a telepathic message from me! They were also on hand to show me how to use the (very swish) controls that transformed by seat into a bed, and politely unfold my tray table when I’d actually only done it halfway (whoops).

The same applies when I fly Premium and Economy too. I like to stay hydrated when I fly, so am always asking for refreshments. On some airlines, you can see the crew tiring of your repeated requests, but with British Airways, nothing is ever too much trouble.

Taking on the carbon challenge

Reducing carbon emissions is more important now than ever. That’s why, since January 2020, British Airways has been carbon offsetting all UK domestic flights, and is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It’s making key changes and investments in its aircraft to make them more efficient, tweaking its routes to fly smarter, using more sustainable fuels and harnessing wind power to support bases and equipment.

Over time, British Airways is set to create low and zero-emission planes. They’ve even got lofty plans to convert household waste into jet fuel! It’s an exceptionally important plan, and one that makes us really proud to partner with British Airways.

American Airlines in Flagship® Business: New York JFK to London Heathrow

 

At the airport

Checking in and getting my boarding pass was a breeze. American Airlines has also partnered with the VeriFLY app, making it easy to upload all your documents in one secure place. It also tells you everything you need to travel, which is especially crucial when travelling somewhere like the States. Do this in advance of your flight and you’re able to check-in online 24 hours before you depart.

Don’t worry about missing out on your perfect seat either – you can select this online for free before you’ve even checked in, which was an added bonus! If you’d rather check-in at the airport or need to check any luggage, your Flagship® Business ticket means you’ll be able to use dedicated check-in desks too, saving precious time in the terminal.

Flagship lounge

In the lounge

And ‘why is that terminal time so precious?’, I hear you cry! Well, the less time you spend checking-in and getting through security, the more time you’ll have in the lounge. It’s honestly one of my favourite things about travelling Business: delicious food and drinks, plenty of comfy seats, free Wi-Fi, charging points aplenty and showers. I practically sprinted for the Flagship® American Airlines lounge at JFK once I’d cleared security, and was delighted to be handed a glass of bubbles when I walked through the doors. Stepping into the lounge, I was greeted by a vast space, with a regularly replenished food station and a whole island filled with more fizz. I set up camp in an individual corner seat (complete with USB charging points), and made a beeline for the buffet.

Knowing I’d also be eating dinner on my flight, I used every ounce of restraint I had to keep it simple, opting for some sushi, some tasty pasta and a fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.

I didn’t use the showers this time around but vast suites were available. What I really loved were a collection of single booths to the side of the lounge. Ideal if you’re travelling solo and need to get some work done before your flight; ensconced in wood cladding and complete with table and comfy chair.

American Airlines screen

Onboard: entertainment and amenities

American’s Flagship® Business seats offer direct-aisle access, lie-flat capabilities and huge seatback screens. As I boarded the plane, I was able to easily locate my spot to the right-hand side of the aircraft. And, no sooner had I popped my bag in the overhead locker, a member of the cabin crew appeared, offering me a glass of juice or sparkling wine.

Because I had plans to spend most of my flight “resting my eyes”, I dedicated the time before the meal service to exploring what extras came with my seat. For starters, there’s the previously mentioned TV screen. An ample 15.4 inches, the monitor is touchscreen but can also be controlled by remote and offers hundreds of movies, TV shows, albums and even radio channels. There are also power outlets and USB ports within the seat area, not to mention a socket for the blissfully noise-cancelling Bang & Olufsen headphones.

As for the Shinola amenity kit, I was pleased to discover all the staples: eye mask, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and hand cream. Now all I had to do was set them aside, in preparation for some relaxation later in the flight…

Food and drink

There was a fantastic selection for my main meal onboard: Latin-spiced chicken breast, mezzi rigatoni, miso saba roasted sea bass and horseradish beef short rib. I opted for the latter. Following a snack of nuts and wine, the meal came out swiftly, complete with real cutlery and crockery and an array of side dishes, including a salad and cheesecake for dessert. No matter how many times I take to the skies, it always astounds me how the crew craft such tasty meals at high altitude.

I ordered breakfast after finishing my dinner (which felt a little strange as I was still rather full), and was impressed with the variety on offer, from hot omelettes and warm pastries to a fresh fruit bowl. The crew really were keeping me well-fed and watered!

Sinking into the seat

Storage abounds in American Airlines’ Flagship® Business seats. From the compartment beneath the armrest, to the ones by my feet and the window, I had plenty of nooks and crannies to stow my hand luggage items. As I was on a night flight and knew I would have to get some work done the next day, it wasn’t long before I took the plunge and deployed my seat.

American supplies Casper sleeping products, in the form of two (yes, two!) plump pillows, an ultra-thick mattress and sumptuous duvet. The mattress, supplied in a hygienically sealed bag, helpfully hooks over the chair’s headrest to avoid any slipping or movement while trying to get some rest. But, honestly, the designers needn’t have worried. With a mattress that comfortable, I wasn’t planning on moving for hours. It was, quite undoubtedly, the most bed-like lie-flat I’ve experienced yet. And, thanks to the plethora of pillows, I literally sank into it. Soon enough I was enveloped by relaxation, fresh and ready for the day ahead when I landed…

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