British Airways have wet leased some of Air Belgium A340-300s to operate on a selcetion of their flights. This is due to the grounding of BA's B787 Dreamliners, because of the ongoing Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine issues.
The Air Belgium A340 is operating daily between London and Dubai, on flights BA105/BA104. I flew it in Club World (Business Class) to see what were the differences to the usual BA flight. I redeemed 50,000 British Airways Executive Club miles (+$249 tax) for this flight.Kudos to British Airways, they've published the information about the wet lease and ship change in advance to inform passengers.
The Air Belgium A340s are ex Finnair, they are the late delivery models from 2007-2008; so they are some of the newest A340-300's around.
The seating on Air Belgium A340 in Business Class is staggered in either 2-2-1 or 1-2-1 configuration. There are a total of 45 business class seats across 2 cabins. Row 1 and row 8 have the best leg room due to their bulkhead position. The seats can be turned into a fully flat bed. (note BA's Boeing 787 has a 2-3-2 in Club World configuration)
There is no Premium Economy, as opposed to BA's B787.
In Economy Class the seating configuration is a 2-4-2, as opposed to BA's 3-3-3 on the B787. The first few rows of the economy class have extra leg room (Economy Plus) If you are making the trip in economy, then make sure you select them if you can!
The soft product of this flight is the standard affair from British Airways. Comfort kit, blanket and seat cover from The White Company; you will find them already placed on the seat prior to your arrival.We took off on-time at 2pm, flight time to London was scheduled for 7 hours 52 minutes, due to strong head winds (up to 300km/h) Enjoy the take-off in my video below.
The catering is again the same offerings from BA on this flight. A full lunch is served after takeoff and a light snack is served before landing.
While the food was nicely presented, the taste was average and could be improved; my steak was overcooked and dry. The whole lunch service took about 3 hours to complete, which is way too slow.
Since BA wet leased the plane, the crew on this BA flight was from Air Belgium. They were generally young and cheerful.
Perhaps the biggest downfall flying on Air Belgium is the entertainment system. It has very limited options with only movies and an air map.
There was no kids channels, live TV or Wi-Fi available.Interesting to note; The BA in-flight magazine "highlife" was missing on this flight, along with any duty free sales.
I have no complaints about the converted flat bed from my seat 8L, as the foot well is really large. The only minus part, the arm rest could not be lowered which slightly limited the width.
The flight was, overall, fairly uneventful. Before landing finger sandwiches and sweets were served. I feel the catering could have been better.
From my seat 8L I was treated to the below beautiful engine views. As we were flying westerly chasing the setting sun on a clear day over Europe, the view was super gorgeous. We landed at Heathrow right on-time at 6pm and disembarked shortly after at Terminal 5.
There were probably a few passengers scratching their head thinking this wasn't the usual BA flight they were familiar with. Here is a quick summary of this flight,
- The airplane, crew and seating is from Air Belgium
- The soft products such as menu, food, amenity kit and bedding is from BA.
- Business Class has flat bed seating and maintains direct aisle access.
- Economy Class is 2-4-2 configuration, as opposed to BA 787's 3-3-3 seating.
- There was no Wi-Fi and the entertainment system was limited.
- There was no Premium Economy Class on this flight.
Finally, before I dis-embarked, I took a memento photograph of the excellent crew from Air Belgium.
Air Belgium A340 flights will be deployed on British Airways BA185/184 between London Heathrow and Newark from 01 April to 08 June.