I flew to the UK in early December, to attend the last British Airways 747 flight. Currently there is a travel corridor between the UAE and the UK, which means passengers no longer have to quarantine or self isolate on arrival in either country (except Abu Dhabi). This has caused a spike of passenger demand. BA has increased flights from Dubai from once daily to three times daily, in a short period, while Emirates has now 5 flights a day, with 4 flights being operated by the A380.
With the travel corridor from Dubai to London, passengers do not need PCR test before boarding their flight. They'd still need to fill in the locator form before arriving in the UK. No quarantine or self-isolation is required upon arrival. More information can be found here.
Terminal 1 is currently closed at Dubai Airport. British Airways is now using Terminal 3 in Dubai Airport for departures and arrivals. Premium passenger can use the Marhaba Lounge, which is a pay to stay and credit card affiliated lounge.
A350-1000 Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways is using their latest plane, the A350-1000, equipped with the latest product to Dubai once a day (BA104/105). The other 2 daily flights (BA106/107/108/109) are operated by a B777-200; some flights have the upgraded cabin product, while others still have the old configuration. However the B777 flights feature a First Class cabin, while the A350-1000 does not.
The Club World Suite on the A350-1000 has private screen doors for additional privacy. My flight was full in all cabins; the pax predominantly consisted of leisure travellers, including a lot of young children.
We departed on-time and took off from runway 12R, before doing a 180° turn and heading towards the North West. We also flew over the Palm Jumeirah. See the take-off in my video.
Video of my BA A350-1000 Flight
After take-off, the flight attendants came around to take drink orders; however there were only plastic and paper cups available. I ordered a mimosa but had to mix my drinks myself, as I was told this was a measure being taken "to reduce contact". The champagne and wines were all being served individually in mini bottles.
There were no food or drink menus handed out and lunch comprised of only 2 choices, chili chicken or vegetarian pasta. Both choices were being served in a box, with a bread roll on top. A hot main course is now being served in all classes. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic BA was only serving hot meals to First Class, all other passengers only received cold box meals.
I was also told that it is the intention of BA to reinstate the full meal tray on 20th January 2021. This is indeed a positive development (there were fears that the meal tray would be absent for a long time, or possibly forever).
At first glance it was hard to accept a box meal being served in Business Class, but it wasn't as bad as it might appear. The salad was ample, however the chicken main course was a little on the small side; all in all, I was satisfied and was just glad to be flying again. The Covid pandemic has made us all really appreciate the privilege of airline transport, it has also made us realise just how much we had previously taken for granted.
The BA crew showed me what they were serving in Economy and Premium Economy Classes. It was also a hot meal and again there were 2 choices, however there was a smaller salad and a packaged dessert. It was a little disappointing to see (for the Premium Economy passengers at least) that the meals were identical in Economy and Premium Economy.
One thing I have realized during the COVID pandemic is just how many catering challenges there are now. Many kitchens at outstations have been closed, or have been unable to provide the usual catering, due to the local health authority's orders. On this flight, the catering is being brought from London; this may have resulted in a partial downgrade in standards on the catering.
The New Club World Suite
After the meal, I reclined back my seat to enjoy a movie. I also took a nap for a few hours. The suite is a little on the narrow side for my size; however the biggest drawback of the suite is the limited space above your legs, with the table and TV directly above them. This resulted in it being very hard for me to turn around without hitting my leg. I found the best rest position for me was to sleep on my side in a slight "Z" position.
Before landing, a 2nd meal was served. It was another box snack which consisted of a cold sandwich and cookies.
We landed just ahead of schedule in Heathrow. The airport is operating on a single runway configuration, with Terminal 3 and 4 being closed at the moment (a sad sight to see). Watch the landing in this video.
Our flight time was 7 hours and 47 minutes, a good sign for my next 747 adventure. Overall, my flight was quiet and without event. With the intended re-introduction of proper dining coming in January 2021, I am sure the experience will be better.
It is great to see travel demand immediately bounced back once the travel corridor has been created between the UK and the UAE.
British Airways Lounge in Heathrow
On my flight back to Dubai, I visited the British Airways First Class Lounge at Heathrow.
Apart the usual social distancing arrangements in the seating areas, there was also no buffets available. I had to swipe the QR code near my seat to access the menu and to make an order. I must admit, the food quality and the presentation was not bad at all. The lounge staff were also wearing Christmas Jumpers, which added a little festivity to a somewhat sombre scene.