April 23, 2024

British Airways, Mumbai to London Heathrow


British Airways’ flight BA0138 (a new B787) left Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja International (Mumbai) Terminal 2 at 02.10 on January 26 and arrived Heathrow Terminal 5 at 07.00 after a 10-hour flight.


We tried to check in online 24 hours before, as required by BA, in Premium Economy Class, but could not. The bag drop at the airport should have been simple and efficient through the World Traveller Plus channel, but the plane was very full, and the ground crew at the check-in desk told us we were lucky to be seated together in the correct class, as she was going to have to downgrade some passengers. She also gave us a useful tip for the future: if online check-in doesn’t work, we should use the ‘Manage My Booking’ tab on the website to reserve our seats. We were finally allocated seats 27D and 27E. After that, there was a rigorous security check, followed by a longish wait at immigration for our Indian e-visas to be cancelled.


The Adani Lounge for international travellers is open to Business and First, plus some Premium Economy passengers on Star Alliance flights and Frequent Flyers on some oneworld carriers, including British Airways. It’s on the first floor of Terminal 2 and is split into East and West lounges to make it convenient to serve all the gates. (A similar lounge for domestic travellers is on the floor below.)

We were welcomed to the West Lounge by Aditya, who showed us through to the restaurant. The lounge is beautifully decorated in an understated oriental style, with grey marble floor, faux marble columns, tan leather armchairs, white tracery screens and leafy planters. There is a spa, bar and buffet with a selection of European and Indian dishes. The First Class restaurant has a large menu, and we enjoyed the seared Atlantic salmon with red quinoa and aubergine caponata and an asparagus and goats’ cheese soup. The wine was an Alan Scott New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Our hostess, Sadiya (resplendent in a multi-coloured sari to celebrate Republic Day), said tthe lounge has more than 50 chefs working on a 24/7 rota, specialising in Oriental, Continental, Indian and buffet cuisine.


There were no announcements in the lounge, but plenty of screens. Aditya told us when the flight was boarding, and it was a short walk to Gate 45. There was another security check just before we boarded the plane.


Our seats were in the central section of this 2-4-2 configuration Premium Economy cabin. The cabin was light and airy, with good headroom. The seat reclined a long way, which helped with sleeping, but is a problem when the passenger in front reclines when you are watching a movie.

The inflight entertainment was lavish, with games, shopping, and a Brit Films section that I enjoyed, and state-of-the-art flight mapping from Flightpath.

The amenity kit had a blue and white herringbone design and contained socks, eyeshade, toothbrush and toothpaste, a charity collection envelope, and a pen. A bottle of water, headphones and a herringbone-design blanket were also supplied.


The staff were smartly dressed and chatty and offered us a welcome drink of apple juice or water, a menu, and a hot towel. Although it was a night flight, we were served a light meal straightaway. The choice was between pan-seared salmon with peas, potatoes and garlic butter and vegetable korma with saffron rice. Having just had fish in the lounge, and disliking garlic on flights, I chose the korma. It wasn’t as tasty as the ones we had been eating in India, with the vegetables cut so small as to be unrecognisable, and had a creamy consistency without any spiciness. The Italian Chardonnay was OK, but served too warm.

No further snacks were served but Mini-Cheddars, Cadburys chocolate bars, orange and apple juice and Highland water were available in the galley area.

Breakfast was served about an hour before landing, and the choice was full English breakfast, a cheese frittata with potato wedges, tomato and mushrooms, and paneer peas bhurji. The full English had run out, so I chose the frittata, which was cut in a huge, solid rectangle, more like a Spanish tortilla, which was a bit off-putting. I couldn’t taste any cheese, but the vegetables were good. The mango yogurt turned out to be strawberry, as was the jam. The tea and coffee were both too strong.


The flight was efficient, leaving and arriving on time, and well managed by the cabin crew. The seat was good, and as comfortable as you could expect. I got some sleep, but the recline angle was not enough to make it comfortable. The food was not a highlight and could be improved by simplifying the menu and making sure all choices are available. Heavy metal cutlery and a water glass were provided for both meals and this seemed an unnecessary refinement for the quality of the catering.


One-way London Heathrow to Mumbai is £961 for Premium Economy, britishairways.com

By Richard Williams