Airline: British Airways
The Plane: A319
Loyalty: Oneworld Alliance. These seats were purchased via BA.com and our Qantas Frequent Flyer numbers were attached to the flight. We earn 40 status credits for this flight.
Flight time: Scheduled for 2 hours and 5 minutes, with actual flight time of 1 hour and 45 minutes (see the de-icing incident below). We leave on time but have to circle over London on approach, so land approximately 20 minutes late.
Seats: 3A, 3C in business class. The flight was originally booked for economy but we purchased a discounted upgrade to business class. This was more cost effective than purchasing extra baggage for both of us at GBP100 per bag. The upgrade is regularly offered via the "Manage Booking" link on BA.com. Unfortunately there is no business class lounge (airline or third party) in Bergen airport, or apparently any other regional Norwegian airport.
The seat configuration is 3-3 but in business class the middle seat is given over to a tray mounted between the armrests. This means there is no extra width or legroom compared to economy, which is somewhat disappointing. It certainly doesn't measure up to Qantas business class.
Entertainment: No personal screens. Small fixed screens lower from underneath the overhead cabins but only display the flight map.
Food: A drink and snack is served immediately after take-off.
Dinner is served after about 30 minutes with a choice of either Caesar salad with chicken or prawn tagliatelle. Unfortunately, as we are the last served in business class the Navigator does not get a choice - tagliatelle it is. The meal size is generous and served with proper cutlery and plateware but the prawns are stale and tasteless. Heidseike Monopole Blue Top champagne is served with dinner and again this is a less than satisfactory offering, especially considering it is real champagne.
We had ordered ahead of time a gluten free meal for the Navigatrix but she was served pasta. A curious choice by the caterers, which we think was a mistake. The meal was politely declined, as it was under sized and lacking in protein. It looked more like she had been given the vegetarian mail. It was not labelled. Also the cabin lacked basics such as pillows and blankets with the excuse that they had forgotten to load them.
The combination of below average food and lack of extra legroom make this business class experience something even less than premium economy, if that. This was somewhat disappointing and would have been even more so had we paid full price.
The Flight: Business class is less than half full so boarding is quick and efficient. Despite this being the same plane as when we flew HEL-OSL, the overheads bins are ample and swallow our carry-on cases.
The captain informs us there will be a long taxi to the edge of the tarmac "so we can de-ice the wings". Now there's something you do not hear on Australian flights. Unfortunately we do not have a photo but de-icing involves spraying a mixture of glycol and water across the wings and tail. The plane stops in a special de-icing pad (so the mixture can be recycled) and trucks with hoses on cranes dance around the plane as they spray the mixture across the critical air surfaces.
The service is friendly during the flight. The approach to London (even with the extra circuit) is thrilling as we play spot the landmark. We dock at the main Terminal 5 (not satellite B or C) and disembark quickly.
This purchased upgrade is a cost effective way of getting into business with full status credits and mileage. It works out to be about 50% of the listed price for a business class seat. Of course, these are only offered subject to full price bookings but we secured the upgrade about 2 months before flying. Therefore it pays to keep checking periodically. For us, the extra baggage benefits were worth every cent. However, don't expect a full business class experience on these short haul (less than 3 hour) European flights.