THE FLIGHT: British Airways BA2043 from London Gatwick’s North Terminal to Male, departing at 19.10 on Tuesday November 17 2009 with arrival in the Maldives at 10.10 the next morning.
THE CHECK-IN: Tuesday is apparently considered the quietest travel day of the week and the peaceful serenity of the Club Class check-in was ample proof. I was the only passenger there at the time and check-in was speedy, efficient and friendly. Even security was relatively quick.
THE LOUNGE: British Airways Gatwick Club Class lounge is very spacious with lots of communal or individual seating and work areas. There are plentiful supplies of drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – coffee machines, snacks, newspapers, TVs, etc.
THE SEAT: My centre 3E seat was one of the four pods (out of eight across) facing backwards. No fewer than eight control buttons determine the shape of the seat and it converts to a fully lie-flat bed. Amenities are plentiful with personal in-seat light, laptop locker, foot stool, 10.4in TV screen, 'secret' drawer for blankets and books, individual power socket and headrest with memory foam. Seats have dividers between them when privacy is required.
THE SERVICE: After taking my seat champagne, orange or water was offered with top-ups after take-off and plenty of time to study the appealing dinner menu. Meal service was pleasant and efficient with the flight time allowing for a leisurely approach, including wine-tasting before pouring.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: A mix of old and new movies, TV programmes and a selection of music – my personal entertainment choice – which seemed a little limited in content and offered a somewhat esoteric list of ‘essential albums’. But there was more than enough to see me through an overnight flight.
THE ARRIVAL: Mid-morning in the hot and sunny Maldives was an ideal arrival time. De-planing, passport and customs was speedy and courteous.
THE DETAILS: BA launched its three-times-a-week service from Gatwick at the end of October 2009 and operates Fridays, Sundays and Tuesdays, with return flights from the Maldives the following day. Fares start from £648 return in World Traveller, £1096 in World Traveller Plus and £1710 in Club World. All fares include taxes and charges.
Exceptional. British Airways at its best with plenty of time (9.5 hours) to give attentive and friendly service in a relaxed environment where almost all the passengers were happily heading off for their tropical holiday.
Managing editor, Selling Long Haul