Who can resist the French Canadian charms of Montreal?
Its heady cocktail of European joie de vivre and North America minus the bad bits of its next door neighbour all has instant appeal.
Our second review was different from the first review. And this review is different again! Whether this is by accident or design is unknown.
First, a quick primer on the Montreal route for BA:
BA Club World to Montreal
This route is ordinarily operated once a day with a three class Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
However, as BA has been grappling with engine issues on its Boeing 787 fleet this route has been regularly substituted with a four class Boeing 787-9 aircraft, as it was on this flight.
The first indication was about a week before departure as an e-mail was received from BA advising of a seat assignment change. Sadly, the First cabin was closed and not available for Club World passengers.
The Club World cabin is largely the same on both Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9 aircraft with two “demi” cabins separated by the galley in a 2-3-2 configuration. On the Boeing 787-8 it is three plus two rows. On the Boeing 787-9 it is two plus four rows. Generally, the further forward in the aircraft you are, the better.
The 2-3-2 configuration, also found on the upper deck of the Airbus A380, is unique in that there is a single rear-facing middle seat which is both wider than other seats and very private. Having experienced it on a different flight, I did not like being not able to see out of the windows on take off and landing.
In general, Club World on this route is busy but rarely full/oversold, given the relative lack of business links between the UK and Quebec. If you are Silver or Gold Executive Club cardholder you have a good chance of being upgraded from World Traveller Plus as this cabin is often oversold. Fixed price one-way upgrades from World Traveller Plus are often offered in the Manage My Booking tool and the BA smartphone app at around £400+.
This particular seat, 7A, benefits from both being by the window and having direct access to the aisle.
In terms of pre-flight formalities, check-in at the Club desks in Terminal 5 could have been quicker.
This was partly due to a lack of staffed desks and that some passengers seemed take an eternity to check-in. It would have probably been much quicker to have used the self-service bag drops. Security was much better with no queue.
After security it was straight to T5B to the Galleries lounge. The lounge was the busier than normal, but with enough space. The lounge was in good condition and there was the standard Galleries Club fare of soups, sandwiches and hot trays.
Boarding was swift and efficient using the now well established group boarding system. It was a little odd to go from the bright sunshine from one of the hottest days of the year to a completely dimmed cabin interior to keep the aircraft cool.
Take-off was delayed due to a passenger no showing at the gate, which seems to happen a lot on this flight. Mercifully, this delayed push back by only 15 minutes, compared to an hour as it has done in the past.
When BA first introduced the new Club World service, a big selling point was the promise of added “theatre” and display trollies for starters and desserts in the aisle. However, on this flight the service was largely run as it used to be. Indeed, the display trollies were entirely absent for the whole flight.
Before running through the menu, here’s a quick “before” picture of the Club World catering on this route almost exactly one year ago. Oh, and the obligatory post take-off nuts.
Here’s the menu:
Severn and Wye
Scottish smoked salmon
pickled shallot, horseradish cream
Laverstoke Park buffalo mozzarella
basil marinated heirloom tomatoes
Pea and mint velouté
Fresh seasonal salad
baby gem lettuce, puffed kasha, olives, red onion, feta cheese, choice of Caesar dressing or mustard dressing
Seared fillet of beef
sweet shallot jus, heritage carrot, chervil ratte crushed potatoes
Thai green curry
prawns, edamame beans, jasmine rice
Spinach and ricotta tortellini
cream sauce, summer truffle, artichoke
Overall, the beef is an improvement and most definitely compared to this route from the same time last year. But, by comparison, I’ve had better beef dishes in World Traveller Plus on London Heathrow – New York JFK which uses a different catering company.
Selection of desserts & cheese
Chocolate marquise crisp
Almond and chocolate base, vanilla cream
Strawberry panna cotta
fresh strawberries, mascarpone cream
Warm pear and almond tart
Vanilla crème anglaise
Orsom Lester Vintage Red
Pecans, fig relish, biscuits
Woodall’s Cumberland salami, balsamic onion, goat’s cheese mousse, fig chutney
Classic Bakewell tart
As you can see from the picture below, scones were also offered.
On Boeing 787-9 aircraft the Club Kitchen is located in the middle galley on the A side of the aircraft.
This has been a perennial source of inconsistency. It regularly oscillates in terms of quantity, mass versus premium brands, and the healthy to junk scale. The selection on this flight was extremely modest with just kettle crisps, mini chocolate bars and bottled water.
Magnum ice-creams were offered by the cabin crew mid-flight. I suspect these left over from World Traveller as they don’t normally form part of the service.
A quick word about the crew.
The service was typically professional and efficient and the crew made light work of the in-flight service.
The Cabin Service Director was very good and visible throughout the flight – even offering to put passenger’s footstools down for them, which I have never seen before. Judging by comments made by passengers on disembarking the aircraft, he was very much appreciated by the passengers.
As tends to be the case for transatlantic flights, it was an uneventful flight.
In-flight connectivity and entertainment
The long wait for WiFI continues.
At the time writing, no Boeing 787 have been fitted. Given the issues BA has faced with its Dreamliner flight, this can be forgiven. WiFi is still only available on a minority of Boeing 747, 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft.
Customs & Immigration and baggage delivery was extremely quick.
The former is aided by new electronic self-service machines which reduce queues to leave the immigration hall. You couldn’t ask for a more efficient arrival at a North American airport.
All in all, a pleasant and civilised flight, without the long waits and queues you often find on arrival in North America.
Disclosure: This review was carried out as part of self-funded trip.