Over the course of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Jamaica a number of times, as this is where both my parents originate from. On my recent trip, I was accompanied by my mum and brother for a funeral (fun times). I thought I’d review the flight for my first post…British Airways fly direct from London, Gatwick to Kingston, Jamaica, three times a week, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The flights leave in the afternoon and get into Kingston in the early evening. The cost of the flight was £256 one way (plus £18 for the seat).
The flight departed from Gate 13 at Gatwick – a bad omen for some. The way the gates on the right hand side of the terminal were not favourable for my first blog post(!). The corridor from the arrivals channel was between the gates and the plane waiting on the tarmac, and I couldn’t get a good picture. I was able to get this picture from the skybridge (or the passenger boarding bridge – which is its proper name according to Wikipedia).
The configuration of the Boeing 777-200 was across three classes: Business Class with 48 flat beds, World Traveller Plus (or Premium Economy) with 52 seats, and World Traveller (or Economy) with 252 seats. The World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins were both configured with 3-4-3 seating. The last 2 rows in the economy cabin were only 2-4-2 configuration, due to extra toilets and the galley. For instance, this may be a great spot if it’s just two of you travelling, but beware the proximity to the toilets.
On boarding the plane, the cabin crew greeted us with smiles and warmth, as they showed us to the back of the plane. The cabin crew maintained this cheery disposition throughout the flight.
On the British Airways website, they had promised to upgrade 90% of the aircraft by 2019, and they did not disappoint. I’m pleased to report that the interior of the plane was sleek, with a purple blue tint due to glow of the entertainment system.
I booked seats 36A, 36B and 36C, which was towards the rear of the World Traveller class cabin, and on the left hand side of the plane. Top tip if you want to see islands as you fly into Kingston, sit on the right hand side of the plane. The seat has a pitch (the distance from one point of the seat to the same point on the seat in front / behind) of 31 inches and a width of 18.1 inches. Being 188cm (6ft 2in) tall there was just enough room for me to sit comfortably with the tray table down, and manspread everywhere.
Awaiting for us on seat, was pillow, a tan-coloured blanket, a pair of in-ear headphones, and a Flying Start envelope. The pillow was square and had a material similar to a kitchen cloth as cover, and was very useful to absorb the drool as I slept! My clumsy hands ripped the Flying Start envelope, but it was able to hold my money all the same.
The seat was comfortable with an adjustable headrest and “wings”, which you could adjust to rest your weary head on either to the left or the right. Luckily, coupled with my headphones, the wings were wide enough to keep my head perfectly wedged in, in an upright position! Although the two armrests on the right of the window and middle seat were adjustable, the armrest on the right of the aisle seat was not adjustable. This made it tricky at times to get out of the row.
High Life Entertainment (part 1)
I tried out the entertainment system (High Life Entertainment) on the taxi to the runway. It was fully touchscreen – not a remote control in site. Here’s a picture of my screen, with my seat number, and a little welcome message – a nice touch.
The pre-flight safety announcement had a number of famous British actors in such as Naomi Harris, Joanna Lumley, and David Walliams. The video accompanied the directions given by the cabin crew, and was interspersed with my favourite scene from the video:
The map feature on the High Life Entertainment system, showed our flight route – the plane flew over Southampton, Portsmouth, St. Austell then straight over the Atlantic. Then, the plane swung left at Bermuda, then flew over Cockburn Town in the Turks and Caicos, then landing into Kingston. Here’s my favourite view on the map:
Food and Drink
On the ten-hour flight, the food and drink was a definite highlight. Drinks were served with small packets of Sour Cream Penn State Pretzels. The cabin crew also offered red or white wine for dinner at this point too.
About 2hrs 30mins into the flight, dinner was served, and British Airways certainly knew their audience! The options were jerk chicken with rice, or cauliflower macaroni and cheese. Also served with the meal was:
Lemony and minty salad
A bread roll
Bottle of highland Spring water
The three course meal tray, except the main course was chilled to ensure freshness, and so everything was a bit cold initially. My top tip to get warm bread every time, is to cut it open and lay it over your unopened main course turning occasionally – same with the butter too. Overall, the meal was definitely tasty, but was not a “jerk” meal, as it lacked the pimento, thyme, and spring onion flavours which are synonymous with jerk cooking. I was definitely full after eating that.
High Life Entertainment (part 2)
After eating, it was time for some entertainment! The plane had a great selection of films, music, documentaries and British TV. As I walked through the plane I saw people watching Bohemian Rhapsody, Little Britain, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. I introduced my Mum to Empire, and she watched 6 episodes!
The screen came with two 3.5mm jacks, a USB socket and what I imagine to be a port for some other type of phone. Using the Bose 3.5mm cable which came with my headphones, could cancel out the ambient plane noises and my brother’s snoring.
Unfortunately, there was no WiFi, which would have been an added bonus for posting on social media.
Other food offerings were available on the flight were a Magnum classic, just after dinner- who does not love a Magnum!
…and then a chicken Caesar, Banana loaf, served with juice and / or a hot drink an hour and half before landing.
Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), Kingston is the second busiest airport, after Sangster International Airport (SIA), Montego Bay on the north of the island. Both airports are named after two former Prime Ministers of Jamaica. Arriving flights land from the west, and our flight approached from the north. As a result, we had to circle around the island, before coming into land.
There were a few loud, and demanding passengers on the flight, which the crew handled with British politeness and smiles. They even managed to move a lady who had limited mobility and was finding it difficult in the World Traveller cabin, up to business class. A great example of customer service. I enjoyed the flight, and as the flag-carrier for the UK, British Airways will always have a special place in my heart.