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The British Airways A380 Experience: Hong Kong-London

Phwoar

Phwoar

Despite the hype, I STILL haven’t made it onto an A380.  Not that I think it will the answer to my squashed in economy nightmare but I am intrigued to see how it compares to the 777 and A340. Lucky for you, Jasmine (and 3.5yo daughter) recently took a trip from Hong Kong to London on British Airways and has kindly written an awesome in-depth review!

A380 – BA – departure HK at 23:15 – delayed an hour

A380 – BA25 – departure LON at 18:35 – delayed 45mins

In HK this was a pain as there were quite a few kids and many were getting ratty at that stage with the delay and parents just wanted to get going.

How did you book the flight?

With a travel agent

Did you prebook your children’s meal?

Yes

Do you belong to your airline’s loyalty scheme and did this give you any extra benefits?

I belong to a partner airline but it did not give me any additional benefit besides being able to check in a little earlier than others online. 

ONLINE CHECK IN/SEAT ALLOCATION

I wanted to be sure of the seats we were allocated or to be able to choose them.

So I called BA at the airport and spoke to someone who told me that with my Asia Miles membership – this would enable me to choose my seats 5 days before the online check in opens (24 hours before departure).  So I did.  I saw we were pre-allocated 3 seats in the row behind the bassinet middle section.  Usually I would prefer the window side but this would have cost more (around HKD400 a seat).  If I wanted to move elsewhere in the middle section it was around HKD300) or even upstairs was slightly different but around the same amount.

So we stayed put.  We had 3 other flights on this ticket using BA and I could do the same for each of those. And so I did and managed to get 25D for my hubby.  It is the aisle in the middle section and costs the same as others in the section (HKD400 or so) BUT there is no 24D and so extra leg room.  Well worth it.  

Seat 25D, A380

Seat 25D, A380

And we had 25E and F and the space under the seats in front was one long space and no barrier between so also great.The only weird thing is that the arm rests do not go all the way up. Only 2/3rds.  Weird!

Upstairs on the A380 I did not visit but hubby did.  A little lower ceiling feeling he felt but perfect for a couple or just 2 people and have a window seat as big windows and storage space next to you but overhead is apparently smaller.

When I tried to book in online for the return leg to HK, there was no option for my child.  So I went ahead and did ours to ensure we still had the 25D but then of course worried that she was not seated with us.  We called and were assured she was still seated with us but that we would need to check her in at the airport.

AT THE AIRPORT

How was check in?  Were you ushered in to a ‘family queue’?

I did online check in for both long hauls.

In HK & LON with bag drop off we were early enough in the airport and it was easy.

This is much easier in T5 in London that T3 for sure.  I recently did T3 in May and for sure much longer queues etc.  In London because she was in the stroller we could use the fast lane for immigration and automatically ended up in the fast lane for security.

So baggage allowance is 23kgs but the bag must not weigh more than 32kg.  As we had only a small bag for our little one – mine weighed 26 and her 16.  So within allowances.  Usually I get away with it – as doesn’t weigh more than 32 and is less than 46kg.  But this time, he said we couldn’t do that and when I explained he got it and seemed to agree but said not to do that next time.

Anyway – BA Premium you get 2x pieces of 23kg each.  CX you get a total of 25kg.

Extra luggage for BA has a fixed rate.  An extra piece of 23kg is around HKD700 if you book this extra piece online or around HKD800 if at the airport.  Not bad I reckon.

Did you check in your buggy or take it to the gate?

I took it to the gate at both HK and Heathrow and at both ends I had it back pretty quick within 5 mins at the end of the walkway off the plane

How was security? Did they make you taste the milk/water/baby food?

In HK it was all OK and no testing needed.

In London they put all the items in an individual tray (3 per tray).  They did not ask me to try any of it.  It was all sealed.  BUT as they did in Zürich as well) they randomly take one away to have tested.  This means they somehow check that it has not been tampered with.  This can take an extra few minutes.

What did you think of the airport’s changing facilities and feeding rooms?

Both HK and London T5 are perfect and no complaints.

Any tips for this airport e.g. nice coffee lounges to feed in or children’s play areas?

We loved having a bite to eat at Plane Food – the best kiddies tomato sauce with pasta we had all summer in a restaurant – it had lots of lovely veg in it – which our little one doesn’t mind.  Plus you could see planes coming into land and take off.  There is another restaurant we tried last time that has pizza on the menu and kids eat free.  No gimmick we tried it and the pizza was good and she ate free.  They even bring out the dough base if you want and the toppings to make your own if you want (we didn’t).

HK Play area – there is the TV but the shows on there were the aggressive violent cartoon types and not something I wanted my 3.5 yr old to watch.  Also so much action and aggression before a flight – should rather have been something more calming. A Charlie and Lola type cartoon.  The age group watching it seemed to range from 1 yr old to 6 yrs and so not appropriate in my mind.

Did you get priority boarding?

We did.  I reckon it is best to get on as quick as possible to settle kids but more to make sure you get space in the overhead locker.  Nothing worse than having no space and being in one behind you.

ONBOARD

Snacks – plenty of snacks during the night – good range.

What did you think of the seat?

I was very worried as had read various reviews on Seat Guru and all seemed to lean to being negative. In fact there was nothing wrong with the seats.

Seat Pitch 31” and 17.5 width same as on Airbus and 747-400.  The return seats felt better as there was no seat divider for the seats in front.  Also our wheelie suitcase was a tad too high to put between to extend the seat for our little one.

In front of us was couple with a 6 month old baby on their first long haul. They were nervous. I told them to check out Jetlag & Mayhem.  But I could see the bassinet (the car seat type) and all was clean and baby looked comfy and slept well.

Did you feed on take off and landing? 

Not right on then but while descending so I always make sure I fill up a flask with hot water from a coffee shop before boarding and have those small UHT milks with.

Did your baby sleep well on the plane and behave? 

Yes – pretty much. Frozen was on.

Had you taken a baby carrier?

No need to due to age.  On BA in South Africa I was told when she was younger that I was not allowed to have her in the Ergo for takeoff and landing.

How were the staff?

Absolutely fine.  I saw them being friendly to the couple in front with the baby and also with other kids on the return flight.  They were friendly when boarding and I have no complaints whatsoever.

How was the children’s meal?

It was fine and plentiful. My LO prefers the adult version with rice rather than chicken nuggets and I try and hide the chocolate and juice.

Kids Dinner

Kids Dinner

Kids Breakfast

Kids Breakfast

How was the in flight entertainment – was there stuff for kids?

Plenty for kids of all ages and the best thing is on the A380 the entertainment is gate to gate.  So you basically can start as soon as you want and until you are at the gate.  Perfect.  Unless of course you have a seat where the screen comes out from the side.

They give a goodie bag for the kids.  It was a backpack type bag with a good colouring book and crayons.  Nice and simple and not filled with unnecessary stuff.  I prefer BA to CX.  Even though when LO was a baby I liked the small Mustela goodies you got while in BA with a baby you didn’t receive anything.  I did not see the little baby in front of us on our outgoing flight receive anything.

Jasmine’s Tips For Flying With A Baby 

  • Be prepared not only re: the kids but yourself – dress to make security as easy as possible – I now make sure I don’t wear a belt – I have found a great pair of travelling pants from JCrew with an elastic waist. And yet trendy   I also avoid shoes with laces and just take them off anyway in London.
  • I find I take way too much stuff for (books etc) the LO.  Don’t take a book you won’t have time and takes up valuable space – a Kindle if anything else.
  • Best to sleep when babe/child does otherwise if they wake early then you can miss a whole night’s sleep.  Even though catching up on movies is very tempting.
  • Have your liquids ready and keep them all in one bag – not baby’s in one and your hand cream in yours.  So you know you only need to open one bag and can ignore the other.
  • If you want to give medication to make a child drowsy – some people swear by Zarbees Night Time cough mix that contains honey and melatonin – in tiny amount but apparently does the trick.
  • If with a stroller I find a shoulder bag is too much.  Either a trolley dolly or backpack.
  • Besides getting a kid out of a stroller – if travelling enough those with kids shouldn’t have to hold up the queue any more than others.  It is all about prep and knowing what is required.  So many people still take over 100mls and want to argue why (not talking about baby food and milk).  Especially if through a main hub like Heathrow.  Why wear tons of necklaces and bangles and keys in the jeans.  Keep them in the bag and load them on once through security

LANDING

Where did you pick up the stroller?

At the end of the gangplank. During peak family travel season best also put something identifying on your stroller.  Makes it easier when many similar or same strollers come out at the same time and saves checking the baggage tag.

Did you get any help in immigration e.g. faster queuing?

No – even though queues were not bad this is not something I felt was needed for us and we do HK, Heathrow T5, Zurich and Hamburg.

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