Airline review: British Airways economy class

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-300, with 185 economy seats, almost all in a 3-3-3 configuration. BA has six of these aircraft in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

Flight BA0179 from London Heathrow to New York JFK.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Executive Club – but points can be put into Oneworld partner schemes, such as Qantas' Frequent Flyer.

CLASS 

Economy, seat 46F.

DURATION 

7 hours, 50 minutes.

FREQUENCY 

Nine times daily 

THE SEAT 

At 79-centimetre pitch, it is on the stingy side for full service, long-haul economy and  44.5-centimetre seat width – again, is not overly generous and requires hunched shoulders from anyone on the stocky side.

The touch-screen TV is roughly iPad sized, and the controller is built into the seat in front to avoid awkward fumbling in the arm rest. There's also a USB port which comes in handy for charging phones.

BAGGAGE

One checked bag up to 23 kilograms plus one piece of hand baggage measuring up to 56 centimetres  x 45 centimetres x 25 centimetres and a handbag or laptop case. 

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COMFORT 

One quirk of the plane is that all aisle and window seats have in-flight entertainment boxes under them. That doesn't leave a great deal of foot space.

Things get mighty cramped if the person in front of you goes into full recline, as I find out when the worst human being since Robert Mugabe pushes all the way back before the plane even takes off. 

Luckily the plane is half empty, so I move back a row for the cheapskate traveller's nirvana: three seats to myself. Additional points too for headrests that slide unusually high up – no neck cricking for taller passengers here.

ENTERTAINMENT

Using the "how many of these films do I want to see?" test, the in-flight entertainment passes with flying colours. Of 39 new releases, I end up watching Kingsman and Foxcatcher, but I actively want to watch at least five more.

The British leanings in the substantial TV selection offer a point of difference to the usual American shows. Full series of Wolf Hall and Broadchurch are the highlights, while there are partial series of dozens of other programmes to dip into.

Add hundreds of albums and a fairly standard games selection and it's difficult to fault – although in-flight Wi-Fi would have been appreciated.

SERVICE

The cabin crew are efficient and unflustered. There's no officious pedantry when asking if it's OK to switch seats, and the thirsty chap opposite kept getting his extra wine at regular intervals.

FOOD 

Dinner appears an hour and 15 minutes in, with choices of chicken tikka masala or pasta with pesto. Opting for the former proves to be a mistake – there's a lack of spice and the quality is ready-meal standard from a budget supermarket. 

Redemption comes in the dark chocolate mousse with butterscotch sauce, which is marvellously rich and decadent. A decent chicken sandwich is served nearer to landing.

The beer selection – Heineken or Amstel Light – is pretty dismal, so I go for red wine. The Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit earthy for my tastes, but the Spanish cencibel is gorgeously smooth and more-ish.

ONE MORE THING

It's worth asking the friendly check-in staff how full the flight is – mine told me that there were 88 seats free, and that the one I'd picked while checking in online was unlikely to have anyone next to it.

THE VERDICT

Lucking in with all the free seats meant it was as close to perfect as a trans-Atlantic cattle class flight gets. I suspect it may have been considerably less delightful if I couldn't move back a row, however.

Tested by David Whitley, who paid for his own flight.

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