British Airways has daily flights between Tampa (TPA), Florida and London Gatwick (LGW) airports. My flight was the BA2166 departing TPA at 19:25 and scheduled to arrive at LGW 08:45 the following day.
There are three travel classes (no First Class on this route):
I paid for World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), but upgraded to Club World (Business) using 30,000 Avios points. If you can only afford to upgrade in one direction, always upgrade on Eastbound night flights as you’ll have more chance to sleep.
Tampa is a comfortable, modern airport. The car rental centre is connected to the terminal by a fast shuttle train.
TSA pre-check security was very fast, but it looked like regular security lines weren’t too busy.
I won’t bother to review the lounge. US lounges are almost always terrible and the American Airlines lounge close to the departure gate was no exception – at least they had free house beer and wine, plus some soup and snacks.
I wish I could show this picture of my seat:
Sadly, that’s the new Club World seat fitted to an Airbus A350. This old Boeing 777-200 had the old 2-4-2 seat arrangement, with less space and where you initially face the stranger sitting next to you, until you press the privacy screen up button. Windows seats face backward and aisle seats face forward.
I’ve flown these seats before and knew what to expect – the most important part is they can be configured as a lie-flat bed.
This is the view from my seat (2B). In-flight entertainment screen folds out from the left, as does the meal tray table. The footstall folds down and becomes part of the bed when the seat is reclined flat.
Champagne was served before take-off and we were given menus. The flight attendants then returned to take meal and drink requests.
The food menu didn’t appear to match the flight – should be dinner and breakfast.
The wine menu works for any time of the day!
The post-take off Syrah was pretty good.
I’d chosen beef, although I wasn’t sure if it would match the beef described in my menu – not surprisingly it didn’t!
Everything was pretty tasty – I’ve had worse food in BA Club World.
I then made up my bed using the White Company bed linen, put on my Virgin Upper Class sleeper suit (BA doesn’t offer sleeper suits, nor pyjamas) and slept until the lights came on about an hour before landing. The pre-landing snack was a warm wrap, yoghurt and crunch bar. I would have preferred the afternoon tea listed in the menu.
The flight was almost 40 minutes early. Being first off the aircraft, I arrived to a deserted passport control and was in my room at the Gatwick Hilton within 30 minutes of deplaning – I didn’t check any luggage.
Always worth booking a day room at an airport hotel when arriving on US early morning flights – chance to have a shower and sleep some more. To book a day room, just put the same day of arrival and departure into your booking – you can usually stay 9am to 6pm.
BA flights between Tampa and London Gatwick are usually better value than those to/from Orlando. Tampa, in my opinion, is a nicer airport. I enjoyed my flight – mainly because I slept for several hours and it landed early.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class remains the best option for US-UK flights, but is more expensive and the earned points are pretty useless – BA Avios are ideal for short-haul flights. Virgin recently announced that they would be joining the Sky Team alliance, so their points may soon become more useful.