JONAS
Jonas Rask Eilersen
British Airways A321 Club World
London Heathrow - Baku, Airbus A321 Club World (Business Class)
6th October 2015

British Airways deploys an Airbus A321 in a long range cabin configuration on this route. The plane is actually ex-BMI metal, and is used on several other routes – among them Moscow and Tbilisi. There are six weekly departures; from London Heathrow at 0955, arriving into Baku at 1935 – flight time is 5h40m. We tried them out!

Check In
Traffic was heavy this morning, and despite the driver trying to make shortcuts, we only made it to the check in desk with minutes to spare. This being one of the last departures (ever) from Heathrow's Terminal 1 (the terminal was closed down on 30 June 2015), there was an eerie atmosphere in the check in area. There was no queue, but the check in supervisor still had trouble with visa letter and had to make a few phone calls to ensure all was in order (it was...). Our seat reservation (5D and 5E) were honoured and we were soon on our way to the lounge. All quite easy and painless - as it should be when you're practically the only passenger in the cavernous terminal....
The Lounge
The BA lounge in terminal 1 is/was the erstwhile BMI flagship lounge, and it's been well kept right up until its closure (along with the terminal). Still, the food and drink selection was not particularly inspiring, nor was the wifi working. Thankfully, the coffee machine worked - and staff were friendly. I won't dwell too much on the lounge experience, partly because the lounge has now closed and partly because it wasn't particularly noteworthy.
Boarding
At 0935, there were "Flight Closing" warnings on the screen, so we ran downstairs to Gate 5C to board. There was no queue (this part of the terminal, too, was practically devoid of people). Boarding was via an airbridge, and we were greeted warmly at the door of the aircraft. There were newspapers waiting on a trolley and I grabbed a couple of British dailies. First impressions of staff and cabin were both great; all neat, clean, presentable. We'd barely sat down before welcome drinks were offered; either Champagne (a Taittinger Brut Reserve NV), water or orange juice. I, of course, recalled that weekend was nearing and went for the champers...
The Cabin, Seat and Service
The cabin is basically the old BMI cabin - and, honestly, all the better for it. It looks and feels great; I like the brown seats (less keen on the "floral" patterns on the cabin dividers). All looked very fresh and neat. The seat is the great, positive surprise here. Unlike onboard the mainline BA long haul fleet, there are no alternating front/back-facing seats - rather, the configuration is 1-2 throughout the Club World cabin, with all seats facing forward. All seats have a great deal of space, and, if you're travelling alone, you'll really appreciate the solo seats.
Still, we really enjoyed sitting in seat pair 5D&5E; as mentioned, there's ample space, but the "bells and whistles" are honestly also quite fab - the seat goes fully flat, and can be positioned in several angles to allow for a great deal of comfort. A massage function is also built in.
Service was - if not immaculate - personable and incredibly friendly. The stewardess assigned to our area was charming and very, very helpful. A few minor niggles (such as lack of knowledge on the wine served) takes the score down a tiny bit,.
Food and Drink
I was, again, pleasantly surprised with the quality (and quantity) in this area; within 15 minutes of our - timely - departure, our meal orders were taken.

I went for the beetroot salmon which was excellent; flavourful and, of course, colourful. My main of roasted chicken was also delicious - and my partner enjoyed his fried tofu.

The wines were good, if not extraordinary; I quite enjoyed the Rioja although not superb.

Caramel mousse and a Bailey's rounded off the meal - and I then reclined the seat to fall into deep sleep for a few hours.
Inflight Entertainment
The screen quality was quite good although slightly difficult to see if the seat was fully reclined; headphones also of a good quality (not outstanding). The selection is good, and did not seem to be heavily edited for content (this is a pet peeve of mine...).
Arrival
Timely arrival, although slightly bumpy landing. The cabin seemed outstandingly clean on arrival - as if nobody had been onboard. The First Officer and Captain both welcomed us over the PA - and greeted us goodbye at the door. Full marks.
Verdict
An - almost - superb product. I was very impressed with the seat quality, and truly appreciated the service. The food and drink was markedly better than on my last BA flight. All in all; we're closing in on a rating almost on 5. With a little extra polish, this would've been the perfect flight.