Flight Review: British Airways 787-9 from Tokyo Narita to London Heathrow

Flight Review: British Airways 787-9 from Tokyo Narita to London Heahtrow

Flight Information
: May 9, 2018
Flight No.: BA6
Route:Tokyo Narita to London Heathrow
Airline: British Airways
Type: Boeing 787-9
Registration: G-ZBKR

The first flight on my way from Japan to Canada was with British Airways from Tokyo to London.

While it was my second flight on the route this year (I flew from London to Tokyo back in May), I decided to review the flight again since it took place after British Airways introduced some minor changes to its long-haul economy class service.

And, unlike the flight in January which was operated by the 777-300ER, this one was operated by the 787-9.

Check-in at Tokyo Narita’s Terminal 2

The trip started with me taking a 9AM bus from Osaki in Tokyo to Narita airport.

Even though the bus driver announced that there was a possibility of up to a 60-minute delay because of traffic restrictions put in place due to the visit of the Korean president and Chinese prime minister, we ended up arriving at 10:30AM, exactly on schedule.

After getting off at Terminal 2 which is predominantly used by oneworld airlines, I headed to row J where British Airways’ check-in was taking place.

The priority queue which I could use as a British Airways Silver member was deserted, and so I had the boarding passes for the flight to London as well as connecting flight to Paris in my hands in no time.

Tokyo Narita Airport Terminal 2
Check-in took place in row J of Narita’s terminal 2.

Then, after passing through security and immigration, I headed to JAL Sakura Lounge. Since I reviewed it not long ago, this time around, I could just grab a bowl of curry rice it is well known for and relax before the flight.

JAL Sakura Lounge at Narita Airport
The lounge was located right after security check and immigration.
Curry Rice in JAL Sakura Lounge
JAL Sakura Lounge is well known for the curry rice they serve.

Boarding British Airways Flight 6 to London

Since the boarding was scheduled to start at 12:15PM, I left the lounge about ten minutes prior to that and headed to the flight’s departure gate 72.

JAL 787-9 at Narita
JAL 787-9 ready to depart.
British Airways 787-9
British Airways 787-9 waiting for its flight back to Tokyo.

The waiting area was one level below the main departures level of the terminal and it was shared with gate 71. Besides a lot of USB and power outlets, there were also vending machines as well as a convenience store. If only all airport gates were equipped like that!

Gate 72 at Narita Airport
The flight to London departed from gate 72.
Gate Area
Passengers waiting for the boarding to begin.

Not long after I got to the gate, and exactly as scheduled, an announcement was made welcoming us to the flight and explaining the group boarding process.

Right after the announcement was done, group 1 started boarding, followed by group 2 which included oneworld Sapphire members. And, so I headed down the jetway.

Boarding British Airways Flight 6
As a British Airways Executive Club Silver member, I was in Group 2.
British Airways Boeing 787-9
Walking towards the British Airways 787-9 that took me to London.

British Airways Boeing 787-9 Cabin

Before continuing with the flight, let’s take a quick look at the configuration of the British Airways 787-9 which comes with a total of 216 seats in four classes.

While I didn’t have a chance to see the first class, from what I’ve seen on the Internet, the seats seem to be something like a crossover between a reverse herringbone business class seat and Cathay Pacific’s first class seat.

The aircraft features a total of eight such seats in a pair of “1-2-1” rows.

As for business (Club World) class, the British Airways 787-9 is equipped with 42 of its infamously narrow and weirdly laid out seats spread across two cabins. The first of those cabins includes two “2-3-2” rows while the second cabin includes four rows.

British Airways 787-9 Business Class
Business (Club World) class.

The 787-9s are also equipped with 39 premium economy (World Traveller Plus) seats in a “2-3-2” configuration. And yes, that is correct – both business class and premium economy class are in a 7-abreast configuration…

British Airways 787-9 Premium Economy Class
Premium economy (World Traveller Plus) class.

Finally, the aircraft feature 127 economy class seats in the common but a bit too dense “3-3-3” configuration.

British Airways 787-9 Economy Class
Economy (World Traveller) class.

Settling down in my seat, I found it to be a bit narrow, but at the same time it had decent legroom and just the right amount of padding. Upon boarding, a pillow, a blanket, and a pair of earphones was already waiting on the seat.

Each of the seats was equipped with an IFE screen and remote, as well as a USB port above the tray table, and a power outlet under every pair of seats.

Pillow, Blanket, and Earphones
Pillow, blanket and earphones were waiting on the seats upon boarding.
British Airways 787-9 Legroom
IFE Screen
IFE screen, remote control and USB port.

Departing Tokyo Narita Bound for London Heathrow

When boarding completed at 12:35PM, there were only a couple of seats left open in economy class. And, I ended up being surrounded by a couple of children including a toddler in a car seat in the row in front of me.

If you are planning to travel with your kid, make sure to check this article where five mom bloggers share their tips for the best travel toys and activities to keep your kids busy.

Shortly after everyone got onboard, the first officer welcomed us onboard introducing the captain and cabin crew. He mentioned that we were expecting an on time departure and a flight time of 11 hours and 30 minutes.

We were pushed back at 12:50PM, five minutes ahead of schedule, at which point the doors were armed and the now-famous safety video featuring Mr. Bean was played.

Take off from runway 34L followed almost half an hour later, at 1:17PM, and the seat belt signs were switched off at 1:31PM just to go back on five minutes later.

Renewed British Airways Economy Class Lunch

The seat belt signs were finally switched off for the second time at 1:43PM right after which the lunch service started.

First, based on British Airways’ new long-haul economy class service offering, a pack of sour cream and chive pretzels was served together with a drink.

While it is nothing to be too excited about, I find the first “course” that many airlines (now including British Airways) serve to be a nice way to keep passengers busy until the crew gets around to serving the actual meal.

British Airways First Meal Course
Pretzels and ginger ale.

The main course was served to me at 3PM, exactly an hour after the pretzels. I found the service to be a bit too slow, but I used the time between the courses to watch some Futurama episodes.

A fish and a beef options were offered and I went with the former which came with pasta. It also came with a Japanese prawn salad, a packaged bread roll, a cake, and a Japanese packaged cake.

The portion was large enough and all of the meal was quite tasty. However, I would have welcomed a bit more of sauce to go with the pasta.

British Airways Long-haul Lunch
Fish with pasta.
British Airways Economy Class Dessert

Cruising Towards the UK

After the meal, the chief purser came to introduce himself and to (literally) read a message of his tablet:

Mr. Nukina, I have a message here from our executive team…

I certainly found the delivery a bit weird, but it was nice to be recognized as a “newly minted” British Airways Executive Club Silver member.

With the brief interaction with the chief purser over, I browsed the in-flight entertainment a bit (I won’t be reviewing it as it was the same as on this flight) and decided to watch Silicon Valley. Not long after I started watching the show, I fell asleep. I woke up a couple of hours later, somewhere above Russia, with 7 hours and 40 minutes left in the flight.

Since it was already morning in Europe at that time, I decided to stay up and work on some reviews from my trip to Thailand in March and watch some more things from the IFE including Jumanji.

Here, I’ll note that throughout the whole flight, the crew passed the cabin about once an hour or so with cups filled with water and orange juice.

Pre-Arrival Meal

When I finished watching Jumanji, I fell asleep for half an hour only to wake up when the pre-arrival meal service started. Just like with the lunch, the service started in the premium economy cabin and continued on into economy class.

While in theory, there was a choice of chicken curry or pasta, by the time the crew got to my row, only pasta was available.

Pre-arrival Meal
Pre-arrival meal.

Arriving at London Heathrow Airport

Not long after the meal boxes were collected, around 4PM UK time, we started descending towards Heathrow airport. At the same time, there was another announcement from the cockpit mentioning that it was 20 degrees in London.

Then, one of the Japanese cabin crew members came around to give me a Fast Track card.

Seatbelt signs were switched on at 4:24PM after which the descent got a bit steeper, faster, and bumpier.

We landed on Heathrow’s runway 27R at 4:47PM and arrived at gate B36 at 4:53PM.

Boeing 787-9
The 787-9 parked at gate after our arrival in London.

After disembarking, I took the airport’s automated train to the main terminal and headed into British Airways’ business class lounge which I will review in the next instalment of this series.

British Airways 787-9 Economy Class Summary

Just like my previous long-haul flight with British Airways, this flight onboard the airline’s 787-9 was perfectly fine.

Combined with the fact the fare was quite low and that I hold a status with the airline allowing me to access lounges, earn more miles, and so on, I would not hesitate to fly British Airways between Europe and Japan (or on any other long-haul) again.

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