The Right Stuff: BA’s 787 Dreamliner
Brain hemispheres, if they even exist, are funny things. They force us to be cognisant of the world in two formats – sensual and rational. Rarely are both equally stimulated. Luckily, British Airways have invested in ways to keep Left and Right equally busy.
Any pedant who regularly flies long distance can spout the usual esoterica concerning plane specifications and how they can ameliorate jet lag and general fatigue. Take our diets – we’ve all become much more conscious of the science behind our physical states of being. So yeah, I’m the bore that can explain pressurisation rates and where the air is circulating and how low humidity affects my sense of taste, as much why the 5:2 diet has some validity from an evolutionary point of view. I’m a great date.
Thankfully, British Airways’ fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners are as much a relaxed traveller’s, well, dream, as for a nerd like me. BA001, the tiny tricked out Airbus A319 (standing in for dearly mourned Concorde) that jumps from London City, crosses the US border at Shannon Airport in Ireland and whisks you through JFK, is sweet.
But now you can fly Boeing’s 21st century sweet ride to the considerably more civilised Newark, across the water in New Jersey. And if you want real civilised, then do as I did and take the Dreamliner’s Club World option to Toronto Pearson.
It’s not often that you’ll hear me refer to a transatlantic flight experience as ‘lovely’, but this really is. BA’s Club lounge at Terminal 5 is not as plush or theatrically impressive as the First Class equivalent – but it’s quiet, spacious and well-stocked with treats. The plane is where the real good times begin.
The Club World cabin is split in two and features their signature 2-3-2 configuration. The front cabin is rows 1-3 in AB-DEF-JK and are fully reclinable with foot rest and a very large screen. The windows are huge, 19 inches tall and 65 percent larger than the standard airplane windows, letting in much more light and giving the entire interior a greater sense of space. That’s great – but this is the cool part – they self dim. Yes, exactly like in Blade Runner. Both sides of my brain light up. The dimming effect is the result of an electrified gel sandwiched between two thin pieces of glass. As the electric current increases, the gel darkens and as it drops, the gel lightens. Magic. Or science, depending. Coloured lights change through the flight to keep your biorhythms grooving along nicely.
More science is applied to the cabin’s structural integrity. Because the fuselage is made of composite materials, extra rigidity allows for higher pressurisation. So it simulates 6000 feet instead of 8000 feet. End result, no ear pain, much less fatigue and, combined with the actual exterior air, brought into the plane, none of that beaten up feeling. I also am convinced the very noticeable reduction in cabin noise – from much quieter engines – also had an appreciably calming effect. And the wings bend.
Obviously, Club World’s excellent service and refreshments are working on my right brain too. The crew is incredibly friendly and helpful (maybe they’re benefiting from that better air too?) The three course lunch is generous and well-presented, with three choices for each course. The open invitation Club Kitchen, which remains a glutton’s delight, is well stocked. I myself didn’t partake. I’ve now taken to replenishing as much water as possible to counteract the effects of dehydration at altitude. If I find out that science says this is wrong and I missed out on free ice cream, both sides of my brain will be really sad. If you have to fly and you’re not left hemispherical enough to invent a Star Trek personal transporter, then take the 787 whenever possible. At least one part cerebral hemisphere knows it makes sense.
A marriage of technology and coolness makes BA’s new 787 the only way to get to Toronto. BA currently operates sixteen flights weekly from Heathrow to Toronto. Of these, one daily flight throughout is operated by 787 aircraft. Fares from £588 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges. www.britishairways.com.