Elite level members behaving badly – Part 2 – BA Golds

BA A318


Sitting on my balcony at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki I wonder if I should be getting a little more perspective over the set of BA Gold members that I encountered on my flight from London City last week. The BA1 flight stops for a refuel in Shannon and up until this point everything had been going well enough.

So, let’s roll back to the mini-BA lounge at LCY. I’d arrived early in order to avoid the crush on the Tube and so go to Gate 24 just after the lounge opened and settled in to catch up with emails, do some work via the company’s VPN and generally get ready for a 10 day absence.

About 45 minutes before the flight a group of BA Gold’s turned up who, it appears, had all come in from Dublin together. The fares from DUB can make it a very attractive starting place. The BA1/2/3/4 services between London City and JFK used to earn more BA Tier Points than similar flights between Heathrow and JFK. The babybus as it’s called holds 32 passengers in an all Business Class seating arrangement 2-2 on a BA318.

The group was quiet, to be fair ordering Champagne, but didn’t cause any problems to the staff in the lounge. I thought it was nice that they were all having a fun shared experience.

We boarded and very soon we were on our starters.

BA001 starter - July 15

I had secured an aisle in Row 1 (1J), there was a passenger to my right (1K) and someone in 1A. 1B was empty – and that proved a recipe for problems later on. There were only about 4 empty seats on the whole plane – the first time I had seen that for a good while. This meant that couldn’t secure two to myself.

Arriving at Shannon we had a short taxi to the gate, and I noticed that there was USAirways,  American Airlines, and Aer Lingus planes all on stands and I knew what this meant. A queue at US Pre-clearance Immigration.

And so it was, the line to the X-ray machines stretched around the barriers to the entrance of the Pre-clearance area. Just behind me, Mr. 1K saw the Global Entry machines and considered a bolt under the barriers to get to them. I had to remind him that his shoes needed to be x-rayed, (like everyone else’s I thought to myself).

Duly through x-Ray and Global Entry machines, we waited in the BA lounge area, which had been temporarily taken over by delayed passengers for other flights. The United flight had just landed and their passengers were all over the small waiting area. BA seems to have speeded up the re-boarding at Shannon. It used to take 30 or so minutes, but now it seems to be done in 15 which is great as you can get going as soon as the last person clears immigration.

After we re-boarded the problems really started.

LCY-JFK Pasta dish

I had chosen the pasta for my main course and it was much nicer than the pork I had at the start of the month.

However, at the point that the meal has finished I wanted a nap, and asked Mr. 1K to close his blinds. ‘No’ was the reply.

Slowly as the rest of the plane decided to nap and closed their window shades the cabin became darker, except in Row 1 where strong sunlight punctured the cabin. He steadfastly refused to close the windows despite requests from passengers and crew.

Meanwhile over in 1A, the passenger there had yet another glass of wine. He’d had a couple of champagnes in the lounge, a couple from City to Shannon and then really started to get in to it. Several glasses later, after I had fallen asleep he joined the crew in the front galley. Giggling at the top of his voice, he woke me after about 90 minutes of sleep – even with eyeshades and ear plugs fully engaged.

The giggling carried on and eventually he returned to his seat. For some reason (was she summoned by the crew?), the Captain appeared and had a chat. I don’t know how stern this was as I was trying to watch my iPad. However, soon one of the couple from Row 2 joined 1A by sitting in the 1B seat and noise increased again. Open flirting was going on, with giggly Mr.1A consuming more and more wine. Another passenger from further back joined the party, and even after being told not to sit on the footstools, Mr 1A was still drinking and perching at the feet of the other two.

BA A318 footstool

At one point he stood up so fast, and was so drunk, that he tripped and fell in to the aisle.

I popped to the loo and was asked by the Cabin Crew, how I was. ‘Well, in truth I am a little annoyed by the party in 1A/1B and by the guy who won’t close his window shades next to me’.  I think I was over tired as I probably wouldn’t have said anything in the normal course of events. ‘Oh, I know’ said the crew member, ‘We’re going to have to do a report.’ ‘Would you sign it as a witness?’

Oh goodness, how much more the crew knew about what was happening that I had thought. I agreed, of course, but don’t expect to hear any more about this. Clearly the crew had been trying to control Mr 1A, without success I fear.

To give them their due, the crew cut-off Mr. 1A before the second meal, although the cuddling and general touching between him and 2K continued. 2K’s companion looked none too pleased I might add.

At JFK, 1A was so drunk he staggered up the jet bridge swaying from side wall to side wall as he sort of bounced between them. Thankful I am sure that he didn’t have to face US Immigration in that state. I encountered him a little later lost on the way to recover his baggage. Too drunk to see or perhaps to read, the signs.

So this seems to trigger two questions:

– The age old ‘Whose Windows are they anyway?’ question

– The newer, ‘Have you ever been so drunk the crew have cut you off inflight?’

You can read Part 1 – Concierge Key by following the link.


  1. IMO, the person sitting by the window gets to control the shade on that window. Now, if it is a red-eye or early morning flight, a very long flight where people are trying to sleep, they need to be aware of that and close the shade. I have flown to Hawaii with a broken window shade and yes the light that pierces the cabin feels like it is going to burn out your retina. Delta made it up to me with miles though. As far as being drunk on a plane, I don’t get drunk at home let alone in public or on an aircraft. The fact is, many people in this world simply don’t care and won’t do the right thing unless forced to. Being polite and friendly has seemingly disappeared from air travel.

  2. Was that last Thursday’s BA1? If so, the guy in 1A was quite annoyingly drunk, I agree. But knowing who was in 1K on that flight, then I’d say he doubly wins on the window! If you weren’t on last Thursday’s BA1, then there must be something about heavy drinking and seat 1A then…

  3. Sitting at window means FULL control of window shades except for some airlines who follow certain safety rules during take off and landing. If you choose aisle than the caveat is if the person by the window wants it open, it stays open and you should not make them feel bad. Now this guy may have been a jerk but I also do not like when I am asked to close the blinds. If i didn’t want to look out the window I would choose the convenience of the aisle. Plus its a day flight. I find it awkward when i book last minute, only have choice of the aisle and the person by the window keeps it closed the whole flight! Either way its their window, their rules.

  4. With the exception of a red-eye flight, I’m of the persuasion that the window seat passengers control their respective shades. However I am generally willing to accommodate another passenger if they prefer the shade to be closed during a day time flight. Less so if they prefer the shade to be open. The reading lamps are there to be used.

    As far as being cut off by the crew, no I’ve never had that happen nor have I seen it happen on one of my flights. That’s not something I aim for when I fly. While there have been a handful of times when I have overshot my targeted buzz, it has never reached the point of being a problem.

  5. Ooh so who was in 1K then?!

    I’d generally agree re the window but if the rest of the cabin is in darkness and the crew have requested too it seems a bit churlish to refuse.

    As for 1A, sounds like he should have been cut off earlier.

    How do you know they were all golds BTW?

  6. @MilesFromBlighty – it’s a shame I didn’t know you were on the flight, or I’d have come and said hello at a suitable point! Lots of BAEC FlyerTalk members on the flight, we might’ve been able to out-do 1A with guests if we’d all realised each other in time 😉

    @Alan The cabin wasn’t completely dark, as I had my blind open for much of the flight too! (Though I was in neither 1A nor 1K, before anyone asks!) The gentleman in 1K was an FT’er, and was very friendly whenever I chatted with him, though I didn’t ask him about his blind….

  7. While I don’t condone the rest of the behaviour, being pressured into closing a window is a huge bugbear of mine.

    It’s a Westbound DAYFLIGHT. It’s DAYTIME in London. It’s DAYTIME in New York. If I have a window seat, that window’s staying open.

    Want to nap? Use the eye-masks provided. I can’t magically get a sun and view machine out of the amenity kit.

  8. That sounds like it was an awful experience. I notice that you said at the beginning that there were four empty seats on the plane. What prevented you from requesting to be moved to one of those seats in order to disrance yourself from the windiw shade problem and the unruly inebriate passengers?

  9. @Mike – well we were well in to the flight by the time the drunk got really drunk. By then, I tend to look at the spare seat next to some other passengers as theirs and that invading it would be rude. Interestingly, I encountered Mr ‘No’ on another flight more recently, and he did the exact same thing. All windows closed except his!

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