Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Flight #: BA2159
Route: St. Lucia (UVF) > Grenada (GND)
Date: April 9, 2022
Duration: 30 minutes
Cabin and Layout: BA Club World, 2-4-2
Cost: 9,750 Avios + £25 (~$28) in taxes and fees
That’s right, you can island hop around the Caribbean by flying British Airways.
I’d long wanted to try out one of these fifth-freedom flights since I heard about their existence. So, when planning a trip around the Caribbean, I made sure my itinerary included trying it out.
It just so happened that after spending time visiting my friend Audrey in Martinique, the best way to get to my next destination of Grenada was via St. Lucia and a flight on one of BA’s intra-Caribbean hops.
Awkward schedules and flight times not matching up meant that I had to stay the night in St. Lucia after flying into its northern George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU) in Castries (which serves flights only from other Caribbean islands).
The next morning, I hopped in a cab and headed south to the island’s main international airport.
British Airways’ Intra-island Routes in the Caribbean
The British flag carrier operates a small network of intra-island routes using its Boeing 777-200 aircraft based at London Gatwick Airport (LGW).
|Departure||Arrival ||Start/End date||Frequency|
|Antigua (ANU)||Grenada (GND)||October 30, 2022 to March 19, 2023||Sundays|
|Antigua (ANU)||Providenciales (PLS)||Ends October 28, 2022||Thursdays and Sundays|
|Antigua (ANU)||Punta Cana (PUJ)||Ends October 28, 2022||Mondays and Fridays|
|Antigua (ANU)||St. Kitts (SKB)||Year-round||Wednesdays and Saturdays|
|Antigua (ANU)||Tobago (TAB)||Ends March 24, 2023||Mondays and Fridays|
|St. Lucia (UVF)||Grenada (GND)||Year-round||Wednesdays and Saturdays (and Sundays from March 23, 2023)|
|St. Lucia (UVF)||Port of Spain, Trinidad (POS)||Ends March 24, 2023||Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays|
On these fifth-freedom routes, airlines (in this case, British Airways) are permitted to take onboard paying passengers in a foreign country and take them onwards to another foreign country.
Booking British Airways Club World
As is always the case with British Airways, you can either use cash or redeem Avios to book flights with the airline.
I decided that for this trip I would put some of my Avios to good use.
I had no trouble finding an award seat through ba.com as there was wide-open availability for dates throughout March and April 2022.
I was presented with 5 different options ranging from 15,500 Avios + £4.50 (~$5) to just 5,750 Avios + £67.50 (~$75).
Going off of Upgraded Points’ current valuation of 1.25 cents per Avios, the middle option of 9,750 Avios and £25 (~$28) gave me the best value.
For context, paying cash for the same ticket would set you back a cool £500 (~$557).
Hewanorra International Airport
Long road trips in St. Lucia are not recommended. After a bumpy and nauseating 2-hour taxi ride from Rodney Bay, I arrived at a very busy departures area at Hewanorra International Airport.
It wasn’t immediately clear which queue was for what as there were people everywhere.
I beelined straight for the British Airways check-in desks as soon as I spotted them through the crowds. En route, I came across small signs for 2 airlines I’d never heard of before — Mustique Airways and SVG Air. I’ll have to add them to my “to-fly” list.
I doubted that my short fifth-freedom hop to Grenada would have been busy, but I didn’t expect check-in to be void of any other passengers when I arrived.
The check-in agent quickly got about her task of checking me in. The conversation was minimal, but by this point, I’d become accustomed to this when traveling through airports in the Caribbean.
Thanks to my business class ticket, I was entitled to 2 bags at 70 pounds each which meant I didn’t have to worry about paying for extra weight.
Passing Through the Airport
After dropping off my bag and receiving my boarding pass, I headed to wait in the long queue for passport control.
I had plenty of admin to do to help pass the time as I was required to fill out a departure form for St. Lucia and an arrival form for Grenada.
The queue slowly weaved its way through the other side of the door where a surly officer at 1 of the 4 booths took my forms and stamped my passport without saying a word or even making eye contact.
There was barely an empty seat left in the house in the departures area.
It was a busy afternoon at UVF, with several flights departing around the same time to destinations mainly in the U.S.
Before heading to find the lounge, I did a quick lap of the tiny space, popped my nose into one of the tourist-trap shops, and found a great vantage point to get a quick snap of this JetBlue Airbus A321 that was being readied to get some vacationers back to New York (JFK).
The Caribbean has to be one of my favorite locations for capturing up-close-and-personal shots of aircraft when boarding and deplaning.
I was so glad I had lounge access, as the terminal was just so busy.
Signage for the lounge is located above a door post-security right next to the repacking area.
Iyanola Executive Lounge
My visit to the Iyanola Executive Lounge would be my first-ever Caribbean lounge experience, so I had no idea what to expect.
To be honest, I was impressed that the airport even had a lounge.
In a place of pride on the countertop at the lounge reception was this to-scale model of the very British Airways 777 aircraft that I was about to fly. I’ve been an avid collector of model aircraft for as long as I can remember, so this was a welcome sight.
Priority Pass is accepted here should you be flying through on an economy ticket and want to relax in relative peace and quiet before your flight.
Hot Tip: Priority Pass is a subscription-based airport lounge membership that provides access to more than 1,300 lounges around the world including over 90 lounges and restaurants across the U.S. Membership is also available with select credit cards.
The decor and furniture of the first room I entered gave me retirement home vibes. Maybe that’s why it was so empty?
Of course, the busier side of the lounge was where the bar and the free drinks were located.
I quickly grabbed the only free seat and settled in.
I snapped the above photo at a brief moment when a few passengers left to board their flight after it had been announced over the loudspeaker (a rarity in airport lounges these days).
For the remainder of my time in the lounge, every seat was taken at pretty much all times.
It didn’t take a close inspection of the space to come to the conclusion that it was screaming out for refurbishment (according to Priority Pass, this lounge actually is now temporarily closed due to refurbishment works).
This place had seen better days — I think even the most experienced upholsterer would struggle to get this armchair looking in tip-top condition.
A table became available that was higher and more suited to eating, so I darted across to the other side of the lounge.
The lovely gentleman who was taking orders informed me of the menu of the day, which consisted of the following:
- Pumpkin soup
- Cheese and tuna sandwich
- Corn dog
- Spaghetti with turkey sauce
- Banana muffin
The thought of neither the spaghetti with turkey sauce nor the corn dog set my taste buds alight, so I went for the pumpkin soup and a cheese and tuna sandwich — a rogue combination given the hangover I was nursing.
While they might not appear all too appetizing, I have to say, both dishes exceeded my low expectations.
The same lounge attendant who took my order mentioned to some guests within earshot that there was also mac and cheese on the menu.
Either it was a new item or I just didn’t hear it the first time. Either way, I felt obliged to try it given that the majority of you who read this review are probably from the U.S. Mac and cheese is your equivalent of our fish and chips, right?
I took 1 bite, washed it down with a glass of very sweet Prosecco, and left the rest.
I’m no mac and cheese expert, but I wouldn’t hurry to sample the Iyanola Executive Lounge’s version.
I spent the rest of my time in the lounge chatting with an American couple who’d just been on a twin-center adventure in Peru and St. Lucia. Danielle and Garrick, if you’re reading this, thank you for keeping me company. It was a pleasure to meet you and chat about all things points and miles.
Boarding at St. Lucia
Boarding was announced at 3:37 p.m. well in advance of our scheduled departure time of 4:25 p.m.
When I arrived at the gate and there was nobody else ahead of me again, I was convinced that I was the only person boarding the flight to St. Lucia.
I loved the retro signage at the gate that would need to be changed manually.
I flashed my boarding pass and passport, headed out onto the apron, and was shown in the direction of a covered walkway that would lead me to the Boeing 777-200 bound for Grenada.
It was here that I saw fellow Grenada-bound passengers for the first time.
We were asked to wait a few minutes in this sheltered area before being allowed to cross the tarmac and head up the sets of stairs leading up to the forward 2 doors of the aircraft.
It felt surreal to be so far away from home and be boarding a British Airways jet that wasn’t headed back to London.
Onboard British Airways’ Boeing 777-200
We were ready to go nice and early and pushed back at 4:08 p.m.
Wheels left the ground 4 minutes early at 4:21 p.m. and we were soon soaring high above the Caribbean.
Given the short duration of the flight, the captain informed us that the maximum altitude that we’d reach during the flight would be just 12,000 feet.
Club World Seat
Seat 1A would be my home for the next short 30 minutes. The 8-wide rows of BA’s old-school Club World mean the space around the seats is quite narrow. That said, the seats still offer enough room for stretching out.
With the middle partitions lowered, it’s possible to see passengers sitting right across the cabin a whole 5 seats away from me.
The least private part about the seats is during takeoff and landing. The partitions have to remain lowered, which means passengers see their neighbor face-on during these times.
Rest assured that BA’s newer Club Suite, complete with a sliding door, scores much higher in terms of privacy.
The tray table could be unlatched from the central console just underneath the IFE screen. While it’s not pictured here, the table is large enough to fit both my laptop and my meal tray comfortably.
It folds in half in the middle, making it easier to get in and out of the seat.
The seats don’t come with much storage either. The small drawer at my feet was just about big enough to fit my travel wallet, a set of BA headphones, the amenity kit, and a small bottle of water.
Club World Cabin
The business class cabins of British Airways’ Boeing 777-200s that operate its network of intra-Caribbean flights feature the old Club World product.
It comprises 32 seats in just 4 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration. To put that into perspective, most other airlines’ wide-body business class cabins are far less cramped with the most common configuration being 1-2-1.
BA also operates Boeing 777-200 aircraft with up to 48 seats in Club World which are usually found on routes with a higher business class demand than for predominantly leisure routes such as St. Lucia.
The rear-facing middle 2 seats of each row (E and F) are best for couples or friends traveling together.
Bottom Line: British Airways’ Club World cabin is (finally) being phased out and replaced by the airline’s most modern business class product: the Club Suite. Check out just how much better the new seat and cabin are by reading about my experience flying the Club Suite from New York (JFK) to London (LHR) in April 2022.
Food and Beverage
Unfortunately, there would be no meal service on this short hop to Grenada. Passengers who had boarded the plane at Gatwick would have already been served at least 1 full meal and a snack before we joined them in St. Lucia.
I was, however, offered a welcome drink of Champagne, which it would have been rude to turn down.
For many a frequent British Airways flyer, the IFE screens in Club World are 1 of the biggest pain points after the lack of privacy and tight 2-4-2 configuration.
To start with, the screens pop out from the central console, which is perpendicular to the direction that passengers are facing. As such, screens must be stowed back in their locked position for take-off and landing which means gate-to-gate entertainment isn’t possible.
I find BA’s library of entertainment to usually offer something that I’d be interested in watching. For this flight, I left the moving map on my screen for the duration.
Over my left shoulder were the remote control for the IFE and a USB and headphone port.
Club World passengers who boarded at London Gatwick (LGW) would have all been given an amenity kit from The White Company. This is the same amenity kit that passengers flying BA’s newer Club Suite would receive.
The amenity kit contained all the usual suspects: a dental kit, ear plugs, an eye mask, flight socks, some miniature toiletries, and a pen.
Wi-Fi wasn’t available.
The unsightly state of the business class cabin on this aircraft was laughable.
I get that the aircraft had just landed from a long-haul flight from London, but I’d be surprised if the crew weren’t expected to do at the very least a quick tidy-up in the 30+ minutes it had been on the ground before new passengers boarded in St. Lucia.
The more I ponder it, I think I might have been the only passenger who was daft enough to pay for (well, use Avios for) a Club World ticket. If that was the case, then I can understand that spending a lot of time clearing the place up just for me would not have been a priority for the crew.
Nevertheless, used bedding from previous passengers was left on seats.
Storage trays were left open and full of other people’s rubbish.
Worse still, either there had been no cleaning whatsoever before we new passengers boarded at St. Lucia, or they just did a terrible job. The aisles and floor space around many of the seats were covered in crumbs and all sorts of other debris.
I think the same crew member who handed me my welcome drink saw me taking pictures as he made a last-ditch attempt to get the cabin cleared up a bit.
I took this as reassurance that maybe I wasn’t being too harsh and that this cabin would not have been presented in the way that a British Airways superior would have been happy with.
I’d like to take a moment here just to say that for me, this doesn’t bother me. I was hopping on a plane for 30 minutes and was quite happy to be doing so on a British Airways plane in the first place.
However, as this is a review, it’s up to me to give you, the reader, as many honest and accurate details about my experience as I possibly can so that you are well-informed when researching your travels.
Situated right at the front of the cabin were the 2 bathrooms for the use of business class passengers only.
Thankfully, the level of cleanliness in the bathroom was far superior to the cabin.
British Airways also uses The White Company as the supplier of the inflight amenities for its business class lavatories.
There’s not a lot to report in terms of service. With an inflight time of just 30 minutes and no meals served, there wasn’t much opportunity for interaction with the crew.
The 1 crew member I spoke with at boarding did go out of his way to make sure I had a welcome drink before taking off. He also handed me an amenity kit, which I don’t think is usually handed out to passengers joining the aircraft for these short intra-Caribbean hops.
You’d have missed it if you’d blinked, as a mere 30 minutes later at 4:52 p.m. we touched down at Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada.
One of my favorite things about flying in the Caribbean is oftentimes boarding and deplaning via stairs rather than an airbridge.
For an AvGeek like me, that means getting some great up close and personal shots like this.
Parked a short distance away was an aircraft from a fellow British airline in the form of a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330.
And just like that, country number 48 was added to my list.
If you ever find yourself heading to Grenada, be sure to check out the duty-free on arrival — there were 1 liter (35 ounces) bottles of vodka for just $21 (a bargain compared to U.K. prices)!
Aside from the state of the cabin and the clear lack of tidying up between flights, my flight from St. Lucia was a perfectly pleasant experience.
I loved the novelty of island hopping in the Caribbean and doing so by flying a huge British Airways Boeing 777-200 for just half an hour.
I’m certainly glad I booked my flight using Avios rather than paying in cash — I’d have been very disappointed given the lack of service. In all honesty, it’s something I hadn’t considered when booking.
If I were to take one of BA’s Caribbean island shuttle services again, I don’t think I’d bother with flying in Club World. It served its purpose for this review and it was a nice novelty.
It was nice not to have to worry about my bag being too heavy and to have more room to stretch out, but other than those 2 things, you might as well just fly in economy.