British Airways London London LHR San Francisco San Francisco SFO Stockholm ARN

British Airways Goldilocks transatlantic temperatures LHR-SFO

Kelley was forewarned. The common factor was cold air in all four of my British Airways flights between California and London in September and October on either a Boeing 744 or Airbus 388. I kept my sweater on nearly all the time on each long-haul flight.

The British Airways 744 flight San Francisco to London Heathrow in mid-September was so cold that I zipped my sweater up around my neck and used an airline blanket wrapped across my shoulders to sleep comfortably. A young German woman totally wrapped in blankets was leaning up against my arm from her middle section inner seat. Body warmth was sparse on that 744, even with every seat filled with a semi-warm body in the back of the aircraft’s economy section. Goldilocks was on a plane that was too cold.

Kelley was forewarned.

These British Airways planes are cold.

Stockholm ARN to London Heathrow LHR

Our flight was scheduled for 7:10am and left Stockholm late. The flight was packed with business men and women heading to London on a Monday morning.

The plane was hot. I looked around at all the business folk in suits and multiple clothing layers and none of these Scandinavians showed any sweat. Goldilocks is in a plane that is too hot.

I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a sweater with pockets to hold my eyeglasses. Kelley had layers of clothing. I overheated and had to take off my sweater while in the middle seat of three with a business suit man at the window. The effort of stripping down with minimal arm movement made me even hotter sitting in the cabin in a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans.

London Heathrow LHR to San Francisco on a 747-400

The flight delay arriving to London Heathrow cut into our time from an anticipated 60 minutes in British Airways Terminal 5 Galleries First lounge to 30 minutes. We had just enough time to slam down some breakfast of eggs, toast, potatoes and beans, and for me, a London Pride breakfast beer before heading to the airport train to travel under the runways from the A gates to T5 B gates for our flight to San Francisco. Lounge to B gates boarding took around 15 minutes.

The plane felt hot right away. Kelley looked around and commented about no individual air controls in this kind of aircraft.

British Airways is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747-400, often referred to as the 744 aircraft. This aircraft type was introduced in 1989 when Northwest Airlines first put the 744 into service. The last passenger version of the aircraft was ordered in 2002. Today, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa and United are some of the primary airlines using 744s. A380 aircraft have about 10% longer flight range at 14,800 km than the 744 aircraft with flight range 13,450 km.

The flight attendant assured Kelley the temperature would drop once the plane was airborne.

Long suffering, short story version is the plane never cooled down. At the time I contacted the flight attendant during the flight, the man who assured Kelley the plane would be cool inflight, he reported the cabin temperature was 24 C. That is 75F! For me, as a Monterey, California resident, 75F is shorts and t-shirt temperature.

I started out in snow in Sweden that morning and felt cold rain in LHR walking to the airport terminal bus for a drive to passport control. Like most people on the plane I was dressed for cold weather.

The cabin cooled down to 22 C or 72F by a couple hours later in the flight. The British Airways flight attendant who checked the 22C reading for me said she was cold in the aircraft. She said these old 744 aircraft have a hard time maintaining cabin temperature.

Readers are forewarned. These British Airways planes are hot on transatlantic flights. 

Will this Goldilocks ever get the perfect flight temperature on a British Airways long-haul between California and London?