Review: British Airways Business Class A380 Los Angeles To London

Introduction
Review: Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles
Review: British Airways Business Class A380 Los Angeles To London
Review: The Park Tower Knightsbridge, London
Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow
Review: British Airways Business Class 777 London To Los Angeles


Having reviewed British Airways first class many times beforeincluding on the A380 — I was especially excited to finally experience their business class, even if I had fairly low expectations.

British Airways 269
Los Angeles (LAX) – London (LHR)
Tuesday, November 24
Depart: 8:55PM
Arrive: 3:15PM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr20min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 51J (Business Class/Club World)

We boarded through the upper deck jet bridge, where two of the three business class cabins are located. British Airways’ A380 layout is rather scattered, in my opinion, as they have first class on the lower deck, a business class cabin on the lower deck, and then two business class cabins on the upper deck. I wonder what made them decide to spread around the cabins like that (they do have nearly 100 business class seats on the plane, for what it’s worth).

I had assigned us seats 51J & 51K (since I’m oneworld Emerald we could select seats in advance for free — British Airways charges most passengers for advance seat assignments), which are in the second row of the upper deck. This is the same area of the plane where Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, etc., have their first class cabins.

Upon entering we turned left into the fairly intimate business class cabin, which featured just a handful of rows.

British Airways’ business class cabin on the upper deck is in a 2-3-2 configuration, which is fairly spacious compared to the lower deck configuration, which is 2-4-2.

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British Airways A380 upper deck business class

The seats alternate between facing forwards and backwards — all the window and middle seats face backwards, while all the aisle seats face forwards.

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British Airways A380 upper deck Club World

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British Airways A380 upper deck Club World

I assigned myself seat 51J, which was a forward facing aisle seat in the second row. Having never flown British Airways business class before, the first thing I noticed was that the seat was tight. The seat itself was only a couple of inches wider than what you’d get in economy class.

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British Airways business class A380, seat 51J

Most of the seat features were on the console to the side of the seat, including the fold our tray table, the pop-out TV screen, the power adapter, and a small storage compartment which slides out, at the very bottom. That was the only storage in the seat, as storage was otherwise severely lacking.

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British Airways business class entertainment screen and storage

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British Airways business class storage bins

Closer to the actual seats were the easy-to-use seat controls, as well as the controls for the divider between seats.

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British Airways business class seat controls

Even further behind that were the entertainment controls.

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British Airways business class entertainment controls

The upper deck window seat on the A380 is possibly the best business class seat in the fleet, as it has side bins for added storage, as there’s otherwise a shortage of storage in these seats.

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British Airways business class A380, seat 51K

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British Airways business class storage bins

Each seat has an ottoman which can be “clipped” to the seat in front, as it has to be in the vertical position for takeoff and landing. Then once you’re airborne you can place it down.

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British Airways business class A380, seat 51K

I think the below picture really sums up how narrow the seat is (in particular in comparison to the reverse herringbone business class seat American offers on the 777-300ER in the market).

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British Airways business class A380, seat 51K

Also waiting at the seat were a packaged pillow and blanket. The blanket was light and scratchy, while the pillow was so flat that it served almost no purpose. British Airways also doesn’t provision any extras, so if the cabin is full you’re out of luck.

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British Airways business class pillow & blanket

There were also some headphones, which were extremely uncomfortable and didn’t seem to have any noise cancelling capabilities.

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British Airways business class headphones

Once we were settled in the flight attendant came by to offer us pre-departure beverages. By “offer us pre-departure beverages” I mean she held out the tray while literally looking in the other direction, with no “welcome aboard” or smile.

I selected a glass of champagne, while Ford selected a glass of water.

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British Airways business class pre-departure beverages

As boarding continued I took the opportunity to change into pajamas (Emirates ones, for those of you wondering). Perhaps the best feature of the upper deck business class cabin are the lavatories. Not only is there a large space with the gorgeous BA logo at the top of the stairs, but there are two huge lavatories.

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British Airways forward upper deck area

They’re not quite as big as the Emirates shower suites, but they are quite large, possibly the biggest business class lavatories I’ve seen.

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British Airways business class lavatories

That’s great for being able to change without having to dodge all the “liquids” on the floor.

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British Airways business class lavatories

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British Airways business class lavatories

The lavatories were stocked with Elemis bath products.

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British Airways business class lavatory amenities

Once back at my seat, menus were distributed. This consisted once again of the flight attendant literally holding out the menus without saying a word or breaking a smile. I could tell it would be a long flight.

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British Airways business class menus

Next the amenity kits were handed out, which consisted of Elemis “sacks.”

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British Airways business class Elemis amenity kits

The amenity kit was fairly well stocked, with socks, eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pen, a few types of cream, etc.

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British Airways business class Elemis amenity kit contents

Boarding finished up at around 9:05PM, with a full business class cabin (at least on the upper deck). At this point the flight attendant was tasked with closing the overhead bins, which consisted of her going up to aisle passengers and saying “close that for me, will ya.” I’m not sure if she wasn’t tall enough to close the bin or what but I found that a bit strange, as I thought being able to close bins was a requirement of being cabin crew (and if it’s not, you’d think she could ask her taller male colleague rather than bugging passengers).

Shortly thereafter the same flight attendant came around to take meal orders:

“Dinner?”
“Yes, I’ll have the beets to start please and…”
“The what?”
“The beets.”
“We don’t have that.”
*I pointed to it on the menu*
“Oh, you mean the goat’s cheese.”
“I’m pretty sure they’re beets as well.”
“It says nothing about beets on my sheet.”

Maybe she should look at the menu being offered to passengers then?

Around this time the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 9hr26min. I don’t know what it is about British Airways pilots, but they consistently strike me as the most competent out there (I suppose that’s reflected in the airline’s safety record), and there’s something about their announcements which always puts me at ease. I also love how darn British they are.

“Despite our late departure, we have a generous block time, and won’t be too far drift from shed-jewel, as I see almost half of you have connections.” And “the senior first officers will be keeping a good eye on me, but I’ll be doing all the driving tonight.” Hah, love it!

We pushed back at around 9:25PM, at which point the customer service director, Andrew, came on the PA to welcome us aboard on behalf of himself and his “team of 22,” and also to remind us that their “primary goal in life is to keep [us] safe.” Around this time the safety video began to play.

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British Airways safety video (even she looks pissed to be flying BA, no?)

From the time we pushed back it was about 10 minutes before we had the engines started and began our taxi to our departure runway. Fortunately once we began our taxi it was only a short five minutes until we were airborne on runway 24L.

I took the window seat for takeoff, which is rear facing. It’s pretty cool to have a direct view of the wing, though there is something which feels a bit strange about sitting backwards on a plane, no matter how often I do it.

The views of the Pacific coastline and never-ending lights of Los Angeles were nice on the climb out, though we quickly made a 180 degree turn, at which point the views were more limited in the dark.

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View after takeoff from LAX

It’s interesting to note that British Airways has “manual” shades in A380 premium cabins, vs. other airlines which have automatic ones, where you just push a button to close them.

After takeoff I lowered the ottoman, which struck me as incredibly janky. It’s only attached to a seat on the back side of it, so it collapses pretty easily. It’s also worth noting that the window seats don’t actually have direct aisle access. If the person in the aisle across from you has their ottoman down (as most passengers do for most of the flight), then you have to climb over them to get out, just as you’d have to do in any other window seat.

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British Airways business class ottoman

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British Airways business class direct aisle access?

As we climbed out the passenger across from me tried to raise the partition between seats (after all, it can be awkward to basically be seated face to face with a stranger). The controls are actually electric, though they’re deactivated until you get to cruise level. The guy didn’t seem to know that, so was trying to make the partition go up. Rather than kindly explaining the situation to him, the flight attendant yelled at him in the most aggressive tone and said “you need to stop and be patient, we aren’t at cruise altitude yet.” It was all about the tone, which I found unacceptable.

 

Once we reached a higher altitude partitions could finally be raised, so we did that. The partitions are sort of a fogged lucite, so they do add some privacy.

It’s actually pretty convenient to have the partition down if you’re traveling with someone, as you’re basically sitting face to face that way.

However, if you’re not traveling with someone I find the setup extremely awkward, as you’re literally facing them and your faces are maybe two feet apart. So you’ll almost certainly be forced to have at least a brief conversation.

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British Airways business class window seat privacy

While the partition can be lowered after takeoff, the “catch” is that you can’t really practically be served when it’s raised. Rather than going around where the ottoman is, I found most crew members simply served “over” the partition, which in almost all cases required the partition to be lowered every time the window passenger was being served. It’s a noisy partition, so almost makes more sense to just keep the partition down during the meal.

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British Airways business class divider

After takeoff I switched to the aisle seat so Ford could have the more private window seat, and my goodness did that seat feel exposed. You really feel like you’re seated in the aisle, as there’s no real privacy on the aisle side.

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British Airways business class, view from 51J

Here’s the guy across from me sleeping, which I think highlights just how little privacy there is.

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Zero privacy in British Airways business class

Anyway, about 30 minutes after takeoff the dinner service slowly began, starting with hot towels (the same thin ones you’d get on a US airline).

I folded down my tray table which could either be half folded out for drinks and snacks, or folded over again for the full tray. The TV screen folded out from above there.

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British Airways business class tray table

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British Airways business class tray table & TV screen

I quickly browsed the inflight entertainment selection, which I found somewhat underwhelming.

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British Airways business class entertainment selection

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British Airways business class entertainment selection

I eventually decided to watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm I had seen before, though switched to the airshow after that.

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British Airways business class entertainment selection

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British Airways business class airshow

The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the wine/beverage list read as follows:

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Service began with a cart being rolled through the aisle with a beverage service.

“Drink?”

“A gin & tonic, please.”

Rather than placing the items on my tray (which I had extended), she handed them to me one by one. That almost seemed like more work for her than just placing them down. Being handed stuff rather than having it placed on my tray continued throughout most of the service. I get the need for that for the person in the window seat, though it makes no sense to me if seated in the aisle.

Packaged mixed nuts were served with the drinks.

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British Airways business class drinks — gin & tonic and mixed nuts

Next the appetizer and salad were served. The one thing she did place on my tray table was the tray with the appetizer and salad, though she placed it there the wrong way around and with the tablecloth all cluttered.

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British Airways business class starter & salad

After placing down the tray she held out a bread basket, which had maybe five types of bread in it. I pointed at one and asked “what’s this one, please?” With an unamused look on her face she said “bread.”

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British Airways business class bread

The salad itself was one of the better side salads I’ve had on a plane, especially compared to what you’d get on a US airline.

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British Airways business class salad — fresh seasonal salad with vinaigrette

The salmon was bland, but decent enough.

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British Airways business class starter — smoked Atlantic salmon

Ford ended up having the starter with beets and goat’s cheese.

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British Airways business class starter & salad

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British Airways business class starter — roasted baby beets

For the main course I had the fillet of sea bream, which just wasn’t very good. It was bland and had way too much sauce, though I guess the sauce may have been necessary given how tasteless the dish was otherwise.

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British Airways business class main — fillet of sea bream

Ford had the beef, which was tough as could be.

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British Airways business class main — fillet of beef

For dessert we were offered what basically amounted to mango and chocolate cheesecake, which was super-tasty.

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British Airways business class dessert — mango and chocolate slice

The meal service was done about 2.5 hours into the flight, which seemed rather slow to me for a transatlantic redeye. The food was okay — edible but not better than anything you’d get on a US airline — but the service was what really stood out. The flight attendant working our aisle was just terrible.

After dinner I decided to get some sleep, given that I was exhausted.

The window seat is actually extremely private for sleeping, assuming you raise the partition. The actual sleeping surface is still quite narrow, but at least you have a lot of privacy. It’s one of the most private seats out there, actually.

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British Airways Club World window seat bed

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British Airways Club World window seat bed

The aisle seat, on the other hand, has zero privacy. Like, none whatsoever. It must be one of the most “exposed” feeling seats out there. And if the person in the adjacent window seat wants to get up, they have to climb over your feet.

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British Airways Club World aisle seat bed

On the plus side I was extremely exhausted and managed to sleep for about five hours, even if it wasn’t especially good sleep. It was more sleep than I had gotten in a couple of days otherwise, so I was quite happy with that. I woke up past Iceland as we were approaching the UK.

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Airshow enroute to London

I headed to the lavatory to freshen up, and then within a few minutes the breakfast service began. The breakfast menu read as follows:

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Breakfast service was done from a cart, and the flight attendant said “orange juice or… I don’t know what that is… it’s kind of funny looking.”

“Yeah I’ll take the smoothie please.”

“Oh, is that what that is?”

I really don’t think she had ever looked at the airline’s menu, and for that matter I’m not sure what was “funny looking” about the smoothie.

The first course consisted of bircher muesli and a selection from the bread basket. While British Airways doesn’t do cappuccinos/lattes in business class, I have to say their filtered coffee was actually quite good.

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British Airways business class breakfast — bircher muesli and rolls

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British Airways business class breakfast — rolls

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British Airways business class breakfast — bircher muesli

For the main course Ford had the English breakfast.

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British Airways business class breakfast — traditional English breakfast

As someone who doesn’t really like eating greasy food or meat for breakfast, I thought British Airways’ menu was slightly limited. I wish they had a fruit plate, granola, or porridge/oatmeal option. Instead I ordered the chicken breast, which I didn’t realize was actually a chicken panini. I guess that was meant to be more of the “lunch” option, for those who didn’t feel like having breakfast on a flight which landed after 3PM.

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British Airways business class breakfast — grilled breast of chicken

After breakfast the crew handed out immigration and arrivals fast track forms for the UK.

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UK landing card and Fast Track card

At around 2:15PM GMT the captain came back on the PA to give us updated arrival information, anticipating we would land at around 2:50PM, assuming we weren’t put in a holding pattern. He also mentioned there was a low layer of clouds over London, which didn’t seem to bode well with the whole “not being put in a holding pattern” thing.

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Approaching London

The crew did their landing checks, which seemed to be extremely thorough. One thing I found interesting (and have no problem with) is that the crew needed to see the seatbelts every time the seatbelt sign went on, as opposed to them just walking around and muttering “seatbelts.”

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Cabin being prepared for landing

We began our descent as usual all the way down to 9,000 feet, at which point we were put in a holding pattern right above the clouds.

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View on approach into London

Once we dipped below the clouds we had some gorgeous views of central London.

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View on approach into London

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View on approach into London

From there it was a further ~10 minutes until we had a smooth touchdown on runway 27R at 3:02PM.

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View on approach into London

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View on final approach into London

We rolled out almost the entire length of the runway, and then had just a very short taxi to Terminal 5.

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Taxiing London Heathrow

We were taxiing towards the C Pier, which is the furthest one from the “central” section of Terminal 5. We taxied past a British Airways 777 and A380, at which point we found ourselves at our stand.

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British Airways 777 London Heathrow

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British Airways A380 London Heathrow

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Our arrival gate London Heathrow

Upon arriving at the gate the captain once again came on the PA to welcome us to London, and reminded us that we had arrived five minutes early.

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Pulling into our stand at Terminal 5

On the way out I had a look at the “center” seats in business class. On the upper deck of the A380 the configuration is 2-3-2, so there’s only one center seat. On the lower deck, and on the 747 and 777, there are two center seats.

I found the setup of this seat to be ridiculously awkward, as you’re face to face with two people during the entire taxi and takeoff, and if you planned to stay awake during the service, you’d have to keep lowering one of the partitions as well.

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British Airways business class middle seat

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British Airways business class middle seat

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British Airways business class middle seat

It made me realize just how desirable those window seats are in comparison to the rest of the seats.

British Airways business class bottom line

I had low expectations of British Airways business class going in, and was still extremely underwhelmed. The food was okay — edible but not better than what you’d get on any other airline. The service on this particular flight was atrocious, the worst I’ve ever had. But I realize that’s an isolated incident, and doesn’t reflect the airline as a whole.

But my biggest issue is the seat. I find this to be one of the worst fully flat business class hard products out there. The window seats are nice and private, absolutely, but they’re still pretty tight. I do find them acceptable, though. But for most of the fleet, only 25% of seats are window seats. If you’re in an aisle seat you have no privacy. And if you’re in a center seat, you’re literally facing two strangers for much of the flight.

I totally respect that others disagree and swear by this hard product, but it’s not for me. If I can avoid it, this will be my last trip in British Airways business class (well, technically the return flight would be).

It also gave me a newfound respect for British Airways first class, which I’ve long hailed the world’s best business class product. After trying their business class, I’ve realized it’s a huge step up.

If you’ve flown British Airways business class, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. I’m not sure how you classify this seat as “narrow” It’s 20 inches wide, Emirates has 18.5 inches on the A380, now that’s narrow!

  2. @Chris, I am not sure you are looking at the hole picture. Yes, the seat itself is 18.5 on Emirates, but that seat is within a suite that is much more spacious giving each passenger a side table for extra shoulder-arm space, not to mention storage. Emirates puts 4 suites where BA puts 7!

  3. The whole seating arrangement always baffled me, having to climb over another passenger through a small-ish gap. Add on the awkward hand over the divider and it just seems like a clumsy set up that was never thought through properly.

  4. @ Alvin — Well I’d say those seats are at least “traditional” in the sense that you’re not literally having to look at someone’s face during takeoff, landing, and the meal. I also find they have larger barriers on the aisle side, so they do feel a lot more private than the aisle seats in this configuration.

  5. Just a fantastic review. BA’s CW is horrible. Lucky has a good way of capturing thr essence without being a total prick.

  6. @ Chris — As noted by bcnfly, it’s not purely about the width of the area where you place your rear as such. Instead it’s also about shoulder space, and being able to move your arms and place them on consoles, etc. On Emirates you could stretch your arms a couple of feet on both sides, sit them on the large armrest, etc. That’s not the case on British Airways.

  7. > I quickly browsed the inflight entertainment selection, which I found somewhat underwhelming.

    Yeah I’m not sure what’s happened with BA’s IFE, but for about the last year or so it’s had a pretty poor selection. I used to have no trouble finding a film or two to watch, but now I’m lucky if I see one I’m interested in.

  8. I agree, BA’s business class seat is outdated. It was a major enhancement back in 1999 – but it badly needs some enhancement / complete revision.

    On the other hand I was surprised that the service level was that low. Might have been an issue with the FA working in that section. I had better experiences – not outstanding, but way better.

  9. Lucky, maybe I’m wrong but I’ve seen this review before. I clearly remember this report because of the crew’s behavior.

  10. BA Club World is probably the worst business class product, and I agree with your very good review, though I never had problem with FA in CW (or Club Europe) – they were always perfect.

  11. After reading Lucky’s review of BA A380 Biz, I am glad I was able to switch my award ticket HKG-LHR-CDG on BA J to CX HKG-CDG in J and direct flight.
    Thanks for your honest review Lucky.

  12. Alvin: It’s fine, I’m not complaining rather I felt like I’ve seen this report before. Now I know I was correct about it. Thanks!

  13. I had a flight on the upper deck of A380. I was in an aisle seat. When I thought of privacy, I reminded myself of economy and everything worked fine 😀 Also, I found the seats to but more comfortable than American 777 ones. Maybe I am crazy?
    I believe you can file a complaint. Thanks for this review! 🙂

  14. Exactly why I don’t fly BA. Horrible customer service! Also now fully understand why their low-tier awards are usually available in business class out of DFW.

  15. @Lucky – This post and your earlier post about the grumpy FA has me asking the question, “So what should I do with my Avios other than fly on BA?”

  16. I´ve flown BA club world a few times, but always with someone else, so never had any issues regarding the privacy of the seat. I do think the catering for business could be better, food is not all good, but for the seat itself I have no complains.
    I know it can be a bit strange to stare at someones face, but thats for 20 minutes in the entire jorney.
    Regarding service I thing you got a flight attendent in a bad day, because I´ve never had any problems regading that.
    I´ve flown the extact seat you were in and altought I think the B747 upper deck is more exclusive, the upper deck on the a380 is good as well.

  17. Totally agree. Recently flew them and had very similar experience including nasty FA. On the main deck the lack of storage space is terrible, and so cramped. Feels less cramped in economy. Was disappointing, especially since I kinda like BA from a style perspective.

  18. Dan Diversky: Keep flying BA since a bad service is still better then getting kicked out from an American carrier’s flight just because you were not friendly enough with the crew 🙂 Alternatively you should check Virgin Atlantic. They have a good credit card (issued by MBNA), transfer partner with Amex and you can convert Tesco vouchers to Virgin Atlantic miles. Most of the time they require less miles for award tickets on business class.

  19. @chris

    Again, the people who have flown both are telling you how it is – Not from looking at a picture. I assume you work for BA with that ridiculous ‘opinion’.

    There is absolutely no comparison between BA J and EK J on the A380, and that’s just the seat let alone the rest of the product.

    That’s the end of it. Try it for yourself.

  20. British Airways has lost its luster as a world class airline. After being, Gold for a few years, I experienced a significant decline in the service, cleanliness and food quality. I was silver last year and likely dropping them altogether next year for my transatlantic trips. Even the BA galleries serves up cafeteria like offerings. The crews range more inconsistently than ever…they seemed to be pissed off because they are going back to be miserable weather in the UK or just pissed off because they spent days off in miserable weather when leaving the UK and their days off were ruined. I get better sleep on UA planes (ex Continental/787) configuration without the noisy dividers going up and down because the crews couldn’t be bothered to go around (even when I am in a bulkhead seat) . With the Avios devaluation and a recent experience similar to yours, I am trying out AA or even making and effort to fly NZ.

  21. I’m wondering how you know which runway you landed on? This is a fact that’s stated often in your (and others) trip reports, so that info has to be fairly easy to get, but how exactly DO you get it?

    Thanks for the great report!

  22. The only experience I have is with OpenSkies. The hard product was older and first generation BA lie flat. The cabin was small 2-2. The divider was a fan. There was no storage. But the crew was wonderful and quite attentive. Couple that with dinner in the Galleries Lounge in Newark and the experience was nice.

  23. I’ve long been intrigued with BA Club World, and have been wanting to try it on the SAN-LHR route. Even if the crew were great, I am suddenly less intrigued…

  24. So if you are traveling with your significant other which seats would you choose? Two seats next to each other on the first level or two facing each other on the upper deck? Thanks!

  25. Great review! I would love to see an Emirates J rescue so you can compare. That’s supposed to be pretty tight too.

  26. @Aquarius – Thanks for the info.

    @Ian – “…who has no idea.” Of what? @Lucky is pretty well traveled and has sampled a lot of offerings across many carriers.

  27. @ Scott B – Same here about being curious about Club World. Especially as a kid who hardly ever went anywhere, there was something especially glamorous about flying a world famous airline like British Airways. Unfortunately, whatever mystique BA once had is completely absent from CW on their A380. While the crew on my flight was decent enough, the seating arrangement just about negated everything else. One thing that stood out as particularly bad about the window seats is that, on the upper deck, you’re squeezed against the fuselage whenever sitting down or getting up from your seat. I’m not a tall person and that bothered me so much that I switched to a middle seat which seemed infinitely better despite having no view out the windows but only because the seats next to me were empty. However, even then it was far from perfect as one of the dividers was broken and just wouldn’t stay raised. Hardly what you expect from a world class airline.

  28. @ Ian – If you believe you know so much, why not elaborate? Telling people they have no idea then refusing to post more than a single sentence only shows that you are just as clueless.

  29. Whilst the product is outdated , it’s not as bad as your stating. Still beats LH

    And the divider screen doesn’t have to be down for take off, just the safety briefing.

  30. I’m scheduled to be on this flight in a few months, so I’m curious – does BA offer in-flight wifi on this aircraft?

  31. @ Odjo — That doesn’t match my experience, or the fact that the flight attendant was yelling at the passenger for trying to raise it before we reached cruise level. The electrical system which controls it is turned off for most of the climb out, so I’m not sure how you’d raise it?

  32. @ Brooke123 — I would choose an aisle and window seat facing one another on the upper deck. You’re basically face-to-face that way, and at least one person has a semi-comfortable and private window seat.

  33. @ Gardner — Hah, I’m just an airplane nerd so typically know the runway configurations at popular airports. I also usually see the signs as we come in to land, which state what runway you’re on.

  34. @ Mateusz — Are you talking about American’s new 777-300ER business class seats? Or maybe their old recliner ones on the 777-200?

  35. FA on my flight to JFK last month went around and raised the dividers after safety briefing.
    And you can see on your picture of the divider, it says at the top ….Divider must be down for safety briefing.

  36. The two most wretched (non-operational) expressions in travel are:

    1) “Family-friendly”

    2) “The flight attendants are primarily here for your safety.”

    I shudder whenever I encounter either phrase.

    Anyway…

    Though I prefer Delta’s premium product on the 777, I’ve never been unhappy with BA’s Club World. I simply curl up in my cozy little window cubby-hole with my bloody mary(s) and happily read my book. As for service, I’ve never had any real problems with BA. I’ve actually have had downright fantastic service from BA’s ground staff at LHR.

    I frankly don’t know how Lucky tolerated the abysmally awful service on this BA flight. I certainly would not have been able to hold my tongue. And I do hold a grudge so I would have zealously complained to BA after the flight.

    It’s a pity that Lucky didn’t name the rude & incompetent flight attendant as I’m all for a good public shaming.

  37. @Ian Typical anti-American who can’t even write a complete sentence. Did you lose your train of thought mid-way, or were you just too lazy to make a comprehensible comment?

  38. Lucky, I can totally relate to the affinity you have with the British captain’s PA.

    Except for me it’s the other way round: being British, I love hearing pilots’ announcements when I’m on American Airlines flights – when they speak of light winds “out of” the west, etc.

  39. @Lucky,

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to review BA’s CW product.

    Can you please share your feedback with BA directly? I would like to think that it could have some impact for those of us traveling CW this summer (on the $1400 fares) and a chance of seeing: better pillows, better blankets and potentially friendlier service on board!

    Having flown AA’s 777-300ER biz product recently to LHR, I’m looking forward to making a direct comparison. While AA’s hard product is industry leading on the 777-3’s, the service (or lack thereof) left much to be desired. We were lucky to even get water when needed.

    Also, you didn’t comment on the Champagne selections, BA has a pretty nice bubbly offering for a biz product!

  40. The dividers are the world most annoying feature of any business class by a country mile.

    Over the course of a LHR to LAX the divider was lowered and raised over 50 times per passenger between our party of two.

    Anything thats needed to be moved that many times is a clear case of crap user experience.

    Not to mention the clunk up and down – absolutely ridiculous.

  41. always good to see a balanced report. You show enough of the product so we can draw our own idea then give your opinion.
    I like the BA seat comfort. I like that I can recline the seat, then when I’m dropping off recline it fully.
    I’ve tried the latest Singapore Airlines seat sand in comparison give me BA every time. The SQ recline wasn’t comfortable then having to get the FA to flip the bed out was just too much bother. And I was wide awake again. The SQ IFE gave a better choice but I found the controller so difficult to use I gave up in the end.

    Horses for courses but a great review.

  42. I suspect the confusion regarding ‘beets’ might be because in the UK, it’s always referred to as beetroot.
    The rest… I have no idea.

  43. What a great and accurate review. Used to be good a loooong time ago. The only thing that can save this dismal product now is if you have a great crew. I think you are being extremely generous saying your poor crew was an isolated incident. I get poor crews 50% of the time. I would never pay for this product with my own money. Ever. Or use my Avios either that would be a waste.

  44. I’m confused by your point that BA has manual window shades on the A380. Don’t most/all airlines have manual window shades on the A380? Especially in business? Looking at some of your other reviews it looks like, for example, KE and SQ both have manual shades in F.

  45. Nobody has mentioned how filthy the photos show the plane to be–the cubbies and carpeting in particular. Does anyone at BA clean the plane?

  46. dear lucky,
    i have been reading this blog for about 2 years..i feel sorry to say its starting to get boring …reading the same kind of reviews everyday.
    i suggest you to consider reviewing other airline products.

    daily reader from Chennai,India

  47. @xulu – It’s so lovely to assume things isn’t it? I have flown both EK and BA to compare the products. It’s my opinion they are both narrow seats, EK being narrower. End of story

  48. @ ami — That’s exactly what I did with this review. I hadn’t reviewed British Airways Club World before!

  49. Hey Lucky,

    During the actual flight, once the partition can be raised, would you say that the center seats are kind of the best of both worlds because they’re semi-private, but you also don’t have to climb over someone’s ottoman to get into the aisle? Would you pick one if all window seats were taken? I’m talking about the upper deck.

  50. @ Oops — You actually still have to step over the ottoman if you’re seated in a middle seat and want to get out. It’s the same setup as a window seat in that regard.

  51. The divider only has to be down for the safety briefing. It is then up to the cabin crew to “unlock” the system so that the passengers are then free to raise or lower it. It sounds like on your flight the crew was just not happy to do it until the flight levelled off in cruise.

    Regardless, the service you experienced was very unbecoming and would barely be fit for economy, let alone a premium cabin. I hope BA reads this the way CZ did your review.

  52. Ken says:
    December 1, 2015 at 10:09 am
    British Airways has lost its luster as a world class airline. After being, Gold for a few years, I experienced a significant decline in the service, cleanliness and food quality. I was silver last year and likely dropping them altogether next year for my transatlantic trips. Even the BA galleries serves up cafeteria like offerings. The crews range more inconsistently than ever…they seemed to be pissed off because they are going back to be miserable weather in the UK or just pissed off because they spent days off in miserable weather when leaving the UK and their days off were ruined. I get better sleep on UA planes (ex Continental/787) configuration without the noisy dividers going up and down because the crews couldn’t be bothered to go around (even when I am in a bulkhead seat) . With the Avios devaluation and a recent experience similar to yours, I am trying out AA or even making and effort to fly NZ.

    The above comment coupled with Luck’s excellent review will make sure I will NOT return to BA . Have on hold F on 777 . will cancel it. I have stayed away from ba

  53. Ken says:
    December 1, 2015 at 10:09 am
    British Airways has lost its luster as a world class airline. After being, Gold for a few years, I experienced a significant decline in the service, cleanliness and food quality. I was silver last year and likely dropping them altogether next year for my transatlantic trips. Even the BA galleries serves up cafeteria like offerings. The crews range more inconsistently than ever…they seemed to be pissed off because they are going back to be miserable weather in the UK or just pissed off because they spent days off in miserable weather when leaving the UK and their days off were ruined. I get better sleep on UA planes (ex Continental/787) configuration without the noisy dividers going up and down because the crews couldn’t be bothered to go around (even when I am in a bulkhead seat) . With the Avios devaluation and a recent experience similar to yours, I am trying out AA or even making and effort to fly NZ.

    The above comment coupled with Luck’s excellent review will make sure I will NOT return to BA . Have on hold F on 777 . will cancel it. I have stayed away from ba for a long period . met twins of your FA on CW and F flights. When I asked what the tired looking appetizer was, she Sid she couldn’t tell me what it was or whether it was vegetarian per my request !

    Yeah, I am hard pressed to figure out how to spend avios .

  54. I’ll take the BA seat over the AA old-style 777 seat any day. BA also has better food than AA — but of course so do most school cafeterias. Where BA loses it for me is their dirty cabins — trash left over from previous flights; food spattered on sidewalls and partitions; fingerprints everywhere. It’s just gross.

  55. The comments & review were largely accurate, I’ve flown this cabin for years. But I have no problem sleeping in the seat. When I fly SYD-LHR, I prefer BA over QF since the longer flight is 2nd (SIN) vs. QF where the longer flight is 1st (DXB). The flight leaves SYD around 16-17:00 so I watch movies, read, nap, etc. The longer flight from SIN is a night flight, so I put on my pajamas, ear plugs & sleep mask and zone out for the night. The AA J seat on 777W, almost identifcal to CX’s, is certainly superior with a wonderful layout & privacy, compartments (including a shoe closet), and 2 chargers. And ALL seats have unobstructed aisle access.

  56. This was one of your better reviews. A lot of detail about everything. I wonder if you document things as you go, if you write the review on the spot, or if you just write in here what you recall – anyway you do it, good stuff! I applaud you for describing the service and I agree with your opinion based on what you described. Cases like that exist on every airline, however it tends to stand out more if the product that you get overall is underwhelming. For example bad service on an AA flight on an old 757 would stand out more than bad service in Singapore Business Class. People that are standing up for this product are probably doing so because of sentimental reasons rather than practical ones.

    Regarding the charging for seat assignments, I couldn’t disagree more with it. Sure, one seat is a bit better than the other, but it’s not like you get super deals on BA Business, in which case you wouldn’t mind paying extra for the better seat. BA charges standard prices for business class, has an inferior product to competitors and then tells you to pay extra for a seat assignment? That’s ridiculous.

    If you *have* to fly them however, well, Club World is better than Economy. Thanks for your review!

  57. “I wish they had a fruit plate”

    Actually, they do, you just have to choose between it and the muesli plate…and given they FA you had, I doubt she’d have agreed to serve you both 😉

    Kidding aside, I’m note sure why both aren’t an option. This frugality in choices is something you’d expect to see on US carriers.

  58. Such a shame about the service. I fly BA all the time between London and JFK/Dulles, and also out to Europe and Asia. I generally receive very good, professional service, and haven’t come across anyone nearly as bad as the flight attendant you had. Just goes to show that a company can’t afford to have a single weak link in customer service.

    But I whole-heartedly agree that it’s time BA updated the seats in first and business class. Business class, in particular, is 15 years behind the game.

    What we really need is full open skies to allow Etihad and Singapore Airlines the right to fly transatlantic. BA would have to compete or go out of business. Either would be fine by me.

  59. Excellent review, thank you!
    Would you say these seats are actually worse than those in United’s dormitory layout?

  60. Can I pre-reserve seats for free as a oneworld Sapphire? Do I have to call to do so? Seems like snagging the window seat as a solo traveler is absolutely the play.

  61. @Yuen-Wei Chew:

    Um, SQ flies FRA-JFK, IAH-DME and GRU-BCN, and EK flies MXP-JFK. They have for years. BA? Still in business. 😉

  62. What a horribly pretentious person this is. Sometimes the service you receive is a reflection of the way you treat the service personnel.

  63. Ahhh this is the famous “Beets” review I read the Lon-LA first but my guidance still holds BA=Horrible

  64. Couldn’t agree with you more, Lucky. I despise BA Business Class no matter what aircraft they are using. The seats you show on the A380 match the design of the ancient ones used on the 744. The “ottoman” is a joke, the width is uncomfortable for anyone over a size 40 jacket and the limited accessibility is inconvenient. The ancient, tiny 3″ thick video screen makes me laugh every time. I think AA had those in the 90’s. I’ve had similar experiences with the in-flight crew. Nasty at worst, ambivalent and disinterested at best. I do whatever I can to fly AA metal, but BA has the only daytime JFK-LHR flights. In addition, it seems AA is only offering award inventory on BA metal. Horrible.

  65. It’s part of the A380 design that the screens get locked in position, all other aircraft you can raise the partition for take off.

    And crew aren’t going to put their backs out by leaning over the ottoman to serve someone, health and safety dictates that they have to lower the partition screen to serve customers.

    BA don’t advertise that they have direct aisle access in business class either, and BAs patent runs out in 2017 I believe for the ying yang seating configuration, after then other airlines are able to copy the design, the big test is if other airlines copy the seating layout, and from discussions with Airbus up to 10 airlines have approached them about having similar seating.

  66. I do not like the colour scheme on BA’s business A380’s. Brown tone is definitely not correct there. I hope they change it.

  67. I have flown LAX-LHR in Club World a number of times since 2011. I always just pay the $125 (gritting my teeth) and get a seat assignment upstairs on the window at the rear of the cabin (whether it was a 747 (64K) or an A380 (59K)). This means I basically have a private little cabin with lots of side storage and don’t have to step over anyone to get out (because I am rearward facing at back of cabin). The service has been variable. When LAX-LHR is a Mixed Fleet flight, the FA’s are courteous, friendly and attentive. When it is the legacy FA’s (“Worldwide”), they clearly think customers should pretty much take care of themselves and, if bothered or questioned by a passenger during flight, the FA’s become a little peeved. I think the LAX-LHR route is now “Worldwide” crews (i.e., not Mixed Fleet), hence your experience. We used to fly BA on a Chase companion pass, in spite of the awful fees, until the award availability become so scarce it was almost impossible to use it. We overall enjoyed the experience because I carefully chose the seats and we were mostly on Mixed Fleet flights.

  68. Good review. As a few others have said, I think you were unlucky with service, it is certainly not what I have been used to on BA.

    I agree with all your comments about the facing seats, especially the feeling of exposure if you are in an aisle seat. If I am facing someone, I go for putting the divider up as soon as possible. Next week in fact, I will travel back from SFO & due to the lateness of booking I was faced with the choice of aisle of upstairs-middle. Given I will be trying to get some sleep, I have gone for the middle, but am nervous about the dividers on both sides.

    My single biggest complaint though for BA business class is the lack of space for putting personal possessions such as headphones, phone, glasses etc. whilst the seat is reclined. You don’t want to use the table, and the drawer underneath is not accessible from the seat whilst reclined.

    That said, I’ll still take a BA flat seat, over some of the older angled lie flat seats such as those I have traveled on in SAS, Finn air etc.

  69. My husband and I recently flew round trip LAX to LHR in Business Class. IMO, they were the worst flights ever due to the jig saw, herringbone seating configuration. When the seats are reclined you’re either struggling to step over someone or you’re the one being stepped. Forget trying to sleep. The seats are narrow as well with very limited storage space. Luckily the food was satisfactory and the service was great. I will NEVER fly on any aircraft with that very weird seating configuration. They’re just trying to cram as many passengers as possibly into the aircraft.

  70. Have come across this debate late but I think everybody is right about the BA Business class. Try flying Qatar A380 Business Class then you will see what I mean. BA cram you in, shoe box style. The Qatar Business Class is 4 across! while BA’s is 8! and as for the service and food,just another class altogether.
    Another fine Airline is New Zealand Airlines. At this moment in time, I find it differcult to find any other carrier with A380’s where BA is better!

  71. Unfortunately, American Airlines is nudging folks over to BA when trying to redeem miles for J and F during my time frame for a planned milestone event celebration. So after searching for 10 days and holding a reservation for 5 days after searching, I bit the bullet and chased in miles for two saver J seats on the A380 service from SFO-LHR.

    Window and aisle seat we have and we’ll make the most of it. I’m more excited about the trip because of the aircraft as I’m an aviation geek. But after taking Virgin Atlantic upper class last year to LHR from SFO, it appears we’re going to have to suck it up and just enjoy the flight as being in PE or just Y may be worst.

  72. Enjoyed reading your review and have “warned” my husband who is about to fly BA business class for the first time (usually he flies CX or one of the middle eastern airlines). Good tip re blankets, told him to pack a sweater!

  73. I ended up here to find out if I am the only one who dislikes the horrible BA 2-4-2 seating in business class. Happy that I am not the only one. The only reason I travel long distance on BA is to collect Avios. If I travel other partner airlines on OneWorld, I don’t get as many Avios points.

    Once in a while I do try to avoid flying any BA flight (having said that, have to take a 11hr trip from LHR-SHA soon).

    -Abhi

  74. Uggh Im considering booking SFO-LHR-JNB which is available my dates on A380, looks pretty bad though also considering that its $1500 extra fees to use AA miles on BA than United miles on Lufthansa. Maybe I will wait.

  75. Nick,you need to start building your miles with someone else rather than BA. Given your choice I would go Lufthansa.

    Abhi,the 2-4-2 seats you refer to are the ONLY ones,by any airline, they are designed purposely, ying/ yang for the shareholder,not the customer. 11hr trip to collect Avios? really,is your comfort and well being so low down in your esteem? To hell with the Avios! Comfort and service first! or
    is it because your company uses BA? Try asking for another airline. In a recent survey by Skytrax, of the best top 100 airlines, BA came 40th!! Avios must be gold plate!

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