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Review: British Airways Business Class 777 London To Los Angeles
After the outbound flight from Los Angeles to London on the British Airways A380, I was excited to try the British Airways 777 on the return. Not only would it allow me to sample a different plane type, but I was also curious to see if the service would be any better on the return sector.
British Airways 283
London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Sunday, November 29
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 11K (Business Class/Club World)
We boarded through the second door of the aircraft on the left, where we were greeted by the customer service director and some of the business class crew. The entire business class cabin was located to the right, as it’s just the first class cabin between doors one and two.
Business class consists of a single massive cabin. There are a total of 56 seats, with eight seats per row. The cabin feels dense as could be.
We were seated in 11J & 11K, which were the aisle and window seat in the second row of business class on the right hand side.
Much like on the A380, the aisle seat faced forwards while the window seat faced backwards.
As someone who usually flies in business class products with four seats per row, I was just sort of shocked by the eight seats British Airways has in each row. The center section has four seats — the aisle seats face forwards, and then the two center seats face backwards.
And goodness, the two center seats are… intimate! I see how they could be nice if you’re traveling with someone and are on your honeymoon, but could you imagine booking a last minute full fare business class ticket and ending up in one of these “honeymoon” seats next to a stranger?
Anyway, back to our seats. Ford took the aisle seat, 11J, which was forward facing.
Meanwhile I took the window seat, 11K, which was rear facing. The window seats are infinitely more private (at least at cruise altitude), so if you’re traveling in British Airways business class be sure to get a window seat, in my opinion.
The 777 business class seats seemed to otherwise more or less be identical to the A380 seats, except they felt even more cramped (that may just have been my perception). On this plane the button for raising the privacy partition between seats was located on the very top of the partition, presumably making it easy for the crew to lower and raise it during the service.
I wasn’t really paying attention to the reaction of other passengers on the outbound flight, though did on this flight. The guy settling into the window seat in front of me was genuinely confused, and looked at us to ask how he was supposed to get out of his seat. He continued with “this is the worst business class I’ve ever seen.” Some other passengers seemed equally disappointed, including the guy traveling alone who ended up next to a stranger in one of the “honeymoon” seats.
Within a few minutes of settling in we were offered pre-departure beverages. I selected a glass of champagne. The five (or so) business class crew were all male, and on the senior side (this route used to be operated by mixed fleet crews, which are British Airways’ super-young flight attendants, so it’s a bit of a contrast). They were also rather international, as they all seemed to have accents from somewhere else in Europe — one had the Italian flag on his nametag, one had the German flag, etc.
While one of the flight attendants was reasonably friendly, the others were stone-faced throughout the entire flight.
About 15 minutes after pre-departure beverages were served, the crew came around with menus for the flight.
Shortly thereafter they came around with the Elemis amenity kits (I posted pictures of the contents in the outbound review).
Before takeoff I took the chance to change into pajamas, and found the lavatory to already be rather filthy… and that’s before the plane even took off!
At around 10:20AM the captain came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard and wish us a pleasant flight. He informed us of the flight time of 10hr40min, which he anticipated would put us into Los Angeles on schedule, or maybe even a bit early. Much like on the outbound, he couldn’t have sounded more confident, soothing, or British in his announcements. Gosh, I sure do love British Airways pilots.
At 10:30AM we began our pushback with a completely full plane (at least I’m pretty sure every seat was taken), at which point the safety video began to play.
The British Airways 777 at the gate next to us had a rather interesting livery.
We taxied out to runway 27R, which meant first taxiing by Terminal 5, then past Terminal 3, and then finally past the Queen’s Terminal.
At Terminal 3 there was a Qantas A380, Cathay Pacific 777, tons of American planes, and even some British Airways 747s (which are becoming a more common sight, given that some BA routes just transferred from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3).
The traffic at the Queen’s Terminal was perhaps the most varied, as there were tons of United planes, as well as some planes from Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Ethiopian, Thai, etc.
Once past the Queen’s Terminal we taxied past the Virgin Atlantic hangar and the strange green “test” airplane.
Once at runway 27R we were number two for takeoff, behind a United 767.
At 10:50AM we began our takeoff roll, which was long and smooth. It always feels a bit strange to be seated backwards when taking off and landing.
There was some light chop on the climb out, and it certainly wasn’t as scenic as the approach we had into London a few days prior.
Above the clouds it’s always a beautiful day, though. 😉
The seatbelt sign was turned off about 15 minutes after takeoff, at which point I reclined my seat and made myself a bit more comfortable. The window seats are private, though it doesn’t change the fact that they feel really narrow and almost claustrophobic.
I extended the entertainment screen from the center console and turned on the airshow to take a look at the progress of our flight.
Then I browsed the entertainment selection. There was nothing I found especially interesting. That being said, I knew I didn’t want to sleep, and there was no wifi and I had no entertainment loaded on my iPad, so the options were limited. I decided to watch “30 Days In Atlanta,” which was…
Anyway, once we leveled off at cruise altitude hot towels were distributed.
Then the crew came around to take meal orders. The lunch menu read as follows:
And the wine/beverage list read as follows:
Service began with the cart being rolled through the aisle with drinks and packaged nuts. I decided to have a glass of the French white wine, which I didn’t particularly care for.
About 20 minutes after the initial beverage service, the crew rolled the cart through the aisle with the starters and salads. We were also offered a selection from the bread basket (this time around I could easily identify what all the types of bread were). 😉
I selected a piece of garlic bread, which was quite delicious.
The salad was tiny and quite plain, aside from the shaved parmesan which was grated on top.
The salmon itself was on the slimy side, though wasn’t bad.
Ford had the kibbeh as the starter.
Interestingly British Airways also placed a couple of chocolates on the tray with the appetizer and salad. You’d think that would make more sense with the coffee service, but that seems to be their procedure.
For the main course I ordered the salad. It’s perhaps an unconventional choice for a main course, though I quite like prawns, and none of the other choices really interested me. I have to say, the salad was exceptionally good, especially the prawns. It was one of the better main courses I’ve had in business class.
Meanwhile Ford ordered the macaroni & cheese. Also an unconventional choice for the healthiest eater I know… must have been opposite day, or something. 😉
For dessert I had the spiced pear & custard tart, which was simple but nice.
Ford asked if they had any ice cream, and requested vanilla. They did indeed have some ice cream from the Club Kitchen (the mid-flight snack bar), though the flight attendant insisted Ford also have the dulce de leche ice cream, which he said was amazing.
The meal was done about two hours into the flight. The service was reasonably efficient for a daytime flight, especially given the challenges of serving this type of cabin.
One of the flight attendants was quite charming, in a rugged sort of way. The other guys working the cabin were heavily focused on efficiency, and on principle didn’t seem to think they were being paid to smile or use phrases like “you’re welcome” when I said “thank you.”
After the meal I decided to recline my seat and nap for a bit. We hadn’t gotten much sleep in London, so Ford and I had sleeping “shifts” on this flight. I got the window seat for the first half of the flight, while he got it for the second half of the flight. So I took advantage of that by getting a solid three hours of sleep. Again, the seat is narrow, but at least it’s also private.
By the time I woke up we were over Greenland, where it seemed to be a gorgeous day.
I quickly visited the loo. There are four of them in business class, all in the very back of the cabin, in front of premium economy. There are two on each side of the aisle, so I’d say that’s a pretty fair passenger to lavatory ratio.
I also quickly checked out the Club Kitchen setup, which was located in the galley in front of the cabin. Even though it was intended for passengers to visit and pick out what they want, I got glares when I walked through the galley, as if I were disturbing “their” space (and I get the galley is the crew’s space, but there’s no other way to access the snack bar).
As far as snack bars go, this was one of the better ones. It featured whole fruit, all kinds of packaged snacks, as well as some cold items in a fridge. These included small sandwiches, yogurt, fruit salad, etc
About 30 minutes after returning to my seat I realized I really wanted a coffee. If you’re in the window seat you have to step over the person in the aisle in order to “escape,” and I didn’t want to disturb the person in the seat behind me, as I had gotten up just 30 minutes prior.
So I pushed the call button to ask for some coffee, and when the flight attendant appeared he almost had a look of disbelief, as if he couldn’t believe I dared to push the call button. That should always be acceptable in business class, especially when you’re in a window seat and getting up would disturb the person in the aisle seat, in my opinion.
Anyway, I watched a few more sitcoms and switched seats while Ford switched to the window seat to get some sleep.
Eventually we found ourselves just a couple of hours from Los Angeles. The views were stunning.
90 minutes before landing the pre-flight meal service began. The light meal menu read as follows:
British Airways used to offer afternoon tea as the pre-landing meal, which I loved. But apparently due to customer feedback they recently began offering a second hot meal instead, which makes me sort of sad. Afternoon tea was always the best meal on British Airways!
Anyway, the meal consisted of a starter and fruit salad.
I had the prawns with cucumber and red pepper salad to start.
Ford had the goat’s cheese.
For the main course we both had the Thai vegetable curry. It seemed like the best of the options, though wasn’t very well executed. The rice was crispy, and the sauce almost seemed like more of a cheese sauce than a curry.
At about 1PM PST the captain came on the PA once again to provide us with updated arrival information. He anticipated we’d touch down in Los Angeles at 1:40PM, and that we’d commence our approach within 15 minutes.
Sure enough about 10 minutes later we began our descent, whereby we basically flew down the Pacific coast, then turned east, and then turned around again to land into the west.
We touched down on runway 24R at 1:40PM, and then had a super long taxi to our arrival gate. While you can usually access Tom Bradley International Terminal directly from the north side of the airport, in this case we basically taxied around the airport.
First we crossed runway 24L, then we took the taxiway which swings around to the south side of the airport, where a lot of planes were parked for the day.
That included some of the more “exotic” airlines, like Air Tahiti Nui, Air New Zealand, and Fiji Airways.
Then we taxied along runway 25R, and then along the side of Terminal 4 before finally reaching our gate at Tom Bradley International Terminal.
We arrived at our gate at around 1:50PM, and then had to wait about five minutes for the door to open. They opened the forward cabin door first, so we walked through first class as we deplaned. Never before has British Airways first class looked so comfortable!
British Airways 777 business class bottom line
This flight wasn’t as offensive as the one on the way out. I’m genuinely trying to be unbiased here:
- One flight attendant on this sector was quite friendly, while the rest were apathetic as could be. At least none of them were actively unfriendly or offensive, unlike on the outbound.
- The food on this sector was edible though nothing special. I don’t place all that much weight on food in business class, as I always say that business class is all about the seat.
- The hard product is still the worst part of British Airways business class as far as I’m concerned. The seats are extremely narrow, and while the window seats are comparatively decent, I find all the other seats to probably be the worst fully flat hard product out there.
What do I take away from this trip? As much as we often complain about US airlines, American’s new business class is so much better than what British Airways offers.
If there’s another amazing deal for British Airways business class I’d consider flying them again, and I’d be sure I snag a window seat. However, if American is an option I’d hands down choose them over BA.
Hopefully that’s a fair assessment from my perspective. I realize others like the seat more, and I totally respect that.