Review: St. Regis San Francisco
Review: British Airways Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: British Airways Club World 777 San Francisco To London
Review: St. Regis Rome
Review: Hotel Cala Di Volpe Porto Cervo
Review: Dining At Hotel Cala Di Volpe
Review: Hotel Romazzino Porto Cervo
Review: Dining At Hotel Romazzino
Review: Hilton Rome Airport
Review: British Airways Lounge Rome Airport
Review: British Airways Club World A380 London To San Francisco
Our flight from Rome to London was pretty uneventful, as was our long layover in London. It was actually one of my most pleasant Heathrow transit experiences yet. Transit security didn’t take too long, and we even managed to secure spa treatments at the Elemis Spa. The treatment was good, except for the fact that the advertised 15 minute treatment only lasted for eight minutes.
We spent our time in the Galleries First Lounge thanks to my oneworld Emerald status, and at around 1PM we headed to our departure gate, C57, which is the furthest pier from the lounge. It took about 10-15 minutes to get there, and at around 1:20PM fast track boarding was called for our flight to San Francisco.
British Airways 287
London (LHR) – San Francisco (SFO)
Sunday, September 18
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 58B (Business Class/Club World)
British Airways has business class on both the lower and upper deck of the A380. First class is at the front of the lower deck, and there’s a business class cabin behind it. Then on the upper deck there are two business class cabins. On our last British Airways A380 business class flight we sat in the forward business class cabin on the upper deck, while on this flight we sat in the rear cabin on the upper deck. Therefore we took the jet bridge directly to the upper deck.
Upon boarding we presented our boarding passes and were pointed right towards the rear business class cabin. The rear upper deck business class cabin has four rows, and we were in the second to last row.
While the seats are in a 2-4-2 configuration on the lower deck, on the upper deck they’re in a 2-3-2 configuration, so the cabin doesn’t feel quite as crammed (admittedly the cabin is also narrower on the upper deck, though…).
We chose an aisle and window combination, 58A & 58B.
Much like on the 777, the business class seats on the A380 are still really narrow.
The ottoman lowers from the seat in front (though is quite flimsy, and if you apply too much pressure, it’ll “collapse”).
The window seats are already the best seats in British Airways’ business class, though what makes them even better on the upper deck of the A380 are the storage lockers. So while the seats don’t usually have much storage, there’s plenty of storage at the window seats here.
Waiting at our seats were headphones, pillows, and blankets. Once again, the blankets were scratchy and pillows thin.
A few minutes after settling in one of the flight attendants came by to offer pre-departure beverages off a tray. We both selected champagne. The crew on this flight seemed to be friendly, though not quite as good as on the outbound. Still, they were infinitely better than the flight attendant I had on my previous British Airways A380 flight.
About 10 minutes later we were offered drawstring bags with amenities, which are pretty basic.
After that we were offered the menus for the flight.
Boarding was fairly efficient, though the flight was booked out, so it took a while.
By 2PM boarding was complete, at which point captain Tim came on the PA to welcome us aboard on behalf of his co-captain and the senior first officer. He informed us of our flight time of 10hr35min, which he anticipated would get us into San Francisco on shed-jewel.
The second he finished his announcement, the customer service director, Damon, made his welcome aboard announcement. He did it as if they were doing some sort of a routine, because the captain finished his announcement by saying “I’ll now leave you in the capable hands of Damon and his crew,” and without even a two second pause, Damon said “thanks for that captain,” and continued with his announcements.
At 2:05PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video began to play.
After pushback we held position for about 10 minutes as the engines started up. Fortunately from there it was just a quick taxi to our departure runway, 27R.
As usual, the views enroute to the runway were interesting, though unfortunately the windows on the A380 are on the small side, and are extremely difficult to photograph out of. As an aviation geek that’s rather frustrating.
By 2:25PM we were cleared for takeoff, after waiting for a couple of British Airways narrowbody aircraft to take off.
Our takeoff roll and initial climb out were smooth and gradual, as is the norm on the A380.
We had some fantastic views of Terminal 5 on our initial climb out, before entering a layer of clouds.
About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.
Service on this flight was really slow to get started, which I don’t mind as much on a daytime flight as a redeye, but still. About 45 minutes after takeoff the customer service director came through the cabin to take meal orders. Unfortunately they were already out of our first choice of starter, which seems to be the disadvantage of sitting this far back in the cabin without British Airways status.
The menu read as follows:
And the beverage list read as follows:
As the CSD came through to take meal orders, another crew member came through the cabin with warm towels.
A full hour after takeoff the crew came through the cabin with drinks and packaged mixed nuts. I had the Italian white wine, which was nice.
A full 80 minutes after takeoff the meal service began, starting with the salad and appetizer being served.
The salmon starter was decent, better than on the outbound.
The salad was good as well.
I chose some focaccia from the breadbasket to accompany the meal.
It was another 45 minutes after the appetizer before the main course was served, which is simply way too long. On the plus side, it tasted good — we both had the buttered chicken. I feel like that’s a dish that works quite well on planes, for what it’s worth.
Finally another 20 minutes later the crew came through the cabin with dessert, which consisted of apple and blackberry vanilla crisp with cream. It was pretty good, even though I’m generally not a huge fan of sweet, fruity desserts.
After lunch bottled water was distributed.
By the time the meal service was done we were over 2hr30m into our flight, well past Iceland and approaching Greenland.
Service throughout the meal was friendly, though I did feel like I was part of an assembly line. That’s to say that the crew didn’t offer refills if they saw an empty glass or clear plates if they saw them empty, but rather only as they were coming through the cabin with their carts and performing the main service.
However, this was one of the better British Airways business class meals I’ve had, as the food was actually pretty good. Still, I wish the meal wouldn’t be so drawn out. They could just as easily serve the starter, salad, and appetizer on one tray, and then separately come around with dessert to speed things up.
After the meal I decided to watch a couple of sitcoms, including two episodes of The Middle that I hadn’t seen before.
One of the good things about the upper deck of the A380 is that it has two huge lavatories at the front, which are certainly better than the tiny ones they have in business class on the 777. However, one of the lavatories was inoperable, meaning there were only a total of two working lavs in business class on the upper deck (there’s also one on the right side in the galley between cabins).
Between meals the crew did have a snack bar available, though the offerings have been watered down significantly over the years.
One other nice thing about being in the rear upper deck business class cabin is that it feels quite private. There’s very little foot traffic since all the service is done from the galley in front of the cabin, and the lavatories are all in front of the cabin as well.
After watching a couple of sitcoms I managed to get some rest. I napped for a few hours, and woke up about three hours from landing in San Francisco. I took the opportunity to get caught up on some work up until 75 minutes out, when the lights were turned up and the pre-arrival meal was served.
The menu read as follows:
By the time they got around to us they once again didn’t have our preferred starter.
Maybe it’s just me, but it’s unfortunate when the only appetizer is by far the less agreeable one. The sea trout timbale was borderline inedible.
Fruit was served on the same true, even though it was intended as the dessert.
While there was a full bar on offer, flight attendants prompted passengers by asking if they wanted coffee or tea, and sure enough almost everyone selected that. It’s not often you have sea trout and coffee together.
For the main course I chose the “Far East salad” with prawns, which was very good.
Ford wanted the chicken sandwich, but they were out of it, so he got stuck with the toasties.
Around 4:20PM Pacific Time the captain came back on the PA with updated arrival information, informing us of our expected landing time of 4:55PM.
It looked like a gorgeous day in San Francisco, and our eyes were glued out the window for the entire descent.
Sure enough we had a smooth touchdown on runway 28R at 4:55PM.
Our taxi to the gate took about 10 minutes, and we arrived there at 5:05PM, just a few minutes behind schedule.
British Airways A380 Club World bottom line
I’ve learned to manage my expectations with British Airways, so given that, I thought the flight was very good.
I’ll note that the rear upper deck cabin is probably my favorite place to be in business class on the A380 thanks to how little foot traffic there is. That being said, they also seem to run out of meal choices when they get that far back. Next time I fly British Airways business class I’d like to try the 747, as I imagine the upper deck on it is probably the best British Airways business class seats there are.
Is British Airways business class globally competitive? Heck no. Is it worth it on a super-duper-discounted business class fare? Yep!