On March 14th, 2015, I flew Business Class in an Airbus A380 of British Airways (BA) from London Heathrow (LHR) to Los Angeles (LAX). The world’s largest passenger aircraft entered into service for BA last year and is currently flying between London Heathrow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami (from 25 October 2015), San Francisco (from 29 March 2015), Singapore, and Washington. The Airbus A380 is big. Really, really big. Its 80 m (262 ft) wingspan is 20 percent longer than the Boeing 747, and the 24m (88 ft) high tail is so tall that BA had to extend the roof of their already sizeable Heathrow hangar to fit the aircraft inside.
The Business Class product that BA offers on its Airbus A380 fleet is an updated version of the product that you can find on its aging Boeing 747s and 777s and pretty much identical to Club World on BA’s 777 which I have also reviewed. But while BA’s Business Class (dubbed Club World) raised the bar for Business Class worldwide a decade ago with the introduction of the first fully lie-flat seat, it is now outclassed by some of its competitors, especially those in the Middle East: Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best (and preferred) Business Class products on transatlantic routes, and the overall experience is always consistent, very good, and with a British touch. If you prefer to upgrade to first, you can see our review of First on the British Airways Dreamliner.
British Airways Club World gives you access to the Galleries Club Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 but not the Galleries First (exclusively for First customers and Gold Executive Club members) or the Concorde Room (First Customers only).
Club World Cabin
BA’s Airbus A380 has a total of 469 seats over two decks with four cabins: 14 seats in First, 97 in Club World (Business Class), 55 in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 303 in World Traveller (Economy). The 97 Business Class seats on the A380 are located in 3 cabins: one on the lower deck (between First and Economy Class) and two on the upper deck in the front of the plane (with a galley in between them). The lower cabin contains 44 seats, while the two, more intimate upper deck cabins, contain 25 and 28 seats, respectively. The cabin environment of the Business Class cabins offers a sophisticated and contemporary atmosphere, giving a reassuring sense of wellbeing and comfort.
The innovative “Ying/Yang” seat plan is unique to British Airways: window and middle seats face backward, while aisle seats face forwards. Because of this unique concept, you may have to jump over other passengers’ feet to reach the aisle when seated in a backward-facing seat. On the lower deck of the Airbus, the seats have a classic 2-4-2 layout (similar to what is found on BA’s 747 and 777 fleet: A, B – D, E, F, G – J, K). On the upper deck, the seats have a 2-3-2 layout (A, B – D, E, F – J, K), so there is more space for fewer passengers.
Club World Seat
All Club World seats on the Airbus A380 offer the same degree of comfort, with a seat pitch of 72 inches (182 cm) and a seat cushion width of 20 inches (50 cm). The angle of maximum seat recline is 180 degrees, and the overall length of the seat when fully reclined (and when tilting the separate footrest) is a 6ft (183cm) flatbed. It also has a reclined Z position for relaxing and watching films in a near-recumbent position. Next to the seat, you can find the seat controls, the entertainment controls, a reading light, and a power port.
Each seat comes with a thin blanket, a small (and not-so-comfortable) pillow, and an upgraded amenity kit. The latter is a drawstring bag (one for men and one for women) designed to double up as a shoe or lingerie and underwear bag. It includes Elemis products to refresh, revive and rehydrate, created in travel sizes exclusively for British Airways customers. Both the men’s and women’s versions include moisturizer and lip balm, as well as an eyeshade, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a pen for filling out arrivals forms.
I have covered this in a separate article here as I thought the Club World the food and wine merited their own piece.
On the entertainment front, you get a private screen, noise-canceling headphones (the noise-canceling bit is in the console, not the headphone, interestingly), two USB sockets, power, and a video RCA connection for your camcorder, DVD player, or camera. The private screen (12 inches or 20 cm) is larger than that of BA’s older planes. It swings out from the side of the private cabin suite. It also tilts up and down, so watching the screen from the near or fully flat-bed position is perfectly possible.
The new Thales in-flight entertainment (available in all classes) is light years ahead of what BA currently offers on other planes, and screen quality has significantly improved. There are tons of movies and box sets to explore, alongside a range of other content, including a much-enhanced flight map and chat sessions with other passengers (so if you fancy striking up a conversation with someone six rows or even a cabin away, now is your chance).
I love the BA cabin crew, and during all my BA flights, I never encountered any problem with them or with the onboard service. It was not different on this flight.
The two upper deck Business Class cabins have 3 lavatories in total: one between the 2 cabins and two in the nose of the plane. The latter is pretty large. All lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.
The Airbus’ A380 is the quietest widebody jetliner flying today, generating 50 percent less noise energy on departure than its nearest competitor, as well as three to four times less when landing – all while carrying 40 percent more passengers. Although four huge Rolls Royce engines at full throttle are used to lift the 571,000-kilogram aircraft off the ground, the plane’s interior is eerily quiet. And the full effect of the lack of noise doesn’t really take hold until you are at cruising altitude. Instead of talking loudly to the flight attendant, passengers can whisper. It also makes it much easier to fall asleep.
I have also compared British Airways Club World vs. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class including the Galleries Lounges vs. Virgin’s Clubhouses. I have also reviewed Club World on BA’s A380s (it has 12) from Los Angeles to London.
Review by oir friends at Luxury Travel Expert