I experienced Business Class, or Club World, in the upper cabin of a British Airways (BA) Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet from London (LHR) to San Francisco (SFO). BA offers a more or less identical business class product on all of its long-haul fleet. You can see my recent trip report from the BA Boeing 777-300ER and my BA Airbus A380 review as well as finding out what you get if you upgrade to First on the BA Dreamliner B787-9.
I am a huge fan of BA, especially its crew. Their professional and very British crew always uses the exact same routine for passenger communications. For example, the flight crew always talks over the intercom to the passengers before take-off and 40 minutes before arrival (no matter how short the duration of the flight is), and the cabin crew always addresses the passengers following their flight crew colleagues. Somehow, this predictable routine (often lacking with other airlines) makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I also find their pilots very good in explaining and warning about turbulence and weather conditions so that you understand when, why and most crucially, for how long the plane might bump around for.
This flight flew out of Heathrow Terminal 5 which is a true marvel of engineering and my favourite airport terminal. In Terminal 5 I had access to the Galleries First Lounge which I have reviewed.
British Airways Club World Seat Review
The seats in British Airways Club World lower deck on the B747 feature a ying-yang 2-4-2 layout; window and middle seats face backwards, while aisle seats face forwards. Because of this, you have to jump over other passenger’s legs to reach the aisle when seated in a backward facing seat (which is rather inconvenient).
On the upper deck, there are only 20 seats with a 2-2 layout, so there is more space for fewer passengers and it almost feels like flying in your own private cabin. I like the privacy and quiet atmosphere of BA’s 747 upper deck so much that I still prefer it over the more flashy business class products of other carriers’ single-decked planes. I hope that BA will keep the old bird flying for many more years to come.
The Club World seats themselves on the B747 are identical to those on BA’s B747 and A380. Each seat is located within its own cocoon or suite, with a pitch of 72 inches (182 cm), a seat cushion width of 20 inches (50 cm) and in front of each seat, there is a foot rest, which acts as an extension of the flatbed. The seat reclines to 180 degrees flatbed, and the overall length is a 6ft (183cm). It can also partially recline to a Z-position for relaxing and watching films.
Each seat has its own private entertainment screen, which swings out from one side of the cabin suite. There are also noise-cancelling headphones provided, two USB sockets, power, and a video RCA connection for your camcorder, DVD player or camera. The private entertainment screen is rather small (9 inches or 22 cm) and 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 possible. There are lots of movies and box sets to explore and an excellent flight map as well as a more unusual opportunity to chat with other passengers on your console.
There are retractable privacy dividers between adjoining seats, which can be lowered or raised. The safety screen must be lowered during the safety briefing, and the crew will lower it when they serve you meals and drinks.
Each seat comes with a thin blanket, a comfortable pillow, and an amenity kit which comes in a drawstring bag (one male, one female) that can double up as a shoe or underwear bag. Products are Elemis in travel sizes and include moisturiser and lip balm, an eyeshade, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and a pen.
How to choose the best British Airways Club World Seats?
Upper deck atmosphere is far superior to that of lower deck, so choose an upper deck seat. Window seats are more private (and in addition, have more storage space on the upper deck). The “honeymoon” center seats on the lower deck, where you’re basically seated as close to the person next to you as you would be in economy, are great if you’re traveling with someone you want to be that close to, but downright awkward when you end up next to a stranger in that configuration.
Seats 62A, 62K and 64A on the upper deck are the single best seats since they are the only window seats in the 747 where you will not have to jump over the feet of other passengers (direct aisle access) and they offer more leg room.
64A (my seat for the flight) also has direct aisle access and more leg room, but it is located next to the lavatories, so this may bother some because of the extra noise (it did not bother me, but it was a day flight after all).
Amenity Kit On British Airways Club World
The Amenity Kit is a drawstring bag (one for men and one for women) that is designed to double up as a shoe or lingerie and underwear bag and includes Elemis products to refresh, revive and rehydrate, created in travel sizes exclusively for BA customers. The men’s bag includes Skin Soothe Shave Gel (7ml), a Pro-Collagen Marine Cream (5ml) and an Ultra-conditioning Lip Balm made from Beeswax (4g), along with a Razor, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and a pen. The women’s bag includes a Limited Edition Pro-Collagen Marine Cream (7ml), soothing apricot facial wipe, the Ultra-Conditioning Lip Balm (4g) and some Pro-Collagen Hand & Nail Cream (5ml) along with socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and pen.
After boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice or champagne. And after reaching cruising altitude, I received a refreshing hot towel and I was also served a sprite (with ice and lemon) and a small bag containing an assortment of cold nuts.
Soon thereafter, lunch was offered, all served on a single tray. British Airways Business Class food can be a hit and a miss, and this time the food was pretty good and acceptable for transatlantic Business Class. As a starter, I choose the tiger prawns Bois Boudran with Pepquino and crème fraîche. Quite delicious! As an entrée, I had the roasted-corn fed chicken with pea and broad bean fricassée, sweet potato mash, and Port wine jus. I kind of liked it (maybe a little too much jus). For dessert, I choose the peach Melba Délice delice with raspberry confit. But what I received was not a peach, but a lemon and mascarpone tart with raspberry compote. It tasted good nevertheless.
90 minutes prior to landing, all Business Class passengers were served afternoon tea, snacks (a selection of sandwiches featuring tomato and herb chicken with basil pesto, prawns with creamy mayonnaise, and Wensleydale cheese) and sweets (buttermilk or fruit scones with clotted cream, chocolate éclair, lemon cupcake and raspberry cream sponge). I am not a big fan of BA afternoon tea and snacks concept (especially not of the sandwiches served in a plastic container), and it was not different this time. Alternatively, instead of the sandwiches, one could also choose a mixed Mediterranean vegetable and pumpkin seed salad with olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.
I love BA’s cabin crew, and during all my BA flights, I never encountered any problem with them or with the onboard service. The upper cabin is served by 2 flight attendants, and on this particular flight, the one steward and one stewardess were very kind and competent (not different from other flight experiences though).
British Airways 747 has a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, where fliers can graze between meals which is also a highlight. You have the option of sandwiches, fine artisan pastries, yoghurt, ice cream, fresh fruit, and/or a chocolate selection.
British Airways remains one of the best Business Class products on the Transatlantic routes and although the Business Class product onboard American Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER is superior, I am a sucker for the ever-so-British offering on British Airways.
Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert