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Transport : Airlines

In this trip report I review Club World, British Airway’s Business Class, on an A380 from Los Angeles (LAX) to London Heathrow (LHR) which I flew in October 2016. I previously reviewed LHR to LAX on the A380. The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft and is famous for being a “double-decker” with the upper deck extending along the entire length of the fuselage. It is also impressively green, with the lowest emissions per passenger of any large aircraft and is 50% quieter than the Boeing 747-400 range. BA has 12 A380’s in its fleet and they fly between Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver and Washington.

The Business Class product that BA offers is pretty much identical across its fleet and I have already reviewed Business class or Club World on the Dreamliner B787-9, and on BA’s 777. 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 my 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 my review of First on the British Airways Dreamliner. I have also reviewed Premium Economy on the Dreamliner. British Airways features in my top top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class.

When flying out of London Heathrow, 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). For this trip I flew out of LAX and used the oneworld Los Angeles (LAX) Lounge.

Club World Cabin On The A380
On the A380 Club World takes 97 of the 469 seats and is spread across the main and upper decks. The upper deck Club World seats are in two smaller cabins situated around a central galley, whereas on the main deck they are all together in a single cabin. The seats are arranged in the so-called “ying/yang” layout, where the seat next to you faces the opposite direction affording more privacy and space. I was in the main deck which has two seats by the window, 4 in the middle and another 2 by the far window. The layout means that the two inner seats on the middle row of 4 face the same way and the outer 2 seats face the opposite way. For couples or people travelling together these middle seats would be perfect but they would feel a little too intimate for strangers! I was in one of the outer of these 4 seats, in my opinion all the aisle seats are the ideal seats in Club World for solo travellers. If you like a window seat (which personally I don’t) then the window seat is fine but you would have to climb over the feet of the person next to you, whereas if you’re in an aisle there’s no one to disturb when you wish to walk around. The cabin environment is stylish and modern with the traditional BA colour scheme.

My favourite thing about flying Club World has got to be the seat. Spacious, comfortable with acres of leg room, a memory foam headrest, and most importantly, the chair converts into a 183cm (6ft) fully flat bed. This is billed as an environment for sleeping, relaxing and working and as such you are given a quilted blanket and a power supply is available for laptops and other electronic devices, as well as a USB socket. A laptop sized storage tray is available by your feet which is useful to keep your personal belongings at hand, as there is no seat pocket immediately in front of you as per the traditional setup. Privacy screens can be raised between the seats as soon as you are airborne which limits the slightly awkward view you have looking directly at each other! You are also supplied with a luxury amenity kit which includes Elemis skincare products and various travel accessories. One of the main drawbacks is the lack of Wi-Fi available on board, this is now an expected offering and is therefore noticeably absent and will hopefully be added in the future.

Although the seats themselves do not match up to the likes of Emirates and Qatar, the cabin looks classier and less glitzy than Emirates in particular (take a look at my review of First on the Emirates A380 and you will see what I mean!). I prefer the more conservative look of the cabins on British Airways.

What Is The Best Club World Seat On The A380?
I do not like the layout of BA Club World (see seating plan) as i don’t like facing backwards on the plane and 50% of the Club World seats on the 777, A380, 747 and of course Dreamliner 787 face backwards. In fact, my favourite window seats all face backwards!

The two upper deck cabins feel more intimate as compared to the larger cabin on lower deck (because they contain less seats), so choose an upper deck seat. In addition, the upper deck is higher above the massive Rolls Royce engines and thus quieter. For solo travelers: the rear facing, window seats are more private and the ones you want to be seated in. In addition, the seats on the upper deck have a couple of side locker which is very useful for storing personal items. If you cannot secure a window seat, your next best choice is the middle seat in the 2-3-2 upper deck configuration as it has an extra storage compartment, though note you will have to step over the feet of the passengers either side unless you are in the rearmost row (in each cabin). The “honeymoon” centre 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, though it would be downright awkward when you end up next to a stranger in that configuration.

Row 53 (upper deck, front cabin): the window seats A & K are the single best seats on the plane since they offer direct aisle access without having to jump over the feet of other passengers. While the window seats on row 15 (lower deck) and row 59 (upper deck) also offer a clear exit route, they are less than desirable (see below). The middle seat in the 2-3-2 upper deck configuration on rows 53 and 59 not only has an extra storage compartment, but also offers direct aisle access.

What are the worst Club World seats on BA’s A380?
Row 50 (upper deck, front cabin): the windows seats A & K are missing a window. Row 50 (upper deck, front cabin): aisle seats B & J are to be avoided at all costs since other flyers tend to bump into these seats when they return from the lavatory. Row 59 (upper deck, second cabin): the Club World seats A, B, J & K are aligned with the middle seats of the first row in World Traveller Plus, which means that you are an aisle width and just a cloth curtain away from the baby bassinets against the cabin divider on the other side. Row 56 (upper deck, second cabin: the Club World seats F, J & K are located close to the lavatory, which may be bothersome to some flyers. Row 15 (lower deck): the Club World seats A, B, J & K are located close to the lavatory, which may be bothersome to some flyers.

Club World Service
The service was very good and just what I would expect from British Airways; professional, slick and appropriately British. They went above and beyond to meet the needs of the passengers; the man sitting next to me requested the omelette but they had run out, they went away to source one from the standard food range, apologised it was a little smaller but added some garnish to make it more Club World appropriate! What great service!

As part of the Club World service, you are entitled to priority check-in and boarding, plus shorter queues at security. This is a great time saving bonus and I found it particularly beneficial as it maximises your time in the lounge. The shorter queues at security are very useful at LAX as the American security is so thorough, I was very grateful that I was not subjected to the standard queues! You also receive access to private lounges and luxurious spa treatments.

Entertainment
All seats on the A380 have on demand audio and video, with literally hundreds of the latest films, documentaries, television shows, music, audio books and games at your fingertips. As part of Club World you have your own personal 10.4in flat screen plus noise-cancelling headphones. The screen is tucked into the seat beside you and can be released and positioned as required, it can be tilted so you can watch it from the reclined seat position too. I enjoyed a couple of the latest film releases and listened to some music. You can continue to use the headphones to listen to music as the plane lands, although as the screen has to be docked so you can’t watch any content. Another inflight entertainment feature that I would normally expect from a modern aircraft (and one which I know is featured by other premier airlines on the A380) is the availability of on board cameras that allow you to view forward, downward and tail fin views, it’s a shame that this was lacking as it can be an interesting way to pass the time, particularly when you don’t have a window seat.

Dining
The dining promises a range of delicious food and drink using fresh, local ingredients and international flavours and is inspired by some of the world’s top chefs. As the flight was a night flight, dinner was served first, as a starter I had the Marinated Prawns with Artichoke and Karamata Olives, which was served alongside a generous side salad and for main course I had the Chilled Main Course of Chargrilled Breast of Chicken with Baby Spinach, Baby Arugula, Fresh Berries and Candied Walnuts. Both were very tasty and beautifully presented. The menu had 2 options for a starter, 4 options for a main course and 3 dessert options one of which was cheese. Breakfast was served an hour and a half or so before landing, again the menu had a wide range of options with 4 starters of which I had the Special K, for the main course there were 4 options and I couldn’t resist the Traditional English Breakfast which was reasonable but not amazing and not as good as dinner. Club Kitchen is an area where you can come and help yourself to snacks, both treats and healthy alternatives. Being a night flight I didn’t make use of this as I was asleep for a lot of the flight but from a quick glance it looked rather limited in range. They did however serve me a coffee on demand which was very welcome!

You can be assured of receiving a consistently high quality product with BA’s Club World and combined with the comfort offered from the A380 I would definitely recommend this service.

I have also compared British Airways Club World Vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class including the Galleries Lounges Vs Virgin’s Clubhouses. If you enjoyed this article you may also want to take look at my airline reviews and my previous experience in Club Worlds on Ba’s A380 and the B747 Jumbo.

British Airways