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Transport : Airlines

In this trip report I review Club World, British Airway’s Business Class, on an Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from Calgary (YYC) to London Heathrow (LHR). You can also read my outward review on the British Airways A380 from London Heathrow (LHR) to Vancouver (YVR). I flew both in September 2016.

The Dreamliner is the latest aircraft type to join BA’s fleet. At the time of writing, eight B787-8 Dreamliners had been delivered to BA, in addition to fourteen B787-9 Dreamliners. BA’s B787-8 has only three classes (Economy, Premium Economy, and Business), in contrast to BA’s B787-9, where the additional aircraft length of 20 ft (6 m) has been used to add a fourth cabin – First Class – at the front of the plane. I have reviewed BA’s Business Class product on its wide body planes including BA Business on the Boeing B747-400, and the BA Business on Boeing 777.

The business class product that BA offers is pretty much identical across its fleet and I have also reviewed business class or Club World on the Dreamliner B787-9, and on the A380 on 3 separate trips flying from London to Lost Angeles, Los Angeles to London, to Vancouver. But while BA’s Business Class 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.

As British Airways does not have its own lounge at Calgary International Airport, its Business Class passengers have access to the Swissport Chinook Lounge, one floor about the main concourse. The latter facility is also used by KLM, Condor and Edelweiss Air, and is accessible to all passengers departing from the international terminal for a fee.

Club World Cabin On The A380
BA’s Boeing B787-8 has a total of 214 seats: 35 in Club World (Business Class), 25 in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 154 in World Traveller (Economy).

The 35 Business Class seats on the B787-8 are spread over 2 cabins in the front of the cabin (with a galley in between them). The bulk of the seats (21 in total) are located in the largest cabin behind the cockpit, while a smaller cabin in front of World Traveller Plus contains the remaining 14 seats. The two Business Class cabins offer a sophisticated and contemporary atmosphere, giving a reassuring sense of well-being and comfort. However, they don’t come close to the intimate and private ambience of the Business Class cabin on the BA Boeing 747 Jumbo upper deck.

The innovative “Ying/Yang” 2-3-2 seat plan is unique to BA: window and middle seats face backwards, while aisle seats face forwards. Because of this unique concept, you may have to jump over other passenger’s feet to reach the aisle when seated in a backward facing seat, see seat map of the British Airways B787-8.

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.

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 B787-8?
I do not like the layout of BA Club World 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!

For solo travellers: the rear facing, window seats are more private and the ones you want to be seated in. The window seats A & K as well as middle seat E on row 3 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 and middle seat on row 7 also offer a clear exit route, they are not so desirable (see photos).

What are the worst Business Class seats on BA’s B787-8?
Aisle seats B, D, F and J on rows 1 and 6 are to be avoided since other flyers tend to bump into these seats when they return from the toilet. Seats A, B, J & K in row 7 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. Unfortunately, because of the 2-3-2 layout there are no private suites for couples on BA’s B787, contrary to other plane types in its fleet such as the A380, B777 and B747 which all feature a 2-4-2 and where middle seats come in their own private suites.

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.

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 is very useful, particularly in the US as American security is so thorough.

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 in-flight 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 tailfin 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.

Food
Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of Champagne, water, or orange juice. I choose the latter since drinking alcohol on a plane gives me headaches. Shortly after take-off, I received a refreshing hot towel. I was also served a soft drink (with ice and lemon) and a small bag containing an assortment of cold salted and roasted nuts.

Soon thereafter (around 11 am local time), dinner was offered, all served on a single tray. Food was ok and definitely much better as compared to the food offered on my previous Club World experience on the A380.

Starter: smoked salmon mille-feuille
Main course: roasted pacific black cod with tarragon lemon butter, asparagus, and fingerling potato
Dessert: lemon posset with fresh raspberries
90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. I had an energizing fruit smoothie of blueberry and banana, fresh seasonal fruit salad, and Greek yoghurt with honey.

Aminities
Each seat comes with a thin blanket, a comfortable pillow, and an amenity kit. The latter 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. Both the men 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.

Bar
The B787-8 has a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, located between the two Business Class cabins, where fliers can graze between meals. Unfortunately, BA has drastically reduced its selection of snacks in Club Kitchen. During the flight, the walk-up bar only featured retro sweets, Cadbury chocolates, and Kettle chips.

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 the package is good. But British Airways have started to nickel and dime, with a frankly poor “Club Kitchen” and overall food offering. They do not go the extra mile in their food or seating unlike the Middle East and Asian carriers which I prefer.

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 review you may be interested in my other British Airways airline reviews.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert

British Airways