Old Jun 24, 16, 5:00 pm
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: LAX (former SFO)
Programs: UA Global Services, Hilton Honors Diamond, Marriott Gold, Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 530
British Airways A380 Club World, SFO-LHR, June 2016

We reserved two BA Club World seats during one of their global fare sales, yielding an incredible ~$1400 r/t booking. Having flown Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class product last year, we decided to give BA a try for an opportunity to compare and contrast products. To preface this report, we have experienced Business and First class products on several carriers including Thai, Lufthansa, Asiana, Cathay, Singapore, ANA, United, AA and others.

Firstly, expectations were set once reading reviews here on FlyerTalk about BA's Club World cabin. From bloggers to those who have written trip reports, the general consensus seemed to be that the hard product is outdated, the service is lackluster and F&B isn't what it once was.

I was eager to disprove the above theory and give BA the full benefit of the doubt. Rather than several paragraphs of adjectives describing my likes and dislikes of our experience, below I will highlight our general takeaways:

The particulars:

7pm departure, SFO-LHR, A380-800

BA, Club World, Seats 53 A and 53 B (Aisle and window, Upper Deck)

The Seats & General Cabin Experience:

The Upper Deck is likely the way to go; it's more intimate than downstairs, less dense and the forward cabin feels more private. The quasi direct aisle access is a major minus in my book, as having your seatmate step over your foot rest is both awkward and a less than impressive modern day Business Class experience. That said, the last row in the forward upper deck cabin is probably the way to go. If you're at all claustrophobic, DEFINITELY reserve an aisle seat, it feels a lot more open than the window seat.

The seats are narrow, the pillows suck and the blanket is decent. The seats overall are comfortable, but the config. is just plain awkward.

The Welcome Experience:

The A380 is both beautiful and modern, and while BA really had a shot here, they simply missed the mark with their configuration. Upon boarding, the crew was welcoming but the "factory floor" (max lighting setting) was used for boarding, rather than the more welcoming blue or lower light setting. This seems like a simple mix, but it didn't quite set the stage for a "world class airline experience".

Service was very similar to US carriers, something I was hoping would have been different. The flight attendants seemed like they just didn't really want to be there, although some who rotated through out aisle were friendlier.

The Food and Beverage:

The Champagne was by far the best aspect of the F&B experience. Henriot was on tap, and I quite enjoyed it. It's definitely on par with Tattinger and others within that price band. BA makes a good attempt by including 3 bubbly's on offer, including one Rose Champagne. Kendall Jackson was one of the white wines available, and I will just leave it at that. The wine glasses however were of good quality.

The food was average, and nothing to write home about (or mention on FT!). The offerings were pretty standard. My dish was fine, but nothing out the food presentation, starters or otherwise impressed. Even the cutlery seemed cheap. (See menus below)

Breakfast prior to landing was fine, perhaps a bit better than most US carriers.

Misc. Comments:

The cabin was HOT! It's important to note that there are NO air vents on BA's A380's. It would have been much better if the crew had not turned on the heater for the entire flight- we both woke up boiling.

It's also important to note that the crew did not turn off the full bright cabin lighting until 2.5-3 hours after take off for a 7PM east bound flight. They could have at least set the cabin to a more ambient lit mode.

The "hot towels" distributed just once throughout the flights are more like cheesecloth - they look cheap.

Final Thoughts:

While the comments above are a bit harsh I know, I was really hoping to disprove the critics of BA's Club World Product. There were certain aspects that were superior to US carrier's Business Class offerings, however I really believe BA has more of an opportunity to shine.

The product is not competitive overall, and there's evidence of "cheaping out" all over the place. I never thought I would say this, but AA's 777-300 product might have the advantage here.

BA, if you're listening, here are a few tips to immediately improve the experience:

- Insist that FA's turn on the "ambient" lighting on boarding and throughout the flight (where possible, A380, 787 etc.)

- Upgrade the "hot towel" service to better quality towels, and increase the frequency

- Make your FA's welcome passengers by name (or at least call them by name once during the flight)

- Board a real pillow on your business class product

- Add one special touch to your service: a flower, a card, a fun amenity kit... something to stand out!

- Eventually- change the awkward layout... I know this will require a big investment but I overhead SO many people talking about it on board.
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