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British Airways Airbus A380 business class London to Los Angeles (upper cabin)

British Airways Airbus A380 business class London to Los Angeles (upper cabin)

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Old Mar 18, 15, 6:26 pm
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British Airways Airbus A380 business class London to Los Angeles (upper cabin)

This is my 10th flight trip report on FT!

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, and Los Angeles, Singapore and Washington (Miami and San Francisco will follow soon).

The Business Class product that BA offers on its Airbus A380 fleet is a slightly updated version of the product that you can find on its Boeing 747s and 777s. 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. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best (and my preferred) Business Class products on the Transantlantic routes and the overall experience was very good, with a British touch.

- I took a lot of photos during the flight. You can find them here: http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/201...class-lhr-lax/
- I also made a Youtube clip of my flight experience. Hope you like it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zVh97nE6TE

- Trip: LHR-LAX
- Airline: British Airways
- Aircraft type: Airbus A380
- Aircraft ID: G-XLEF
- Flight Number: BA269
- On time departure: yes (3.52 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (7.08 pm)
- Miles: 5456
- Flight time: 10:15
- Seat: 56A
- Class: business (D)

1. BRITISH AIRWAYS LOUNGE AT LONDON HEATHROW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Heathrow Terminal 5 is my favorite airport terminal in the world. It is a multi-floor lounge complexes that resemble shopping malls, and it is the heart of BA’ activities at Heathrow. Within the Terminal 5 complex, BA has one Galleries Lounge for Business Class passengers and/or Oneworld Sapphire members, a First lounge for Oneworld Emerald members, and just to confuse things, they also have the Concorde Room, for First Class passengers, with hotel-style rooms featuring beds and en suite bathrooms, plus restaurant-style dining.

BA’s lounges at Heathrow (as anywhere else in the world) are a huge step up from most airline lounges (and they are definitely the best business class lounges in Europe). Both the Galleries and First lounges are very spacious, embrace the daylight, and have a lot of food on display: a fresh soup bar, hot and cold entrees, lots of snacks, full coffee stations with all sorts of cappuccino and lattes, and a very broad selection of wines, beers and spirits. Having said that, the difference between the Galleries Business and First lounge is only marginal, with a wider selection of food at the First Lounge (including a menu offering salads and burgers).

The various BA lounges at Terminal 5 share an Elemis Travel Spa, which is pretty awesome. While the free treatments are quick, like 15 minutes, they are top shelf, plus it is something else to do to break up the trip. I loved it. And it doesn’t matter which lounge you are in, you have access.

From the lounge, it was a short trip to Terminal 5C where the Airbus A380 was ready for boarding.

2. THE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN(S)

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 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. 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.

3. THE BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

All Club World seats on the Airbus A380 seats 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 seat when fully reclined (and when tilting the separate foot rest) is a 6ft (183cm) flat-bed. 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.

How to choose your Business Class A380 Business Class seat?
- 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.
- For solo travelers: 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” 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, though it would be downright awkward when you end up next to a stranger in that configuration.

What are the best Business Class seats on BA’s A380?
- 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 Business Class 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.

4. AMENITIES

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) 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 British Airways customers. 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.

5. MEALS

Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice or Champagne. Shortly after take-off, I received a refreshing hot towel. 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. BA business class food can be a hit and a miss IMHO, and this time the food was really good (probably the best of all flights I took with BA in the past). As a starter, I choose the tomato and mozzarella salad with black olives and creamy pesto dressing. Quite delicious! The starter was accompanied by a fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette. As a main course I had the seared fillet of British beef with smoked potato fondant, broccoli, carrots and a Tellicherry black pepper sauce. It tasted really good. My desert was an excellent chocolate brownie with burnt honeycomb mascarpone.

90 minutes prior to landing, we were served afternoon tea, snacks (a selection of sandwiches featuring Scottish smoked salmon with cream cheese, herb-marinated chicken with a roasted tomato dressing, and free-range egg mayonnaise) and sweets (buttermilk or fruit scones with clotted cream, pistachio cupcake, chocolate brownie and apricot sponge). I am not a big fan of BA's 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 Za'atar style salad with marinated feta cheese and sumac dressing.

6. ENTERTAINMENT

On the entertainment front you get a private screen, noise-cancelling headphones (the noise cancelling 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 as compared to 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).

7. OTHER INFLIGHT & GROUND EXPERIENCES

#CREW: 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.

# BAR: Contrary to other airliners, BA did not install a fancy bar on their Airbus A380 planes for premium flyers. Why would they when they can pack the plane with paying passengers? Nevertheless, the plane has a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, where Business and First Class fliers can graze between meals. You have the option of sandwiches, fine artisan pastries, yoghurt, ice cream, fresh fruit, and/or a chocolate selection. Throughout the flight, the Club World kitchen was kept fully stocked, and when I was there, flight attendants were quick to offer ice for drinks, cutlery for food and ask if there was anything else I required.

#LAVATORY: 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 are pretty large. All lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.

#INTERNET: unfortunately, WiFi is not offered by BA at the moment. Currently, they are testing it on one of their planes.

#NOISE: The Airbus’ A380 is the quietest widebody jetliner flying today. Although four huge Rolls Royce engines at full throttle are used to lift the massive aircraft off the ground, the interior of the plane is very 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, you can whisper. It also makes it much easier to fall asleep.

8. MY VERDICT

Seat : 8/10
Food: 7/10
Inflight entertainment : 8/10
Amenity kit: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Cabin atmosphere (upper deck): 9/10
Overall experience: very good: 8/10

Last edited by theLuxuryTravelExpert; Mar 18, 15 at 6:33 pm
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Old Mar 20, 15, 6:06 pm
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Some photos ...









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Old Mar 20, 15, 6:29 pm
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Very useful analysis of the configuration, seat comparisons, etc., and some nice photos. Thanks for posting this.
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Old Mar 21, 15, 3:37 am
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Great report! I enjoyed all the photos, which were helpful. I'm taking this flight r/t in CW to LAX in May. I've flown BA's A380 in F, WTP, and WT, but never in CW. As for CW, I'm a huge fan of the UD on the 747 and so have chosen the UD on the A380, row 51, although I know the experience won't be the same. Travelling with my fiancé so we chose a window and aisle pair in row 51. My concern is the overall cramped feeling in this UD cabin. Was this an issue for you? Each time I've walked through the cabin (either going back to WTP or on a tour, when I was flying to HKG in F) I couldn't get over how narrow the aisles were! Since I'm likely to be the one in the aisle seat, I'm worried I'll wake up every time someone brushes past, or each time the pax across the aisle (still so close!) makes a move. Did you feel it was painfully crammed up there, especially for an aisle seat?
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Old Mar 21, 15, 3:59 am
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I agree with your analysis, though IMO there's a big difference between GC and GF lounges. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Mar 21, 15, 4:28 am
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Its tight but I've sat in an aisle and never felt disturbed by people walking past.
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Old Mar 21, 15, 7:38 am
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I flew IAD LHR on the A380 Club World (Upper Deck) recently and found the experience to be extremely underwhelming. Although the cabin crew was outstanding, I found the seat, meals, and amenity kit to be of lower quality than the J product on AA's new 77Ws.
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Old Mar 21, 15, 8:37 am
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Have you ever visited the Virgin Clubhouse in LHR T3?
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Old Mar 21, 15, 12:06 pm
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I prefer the lower deck in CW on the A380. The GC lounge is often packed at LHR.

The best lounge I have been in is the First class lounge in FRA.
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Old Mar 21, 15, 6:48 pm
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Originally Posted by clarkeysntfc View Post
Have you ever visited the Virgin Clubhouse in LHR T3?
This Virgin Clubhouse is head and shoulders above BAs business (and first class) lounges.
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Old Mar 22, 15, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by fly747first View Post
I flew IAD LHR on the A380 Club World (Upper Deck) recently and found the experience to be extremely underwhelming. Although the cabin crew was outstanding, I found the seat, meals, and amenity kit to be of lower quality than the J product on AA's new 77Ws.
I flew back home last night on an American Airlines 777-300ER (LAX-LHR). I agree that the business class seat (especially in the flatbed position), blanket & pillows, cabin layout, meals and amenity kit on AA's 77Ws are better than what British Airways currently offers.

However, I still prefer to fly British Airways (A380, B787 or B747 on upper deck) because:
- There is so much noise inside the 77W cabin (engine, AC, etc …). You only notice the difference when you have flown in the A380, B747 (upper deck) or B787. It makes a huge difference, especially when you try to sleep!
- Overall, the British Airways service is more classy and refined. And no, I am not a British citizen .

I will write a trip report about it soon.
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Old Mar 22, 15, 5:03 pm
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Nice analysis, practical info and easy to read.
Much thanks.
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Old Mar 23, 15, 5:07 am
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I find service om BA's A380 to be very slow in general. Meal service last forever with long waiting times between coarses. Drinks are rarely topped up without having to ask and quality of food is not always the best either. I vastly prefer AA's 77W. Both food and seat are miles ahead of BA's CW seat IMO.
And I absolutely do not agree that BA's lounges at LHR are the best in Europe.

Last edited by gordon0808; Mar 23, 15 at 5:51 am
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Old Mar 23, 15, 8:04 am
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Thanks for sharing and for the great TR.

Am I seeing correctly that the rear facing J passengers would need to climb over the legs of a sleeping, forward facing passenger to access the isle? Seems odd.
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Old Mar 27, 15, 5:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Thanks for sharing and for the great TR.

Am I seeing correctly that the rear facing J passengers would need to climb over the legs of a sleeping, forward facing passenger to access the isle? Seems odd.
That is correct (unless you are seated in a row 15, 53 or 59, where rear facing seats have direct aisle access).

Originally Posted by gordon0808 View Post
I find service om BA's A380 to be very slow in general. Meal service last forever with long waiting times between coarses. Drinks are rarely topped up without having to ask and quality of food is not always the best either. I vastly prefer AA's 77W. Both food and seat are miles ahead of BA's CW seat IMO.
And I absolutely do not agree that BA's lounges at LHR are the best in Europe.
I was just wondering: what are you preferred business class lounges in Europe? I've been to most of them (in the capitals, not the secondary cities) and I cannot think of one that comes close to BA's lounge. I agree though that there are (much) better first class lounges in Europe.

My return leg (LAX-LHR) was on AA in a Boeing 77W. You can read my business class trip report (with lots of photos) here: http://wp.me/p4d1XU-di2. For those want to see more, I also made a Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kXxwLlwDJo
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