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British Airways A380 Club World, SFO-LHR, June 2016

British Airways A380 Club World, SFO-LHR, June 2016

Old Jun 24, 16, 5:00 pm
  #1  
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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 From bloggers to those who have written trip reports, the general consensus seemed to be that the hard product is outdated, the service is lackluster and F&B isn't what it once was.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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Old Jun 24, 16, 5:21 pm
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Yes, you're right. Crap wines.
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Old Jun 27, 16, 9:02 pm
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Sorry to hear your experience was that of the general consensus. AA's 777-300 are indeed a much better experience and that should tell you something right there. On the bright side, London is always fun. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Jun 29, 16, 11:14 am
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Prefer the main deck. It is a smaller cabin but feels more spacious.
Agree that the wine choice looks cheap..... Thanks for posting.
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Old Jun 29, 16, 2:28 pm
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Thank you for the report!

I'm flying CE on a 77W Saturday ATL-LHR. I wonder if these are the same seats.

Food sounds horrible.
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Old Jun 29, 16, 4:12 pm
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Thanks for posting!

BA J is becoming one of the worst Business products out there among "premium" airlines
Sadly most of the recent flights with BA I taken have been disappointing.
They need to change it up.

Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
Thank you for the report!

I'm flying CE on a 77W Saturday ATL-LHR. I wonder if these are the same seats.

Food sounds horrible.
Same basic seats, yes
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Old Jun 29, 16, 10:39 pm
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Originally Posted by flylonghaul View Post
Same basic seats, yes
Got it. Thanks. I meant CW by the way but I think you got it.
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Old Jun 30, 16, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by 1P View Post
Yes, you're right. Crap wines.
Hanh Pinot Noir is pretty good for a J European product
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Old Jul 6, 16, 11:47 am
  #9  
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Follow up report: return segment LHR-SFO July- A380

As a follow up to my outbound report, I wanted to share my takeaways from our return segments in BA Club World.

I will keep this report more brief, as most of the hard product review is covered in the report above. I was really hoping for a better experience on the return and more to come on that below.

Firstly and perhaps most importantly, the unfortunate reality is that BA's Club World hard product overshadows pretty much every element of their experience. Simply put, it's just plain awkward. For passengers paying upwards of $6k for these seats, they just don't deliver what you would expect for a world class product. Sad to say, I would even prefer United's current Business First experience to BA's Club World.

The seats are narrow, and this time I decided to take a window seat on the upper deck and let me partner take the aisle. The window seat is confined and difficult to exit given the fact that you have to climb over another passengers foot rest (this wasn't the case as we had the last row in the cabin but it was so tight that I had to really maneuver to get out. The seats are awkwardly wedged against the window, and the overhead lighting above the window area is horrid.

Speaking of lighting, BA needs to get this one right. They've paid for an extensive and modern lighting system aboard this A380, yet they use the "boarding" "factory" lights as I call them for nearly the entire flight. They are bright and downright unpleasant. Why can't BA use the softer blue lighting to create a nicer experience?

The cabin temperature was uncomfortably warm for nearly the entire flight- something that seemed to be intensified for the window seat. Again, there are NO air vents aboard BA's A380's and that makes it tough to get any sense of "fresh" air flow in the cabin.

The pillows are pretty pathetic as noted in my previous report, and the footrest config. is just weird.

BA does do a nice job with the starters (as pictured here in the report), and the main course, Chicken Tikka, was average in quality. The wine list was nearly identical to our outbound flight, however for July they have reverted back to Tattinger instead of Henriot which I thought was kind of interesting.

What did improve on our return however was the service. The flight attendants were much more thorough and pleasant, and seemed to be more attentive than out flight out of SFO. They took the time to tell us about the wines, and encouraged us to taste several which I thought was a nice touch.

All in all, we likely will not be flying BA again any time soon. Perhaps their First product is a big improvement given the more normal seat config., but I really had hoped BA would deliver something more special and unique.
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