British Airways Club World Review
British Airways has long been an airline that holds a sweet place in my heart.
When I was 19 and took my first trip to Europe with my cousin, we had backpacked there for 3 months. When we came to London at the end of our trip, we discovered that our World Airways charter flight had been canceled, I immediately started crying and got my mom on the phone. By the time she called me back (at a pay phone I was standing next to, no less!) she had booked us on a British Airways flight home. We got on a pretty much empty flight, laid down on the 5 middle row seats and slept the entire 8 hours home to LA. In my young heart, I felt like British Airways had saved my life. And at that time, laying across 5 middle-row Economy seats felt like the utmost in luxury.
These days, I don't tend to fly BA that much based purely on location and destinations. I live in San Diego and am typically not flying through the UK. When I DO fly BA, I fly Club World.
That said, British Airways has THE best timing and routing for flights between San Diego and Heathrow. (Oddly, and I don't want to dis you BA, but the fare is actually consistently lower if I book these flights through the American Airlines portal...don't ask me why. But a friend of mine in London told me this same story. So it's not an anomaly.)
Let's talk Club World
I have this nostalgic love for the fancy, double-decker 747s and always book my seat in the Upper Deck. It feels more intimate and 'clubby'. There are only 4 seats across the 'bubble.' Row 62 is the best due to its Exit Row location. It means you don't have the step over anyone to get out + there's a little more room overall.
I adore the seats against the windows (except for the fact that ALL the window seats are set so you are flying backwards!) Storage bins completely line the perimeter of the plane and possession of all that luxurious storage space goes to the owner of the window seat. You cannot even imagine how wonderful it is to have four flip-up bins at your disposal: one or two for the pillow and blankets when not being used, one for your briefcase or backpack, one for your sweater and one for the carry on shopping bag!
I'll be honest and say that the storage bins didn't look to be meticulously cleaned. There was dirt, food crumbs and garbage bits in mine, plus the plastic of the bin lids themselves were grimy. I know these beasts have been in service for years and are tired, but I was slightly grossed out. It's likely this will have changed in the post-Coronavirus world when planes have had to be more closely sanitized, more frequently.
On the floor level to the left of your seat is a sweet little drawer, inside of which you will find your toiletry kit (The White Company products) and room for your shoes. I travel with shoes off, so it's nice to have a dedicated place to store them away. The drawer is perfectly sized.
The White Company products are nice, but for some reason these days, I always feel disappointed in the amenity kits I get. I thought it was weird that the lip balm item came in something shaped more akin to a mini lotion tube. One time I accidentally put lotion on my lips! I'll have to put my mind onto what would need to be in one to make me feel special.
Club World seats face each other
This is an absolute dream if you're traveling with someone you know. Automatically, you are across in conversation--no neck craning, chatting with someone to your right or left. The flip side is this is an absolute nightmare if you don't know the person you're facing. Like, seriously SO awkward! You feel like you need to make friends and are always able to see just what they are doing. Ugh. My recent seat mate was Brandy...we were so close I felt it would be rude to look at her so much and not make an introduction. At that point, the rest of the flight is a conundrum about how much small talk to make.
Frosted dividers that go up and down to ostensibly create privacy are often required by the flight attendants to be down! They must be lowered for take off and landing. They must be lowered during food service. So there is oodles of time you have zero privacy. (See below for my Good News about this)
Television screens are against the partition to the left of your seat and fold out for viewing. They can remain on during take off and landing but folded away so you can hear but can't see. Don't love.
Club World seats are lie-flat (the ONLY way I fly an upper class). A foot rest folds down from the back of the seat in front of you. If you're sitting against the window, this is a serious problem and you'd better hope that you are agile and flexible. To get out to use the restroom, if the aisle passenger is sleeping flat, you literally have to step over their feet (and pray you don't bump and wake them) to get to the aisle yourself. I wonder, when these were originally designed, who tested this (or who didn't)?
The food is great. Consistently great. (sorry I forgot to take pictures of it)
You are offered the option to order breakfast early on an overnight flight or let them know if you prefer to keep sleeping or get nothing at all. You can choose to be woken 50 minutes before landing to get a cup of coffee or to be woken and hour twenty before landing to get the full breakfast. It's a nice offering.
There was no wi-fi on my plane.
How is that possible in this day and age?
Well...it's possible because these planes are oooooooold.
And, these double-decker 747 planes are just a couple to three years out from getting a complete overhaul. It was explained to me that the airline doesn't want to spend the money to install wifi on to planes they are close to retiring. I get it, but it's a real bummer for upper class passengers especially, who these days count on it. I, myself, had personally planned on doing hours of important work on the plane home and was a bit incredulous at the news.
I spoke at length with my Club World steward (name withheld to protect the innocent) about what might be the new biz and first class configurations. They've heard our complaints! British Airways will will make all the Business and First Class cabin seats forward facing with their own aisle access (no more stepping over sleeping neighbors legs and feet!)
How will they differentiate First from Business Classes?
First class seats will be designed to be a bit more comfortable and the First Class catering options will be slightly better than Business Class. The biggest planned differentiations will be in how they use sthe 35 million pounds being poured into lounges like JFK, Aberdeen and Rome. As it is already, the Heathrow London lounge offers free 15-minute Elemis facials! OMG. It's ahmazing. (You DO need to book your time in advance...well worth it). So if British Airways is going to be offering more of this...they are my new favorite airline!