Club World is the Business Class product at British Airways featuring lie-flat seats in an 8 abreast configuration on most aircraft. Uniquely, half the seats face backwards and half the seats face forwards which allows the airline to have a higher density than other airlines. The seats have remained largely the same since they were introduced over a decade ago and this report will detail a recent trip in Club World on the largest passenger jet in the world, the Airbus 380.
BA32 – Hong Kong to London Heathrow (HKG-LHR)
26 April 2016
Airbus 380 G-XLEJ
Seat: Club World 53K
Departure: 23:05 Arrival: 04:40+1
Boarding commenced and I joined the procession of passengers along the inclined aerobridge to the upper deck. I found seat 53K and stowed my cabin baggage. Seat 53K is one of the seats which allows you to get out of your seat without having to step over another passenger. The seat itself is quite comfortable and you feel as though you are leaning back when you sit in it. Unfortunately the right arm rest is not as long as the left one and there is a kink in the cubicle at this point which is a little irritating. Window seats face the rear and my view was the bulkhead and my foot stool.
There are storage cabinets running along the windows on the upper deck which is just like the upper deck of the Boeing 747. These offer ample storage while a drawer by your feet is handy for smaller items such as wallets and Passports.
The cabin crew came by during boarding and offered a pre-departure drink. I always choose Champagne (unless there is something unusual offered like on Aer Lingus) and there was no deviation for me on this flight. I find the Champagne glass to be quite unfashionable in its styling. The tray table flips down from the side of your cubicle and can be half sized of full sized. Half size is handy if you need to get out of your seat.
The tray slides back and forth so you can have it positioned where you need it. The inflight entertainment (IFE) screen in Club World pops out from the side of the cubicle and the movie selection was great. The screen would not stay out so I resorted to wedging a napkin in the hinge to hold it in place. I chose to watch the latest James Bond.
I headed for the toilet before we departed and found it to be pleasant and clean as it should be at the beginning of a flight. The electronic tap can be irritating as it never seems to deliver water at the right temperature.
The cabin crew member offered some people a second pre-departure Champagne to avoid it being thrown away. I considered my arm suitably twisted and happily relieved him of his burden. The video safety demonstration was played and we pushed back and began our lumbering taxi to the active runway. At this point I noticed there appeared to be a bump in the carpet in front of my seat. Something must run under the floor there as it appeared to be permanent. Once in the air drinks service commenced and I took another Champagne. In Club World the first drink is accompanied with nuts in a packet.
The menu was a pleasant surprise. The fly leaf had a pretty artwork to celebrate the fact British Airways have been flying to Hong Kong for 80 years this year. The menu outlines the drinks on offer as well as the various meal services available. Rather than choosing the abbreviated Champagne Supper, I chose the full service.
British Airways offered a selection of canapés to start the meal service on this flight. These included scallops, beef roulade and sushi. It was excellent to see sushi on the menu!
The starter tickled my taste buds! The elements were very different with their flavours and style but overall it worked very well. For my main course, I chose the Hong Kong celebration dish. This was the roasted Duck breast with cumquat sauce.
This dish was strongly flavoured. The Duck was strong and the cumquat was very prominent. I didn’t particularly enjoy the Duck but I made sure to eat it all. I think it was just not to my taste as opposed to being a bad meal. The plate was cleared away efficiently and dessert was soon served. This was an apple tarte Tatin and I followed it by having the chocolate.
Once dinner was completed and the tray cleared away, I finished watching the movie. I reclined my seat to the flat position and got some rest. The seat is a little bit lumpy in places and feels somewhat narrow. When turning over you have to turn over in place. Despite this I was able to get a few hours of interrupted sleep as the cabin temperature was set comfortably cool.
The menu happily mentions the Club Kitchen where you can get some “indulgent delights” while stretching your legs. This is the biggest lie I have ever seen in my life. The “Club Kitchen” is a box of crap left on a galley counter. It consists of crisps and chocolates and sweets haphazardly displayed without any care for people to grab during flight. There really is no point offering this at all. The Club Kitchen used to be a feature of the service now it has been reduced to a joke.
Eventually the mood lighting in Club World came back up and it was time for the breakfast service. My starter choice was the muesli and blueberry and mint and I was delighted to be told they had run out by the time they got to me. Instead I was offered fresh fruit and I really had no other choice. This came with an interesting food strip which I discovered under my tablecloth.
Cold food safety is clearly very important! The fruit was fine and I enjoyed the smoothie and green tea that I chose to accompany it. The main meal in the breakfast did not make my top 5 breakfasts unfortunately. I chose the omelette and I probably should have chose something else.
The meal was very average but this was my own fault for choosing an omelette. These are always fairly rotten on board an aircraft, so I really need to stop choosing them. The meal was cleared away and we started our dawn descent into London. The view was excellent!
We arrived at Terminal 5 and disembarked swiftly.
British Airways Club World is an interesting beast. The seat is adequate and flying facing backward is no different from flying facing forward. The arrangement feels a little narrow, the short arm rest is an irritant and my broken IFE screen was mildly frustrating. Despite this the Airbus 380 is quiet and the cabin temperature was set well to encourage sleep which I can’t emphasise enough how good this is. A hot cabin on an overnight flight is just disgusting for everyone. Entertainment options on the IFE system were good.
The food ranged from extremely good to disappointing. This inconsistency really detracts from the premium experience and nothing was redeemed by running out of the breakfast starter choice. The Club Kitchen is a total embarrassment and the airline needs to rethink the offering of totally unhealthy crap. The crew were genial and friendly if a little rough around the edges. British Airways Club World is generally priced competitively and you can get good deals in the sales. It is lucky this is the case as it is not worth a higher price point. For a consistent and proper premium experience, I recommend looking elsewhere.