Hello and welcome to the next flight-report in this series on British Airways World Traveller Plus between Washington, DC and Dubai, UAE.
Over the U.S. Presidents Day holiday weekend, we took a quick trip to Dubai to visit a good friend who had recently moved to the UAE. Because it was such a long distance over a short period of time, we opted for Premium Economy for several reasons, but mostly for the additional comfort so that we wouldn't be zombies upon arrival and also to avoid breaking the bank on Business class for just a long-weekend trip. For a more detailed account on the choice of BA Premium Economy as it pertains to mileage earnings, see the first report in this series by clicking on the link for the IAD-LHR report below.
London LHR ✈ Washington IAD | British Airways, B777-200, Premium Economy [COMING SOON]
Here we are at LHR T5, having just arrived from IAD. Although we arrived at the T5C satellite, all passengers, whether they are connecting or arriving, must take the train to the main T5 terminal. Passengers in transit clear security at the main terminal, while arriving passengers clear U.K. immigration and customs. I always find this system to be a bit annoying and time-consuming when connecting at Heathrow, especially when your connecting flight ends up departing from the same terminal as your arriving flight (but you still have to take the train back and forth to the main terminal in between).
That was the case for me this time, with both arriving and connecting flights at T5C; however, as we had several hours to kill before the departure of the flight to DXB, I wasn't pressed for time. In fact, I decided to go through immigration to get some fresh air between two long-haul flights. Despite long lines at immigration, even in the fast track lanes, the queues moved fast at the electronic gates for European passports. So I whipped out my French passport and was through in minutes. Having dual U.S. and European citizenship certainly has its perks!
I went out to one of my favorite planespotting corners curbside, but there wasn't much activity on Southern Runway 9R/27L, with all the landing aircraft having turned off well before reaching the main T5 terminal. There wasn't much to see across the way on 27R as far as takeoffs go either–it was foggy with very low ceilings and low visibility–not ideal planespotting weather. But hey, it's London in the winter; fog is common.
So I headed back in to wait the rest of the time before the next flight in the BA lounge.
The architecture of T5 is massive and always impresses me, no matter how many times I have been through this terminal.
As I was already at the south end of the terminal, I went through the Fast Track security lane at the South security checkpoint. Well…there was nothing fast about it. Even through there were only about 5 people in the queue, it moved at a snail's pace. Once through the scanner, it was even slower…for some reason, it seems every single passenger's carry-on back was being flagged for additional inspection, including mine. At first, there were no security agents to do the secondary screening, so we all just sat there. After a few minutes, one agent finally came and took an eternity going through each person's bag. The agent was friendly, but a little too chatty with each passenger. In all it took me about 30 minutes to go through security despite the fact that there were only 5 people in the queue–very inefficient! Thank goodness I wasn't in a rush.
And here we are finally through security on the mezzanine level.
T5 may be an architecturally impressive terminal, but it's far from practical. Although the South lounges are located on the mezzanine level right after the South security chepoint, there is only an entrance for the Concorde Room (BA First passengers only). All other passengers must head towards the center of the terminal to take an escalator to the lower level, to then walk back towards the south end of the terminal, and then take an escalator back up to the mezzanine level, essentially a few feet away from where they started…logical!
I assume this nonsensical setup is a way to force passengers with lounge access through the gallery of high end shops and duty free stores prior to arriving in the lounge.
Nigel the BA Disco Amoeba welcomes you to the BA Galleries lounges! (Yes, I just made that name up)
A Ginormous BA A380 model at the top of the escalators. Love it. Want.
Horse lamp says Heeeeeeeeeeeeey
The lounge is large and spacious with lots of natural light despite the grey weather. It was surprisingly quiet for this peak time of the morning rush on a weekday.
There is a whole other side to the lounge in the direction of the windows in this photo, but I was too lazy to go take pictures over there ^^
One of the several self-serve bar areas. I like that there was bloody mary mix.
I wasn't terribly hungry so I just had a croissant and a chocolate croissant–both of good quality, nice and buttery. There were some hot foods, like egg and bacon sandwiches, as well.
As the lounge was generally quiet, there was no wait for a shower at the Elemis spa.
Feeling refreshed, we headed to the T5C satellite concourse for boarding.
The T5 Satellites are great for planespotting, with their huge windows.
And here is the beautiful Queen of the Skies taking us to Dubai today!
With so many carriers retiring their B747-400 fleets, there are less opportunities to take 747s, so I was excited to be flying on this beauty today. #AvGeek
BA recently completed refurbishing their B744s in the "Super High-J" configuration. These are premium-heavy aircraft with a high ratio of First and Business class seats compared to other aircraft, hence the "Super High-J" designation ( J = Business Class for those who may not know; C is also used widely).
As you can see from the seat map, more than 3/4 of the aircraft floor space is dedicated to premium cabins in this configuration. With 14 First, 86 Club World (Business), and 30 World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) seats, there are 130 premium cabin seats–and only 145 seats in the small World Traveller (Economy) cabin.
Well, as it turned out, the small World Traveller cabin on this flight was oversold. As I got to the gate podium for boarding, the boarding pass scanner made a wonderful beep…Oh! I know what that means!
Yep, an Op-up (Operational Upgrade) from World Traveller Plus to Club World for the both of us! Wooohoo! The mix of Premium Economy tickets + oneworld Elite status had worked out well for Op-ups. Out of 4 flights bought in Premium Economy prior to and including this flight, I had gotten 2 op-ups. Not a bad ratio!
Nice views as we head down the glass jetbridge.
We are greeted by two friendly cabin crew at the door and pointed in the direction of our seats.
The main Club World cabin on the Super High-J 747s is large, though not as huge as the B777-300ER Business cabins I've been in. With 4 rows of seats between doors 2L/R and 3L/R (at eight abreast in the typical BA Ying-yang forwards-backwards facing configuration), and an additional 2 rows of seats after door 3L/R, there are 48 seats in the main Club World cabin.
My window seat for the next 7 hours. Note that window seats in BA Club World are all backwards facing. Personally, I don't mind it at all–on the contrary, I find it cool during takeoff and landing.
The newer generation Club World seats on this recently retrofitted aircraft don't look much different from other aircraft, the main difference being the newer generation larger IFE screens.
With a 72" pitch, there is plenty of legroom to stretch out.
The window seats are private, though they feel a bit narrow for those with wide shoulders.
As I've said before BA Club World is great if you are travelling as a couple or with friends/co-workers (as long as you like them, that is ^^), but can be quite awkward if you are travelling alone. The forwards-backwards configuration is an efficient use of space, but can mean that you are face-to-face with a stranger when travelling alone.
There is a privacy divider that can go up once you've had enough of awkwardly avoiding eye-contact with your seat neighbour :-)
Looking towards the front of the main CW cabin with the staircase to the upper deck on the right.
Shortly after settling in, a friendly flight attendant came by to take our coats. Right behind her, another FA came along with pre-departure drinks.
Choice of champagne or water.
I've always loved the BA livery and I also love the new AA livery, so this is just a beautiful view for me ^^
As I sipped my champagne, a whole football team, coaches and all, were boarding and sat all around us. A look at their red and white striped jerseys with "Potters" on them revealed them to be the Stoke City FC, an English Premier League team. Cool!
We asked one of the team members across the aisle if there was a match in Dubai, but it turned out they were going for warm-weather training.
But I like planes more than football so I continued to enjoy watching the ballet of BA tails as boarding continued ^^
I believe this is one of the ex-BMI long-haul A321s with a real Club World cabin used on flights to the Middle East.
The purser made his way through the cabin to take appetizer orders as boarding was winding down.
Let's have a look at the menu: two choices of appetizers, and 4 choices of mains, not bad. The options sound good, but BA Club World catering can often be hit or miss. We shall see!
BA's selection of wine and champagnes is usually decent.
Boarding wrapped up on time and we pushed back from the gate a few minutes early.
The safety video played during taxi.
Heathrow is an AvGeek paradise. So many nice things to see during taxi.
Beautiful SkyTeam livery on this Delta ETOPS B757-200
Get in the conga line!
Star Alliance tails parked at the new Terminal 2
Takeoff heading west on the north runway
The immense T5
Looking back towards Heathrow
It will be a short 6.5 hour flight today.
Our route will take us across the English Channel over Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, then out over the Black sea towards eastern Turkey, then along the border of Iraq and Iran before crossing the Persian Gulf and landing in Dubai.
Big 747 wing over the English Channel
Shortly after takeoff, the cabin crew begin the apéritif service.
I went for the Castelnau Brut Rosé, which was quite good.
cabin crew came through the aisles regularly to check on passengers and top up glasses. So I got a second glass of the Rosé :-)
Most of Europe was covered in a thick blanket of clouds. The clouds tarted to dissipate near the Czech-Austrian border to reveal a snowy landscape.
Not sure what type of plane is leaving this dirty chem trail.
For the appetizer, I had originally opted for the Mezze platter, but they were out. Can't complain when you got an op-up :-)
Bocconcini with basil sponge, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and pine nut with fennel salad
So it's a salad, with a side salad. It's a nice and flavourful salad, mind you, but it's just a bit too much when you already have a side salad.
Lovely scenery over Eastern Europe during the meal service
For the main my original choice was available and it was delicious.
Fried Arabic chicken with machbous rice and aubergine stew
The presentation could have been better with bits of exploded sauce on the rim of the dish, but it was a very good dish. Food can be bland on aircraft so it was nice to have a bold and flavourful dish.
I had the cheese plate with a port for dessert.
The sun sets as we are about to reach the Black sea.
After lunch I feel asleep watching a movie and slept for a few hours until the "Afternoon tea" second meal service.
We were over Iran by then, and only about an hour out from DXB.
Finger sandwiches and sweets. The portion is a bit on the small size.
Before we knew it, we were on final approach.
And here we are–welcome to Dubai!
We arrived at the gate 4 minutes early.
Concourse D looking like an Air India hub with so many AI overnighters.
Immigration was an absolute nightmare–it took more than an hour to get through despite being among the first off the aircraft. There are Fast Track lanes, but we were told that BA do not pay for access for Premium cabin passengers and Elite members so we were denied access. There was an Air France flight arriving at the same time–those passengers were allowed access. Grrr
Yeah, that was a hot mess. Oh well, what can you do, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Thanks for reading! Here is a short tourism bonus below
UAE Tourism Bonus
A few pictures from the top of the Burj Khalifa (there was a sandstorm–lucky me), and the view of Dubai from our friend's place.
The beautiful Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque
Abu Dhabi Skyline at sunset
Dune bashing in the desert
Dubai Marina by night.
British Airways (South) Galleries Club
London - LHR
Dubai - DXB
A very nice flight with British Airways on the refurbished Super High-J B747-400. The BA Club World hard product may not be the best Business class seat out there, but the flat beds are comfortable and the window seats are very private. The cabin crew were very attentive, pleasant, and professional--another positive experience with BA crew! The catering was decent overall, though the pre-arrival meal portion was a big meager. The new IFE was very good--better than on the A380, as it had more content. The flight was quiet and restful. You would think that with a whole football team in Business class that there would have been some partying on board, but nope, very quiet!
Thanks for reading!
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