After a quick trip to Iceland over the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, this time it's off to warmer latitudes over the Fourth of July Holiday. After my first trip to Greece last November, I absolutely fell in love with the country and wanted to return for the summer season to experience the beautiful beaches of the Aegean sea.
As a oneworld flyer living in Washington, DC, British Airways from Dulles (IAD) is often the most practical one-stop option for European destinations. During the high season, BA fly non-stop from Heathrow to several of the Greek isles, including Mykonos, our destination for this trip. Add to that the fact that BA operate two daily 744s to Dulles, bringing an attractive #AvGeek factor, and British Airways was a clear choice.
This report will cover the first leg in Club World Business class on the upper deck of the Queen of the Skies.
British Airways operate the "Super High-J" configuration of the B744 on this flight–with "J" referring to a common industry code for Business class. This very premium-heavy configuration features 14 First class seats, 86 Club World (Business class) seats, and 38 World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) seats. That's an impressive total of 138 premium seats compared to 145 seats in Economy class–almost as many premium seats as economy.
The Super High-J 744s were recently refurbished with the latest generation of Club World seats and IFE.
That being said, for me, the most desirable seats in Club World are those on the upper deck. With only 20 seats out of 86, it can be difficult to snatch a seat on the upper deck. Luckily, having booked 4 months in advance, we were even able to get exit row seats on the upper deck. For those who prefer window seats, 62 A/K (Exit Row) and 64 A/K (Bulkhead) are the best options as they feature direct aisle-access.
We arrived at the British Airways ticket counter just under 3 hours before departure, well ahead of the crowds. We dropped off our checked baggage at the Club World counter where there was no wait.
As you can see, there were no queues.
British Airways recently joined the Known Traveller programme, which allowed us to use the TSA Pre-check security lanes. Note that if you have pre-check access and check in on the BA app, you must print a boarding pass as pre-check does not yet show on the mobile boarding passes. According to BA, this should be fixed by the end of summer 2018.
Despite the summer travel crowds, pre-check security was quick and we were airside to the train in minutes.
My traditional shot of the entrance to Concourse B
BA Galleries Lounge
The British Airways Galleries Lounge is located right across from the elevators at the entrance to Concourse B.
An elevator leads up to the lounge on the mezzanine level above the concourse.
I've covered this lounge many times in previous reports so I won't go into too much detail about the lounge itself–we headed directly into the dining room section, anyway.
At the entrance to the dining room is a wall of wine bottles.
Access to the dining room is limited to passengers flying in the BA Club World or First class cabins. Passengers with status travelling in other classes or flying other oneworld/IAG carriers may only access the main lounge.
Although the main lounge and main part of the dining room were quite crowded, we were able to find a nice quiet corner.
Unlike other times I've been in this dining room, champagne was being served. Previously, one had to go to the bar in the main lounge for refills of bubbly.
Ah, champagne with a view ?
I like the dining room section for its nice tarmac views.
An Austrian B767-300ER pushing back next to a Lufthansa B747-8i in the new livery.
The food selection in the dining room is quite decent. There are several hot options, including soups, and an attendant prepares Asian-style stir-fry noodles on demand.
A curry soup and finger sandwiches to start.
A little bit of everything for the main course, which includes Cod in a white sauce, roasted potatoes, a delicious butternut squash purée, and pasta.
We headed to the gate about 15 minutes before boarding was due to begin.
Surprisingly boarding had already begun and we boarded immediately.
Up the stairs we go!
The cabin of these recently refurbished birds looks nice and fresh despite the age of the aircraft.
There are only 20 Club World seat on the upper deck, which makes for a quiet cabin with a private jet feel.
My seat, a backwards-facing window seat in the exit row
Exit rows have a lot of room.
On the seat are a large pillow and a sleep kit from the White Company which includes a mattress pad, a quilt, and a cover. This is a new feature since my last time on this flight. It's nice to see BA introduce these little upgrades to the experience.
The great thing about window seats on the upper deck are the large storage bins along the sidewalls. Aside from having extra storage space, and table space when the bins are closed, window seats on the upper deck have more shoulder room, making them more spacious than on the main deck.
Shortly after settling in, the two lovely cabin crew working the upper deck distribute bottles of water and amenity kits.
The new wash bags are also from the White Company.
Shortly after arrives pre-departure champagne
Let's have a look at the menu for tonight. BA have recently introduced some catering improvements, which is evident from the menus, compared to the last time I took this flight.
Winelist and drinks
Breakfast and breakfast order cards
Despite a very full flight, the boarding finishes early and the flight deck crew announce that we'll be able to depart early.
Cabin crew pop out the IFE screens for the safety video.
The flight deck announced a bit longer of a flight time than normal, so an early departure would ensure we arrive in London on time. We ended up pushing back 10 minute early.
The funny and British-star-studded safety video played as we taxied to the runway.
The taxi was short with no wait to take off.
Views of the Appalachian mountains on take off.
The new IFE system is great, with a good choice of films, TV series, and music.
But, as usual, my geekiness leads me to the airshow first.
The flight time from wheels up to wheels down was 6 hours 45 minutes, a bit longer than normal in the summer.
Overflying the northern Chesapeake Bay
The apéritif service began shortly after takeoff. I opted for a glass of Castelnau Rosé champagne, which was served with a savoury mix and nuts in a ramekin. This is a service improvement over the mixed nuts in a bag that were previously served.
Before bed, a cognac digestif with a heavy "Scottish pour," according to our fun Scottish flight attendant ^^
This far north in the summer, the sun doesn't quite set all the way
The new White Company bedding is very comfortable and I slept well for a good four hours.
At the beginning of the flight, I had requested only a coffee on the Breakfast card in order to be woken up as late as possible.
I was awoken about 20 minutes prior to arrival with the coffee.
It was nice to have to option to sleep as long as possible and still have a coffee prior to arrival.
Puffy white clouds as we make our descent
The wait to land was shorter than average as we only did a quick S pattern before lining up for the runway.
We landed at 6:35AM Local time
The taxi time was short-ish at just under 15 minutes, with some geeky planespotting on the way to the gate.
British Airways B763 and B744
American Airlines B777-200ER
Virgin Atlantic B787-9
Qantas B787-9 at a remote stand awaiting the very long flight home to Perth.
British Airways A380 at a remote stand
We parked next door to another BA A380 at T5 Concourse C
Just as we arrived, the BA whalejet pushed back
Last views of the attractive upper deck cabin upon deplaning
It's always a treat to fly on the upper deck of the Queen of the Skies!
Thanks for reading!
British Airways Galleries Lounge
Washington - IAD
London - LHR
Though I've taken these refreshed BA "Super High-J" 747s several times in the past year, I always enjoy flying on this beautiful bird, especially when I can get a seat on the upper deck. Scoring a window seat in the exit row, which affords direct aisle-access makes for an even more pleasant flight. Upper deck window seats also have the advantage of extra storage and shoulder room with the side bins. All of these positive attributes of upper deck exit row seats make for a great experience, hence the 9/10 score--I would not rate a standard Club World window seat as highly. While the Club World seat design, with its forwards-backwards configuration, is often criticized as outdated and awkward when travelling alone, it it perfect for couples and has several features that I appreciate aside from the upper deck attributes I've listed above: - Club World seats offer unrestricted legroom whereas many modern Business class seat designs have small foot wells. - Also, Club World window seats are extremely private once the partition is up.
The two cabin crew working the upper deck were wonderful. They were both attentive, friendly, and efficient. Our friendly Scotsman even threw in a few phrases in French here and there.
The service and catering enhancements were a welcome change--overall, I was definitely impressed with the many improvements. These will be even more apparent on the day flight returning from London--stay tuned!
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