Review of British Airways flight Washington London in Business

Airline British Airways
Flight BA216
Class Business
Seat 62A
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 07:25
Take-off 29 Jun 18, 18:30
Arrival at 30 Jun 18, 06:55
BA   #60 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 724 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 3316
Published on 20th July 2018
Hello and welcome to a new series of flights!

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.

Reports in this series:

Washington Dulles IAD ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Mykonos Airport JMK | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
Mykonos Airport JMK ✈ London Heathrow LHR | British Airways, A320-200, Business Class
London Heathrow LHR ✈ Washington Dulles IAD | British Airways, B747-400, Business Class


Pre-Flight & Check-in



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.

photo ba 747-400photo ba 747 super high j seat map

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.

photo ba seats iad-lhr b744

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.

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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.

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Despite the summer travel crowds, pre-check security was quick and we were airside to the train in minutes.

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My traditional shot of the entrance to Concourse B

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BA Galleries Lounge



The British Airways Galleries Lounge is located right across from the elevators at the entrance to Concourse B.

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An elevator leads up to the lounge on the mezzanine level above the concourse.

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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.

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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.

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Although the main lounge and main part of the dining room were quite crowded, we were able to find a nice quiet corner.

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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 ?

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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.

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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.

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A curry soup and finger sandwiches to start.

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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.

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Boarding



We headed to the gate about 15 minutes before boarding was due to begin.

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Surprisingly boarding had already begun and we boarded immediately.

Up the stairs we go!

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The cabin of these recently refurbished birds looks nice and fresh despite the age of the aircraft.

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There are only 20 Club World seat on the upper deck, which makes for a quiet cabin with a private jet feel.

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My seat, a backwards-facing window seat in the exit row

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Exit rows have a lot of room.

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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.

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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.

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Shortly after settling in, the two lovely cabin crew working the upper deck distribute bottles of water and amenity kits.

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The new wash bags are also from the White Company.

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Shortly after arrives pre-departure champagne

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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.

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Winelist and drinks



Dinner menu



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.

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Cabin crew pop out the IFE screens for the safety video.

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The Flight



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.

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The funny and British-star-studded safety video played as we taxied to the runway.

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The taxi was short with no wait to take off.

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Views of the Appalachian mountains on take off.

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The new IFE system is great, with a good choice of films, TV series, and music.

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But, as usual, my geekiness leads me to the airshow first.

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The flight time from wheels up to wheels down was 6 hours 45 minutes, a bit longer than normal in the summer.

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Overflying the northern Chesapeake Bay

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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.

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Cheers!

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Starter:

Smoked salmon
shallot, lemon, dill crème fraîche

Fresh seasonal salad
cherry tomatoes, seeded crunch, balsamic olive oil


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The salmon was delicious with a generous portion

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Nice sunset colours over Maine during dinner

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Main:

Roasted Pollock
herb tomato sauce, roasted vegetables
pearl barley risotto


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A look at one of the other options:

Seared fillet of beef
smoked potato fondant, glacé carrots,
Tellicherry black peppercorn sauce


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We were over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence towards the end of dinner.

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To end the meal, I enjoyed the cheese board with a nice Port.

Cheeses: Buttermilk blue, Bûcheron, Reading

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A look at one of the other dessert options:

Warm orange and chocolate croissant pudding
Crème anglaise


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Overall, I was impressed with the enhanced meal service on this flight compared to my previous experience in Club World on this route.

Before bed, a cognac digestif with a heavy "Scottish pour," according to our fun Scottish flight attendant ^^

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This far north in the summer, the sun doesn't quite set all the way

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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.

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It was nice to have to option to sleep as long as possible and still have a coffee prior to arrival.

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Puffy white clouds as we make our descent

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The wait to land was shorter than average as we only did a quick S pattern before lining up for the runway.

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We landed at 6:35AM Local time

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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

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American Airlines B777-200ER

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Virgin Atlantic B787-9

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Qantas B787-9 at a remote stand awaiting the very long flight home to Perth.

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British Airways A380 at a remote stand

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We parked next door to another BA A380 at T5 Concourse C

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Just as we arrived, the BA whalejet pushed back

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Last views of the attractive upper deck cabin upon deplaning

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It's always a treat to fly on the upper deck of the Queen of the Skies!

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Thanks for reading!
See more

Verdict

British Airways

9.0/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew9.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering8.5

British Airways Galleries Lounge

8.0/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services8.0

Washington - IAD

8.3/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

London - LHR

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

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!

Information on the route Washington (IAD) London (LHR)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 9 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Washington (IAD) → London (LHR).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is British Airways with 7.3/10.

The average flight time is 7 hours and 7 minutes.

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10 Comments

  • Comment 455064 by
    dreamweaver888 72 Comments

    Wow, BA cuisine in J has never looked better! Thanks!

  • Comment 455577 by
    KL651 TEAM 4433 Comments

    Thanks for this FR gurrrl.
    Wow finally a decent amenity kit, coupled with the new catering it really improves BA soft product which was a bit weak IMO.
    The upper deck is definitely unique, no wonder why those seats are reserved for Elite pax.
    I find the Scottish pour not to so heavy.
    Looking forward to your next flight to the Island of Pécheresses ^^

    • Comment 455713 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4865 Comments

      Merci ;-)

      "Wow finally a decent amenity kit, coupled with the new catering it really improves BA soft product which was a bit weak IMO."
      - AND let's not forget the new bedding! Yes, totally agree the BA soft product was lacking before--except for the wine list, which has always been decent

      "The upper deck is definitely unique, no wonder why those seats are reserved for Elite pax."
      - It seems half of the exit row seats were blocked for Elites and the other half were open for purchase by non-status pax ($125!!!)

      "I find the Scottish pour not to so heavy."
      - Haha...come on, you should know me...I drank quite of bit before even taking the pic ^^

      "Looking forward to your next flight to the Island of Pécheresses ^^"
      - LMAO, je peux te dire que ce vol à direction de l'île de la tentation a dû battre un record de facelifts et poitrines siliconisées au metre carré...C'était Kardashian Airlines là, mais ça je ne vais pas en parler dans le FR lui même car je suis une dame de qualité ^^

  • Comment 455598 by
    ashleyyau 212 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR with new BA soft product! It is always a joy to fly on the Queen's upper deck^^
    Despite the entree is still a bit small imo, the catering is really improved! Bye bye the meh looking salad! Do you think the new bedding is better?
    Looking forward to your next report!

    • Comment 455714 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4865 Comments

      Hi Ashley, thanks for your comments!

      "It is always a joy to fly on the Queen's upper deck^^"
      - So true! I much prefer the 747 upper deck to the A380 upper deck, which doesn't feel particularly special once the novelty of being on an A380 wears off

      "Despite the entree is still a bit small imo, the catering is really improved! "
      - It is on the smaller side, but it's bigger than before that's for sure. To me it was the perfect amount.

      "Do you think the new bedding is better?"
      - Oh yes! Much better than before. There is a mattress pad/cover which adds to the comfort and then two types of blankets--a thick one and a thin one. I always get hot when sleeping, so I appreciated having the option of a cooler or warmer cover. The only complaint I have is that the new bedding is bulky and there isn't much space for it when not in use...but again, that's not a problem when you have a window seat with the bins.

  • Comment 455647 by
    loukas SILVER 301 Comments

    Hi, Kevin! Thanks for another great report. I'm positively surprised by the freshness of the new cabin and the food presentation. It seems that there is some improvement in BA, at least in business class and on long haul routes. Looking forward to your next reports and Greek bonus! :)

    • Comment 455715 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4865 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thanks for your feedback as always :-)

      "I'm positively surprised by the freshness of the new cabin and the food presentation."
      - I was too. I've had some very "meh" flights on BA in the past, so this was a very pleasant change. The food service is even more impressive on long-haul day flights, which I will detail in the 4th report.

      "Looking forward to your next reports and Greek bonus! :)"
      - It should be ready soon and I'll make sure to have a little bonus :-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 455942 by
    socalnow GOLD 888 Comments

    Thanks for sharing a special flight on the upper deck of the queen in such a thorough and well photographed report.

    "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. "
    -Yeah, that does seal the deal. That high - J seat map is striking . The true Y section is so tiny.

    "We arrived at the British Airways ticket counter just under 3 hours before departure, well ahead of the crowds. "
    -I so enjoy the font they use for signage at Dulles, it looks like the 1960s. I know, odd observation.

    "Access to the dining room is limited to passengers flying in the BA Club World or First class cabins. Passengers with status traveling in other classes or flying other oneworld/IAG carriers may only access the main lounge. "
    -Is there table service or an a-la-carte / made to order offering? I guess I don't understand the entry requirements. Just nicer buffet offering?

    "There are only 20 Club World seat on the upper deck, which makes for a quiet cabin with a private jet feel. "
    -Wow, you scored a great seat! The aisle on the exit row must be very awkward out in the open like that. Love the extra storage boxes and shoulder room.

    "Breakfast and breakfast order cards"
    -Yes! Why doesn't ever airline do the order card on these short red eyes. It makes so much sense.

    I have to say I'm impressed wiht the look of the soft product. The service items are quite attractive including the glass ware and flatware. The tray for the salad, roll, butter and olive oil is smart looking too. As is the etched glass water glass. My my BA, what has come over you?

    "We parked next door to another BA A380 at T5 Concourse C"
    -Great shot of the -400 rotating in the background.

    Happy flying.

    • Comment 455952 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4865 Comments

      Hi Socalnow, thanks so much for your comments!

      "The true Y section is so tiny."
      - It really is. BA's J is often criticized for its density, but they really know how to fill up their premium cabins otherwise these crazy premium-heavy configurations wouldn't exist.

      "I so enjoy the font they use for signage at Dulles, it looks like the 1960s."
      - That's one of the great things about Dulles--it really keeps that 60's Jetsons feel that the beautiful Saarinen terminal is meant to have.

      "Is there table service or an a-la-carte / made to order offering? I guess I don't understand the entry requirements. Just nicer buffet offering?"
      - The First class "Concorde Bar" has a-la-carte dining (only for F pax), but in the J dining room it's just a hot buffet, though there are servers who serve drinks. There aren't really any hot options in the main lounge, mostly just finger foods. IME, it seems that when BA outstation lounges have a J dining room (eg IAD and EWR) that there are little to no hot options in the main lounge, whereas lounges without a dining room (eg SIN) have good hot options available to everyone. It's a bit inconsistent throughout the system. However, I believe the J dining room concept that was introduced with the lounge renovations a few years ago is meant mostly for East Coast station which have the shorter redeyes so you can have a full mean in the lounge and then just sleep onboard.

      "The aisle on the exit row must be very awkward out in the open like that."
      - Yes the aisle seat is very exposed, luckily the aisle is really wide on the upper deck so you don't get people bumping into you like downstairs. The window exit rows are as good as it gets with so much room, privacy, and access to the aisle.

      "My my BA, what has come over you?"
      - I'm really happy about these improvements since I fly BA so often. It's those little things like the new glassware or the thoughtful design of the dining arrangements that make a difference and add that extra premium feel to what was a pretty mediocre product.

      "Great shot of the -400 rotating in the background."
      - Thanks, yeah I got lucky with the timing on that one!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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