Hello and welcome to a new series of Flight-Reports!
Having just gotten back to DC from my annual birthday trip home to France (reports here and here ), I needed to cross the pond again as I had to be in Madrid for the week of 17 September. I had originally put together an itinerary that included one leg on the new Iberia A350, unfortunately it didn't work out in the end, which was disappointing as an AvGeek. Alas, the reports in this series won't be anything new, as I've reported all aircraft but one in the past. Still, it's always worth doing Flight-Reports, even on one's "shuttle"–in my case, that would be IAD-LHR on the British Airways B747-400.
Welcome to another review on the BA 747 upper deck Club World cabin.
I arrived at the airport a little over three hours before departure.
I was surprised to see a long line at the Club World check-in, especially so early. Despite the line, the counters were well staffed and the wait was minimal.
As usual, security was a breeze with TSA Pre-Check. There was a point where Pre-Check lines were getting consistently long, but lately it has gotten much better.
I was airside in minutes and off to the train to Concourse B.
As always, flags of the world and U.S. States welcome travellers to the Concourse A and B mid-field terminal.
Unsurprisingly, with so many people at the Club World check-in, the BA Galleries lounge was on the crowded side despite the early hour.
I went to the bar at the end of the lounge to grab a glass of champagne and immediately headed to the dining room.
Outside of the dining room, there are no hot options–mostly finger sandwiches, cheese, crackers, and crudités.
This wall of wine spans the entrance to the dining room. Staff were still setting up when I arrived, but I only had to wait a minute or two to enter.
Access to the dining room is restricted to passengers in BA Club World or First. When flying in Club, I prefer to sit in the dining room as there are nice tarmac views whereas the main lounge faces inside the terminal.
It was nice to have the whole dining room to myself for a bit.
Being that I was flying alone, I got myself one of the single tables facing the windows with a view of an Austrian B767-300ER.
Although it was like 4PM, I was hungry as I hadn't eaten all day so I had myself a late lunch.
Aside from soups and salads, there were several hot options including turkey cutlets, corn-tomato relish, and vegetable pasta. There was also a taco bar with warm tortillas and some interesting meat options: Korean Beef Bulgogi and Chicken Tinga
I started with a Beef Bulgogi taco, which was quite good.
Then tried the Chicken Tinga taco, equally tasy.
I hung out for a while sipping champagne, working a bit, and watching the action on the ramp.
Virgin America (now Alaska Airlines) A321neo arriving from SFO
The Austrian B767-300ER to Vienna pushing back
The Virgin America A321 pushed back out to SFO a few minutes after Austrian
I headed out to the gate about 10 minutes before boarding was due to begin.
Our beautiful Queen of the Skies taking us to London tonight, G-CIVV, a 20 year old B747-400
The BA 747 flights use gates B42 and B44. Group 2 Priority Boarding is from gate B44, all other groups board as B42
There were only another 5 passengers ahead of me in the queue for Group 2. On long-haul flights with a First class cabin, Group 2 is Business class and oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers, while Group 1 is First and oneworld Emerald flyers. On flights without a First cabin, Group 1 is Business class as we will see in the next report.
The attractive upper deck cabin is bathed in blue mood-lighting and only has 20 seats laid out in a 2X2 configuration over 5 rows.
My rear-facing exit row seat with large pillow and bedding set from the White Company. The bedding package contains a comforter, a lighter cover, and a mattress pad in a zipped bag.
Upper deck window seats are great as they have a lot of extra lateral space and storage with the bins along the side-walls.
Each seat has access to two bins, one of which could fit my big laptop backpack.
The other was a good place to store the bedding package.
Legroom is always good in Club World and foot-space is not restricted when in bed mode unlike many other business class seats.
View out the window of the lineup on this side of the A Concourse: Virgin Atlantic A330-200, Air France A380-800, Etihad B787-9
Shortly after settling in to my seat, one of the friendly cabin crew distributed amenity kits/wash bags and water bottles…
While the other came around with a tray of pre-departure drinks with the usual choice of champagne and water.
Several minutes later crew distributed menus and breakfast cards. I really like the breakfast cards as they allow you to let the crew know if you wish to be woken up earlier for a full breakfast or later for only tea or coffee.
I selected the "Maximise Sleep" option with tea.
Let's have a look at the menu.
Dinner and Breakfast options
Red wines and Port
The Virgin A330 pushing back
A few minutes later the AF A380 pushed back
Not long after, an AF B777-200ER arrived. I was surprised to see one in the old livery. I had just been at CDG 10 days before and had only seen AF aircraft in the new livery.
Boarding was completed on time, but it took a while to push back due to traffic in the alley.
We pushed back from the gate at 6:43 PM, only 13 minutes late.
Flight time to London will be a quick 6 hours and 48 minutes
The new safety video played during taxi.
Video screens are stowed once the safety video is completed as screens must be stowed for takeoff and landing.
We found clear skies again about the thick cloud layer.
After takeoff I put the seat into relaxation mode and stretched out with the airshow on.
Less than 15 minutes after takeoff, cabin crew were in the aisles for apéritif service. I had the Castelnau Rosé champagne, as I often do on this flight.
The IFE system is very good on these recently refurbished 747s, with good content and nice image quality.
The sunset colours outside were beautiful and the pink matched my champagne ^^
More often than not, I'm flying with someone else when flying BA Business class, but this time I was flying alone, which can be awkward with the backwards-forwards configuration of the seats.
One of the most awkward moments when travelling alone in BA Club World is deciding to put up the privacy partition. Luckily, the passenger in the aisle seat raised it to take a nap, which saved me the awkwardness. Normally, the partition needs to be down during meal services so cabin crew can reach through; however, as I was in the exit row, there was space for crew to access in front of the seat.
Once the partition is up, window seats are incredibly private.
Meal service began about 45 minutes into the flight with the appetiser course:
Asparagus and prosciutto ham Truffle dressing, quail egg
A well-presented and tasty dish.
Short rib of beef Roasted potatoes, green beans, butternut squash, béarnaise sauce
Overflying the Boston area during dinner
The airshow is very nice on these newly refurbished aircraft with a good representation of the 747
The beef was surprisingly well cooked, somewhere between medium and medium rare. Unfortunately, the meat itself was a bit tough. Nevertheless, it was a tasty dish, but then again everything is better with béarnaise sauce.
Afterwards, I opted for the cheese board instead of a sweet dessert:
By the end of dinner we were crossing into Canada. The dinner service had been efficient and well-executed by the friendly crew without feeling rushed and impersonal as it often can on other airlines' red-eye flights.
After dinner I put the seat in bed mode, finished watching a movie, and promptly fell asleep.
I didn't wake up until the seat belt sign came on for landing. My tea was was waiting for me on the side table.
It was a beautiful clear morning over the U.K.
After doing a few circles east of London due to air traffic congestion–typical of morning arrivals into Heathrow–we headed for Heathrow over the city, which made for some lovely views.
Canary Wharf business district
Kensington and Hyde Park
Despite doing a few loops we landed early and arrived at the gate ahead of schedule.
Last view of the cabin on deplaning.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave questions and comments below.
British Airways Galleries Lounge
Washington - IAD
London - LHR
Another very pleasant experience with British Airways on the recently refurbished "Super High-J" configured B747-400. Note that my cabin rating of 9/10 is not typical for BA Club World--it is based on the exit row window seat on the upper deck which comes with direct aisle-access and extra storage and space due to the bins along the side wall. Once again, BA cabin crew were lovely--the two flight attendants working the upper deck were cheerful, attentive, efficient, and very courteous throughout the flight. The IFE is modern and responsive with good content and image quality on these recently refurbished 747s. Since the catering improvements were introduced at the beginning of the year the meal quality and presentation has been consistently good, in my opinion. Overall, it was another lovely flight on the upper deck of the Queen of the Skies on my oft-frequented IAD-LHR route.
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