Hello and welcome to a new series of transatlantic flight reviews. As long-time oneworld loyalists who've been living between Europe and Southern California for the past few years, we regularly fly a mix of American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia across the pond. However, due to the UK's ever-changing and complex Covid entry policies, we'd avoided British Airways since the beginning of the pandemic and had yet to try out the new Club Suites Business class. With the UK simplifying Covid travel restrictions in 2022, and eventually doing away with them altogether, we once again felt confident booking British Airways. And we'd finally get to try Club Suites!
In this review we'll fly British Airways Club Suites on a brand new A350-1000–two firsts for me!
Reports in this series:
With the summer of "revenge travel" in full swing and airports around the world overwhelmed by the sheer volume of travellers after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, we made sure to get to the airport at least 3 hours early.
We'd seen reports of passengers waiting several hours to get through security at San Diego airport since Memorial Day weekend, and even hour-long waits through TSA pre-check lanes.
Luckily, it was surprisingly quiet on this Sunday afternoon.
Though it would be a full flight, there was no wait to check-in through the Priority/Club World lane.
We'd already uploaded our EU Digital Covid vaccination certificates prior to online check-in the previous day, so there was nothing to do except drop off our bags.
We were on our way within minutes.
There was not a soul in line at the TSA pre-check lanes.
We were through to airside in less than two minutes.
Though it was still early, we headed to the gate to see if we could catch a glimpse of our aircraft.
Nothing yet, as the inbound flight from London was running a bit behind schedule.
This part of the concourse was rather deserted, except for a Lufthansa A350-900 a few gates away.
As we still had plenty of time, we headed to the lounge.
The Aspire Lounge, the only third-party lounge at San Diego airport, had recently rebranded under new ownership. Operating for years as the "Airspace Lounge," which I'd reviewed in several past Flight-Reports, I was curious to see if the experience had improved.
The interior was exactly the same, and way too small for the amount of passengers. With British Airways and Lufthansa premium cabin passengers and Elites as well as Priority Pass holders all having access to just one lounge, it was a zoo and very difficult to find seating.
The food and beverage offerings were only slightly improved. Premium beverages such as champagne were now complimentary, whereas they were previously for a fee.
The only decent food available was charcuteries–no hot options except for a soup, no sandwiches or anything remotely substantial.
If you're entering the Aspire lounge using Priority Pass, the food & beverage are fine by US lounge standards, but definitely subpar by long-haul Business class standards.
The lounge started to clear out as folks began to head to the gate for the BA and LH fllights.
As the lounge is located on the opposite end of the terminal from the BA gate, we left about 15 minutes before boarding was due to begin.
It's quite a long walk…
Not terribly convenient having to essentially cross the entire length of Terminal two from the lounge to the gate.
Phew….finally made it…just in time for boarding to begin.
Boarding began on time just after pre-boarding with Group 1, which comprises Club World passengers and oneworld Emeralds.
Being at the end of the terminal there were no good views of our beautiful A350-1000, unfortunately.
Wow, now that's a good looking cabin! What a difference with the previous Club World seats.
The new Club Suites cabin looks more like First class than Business class at first glance, especially in the mini-cabin behind doors 2 with only 3 rows.
Here's a peek at the World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) cabin, just behind our seats.
Whereas the new Business class seats are much more spacious than the previous generation, the new Premium Economy seats appear to be more narrow–this could be due to the 2-4-2 configuration on the A350, which is the tighter option vs the more spacious 2-3-2 layout some airlines have chosen for A350s.
Back in the Club cabin, the new Suites are laid out in a very spacious 1-2-1 configuration, allowing for direct aisle access for all passengers. By comparison, older Club World seats are in a much denser 2-3-2 layout on 787s and 2-4-2 on 777s!
1-2-1 configurations are becoming standard for high-end Business class products, and more and more airlines, like BA, have opted to install seats with closing doors, making for private suites in Business class–something previously seen exclusively in First class.
The BA Club Suites seat is a highly customised version of the popular Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat model with the addition of sliding doors.
The Club Suites are already spacious for any size adult of course, and excessively so for my 3-year-old son.
Here's my seat for the next 10 hours or so–I think I'll survive 😉
I generally tend to select seats in the last row of the cabin for additional privacy and the BA A350-1000 has the added bonus of having an intimate 3-row mini-cabin behind the 2nd set of doors.
Look how huge that forward Club cabin is with 11 rows–I couldn't even fit the entire cabin on my screen all at once.
Pre-placed on the seat upon boarding were bedding, which includes a large pillow, comforter, and mattress pad, as well as a set of noise-cancelling headphones.
Lots of storage and multiple charging facilities in the side console, including 2 USB-A ports and one AC power outlet. Unfortunately, there were no USB-C ports on this 3 month-old aircraft. USB-C charging is quickly becoming standard in new cabins so it's a bit of a missed opportunity.
An Individual reading light is conveniently located right over the shoulder.
There are also overhead reading lights in the passenger service unit above the seat, but no individual air vents. I've never been a fan of the lack of air vents on newer aircraft.
Tons of legroom, as one would expect. At 5'10" (1.78m) I couldn't even touch the ottoman with my legs while sitting up straight.
Entertainment screens are a nice size.
Shortly after settling in, cabin crew distributed welcome drinks, menus, and amenity kits in the cabin.
Despite the late arrival of our aircraft from London and a completely full flight, boarding went quickly and doors were closed on time.
We pushed back from the gate close to the scheduled departure time.
The time to destination was not yet calculating on the IFE screens…
Nor on the Wi-Fi, which had not yet been activated.
Taxi time was was short, though with only one runway, we had to wait for several departures and arrivals.
Take-off into the beautiful Southern California beautiful sunset.
Finally, after take-off the flight time was calculating on the airshow–it will be a quick 9h32m flight to London this evening.
After taking off over the Pacific, the aircraft immediately turned back inland heading east to our destination, making for some beautiful views of San Diego.
Downtown, the Coronado Bridge, and Coronado Island.
Here's a view of the seat in full flat mode. The controls are very intuitive since my 3-year-old was able to easily figure it out on his own…maybe too easily!
Pre-dinner drinks were served shortly after take-off as cabin crew came through the cabin to take dinner orders.
Here's a look at the menu for this flight.
Decent choice of wines as usual on BA, but the food menu looked a bit sparse for a 10-hour flight from the West Coast. I remember pre-Covid there were multiple choices of appetisers and desserts even on short 6-hour redeyes from the East Coast.
Let's have a look at the in-flight entertainment.
The screen is large with very good, crisp image resolution and tons of content including films, tv programmes, documentaries, music, podcasts, games, and lots of children's programming. The only thing I found surprising and a bit disappointing is that the interface was only available in English and Spanish.
By this time the Wi-Fi was working and I decided to test it out on this long flight.
I went for the flight pass for 19.99 GBP allowing for internet access the whole length of the flight.
I won't comment about the price as I have very little basis for comparison; however, overall I found the Wi-Fi speeds to be quite decent. I was able to navigate the internet, get some work done, send e-mails, and even upload photos on social media with ease. The only time the internet experienced momentary service "hiccups" was near Greenland, though I believe it's common for satellite Wi-Fi coverage to be poor over the poles.
The cabin lights were dimmed for the evening.
Though there are simple seat control buttons on the side of the screen, you can create custom positions and control the reading lights from the touch screen in the side console.
While waiting for dinner service, cabin crew came through the cabin to unlock and close the suite doors.
And there it is!
Honestly, I can't say I'm a huge fan of closing doors in Business class. Sure it sounds cool, but the seats already provide so much privacy already, I didn't find the door to have any additional value. I can understand some people like the private feeling they provide, but they're not terribly high and it just made me feel claustrophobic. Plus, travelling as a family and having to take care of a toddler, I basically kept the door open the whole flight. I will say I liked the door for my son–he slept well cocooned in his little suite, plus it kept him from falling out of the bed in his sleep.
As far as privacy goes, with the door wide open, I couldn't see anyone else because of the somewhat staggered layout of rows. This was actually a bit of a problem for me, because I couldn't see my son at all when seated with seat-belt on during take-off and landing despite being in the same row as my seat was angled towards the window with a wall between the seat and the aisle. He's used to flying so I didn't have anything to worry about, but I will say it's not ideal when travelling with small kids if you're a helicopter parent (which I'll admit, I am at times)–the distance and visual separation is bound to give you anxiety.
We were almost 2 hours into the flight before meal service began in the rear Club cabin.
I wasn't surprised that meal service took so long considering how HUGE the Business class cabin is on the A350-1000. As I visited the cabin before the meal, I noticed that only the forward galley was set up for meal service. The galley at doors 2 was only set up as a self-serve bar, which is nice, but now practical for cabin crew.
Cabin crew had to prepare all meals in the forward galley and then hand-deliver each meal individually to each seat as it appears they no longer use trolleys for service.
Considering how long the forward Club cabin is, it's no surprise it took so long to get to us in the very last row of the second cabin.
On such a long flight, the slow pace of the service didn't bother me personally–there was still plenty of time to sleep. However, it was getting late and I'd ordered a Child Meal for my son so I specifically requested that he be served before me so he could go to sleep. Normally, child meals–and any kind of special meal (Vegetarian, Hindu, Kosher, etc)–are served first prior to the normal meal service so I was surprised that this was not the case on this flight. Again, I blame the huge size of the Club cabin–the cabin crew were lovely and non-stop running around.
Here's a look at the Child Meal on this flight which consisted of a quinoa salad, a red fruit salad, chicken fingers with vegetables and mashed potatoes and a dessert. The smiley-face chocolate mousse was a cute touch!
As always, a little too much food for a 3-year-old, but very decent quality and presentation overall. I'll admit I ate some of it since my son wasn't too hungry at this point and just wanted to sleep. Everything was tasty, especially the mashed potatoes.
A few minutes later the friendly flight attendant working our section checked in with me if I was ready for my meal and brought it out shortly thereafter. I was thankful for the cabin crews flexibility in service so that I could help my son, as I know they have such a large cabin to serve.
I'd selected the butter chicken–can't go wrong with Indian food on BA, it's always good!
Compared to pre-Covid times, the appetisers and desserts were much smaller than they had been and all served on one tray, whereas meals on longer West Coast flights were coursed out previously. So there were definitely some noticeable pandemic-era cost cutting measures.
Nevertheless everything was tasty and fresh, as one would expect from Do&Co catering.
After the meal I slept for much of the flight until we were about an hour out from landing.
A cool feature on the moving map application is that you can zoom in to major cities and get a detailed view and even information about the city and its main sites and attractions.
I'd woken up just in time for breakfast. On shorter East Coast flights I would normally just sleep through breakfast to maximise rest, but on these longer flights there's plenty of time to get a decent amount of rest and enjoy both meals.
Flying BA, of course I went for the full English Breakfast. Everything was good, though maybe a little greasy…but that's how it's supposed to be.
It was a beautiful early summer day over the UK.
The cabin was readied for landing.
I was surprised we'd be landing directly from the west facing east without having to do the usual U-turn (or holding pattern loops) over London to land facing west.
Landing from this direction, the left side of the aircraft was treated to a lovely view of Windsor Castle.
We landed at 1:14PM and ended up arriving to the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule.
So nice AvGeeky things to see on the taxi to the gate.
We parked at T5 Concourse B, meaning we would need to take the train to T5A for out next flight–no worries as we had plenty of time.
Last look at this beautiful new cabin on deplaning.
Next stop T5A and Transit Security…
…More about the Heathrow transit experience during the now-infamous summer of 2022 in the next review!
An overall very nice experience. The new Club Suites cabin is beautiful and a huge improvement over the previous generation of Club World seats which had essentially maintained the same ying-yang design for over 20 years. BA Business class went from being sorely outdated to one of the better seats in the industry. The seats are spacious, comfortable, and very private--almost too private if you're travelling with others.
Entertainment & Wi-Fi - Great content, good quality sound and image, and very nice modern moving map. It was unfortunate that the IFE interface was only available in English and Spanish, however. Wi-Fi speed was decent, except for a short period close to the pole where it didn't work so well mid-flight. I don't often buy in-flight Wi-Fi so I have few points of comparison for pricing; however, discounted pricing for Business/First and oneworld Emeralds here would gain additional points.
Catering - Delicious and much improved compared to offering earlier in the pandemic; however still not back to 2019 levels. Tiny portions except for the main course and on a flight of this length leaving at 7PM, dinner could have been coursed out to allow for larger portions rather than having everything on one tray, which feels decidedly less premium. Also, the meal services were very slow due to the huge size of the Club cabin. It seems that the galley configurations were poorly thought out for such a large cabin. Cabin crew had to prepare everything from only the forward galley, and served front to back, meaning those of us in the second Club cabin (rows 15-17) received meals much later than the forward rows. I wasn't thrilled that my son didn't receive his child meal almost 2 hours into the flight, especially as he was getting sleepy. This seems to be purely a design and layout issue, cabin crew were lovely as always and did the best they could.
Thanks for sharing this FR. :)
British Airways Business's product on A350-1000 looks very convincing and the indian-style supper looks sooo tempting...
Have safe flights. ;)
Hi Aigle_voyageur, thanks so much for your comments!
It's such an enormous improvement over the old Business class!
In my experience, Indian food is always good on BA
Thanks for stopping by!
Fantastic report Kevin. Many thanks for that! Looks like you’ve had a great flight with BA. I must say, I’m really looking forward to trying out their new Business class.
Hi Mateusz, thanks so much for your comments! It was indeed a great flight--my only criticism is the huge size of the cabin makes service a bit impersonal and rushed, but the seat itself is fantastic and light years ahead of old Club World. I hope you get a chance to experience Club Suites soon!
Thanks Kevin for this great report which I almost missed as the site front page is, as airport nowadays, overwhelmed by reports 😉
I was looking forward to discovering this flight. The new Club Suites is a great product. I consider the door as a great addition not when sitting but when sleeping, means when you need the most privacy = quietness!
Sad if the service is not back to pre pandemic levels. The current prices are for sure above. I’m afraid we’ll have to get used to it….
Thanks again for sharing.
Hello, bonjour, und guten tag Vincent ;-)
Haha yeah i wasn't in the top spot for very long! I'm perfectly happy getting knocked down though, if it means lots of new reports on the page!
You're absolutely right. The door is great to have that extra barrier from the aisle for sleeping. And that's probably more important sitting further forward in the cabin. Being in the last row, there was never any foot traffic going past my seat so I didn't really feel the need to keep it closed, but yes, its usefulness is especially appreciated for sleeping...for sitting up it's not as useful since you already can't see neighbours as it is. There's no "vis-à-vis" LOL...why isn't there an English equivalent for this haha
After my previous flight in Club World in January I was really expecting some improvements for this summer flight, but Nope! Hopefully it will happen soon...one can dream.
Thanks for stopping by!
Given the amount of food your little one is receiving, I have my doubts about a ''childs'' meal haha. Seems like a great product BA is offering on their Airbus A350. San Diego's airport doesn't seem too bad of an airport either with a roomy feeling.
Thanks for sharing and keep flying!
Hi Thomas, thanks for your comments!
Haha, it's always SO MUCH FOOD! I always say they need to have separate Child Meal categories..like one for Small children 2-5 years old and old for older 5-12 years...or something like that. This one-size-fits all is very wasteful...good thing I was hungry haha
Yes, it was high time BA had a product that reflected the premium-ness that BA try to project.
I love my home airport. It's really a pleasant airport. It's rarely crowded and very close to downtown. For a one-runway operation it's very efficient with rare delays. The beautiful Southern California weather helps.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks Kevin for this report.
SAN, your home airport looks great : bright, brand new and luckily not overcrowded.
Whose tablet computer is it on the left side of the glass of champagne?^^
Charcuterie : are you pre tasting one you final destination specials?
At first glance, the cabin proves BA underwent a real revolution !
His size perfectly fits an Y seat !
The child meal looks very decent.
Adult meal too even if chcken is not that premium, even on an Indian recipe.
All is served on the same tray. There would be plenty of time for a more personnal service, but FA are maybe not enough?
Looking forward to next stage.
Thanks for your comments!
Terminal 2 is very nice indeed. Terminal 1 is old and dark, but it's being re-built and will be even nicer than T2 shortly.
Hah, yeah though it's definitely nowhere near as good
It's funny, child meals are consistently good (and too big portions) in my experience. Often times, the CHML has more good than adult meals, which is crazy
Exactly. As I mentioned in the report, it seems BA don't staff enough for such a huge cabin to be able to do a full multi-course service correctly, which is a shame. Also there's not enough galley space in my opinion...BA apparently chose space for more seats over space for service items and cabin crew work space.
Thank you for stopping by my friend
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