To fly, to serve. That is the tagline of the UK’s main carrier British Airways. It takes pride in offering reliable and friendly service while carrying the Union Flag to farthest flung corners of the globe. The airline’s Business Class, branded as Club World, was one of the first to offer flat-bed seats, and the carrier continues to evolve its premium product today.
Afternoon tea with scones, locally sourced menu ingredients, and even a beer made just for the airline are special British touches that set Club World apart from other airlines.
British Airways is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, meaning fliers can earn and redeem Avios points with its many partners. Conversely, members of other alliance member airlines can earn and redeem their miles with British Airways.
With primary hubs at London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports (and a smaller operation at London City), all British Airways flights pass through London.
Club World passengers have access to premium check-in desks and security access. Once airside, they will find large Galleries Club lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick airports with self-service bars offering cocktails, soft drinks, wine, and beer. They feature service desks for assistance with tickets, a wide selection of magazines and newspapers, workstations with computers and free Wi-Fi, and buffets with warm and cold food selections.
London-based Union Coffee, plus a wide variety of Twinings Tea and accompaniments, is no surprise for a British carrier. Travellers with Sapphire status on oneworld airlines can also use the Club World lounges when travelling in any cabin. Top-status Emerald members gain access to British Airways First Class lounge, even if travelling in Club World.
British Airways also operates an arrivals lounge for Business Class passengers flying into London Heathrow on long-haul flights. This is a great way to maximise sleep onboard and enjoy breakfast in the lounge after a quick shower or coffee. It is located past immigration and customs and is available between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m.
British Airways offers several branded lounges in airports worldwide, including Johannesburg, New York JFK, Philadelphia, and Washington Dulles. British Airways also has lounges in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester in the United Kingdom. These offer similar amenities to their London counterparts, although they are less abundant. In some North American lounges like Philadelphia and Washington Dulles and the recently opened and impressive New York JFK British Airways Terminal 8, pre-flight supper is available so passengers can sleep straight after takeoff. That is especially helpful on short red-eye flights to London.
In cities with no British Airways lounge, Business Class passengers have access to third-party facilities (often a oneworld partner) as they await their flight's departure.
Being the pioneer of flat-bed seats in Business Class is a respectable feat, although other carriers have launched similar seats since its launch. Never one to rest on its laurels, British Airways developed a next-generation, flat-bed seat, dubbed Club Suite, that features a sliding door and all-aisle access. The new Club Suites are available on the airline's 13 Airbus A350-1000s -- with another five due for delivery in the coming year or two. All Boeing 787-10s feature the Club Suite. So far, BA has five B787-10s with another 12 on order. The airline's 43 Boeing 777-200ER fleet are shared between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, with 28 based at Heathrow and the remaining 15 at Gatwick. None of the Gatwick-based 777-200ER aircraft is likely to feature the Club Suite. However, only two Heathrow aircraft have yet to be reconfigured and are likely to be completed in 2023. The Boeing 777-300ER fleet of 16 aircraft will likely feature the new cabin by the end of 2023.
Meanwhile, work on the Boeing 787-8s has commenced, with the Boeing 787-9 fleet to follow suit thereafter. No plans have been made to add the new cabin to the Airbus A380 fleet.
Club Suites are in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration, which means seats face slightly away from the aisle. Couples will prefer one of the pairs of centre seats since there is a divider that opens for conversation. Solo travellers can choose any seat for privacy, although window seats are arguably quieter.
Club Suites are also divided into two cabins, with the majority in one forward section of Club World and then a mini cabin of 12 more seats behind that. Travellers may prefer that smaller cabin for a more intimate feel. Electronic consoles control the seat functions, and the ability to close a door makes you less likely to feel foot traffic passing along the aisle. It is a private suite, not unlike many First Class products. Doors can only be closed after takeoff for safety reasons.
The remainder of British Airways' fleet features the older Club World product, set in a 2-4-2 seating layout. Seats on the aisle are more exposed than those by the window. Window passengers must step over the feet of aisle passengers to get out. These do not have doors and are less spacious than Club Suites. If you want the latest Business Class product, you must fly a newly delivered aircraft or an older one that has been refitted. As it will take a couple of years before all aircraft feature Club Suites, it is always a good idea to check the seat map for the flight you are considering.
The older style of Club World seats alternate between forward and backwards facing, and every pair of seats features a divider that can be lowered to chat with a seatmate or to interact with flight attendants during meal service. This means that occasionally the person in the aisle seat has food passed over their table, and when the divider is lowered, seatmates are facing each other rather than being side by side. It is an unusual setup but is fantastic for couples travelling together as it is much easier to chat with one another.
Not all tickets are eligible for advance seat selection. However, those purchasing flexible fares and travellers with oneworld alliance elite status can choose a seat at no cost in advance. Others must wait until check-in to be assigned a seat.
Solo travellers may prefer backwards-facing window seats in the last row of most cabins since there is no one to pass over when accessing the aisle.
Seat maps do an excellent job of showing which seats face forward and which look backwards. A storage drawer by your feet opens space for books, chargers, electronics, and other devices. There is also a literature pocket near the ottoman, which folds down in front of the seat.
Electronic buttons control the seat functions in various positions, including the option to recline to a flat bed measuring 2 metres (6.5 feet long).
Waiting at each seat is a thick pillow and wrapped duvet blanket from The White Company, and a reading lamp provides multi-directional illumination. Power/USB outlets are available at every seat, too.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos, and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way, you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested before making your choice.
British Airways offers a lovely inflight service on fine china with printed menus explaining each course and where many ingredients originate.
Each course is delivered on a single tray, and plates and glasses are placed on linen-lined tables for a more restaurant-style experience. The use of service carts in the aisles is minimised, another welcome change, meaning there is less noise in the aisle and a more bespoke service atmosphere.
After nuts and a drink to start, the first course arrives with a salad and appetiser selection. A small silver basket for bread is a nice touch, and so is having both olive oil and butter.
Three main course dishes usually include beef, lamb, fish or poultry, and pasta. Dessert features a sweet option or a fine fruit and cheese plate of British provenance. Classic afternoon tea is available on select long-haul flights, and destination-inspired dishes will reflect the flavours of the regions, such as herb-grilled mahi-mahi fish on Caribbean routes.
While meals are not dine-on-demand, British Airways does provide passengers on red-eye flights a card to fill out and hand to the crew. This is a great way to expedite the pre-landing service and allow for maximum sleep. Passengers can customise breakfast options with continental choices or heartier English breakfast dishes. If they want a cup of hot coffee or tea before landing, with a pastry, that can be arranged, too.
British Airways is very generous regarding midflight snacks for those feeling peckish. Its Club Kitchen concept provides sweet and savoury snack options and allows guests to "raid the larder." A refrigerator features sandwiches, fresh fruit, and sometimes even ice cream in a separate freezer section that passengers can help themselves to midflight.
Before takeoff, flight attendants greet passengers with Champagne, juice, or water trays. They also deliver printed menus with details on the drink selection to follow. Several beer options are the norm, including BrewDog Speedbird 100 IPA, BrewDog JetStream and BrewDog Speedbird OG (new for 2023), crafted in partnership between BA and BrewDog, especially for the airline. There is a long list of spirits, liqueurs, and aperitifs on flights, including several cocktail recipes. Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds-backed Aviation American Gin is available on all flights. Mocktails are a fun surprise. Coffee from London's Union Coffee and an array of Twinings Teas round off the menu.
BA's Master of Wine has curated a new wine list – Tim Jackson has already elevated the wine service with fresh Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir offerings in Club World, with additional wines highlighting the airline's destinations rolling out during 2023. On the wine list, there are usually two colours of Champagne (Brut and Rosé), two whites, two reds, and one port. Before the main meal, an aperitif service comes with mixed nuts and a choice of beverage. With every course, top-ups are available as flight attendants serve each passenger as if it were a restaurant collecting their last plate and delivering the next course when they are ready.
Each Club World passenger gets a bottle of water, but the full menu of beverages is available anytime during the flight.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes but feel free to let us know if we missed something.
Flight attendants are formal yet friendly. It is the typical British-reserved service delivery you might find in a hotel or restaurant in the United Kingdom. Many passengers find that the crew adapts to each person's conversation and informality level throughout the flight. Show them that you like to chat, and they will chat. Show British formality, and they will return the respect.
On flights where a foreign language is spoken at the destination, expect that someone on the crew will be ready to converse in that native tongue. British Airways also has overseas-based cabin crew on many flights; Indian flights, for example, often have crew based in India, which helps with cultural service details.
A smart new uniform will be introduced to the BA flight crew in the Spring of 2023 for the first time in 20 years. Designed by British fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng, the classy new outfits will reflect the airline's pride in their product.
Club Suites have a 43 centimetres high-definition in-flight entertainment screen with a wide selection of Hollywood movies and television programs, including box sets and a global music collection. Screens respond to touch but can also be adjusted via remote control. A sealed pack of noise-reducing headphones awaits passengers at each seat, though these aren't as noise-cancelling as they could be. Passengers can select entertainment options via the touchscreen or the practical handset.
Wi-Fi is available on most British Airways' long-haul fleet, with prices available for hourly service or sometimes for a package to cover the entire flight.
In addition to a wide selection of international newspapers and magazines available in the lounge and at the boarding gate, there are often more to enjoy inflight. British Airways also produces its own inflight magazine: High Life, and a business traveller-focused publication - Business Life.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.
The White Company amenity kits are standard on British Airways and feature branded lip balm, hand lotion, socks, eyeshades, dental kits and a small pen. The bedding is also from The White Company and comes in the form of thick blankets and pillows and a mattress topper.
Hot towels are a nice way to refresh before each meal. On flights to certain Asian cities, Club World passengers receive slippers to wear inflight.
Families with infants can pre-reserve a bassinet on long-haul flights to use in Club World. Children can enjoy everything from cartoon and youth-themed shows to special toys and gifts to keep them busy.
Club Suite cabins have two lavatories with White Company products and baby change facilities.
British Airways' short and medium-haul flights typically operate with narrow-body aircraft offering 3-3 seating, featuring a Business Class product branded as Club Europe. The middle seat is blocked for extra comfort, and inflight service consists of hot or cold meals depending upon the length of the flight. Even on these shorter flights (including domestic services), the bar is open with selections including beer, wine, spirits, and Champagne.
For a limited time in 2023, some passengers can experience Club Suites, as the airline uses its wide-body aircraft on select European routes.
The airline is investing in the most fuel-efficient planes and focuses on all the ways it can reduce emissions in inflight and on the ground. Recycling programs in its lounges and inflight are another eco-friendly measure.
British Airways has a goal for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the carrier invests in carbon-neutral projects in many of the destinations it serves. On its flights, it has switched to bamboo alternatives instead of plastic stirrers, reduced plastic use for amenity kits and headsets, and serves water bottles made from recycled materials. The airline sends less than one per cent of non-catering waste to landfills. BA's new uniforms are made from more than 90 per cent sustainable fabrics from recycled polyester and only use manufacturers of the 'Better Cotton' initiative. The old uniforms will be donated to charities, recycled into children's toys or contributed to the airline's museum.
The airline also collects loose change (that sometimes may sit in a drawer rather than be spent) from passengers on its long-haul flights to support the non-profit organisation Flying Start. It supports less-fortunate children around the world. British Airways is also the first airline to build a waste-to-fuel plant converting everyday consumer waste to sustainable fuel.
A partnership with the Born Free Foundation has the airline advocating against the captivity of wild animals.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also score higher on flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.
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