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 both 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 come as 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 while 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 available between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m.
British Airways offers several of its own branded lounges in airports around the world including Johannesburg, New York JFK, Philadelphia, and Washington Dulles. In the United Kingdom, British Airways also has lounges in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester. These offer similar amenities to their London counterparts although are not as abundant. In some of the North American lounges like New York JFK, Philadelphia and Washington Dulles, pre-flight supper is available in the lounge so that passengers can sleep straight after takeoff. That is especially helpful on short red-eye flights to London.
In cities where there is 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 since its launch, other carriers have launched similar seats. 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 newly delivered aircraft, including the Airbus A350-1000, and are being refitted progressively throughout the entire long-haul 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 means you are 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 not as spacious as 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 several 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, that still feature on most British Airways aircraft, alternate between forward and backward 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 although those purchasing flexible fares as well as 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 backward 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 backward. A storage drawer by your feet opens with 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 are 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 offering explanations of each course and where many of the ingredients come from.
Delivered on a single tray, plates and glasses are placed on linen-lined tables for a more restaurant-style experience. The use of service carts in the aisles is minimized, 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 as are having both olive oil and butter.
Three main course dishes usually include a beef, fish or poultry, and pasta option. Dessert features a sweet option or a fine fruit and cheese plate of British provenance.
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 just want a cup of hot coffee or tea before landing, with a pastry, that can be arranged, too.
British Airways is very generous when it comes to midflight snacks for those feeling peckish. Its Club Kitchen concept provides sweet and savoury snack options, but also provide guests the chance 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 trays of Champagne, juice, or water. They also deliver printed menus with details on the drink selection to follow. Several beer options are the norm including BrewDog Speedbird 100 IPA, a brew crafted especially for the airline. There is a long list of spirits, liqueurs, and digestifs on flights including several cocktail recipes to try. Mocktails are a fun surprise. Coffee from London’s Union Coffee and an array of Twinings Teas round-off the menu.
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 of course, the full menu of beverages is available at any time 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 there is something we missed.
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 the conversation and informality level of each person 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 large screen folds out from the side with a solid selection of entertainment programming including Hollywood movies, television programs including box sets, and a global collection of music. Screens respond to touch but can also be adjusted via remote control. A sealed pack of noise-reducing headphones awaits passengers at each seat.
Wi-Fi is available on the vast majority of 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 magazines: 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, and eyeshades. Bedding is also from The White Company and comes in the form of thick blankets and pillows.
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.
On long-haul flights, families with infants can pre-reserve a bassinet to use in Club World. Children can also enjoy everything from cartoon and youth-themed shows to special toys and gifts to keep them busy.
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.
The airline is investing in the most fuel-efficient planes and pays particular focus to all the ways it can reduce emissions both 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 a landfill.
The airline also collects loose change (that sometimes may just sit in a drawer rather than be spent) from passengers on its long-haul flights to support the nonprofit organization 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 give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.