The new Club Suite from British Airways is a real game changer for the airline's offering, with a complete redesign from the previous BA business class seat. Here's our British Airways Business Class Review, Club World in BA speak, on the London Heathrow to Bengaluru route to India.
BA Business Class Review: The Club World Club Suite
Disclosure - I received a complimentary Club Suite flight for review purposes. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise, what's the point?
The New BA Club Suite Overview
Wow, what an improvement this new Club Suite is. In short, not only does the seat fully recline as you’d now expect, but a door slides closed to cocoon you in your own world. Clever design means the cubicle fans out from the TV to give the sense of breathing room; it doesn't feel like you're locked up in a plastic coffin.
Another great plus is aisle access for every passenger, so staff no longer need to lean over you and your neighbour won't step across you. There's not a romantic honeymoon option but the central aisle seats do have slide-down windows to allow for decent conversation.
For very young children, you won’t have the feeling of being right next to them. For everyone else, this new design is a win.
Club World doesn't have the full level of luxury of First Class but even with 56 passengers, service is attentive, food good and the cabin quiet.
Is it business class or first? What is club world?
First of all, you've got to watch your language. No, not in that kind of way (although it is a British airline) but in terms of what everything is called.
First Class is simply named, it's called First Class, but it's not available on every flight and so it isn't always the most luxurious option available. Club World roughly translates to Business Class and on the flight routes from London to Bangalore/Bengaluru, it's that or economy, there is no first.
The new Club Suite refers to the new design of the cabin and the service that comes along with it.
British Airways Business Class Review: Your Space
At 183cm or six feet, this seat has exceptional length, which will be a blessing to taller travellers. I’m 5’6, average height for a UK woman, and found the seat very comfortable but the footrest is a little out of my reach when sat bolt upright.
Top Travel Tip: travel with your own footrest if you’re on the short side and have back or hip problems as I do! This is far more important when travelling in economy but also useful here! Fill a toiletry bag with your flight essentials and spare jumper and, hey presto! A footrest!
One arm rest is adjustable, the other is fixed. The footrest has a storage space underneath and cotton covers the headrest.
You'll receive a pillow with cotton pillowcase, as well as blankets from the White Company, a new BA partner.
The seat adjustment panel has three main options, a simpler layout than other airlines.
- Lying flat
There’s not really much to it and if you think that’s a strange comment, some business class seats require quite complex reconfigurations of the seat, which only the cabin crew can manage. This one definitely does not. But you can separately adjust the back and footrest, if you need to tweak things a bit.
The door must stay open for take off and landing and cabin crew keep the door closed as the default option. It's utterly easy to slide and open yourself and comes to the same height as the rest of the seat. Parents, you can easily stand up to give your offspring a stare; you’re not completely cut off from them.
The table slides out in two stages and is pretty generous in terms of space. You can easily find a home for a laptop, cable and drinks all in the one area. The side storage also makes desk work easier for storing pens, notes, cards and so on while leaving the table free.
The 18.5 inch screen is right opposite the seat. Again, a seemingly redundant observation but with other airlines, it requires some manoeuvring to access.
And the screen turns off automatically. Perfect if you doze off while watching something...so I've heard.
Storage & Other Comforts
Most seats have an overhead locker per seat, which is plenty of space for things you won't need in-flight.
You'll also find a coat hook on the top of the seat divider.
A reading light pops out over your shoulder and has a dimmer adjustment on the seat pad.
Then, there's the water bottle holder underneath the table: you can't store anything other than that in there during take off and landing.
Finally, the two pop-up storage areas:
- One fits the noise-cancelling headphones provided.
- The other stores the media control and charging points. It doesn’t have a groove for cables so won’t close properly during flight if you are, for example, running a cable from there to your laptop. As you'd expect, you'll find a USB and PC charging points.
There’s also a pop out vanity mirror, in front of the magazine rack. This has a blue light on the inside and the area is big enough to store a kindle or book.
British Airways Business Class Review: Freshening Up
The Wash Bag
Each flight provides an individual wash bag produced by the White Company for British Airways. Small, black and zippered, it contains those long haul flight essentials: sleeping mask, socks and earplugs.
You'll also find a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste, as well as a dinky lip balm and face moisturiser. My favourite is the lavender, clary sage and peppermint aromatherapy pulse point oil dropper. Blissful.
On the Airbus A350, there is one toilet at the front and two between the two business class sections. Toiletries include White Linen hand wash and hand cream exist alongside paper towels and tissues.
The BA Business Class Club Suite Cabin Layout
One, two, one is the layout of the seats so that everyone has access to the aisle.
On the A350 flights to Bangalore, there is no longer first class. Instead, there are 56 business class (Club World) seats. I was a little concerned that the high number of passengers would decrease the service levels but I needn’t have worried. The layout of both the seats and the cabin still gives a sense of privacy and exclusivity.
Good to Know
Rows 15 – 17 involve turning right after boarding. It’s a small point but it makes it harder to settle into your seat as the rest of the plane’s passengers walk past. Rows 1-14 turn left and avoid this (admittedly small) issue.
BA Business Class Review: Dining
Overall, the dining experience is a big step up from economy/ World Traveller for BA.
The menu focuses on both arrival and departure destinations, as well as seasonality and on certain flights, you can pre-order your main online.
So, options included Scottish smoked salmon, cheddar and spring onion cheesecake and murgh makhan palaak. Breakfast included pastries, a Suffolk sweet-cured back bacon and scrambled eggs and idli, sambhar, upma and dosa.
The wine list, however, travelled further, bringing champagne from, well, champagne and wines from New Zealand, South Africa and the Douro Valley in Portugal.
Flying from London
On leaving London, welcome drinks include water and champagne. The dining service functions on Indian time, with dinner and then time to rest. Breakfast is served shortly before landing.
Flying from Bangalore
On the morning flight, the menu follows India time rather than the UK. The first meal is breakfast and then later on lunch. Morning drinks are water and orange juice - no fizz, so manage your expectations ;-)
You can also shorten the meal service by asking the cabin crew for your choice to maximise time spent working and/ or sleeping.
Snacks Between Meals
The Club Kitchen stocks British staples like crisps and Cadbury chocolate, as well as a top of station of some drinks. This is self-service but stocks do run out during the flight.
The BA Business Class Experience at London Heathrow
British Airways have made Terminal 5 their home at London Heathrow, and the truth is, it's much more pleasant to travel through than the others.
Business class (Club World) has a separate check-in area, although it’s slightly confusing since it’s right next to the desk for First. Club World is not First, alas. Terminal Five is a busy place so both check-in and security are likely to have small queues.
Fast-track through security helps, though. From there, you need to keep an eye on the time since different zones require a transfer by train and can add 15-20 minutes to your transit time.
The British Airways Lounge At Heathrow
Again, understanding the lounges requires some BA linguistics. Club World, Club Europe, World Traveller, different colour codes, first, business…
In short, a business class seat or Club World seat allows you access to the Club World lounge. This is a large, well laid out area with plenty of light. It’s also very, very busy.
(Note First Class has access to a spa and restaurant on the floor below.)
You'll find a regular provision of hot and cold food and drinks throughout the day, newspapers, magazines, some great views of the planes outside and news bulletins across the lounge.
- Have more time at Heathrow? You might want to consider leaving the airport and trying some of these six things to do near Heathrow Airport.
The British Airways Business Class Experience in Bengaluru
There are dedicated business class (Club World) check-in counters but no fast track through immigration and security.
The lounge is BLR, shared with first and business class passengers. It’s much smaller than the one in Heathrow and, as a result, has fewer facilities.
However, you’ll find fully cooked food buffet options and soft drinks. For the early morning flight, at least, there was no alcohol. However a bar looks ready for evening options.
You’ll find a variety of seats and newspapers but no obvious sleeping area and a small window. Wifi is much faster than during the rest of my trip – just remember to pick up the scratch PIN code at the desk.
It’s a short walk from the lounge to the international boarding gates so you can take your time.
Top Tip for Flying from Bengaluru
You need to be able to present a boarding pass to enter the airport at Bengaluru. Don’t, as I did, rely on picking it up at the check-in counters.
While there is wifi at the airport, you need to receive a text (likely charged on roaming) and it’s just a faff you could do without at that time in the morning!
Check-in online and have your documents easily ready so that you can get in the airport.
Boarding in Bangalore
I’m not sure if this is a universal experience, but Group 1 and 2 passengers (business and frequent flyers with high status) were taken into a stairwell for an additional security check. Then directed to join the back of the queue of economy passengers.
For the morning flight, there’s an option of water or orange juice. No fizz in case you're planning on a quick drink before sleep to be on UK time!
Flying at Dawn from Bangalore? There's a Taj Hotel On Site
If you are on the early flight to London Heathrow then it’s worth staying at the Taj Airport Hotel. It’s literally a three minute walk from the hotel to the airport, whereas the Bengaluru traffic from the city centre can be suffocating.
It’s also a luxurious experience as a Taj, with outdoor pool, spa, three restaurants and all the touches you’d expect, like a welcome necklace and floral garland.
The gym helps to stretch your legs and blow off some steam before boarding a 10 hour flight.
Top Tip – treat yourself at the Jiva spa. I can highly recommend the Bali-influenced Indian massage, which combines pressure points and soft movements with scented oil and a floral foot soak.
Arriving into Heathrow
Club World results in priority for luggage but not for immigration, so bear that in mind for any tight connections and allow time for the Heathrow immigration hall.
Useful Information on Travel in India
Here's our guide on planning a trip to India, with a focus on the flower markets of Bangalore and the beautiful palace and city of Mysore. Don't miss the flavours of Mysore, either, with this handy Mysore food guide.
Find yourself with more time or a connection? Here's how to spend 24 hours in Mumbai.
Other Business Class Reviews
See how this British Airways Business Class Review about the new Club Suite stacks up against the rest.