The first thing to notice when dealing with British Airways is that there isn’t a straightforward division into Business Class, Economy and First.
Instead, as with many business class flights with other airlines, there are now divisions and subdivisions and these have been given names that (to a jet lagged and weary mind) can seem a little confusing.
So much so, in fact, that when I was offered an upgrade after take-off it took me a little while to respond. It wasn’t entirely clear whether it was an upgrade or a request for me to move to another part of the plane (and leave behind one of the best strokes of luck in consumer aviation terms: a window seat with an empty seat next to it and no-one else around!)
Luckily, however, the response to the pitiful question “would I be able to lie down?” was a suppressed smile and a definite yes and so I scrambled together my mobile office and walked beyond the curtain. (Side note – I’ve never seen people move so fast on a plane as the couple behind me did to take my place.)
So anyway. With all that taken care of, this review is going to discuss flying with British Airways Club World (business class in broad strokes.) That’s different to British Airways World Traveller (which is the standard economy seat when flying BA outside Europe.) I’m also going to have to skip the pre-flight details as I didn’t get to experience those first hand. But enough faff – here’s my review of my flight from Antigua to London Gatwick earlier this year.
With a 4, 2,2 arrangement, British Airways seems to have overcome the issue that troubles many business class flights: how to balance the requirements for those who want privacy with those who don’t. Window and aisle seats are cocooned; the two middle seats open up to one another. When travelling for work, I definitely want to cocoon myself as much as possible but if you’re on a romantic getaway or travelling with a young child then the central seats would definitely appeal.
The only slight snag on one of the aisle seats remains that the cabin crew will have to lean over you to pass the other passengers their meals or deal with any other queries they may have. If your central passenger is a businessman who just wants to sleep, that’s not a problem. If it’s a young child, well, prepare to be disturbed.
The British Airways Business Class seat itself is excellent – folding down to a fully flat bed with a footrest and everything in between. The architecture of the seat protects your head and feet from knocks as people walk down the aisle but the straight configuration leaves you with a slight question of where to put your knees if you sleep in the foetal position.
There’s a power supply (albeit in a tricky location), generous overhead storage, a slide out table with plenty of options and a fold out TV screen with world class entertainment. In addition to the space overhead, there’s a small storage drawer next to your seat for storing your laptop, books, newspapers and so on during the flight. It’s quite hard to reach with the table and TV screen out, though, and if you overfill it (ahem) you may find yourself with problems as you try to make the chair recline…
Served on white tablecloths, the BA Club World flight came with the best of British breakfasts plus the choice of an evening meal. Unlike on some other flights, passengers were left to take their time and enjoy their food. And while it may not rank as some of the best food on earth, it certainly ranks among the best to eat on a plane.
Lying comfortably flat with most things I needed within reach
Chirpy, friendly service
Baggage allowance (always a good feature with British Airways)
With an aisle seat, you will have staff leaning across you to deal with other passengers.
For an interactive look at the facilities including a seat plan head over here.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary upgrade on this British Airways Club World flight for review purposes. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise, there’s just no point…
Also, I break the tradition of using my own photos for business class reviews. It just seems a little mean and unnecessary to snap people while they’re sleeping. Unless of course I know them…Mwahahahaaha….
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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