As it happens, I have taken a return transatlantic flight for the last two years and all have been First Class. Well, 2014 saw me fly on my first First using Avios and a 2for1 voucher in an open jaw LHR-IAD//JFK-LHR. Last year, I flew First from LHR-JFK on my way to Las Vegas. The routing I had planned online could not be priced up by BA, but the excellent Customer Service agent found me a routing in First on the outbound for about £100 more than I had planned, so I took it. The return was on BA2, the New York – London City service on an A318 which has only 32 Club World seats so it is, apparently, more like flying on a private jet than a normal flight.
So, I had never actually tried ‘normal’ British Airways Club World seats and service. Thanks to the triple whammy of a sale, ex-Eu fares and an uplifted part-pay with Avios deal, I was able to secure 2 Club World seats from Copenhagen via LHR to San Francisco for £750 and 30,000 Avios each. Economy LHR-SFO fares were £900 at the time, and I will earn over 25,000 Avios so it was a no-brainer.
The flight was also going to be my first A380 experience, so I was very much looking forward to it. We landed from Copenhagen in plenty of time, and then took the walkway across to T5B for a little snack in the lounge before taking the transit across to C gates. I even managed a quick 15 minutes in the massage chair in the spa!
Boarding was from C55 and was, thankfully, done following the procedure. One interesting moment was getting down the air bridge and having to take a choice of three entrances. We took C and went up the ramp to the top deck. Our seats were 53A/B, directly at the back of the first Club World cabin. The layout upstairs is a 2-3-2 with the outer window seats and the centre facing backwards. I had the window and was pleased to find that facing backwards was not as weird as it could have been. We were offered a pre-departure drink of champagne, but there were no top ups as in First or CWLCY. Amenity kits were also given out later on in the flight, as opposed to at the start of the flight.
Menus were distributed and drinks offered, so I had a G&T. The only choice on the menu was the main course and the desert. Everyone was presented with the same tomato, mozzarella and avocado starter, and a salad course on the tray to begin with. I opted for the prawn salad main, and cheese for after. I had a couple of glasses of champagne and a coffee.
The seat offers plenty of leg room, which great if you are someone tall like me. On the upper deck, the outer seats benefit from additional storage thanks to the curvature of the fuselage, so I had plenty of space to store any bits that I might need in flight. Sitting backwards, and therefore opposite the person next to you is fine if you know them, but would be a little odd if they were a complete stranger.
I dozed for a bit, watched three films and did a little work. Throughout the flight, there were crew in the galley, but I couldn’t help but feel that they were coasting doing the bare minimum and not really going above and beyond as you would get in First.
With about 2 hours to go, they came round and offered the light meal with additional drinks. I opted for the salmon salad which came with a salad starter, making it 5/5 for salad meals. There was meant to be a pesto-esque pasta option for the light options, but when served, it was the macaroni and cheese option that was for the main option.
We had an easy approach over the bay and passed the BA 777 which had left Heathrow three hours ahead of us. We are on the 777 for our inbound flight, so it will be a good comparison with the A380.
The benefit of being in Club World is being able to disembark relatively quickly, which saw us towards the front of the queue for immigration. We were through within about 20 minutes of getting off the plane and had our bags about 15 minutes after that, which was a lot faster than we had planned. With that, we left the airport and made our way out to the Crowne Plaza hotel shuttle.
Overall I was a little underwhelmed by the whole Club World experience, but I fully recognise that the only thing I have to compare it to are First and CWLCY flights. The space was great, and I was grateful that I had so much of it on such a long flight. I had tried to upgrade the sector using Avios but there was no availability. I have business class transatlantic flights booked for February next year on the way to St Martin in the Caribbean, outbound on Iberia MAD-MIA and inbound on American MIA-LHR, so it will be interesting to see how they compare.