Greeted with champagne, a flat bed to sleep on and chef-quality food: it’s the right way to fly long haul. But, it’s expensive and has a bigger environmental footprint than flying economy, so is flying business with British Airways really worth it?
Ben and I flew to Costa Rica from London Gatwick on a Boeing 777 in Club World. It was our first long haul business flight so I didn’t know what to expect.
Food & Drink
We were cheerfully welcomed onto the plane with a glass of champagne, I highly recommend this as a way to enter any room!
On the outbound flight we had a big lunch offering and then a light dinner meal. On the return journey the flight was timed with a larger dinner and a breakfast. I have to admit, the food was restaurant-quality and being served in three courses with proper cutlery made a difference to how the whole experience felt.
My absolute favourite part of flying business was this little drawer by the seat. Airlines should make more of an effort to put one of these in economy seats, too. It was so handy to have all the entertainment I might need in 11 hours right there in one place rather than having to get my bag down several times during the flight. Give the inventor of that a medal.
As a Club World guest you get given a bag full of The White Company accessories to make your flight more comfortable. The little bottles you can see in the picture are a moisturiser, lip balm and a restore lotion to put on pressure points that smelt like lavender and peppermint.
I think the eye mask is a nice idea, although I brought my own anyway.
The blankets are by The White Company, too. You get a soft pillow, seat cover and two blankets. The blankets are genuinely soft enough that I would use them at home. It doesn’t feel like British Airways have cut corners on the amenities.
The downside is it’s all disposable, so from Ben & I travelling, that’s four plastic toothbrushes and twelve tiny plastic bottles in the bin. British Airways should reflect on this in the current climate. There are other offerings out there, like solid toothpastes and bamboo toothbrushes (of course they still need to be disposed of properly).
Perhaps an alternative could be to extend the offering of these items in the lounges so people could take them in the airport if required? Toothpaste and moisturisers could be offered in the onboard toilet in the same way as soap.
Virgin have started to offer bamboo items and vegan beauty products. What do you think could improve the offering?
Like any British company, the customer service was hit and miss. It was better on the return flight (maybe the crew had enjoyed a few days off in Costa Rica?).
Sometimes, asking for a drink *was* a bit too much to ask, but other times the staff would remember your name and bring a top up drink unprompted.
Overall, nothing wrong with it but not outstanding.
I don’t think I slept for long, but I did wake up feeling refreshed. With my eye mask on and Waterparks playing through my headphones, I did feel like I could have woken up in a hotel room.
I sat in a middle seat, so no one had to step over me to access the aisle and no one was walking past me. This may have felt less like being in a mini hotel.
Qantas conducted a lot of research into how to combat jetlag for their 17-hour direct flights between London and Perth and I could tell the difference on the British Airways flight. Qantas use their Dreamliner (Boeing 787) plane for the journey which is admittedly a much newer plane, having its first flight in 2009. Comparably, the Boeing 777 class first flew in 1994!
The 787 has much bigger windows and the lighting was softly coloured and dimmed at times that aided jetlag reduction. The British Airways business class suit had normal window blinds, rather than electronic dimming. The lights went to a dark blue overnight, but it didn’t have the same effect as the sunset-style dimming that Qantas has.
Similarly, Qantas’ menu was designed to fit with body rhythms and be a bit lighter. I think British Airways could learn a lot from Qantas to make the flight experience help in reducing jetlag.
We flew Qantas to Australia, which is definitely worth the trip! This is how to Explore Sydney Like a Local.
It’s worth mentioning that British Airways are upgrading the Club Suites on the Heathrow fleet of planes, but there’s no timetable for those based at Gatwick. The new design has more storage and a one-to-one layout so that all seats have aisle access.
My husband and I were travelling together, so we choose the two middle seats that are seated together, facing the same direction (backwards!). It was great to lie next to each other, it kind of felt like we were in a mini living room together.
There’s a short divider between the seats but I would have found it weird to sit next to a colleague or stranger, especially to go to sleep.
The downside of sitting next to a partner in these seats is that the crew tend to serve the plane in two halves, so one person will inevitably get served dinner or drinks before the other. This became a bit of a competition between us to see who would get to eat first!
I think it’s worth flying business with British Airways on a long flight, but it’s worth thinking about seat position and whether you’re travelling for business or leisure. This is because you may not want to be in a seat without aisle access if you don’t feel comfortable lying next to the person next to you. I flew from Gatwick, which is where British Airways put more leisure-oriented flights.
The food was better than I expected, which bodes well for the re-vamped menus that the airline is rolling out.
What do you think of the sustainability issues with flying business in general, and with the toiletries offerings?
If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my Review of Hart Hotel Shoreditch, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection.