British Airways A380 Business Class LAX-LHR
Back in October I was able to hop on a good deal with British Airways from Los Angeles to Amsterdam in Club World (their version of Business Class). BA had a two day flash sale where tickets from various US cities to various European cities could be purchased for about $2,000. On top of that deal, you could get $400 off as an AARP member (anyone can join for $16 a year). And on top of that, they had an amazing deal where you could redeem 30,000 Avios points for an additional $767 discount. So for $840 I was able to try out the British Airways A380 Business Class product, visit Amsterdam, and earn 50,000+ redeemable miles in the process through various promotions.
A lot has been written about how terrible British Airways A380 Business Class is as a product (and not just on the A380 but on 777 as well). Having never flown BA Business, I couldn’t agree or disagree with those bloggers. Is BA really a terrible business class product? In the end I think it is like comparing Red Delicious to Braeburn apples. Sure, one might have a better taste and texture. But in the end, they are both nutritious fruits that are easy to eat. A lot of the world would be happy to just have fresh fruit.
Prior to boarding my British Airways A380 Business Class flight I spent some time in the oneworld Business Class Lounge. The flight ended up being delayed about 2 hours due to a delay of the inbound flight. When it was time board, I headed down to gate 148 which happens to be right in the middle of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. First Class was called first followed by Club World. Swarms of passengers rushed the gate — there are 97 Business Class seats on the A380. But a good portion of those rushing the gate were in Economy and so it took some navigating to get boarded.
My seat was on the top deck of the A380. British has an odd configuration of these planes. The bottom deck goes First, Business, then Economy as you would expect on, say, a 777. But then the top deck is half Business and half Economy. It seems like they could have made the entire top deck premium cabins and the bottom economy cabins, but I am sure they have their reasons.
I picked the top deck because it is not as crowded. The bottom deck of British Airways A380 Business Class is configured in 2-4-2 while the top deck is 2-3-2. The cabin itself is also less rows; 4 rows per cabin instead of 6. There is also more storage space on the window seats.
I picked seat 53K, the last row in the front cabin on the upper deck. While I do not typically pick a window seat if it means I am going to be trapped, on this flight I was able to secure the last row in the cabin which means I did not have to climb over anyone the way BA lays out their seats. Although it was a narrow squeeze to get in and out of my seat.
The seat layout in British Airways A380 Business Class is a bit strange; if you are in an aisle seat you face forward, if you are in a window or middle seat you face backwards. Because of this, you are pretty close to face to face with your neighbor. It can be a bit awkward but fortunately there is a screen that you can put up after takeoff.
Once I was in my seat, it was amazingly private. I felt like I was in a little cocoon. I had three windows with a storage bin under each one.
There was also a laptop storage drawer by my feet.
Above the drawer was a power outlet and usb outlet. The way the drawer is designed you can plug in your laptop or cell phone and keep it plugged in even with the drawer completely closed.
Above the power outlets was a fold down tray table that could be half size or full size. It also was on a slider so it could be brought closer to you while you sat. Just above that was the in flight entertainment monitor. The monitor is touch screen but can also be controlled by a remote. I guess you could also plug your own device in to watch your movies on the screen. Headphones were provided but I used my own.
The seat itself has adjustable headrest and lumbar support which I appreciate. It does adjust to be fully lie flat. There is also an odd footstool that can be either high (for a bed) or low (for a footrest). It can also be angled if you want to make your seat more of a lounge chair. The seat is narrow but the armrests lower when the seat is in fully flat mode so it gives you more space to sleep. At each seat was a small pillow and blanket.
As you notice in the photo above, aisle seats have very little privacy while window seats have a ton of privacy.
Prior to take off I was offered a beverage (champaign of course) and a menu of the the meals on the flight. The main meals would be dinner and breakfast.
Also distributed was the British Airways A380 Business Class amenity kit. I found it rather boring and low quality although the earplugs are the same brand/model that I purchase for myself to use so I did appreciate that.
We soon were ready for take off after our two hour delay. The safety briefing is done via the monitors. The flight attendants go through to each seat to fold out the screens. We taxied and take off took us west out over the Pacific.
The flight attendants came through the aisle to start the inflight meal service. I ordered the tomato tartar for the appetizer and the chicken quinoa salad for my main dish. Dessert was a apple cheesecake. While the food was fairly basic, it was edible.
The restrooms in my cabin (the front cabin in the upper deck) were quite large. They were in the same location as the Emirates shower suites (but slightly smaller in size). Definitely room to change clothing though.
I ended up sleeping for a good chunk of time in the middle so did not get to try out the Club Kitchen. However, on my flight back I did (although it was on a 777 so might look slightly different). I was surprised by the number of choices including some gluten free desserts. And ice cream!
Breakfast was served about an hour before landing in London. Starting out was a fruit place with choice of baked goods. I chose the spinach omelet.
I had a VERY tight layover due to our delayed departure so I asked the flight attendant about a Fast Track pass. She said that I could just show my boarding pass (being in Club World) and they would let me through, however she also did find a pass to give me just in case.
We landed at 11:21 am with a total flight time of 9 hours, 55 minutes. My next flight was due to leave at 11:50am. Impossible you say to connect in that amount of time at LHR? Typically, yes, but I was first off the plane and my next flight happened to be just a couple of gates over in the same terminal. I didn’t have to go through the Connections Center, just a quick security line. I made it just as they were about to close the door to the flight. Worlds quickest connection at LHR.
British Airways gets a bad wrap when it comes to their premium products. However I found my experience with British Airways A380 Business Class to be quite positive. The service was attentive, the food was good, and being in a window seat with no one to step over allowed me to be very comfortable and get a good amount of sleep.
I had a more negative return trip (due to delays that DID throw off my connections). I swore to myself a couple times I would never fly BA again, however they pulled through so I wouldn’t hesitate to give them another shot in the future. There are better business class products out there for sure. However BA is solid and if the price is right I would recommend them to fellow travelers. As a single flier, facing a stranger during take off is a bit odd, but if traveling with a friend or family there would be no problem with it.