Review: British Airways Club World Business Class, A380, London Heathrow – Vancouver
British Airways largest aircraft is the beautiful Airbus 380-800 series which it deploys on select routes, including the seasonal route of London – Vancouver in the summer months. The aircraft replaced upwards of three Boeing 747 flights a day between the two cities. While we’ve flown this route in British Airways First Class many times, this would be our first try in the highest density business class cabin in their Club World offering. How would their crowded business class cabin compare?
This post is one chapter on our trip to Portugal, the United Kingdom (England and Norther Ireland) and Ireland. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines Advantage and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Portugal, the United Kingdom, Ireland via TAP Portugal and British Airways Business Class.
- A Positioning Flight: Air Canada Vancouver – Toronto
- TAP Portugal Business Class: Toronto – Lisbon
- Sheraton Lisboa Hotel and Spa, Lisbon, Portugal
- The First Steps in the Hilly Capital City of Lisbon, Portugal
- Exploring the Turrets of Castelo del São Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
- The Seaside Town of Belem and the Jerónimos Monastery, Portugal
- The Lisbon Cathedral and Iberico Ham at Time Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal
- TAP Portugal Premium Business Lounge, Lisbon, Portugal
- TAP Portugal Business Class: Lisbon – London Heathrow
- Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge: London Heathrow Terminal Two
- The Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington, United Kingdom
- Walking Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street, London, United Kingdom
- Churchill’s War Rooms & Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
- Touring the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, London, United Kingdom
- Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
- De-Cyphering the Rosetta Stone and Camden Locks, London United Kingdom
- Day Tripping to Stonehenge, Salisbury, United Kingdom
- The Moxy London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom
- The Plaza Premium Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal Two
- Aer Lingus: London Heathrow – Dublin
- Aloft Dublin City, Dublin, Ireland
- Discovering Temple Bar District, Dublin, Ireland
- Calling on the Guiness Storehouse and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
- The Shertaon Athlone Hotel, Athlone, Ireland
- Drinking at Ireland’s Oldest Bar, Athlone, Ireland
- Hiking Along the Cliff’s of Moher, Ireland
- Crystal Springs Bed and Breakfast, Killarney, Ireland
- Circling The Skelling Islands and Driving the Ring of Kerry, Ireland
- Kissing the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, Cork, Ireland
- AC Hotel by Marriott, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Experiencing the Tragedy of the Titanic at the Titanic Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- In the Shadows at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
- Terminal One T1 Lounge, Dublin Airport, Ireland
- British Airways Club Europe: Dublin – London Heathrow
- Cathay Pacific Business Lounge, London Heathrow
- No1 Lounge, London Heathrow
- British Airways Club World Business Class: London – Vancouver
Review: British Airways Club World Business Class Airbus 380-800, London Heathrow Terminal Three – Vancouver International Airport
While I’ve taken British Airways between Vancouver and London Heathrow on several occasions, it was the first time I’ve taken this particular flight in British Airways Club World business class. If you happen to be interested in what this route looks like in First Class, please see my review of British Airways First Class London – Vancouver.
My usual reward redemptions on this route have been in British Airways First Class as a result of much more supply on reward availability for First Class. First class is much more highly priced under the BA Avios program. As a result, the business class reward availability seems to be quickly consumed, leaving First Class to everyone else in the North American frequent flier programs where the premium isn’t as steep. I had redeemed this flight in American Airlines AAdvantage program for this journey and since I was travelling for both myself and my son, we stayed in business class where there were seats available on the weekend returning to school.
We arrived earlier in the day on British Airways Club Europe Dublin – London. After visiting the Cathay Pacific London Heathrow Lounge, the gate was posted at 1620 hrs. We were assigned Gate 42, which is one of the furthest most gates in Terminal 3. We had a long walk with the moving escalators.
The boarding process was remarkably civilized. Today’s passengers actually listened to the announcements and we didn’t have a crush at the A380 gate. The first boarding group was group 1, followed by extra time to board, followed by group 2; which was us as American AAdvantage Airlines business class ticket holders.
There was a bit of a confusing Door A vs Door B process immediately after the boarding pass scan. This clogged up the boarding process a little bit. We ended up boarding through Door A on the jet bridge which led to the upper deck.
BA 85 – Club World (U)
LHR – YVR (London Heathrow Terminal 3 – Vancouver International Airport)
September 1, 2019
5:20 PM – 6:50 PM
Booked: Airbus 380-8
Flown: Airbus 380-8
On Board British Airways Club World:
On board, we turned left and found ourselves immediately in 53K / 53J on the upper deck of the Airbus 380. The British Airways Club World Business Class configuration is a high density configuration consisting of seating that is 8 across; the highest density Airbus 380 cabin in the world. The British Airways Airbus 380 Club World configuration serves a total of 97 flat bed seats in Club World in the space of approximately 75% of an Airbus Deck. The next closest is Singapore Airlines, which seats 86 seats across an entire upper deck. In third place is Emirates’ Airbus 380 with 76 seats; a full 21 seats less. While this was a reward flight, i wasn’t too bothered by this. However, if I was paying full fare for business class, I would probably be picking a carrier that offered much more space in business class. Air Canada Signature Business Class is an example of a much more spacious product that is serving the same international route.
The seats in British Airways Club World 53K and 53J were ultimately great seats being right at the back of the upper deck business class cabin, with no one on one side of you. Unfortunately, they were also the seats that got served last, so we missed the first choice of appetizer when it came to meal service.
There was lots of storage space in the cabin with the curve of the fuselage. WT73Jr ended up storing his HMW music posters in this spot so that they could get back to Vancouver completely crinkle free.
The British Airways cabin is very dense with over 8 seats across the cabin. It is the most dense business class cabin out there in comparison to the other Airbus 380 carriers ahead of Singapore Airlines and Emirates. The British Airways seat itself is good, although it is quite narrow at 20 inches of width. This is only a few inches wider than their World Traveller Plus economy plus seating which offers a 17.5 inch width
In terms of the environment, the seats face each other when the central screen is lowered. It would be awkward travelling with someone else but with a partner they are alright. The tricky part is the balancing act of getting in and out and having all your dishes served over the aisle person.
We were offered a pre -departure beverage of champagne Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonine Brut NV, which was served in a regular wine glass.
The pre-departure beverage was followed by amenity kit distribution. The amenity kits were also recently upscaled from the smaller White Company pouches that we have under the cupboard at home. The new The White Company kits were more substnatial and robust.
We were also offered a towel service prior to getting underway.
We had a 50 minute delay getting over to the runway for IT issues at the ground agent computers not matching up with the in flight manifest (or so they said).
Departing London Heathrow:
We had a departure from London Heathrow on runway 28. As the British Airways Club World Cabin offers seats facing forward and backwards, being in a window seat, I ended up in a seat facing towards the rear of the plane. It was bizarre to be flying backwards. It was my first actual time doing so in a business class cabin. It wasn’t really noticeable after you get going.
Our flight track immediately took us north over London’s Luton and north towards York and Scotland.
The British Airways Club World menus were dropped off once we were airborne. The British Airways Club World offered a decent three course meal with interesting but not overly exciting options. The business class menu offered one less course than the four course menu in British Airways First Class.
We also had a reasonable wine list where the highlight of the day was the champagne. The menu featured the Cellars in the Sky Award for the Best Business Class Cellar for that year.
I had a Cranberry Blush drink order prior to the meal service. It was served in the recently upscaled beverage glasses.
The Meal: A Lunch
It was a very slow start to the meal service which didn’t get underway until 7:40 PM GMT which was 2 ¼ hours after the scheduled departure time of 5:20 PM. I was not sure whether this was intentional, a mistake or just away of stretching out the flight. I was really hungry by this point and I was glad that I had ate lots of snacks in the lounge.
In a more favourable light, British Airways has recently upscaled the crockery on board. It does make a nicer touch to the service. We did happen to have some of the mixed fleet crews with both junior and senior crews. I had to ask for every refill today, which was not impossible, just a bit irritating since the drink pours are so thimbleful tiny.
The first course was Carrot and coriander soup. The first choice of Scottish salmon was all spoken for by the time they reached my row.
The main was seared fillet of British beef with Lyonnaise potatoes, sautéed chestnut mushrooms, shallot and rosemary sauce with Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvingon 2016, Central Coast, California, USA. We had thankfully pre-ordered this in advance from the main BA website and they didn’t run out.
Warm mixed nuts and dulce de leçhe flan… it was okay and was to be expected for an airplane desert, although the sauce presentation was a nice touch.
The still water offered on board is now by Harrogate .”the original British spa town since 1571″.
Strangely, there was no clearing of the plates or crockery when glasses went empty. . As a result, I had 2 wine glasses and 2 water glasses scattered around me at the end of the meal service. I think this was a result of perhaps a lack of co-ordination by the crew.
We were well past Iceland by the time we were all done dinner or at about 9:10 PM GMT, or about 4 hours into the flight. The cabin was turned down and rendered mostly dark.
In Flight Entertainment:
I ended up poking around the in flight movies, which were much more modern than their dated British Airways Boeing 747 models that used to feature a relic entertainment systems. I ended up with the typically Hollywood British Notting Hill “I’m just a girl,, standing in front of a boy”.
I ended up making up my own (and WT73Jr’s) bed since the staff didn’t seem to be around all that much. In terms of sleep quality, the cabins were quite warm; I would almost describe them as hot.
I ended up sleeping for about 5 hours or right through the second service. I don’t think I missed that much, the second service didn’t look all that too appealing. Having had a pretty dismal second service on this route in First Class, I ended up valuing the sleep more than the light snack which usually isn’t more than a few bites.
Arriving to Vancouver International Airport:
We arrived into Vancouver on runway R28, with a very short taxi to the International Terminal and the usual British Airways Vancouver gate near the British Airways Galleries Lounge Vancouver in the international concourse.
After we had gotten off the aircraft, there was no secondary tonight by the kind Canada Border Services Agency officer in the Nexus lane who didn’t wave us in for a customs examination of any “food, plants, or animals, or derivatives from plants or animals”. Our imported souvenir Irish chocolate passed without any issue. Aside from some minor A380 crowding mayhem at the baggage claim belt (that was designed prior to large capacity Airbus 380 aircraft), it was otherwise a pretty non eventful arrival.
We were kindly picked up by MrsWT73 and taken home for some luggage sorting prior to turning in for the evening at home in our bed after three weeks of being on the road.
The Bottom Line: British Airways Club World
The British Airways Club World Business Class flight doesn’t get any better on British Airways than in the Airbus 380 aircraft. While the seating is exceptionally dense, it’s always a treat to travel on board such a large aircraft. The service on today’s flight was a bit slack and inattentive. The food and beverage was just average and unmemorable. While it was a reward seat, I wasn’t complaining. If I was paying full fare business class, I would probably aim for a carrier with a less dense cabin.