B747-400 British Airways Club World London-New York
BACKGROUND British Airways is rolling out a new service in its Club World (long-haul business class) cabin. This debuted between London Heathrow and New York JFK, and includes changes to the way food and drink are served, along with new bedding and amenities by the White Company.
The intention is for these improvements to be rolled out across North American routes, with both Boston and Washington DC seeing the new bedding by the end of 2017. By the end of 2018, the changes will have taken place on all Heathrow routes. Gatwick routes will be last, but these will start being updated towards the end of 2018.
This flight was on a B747-400 configured with the “super-high-J” cabin – that is, 86 business class seats split across the main deck and the upper deck. CHECK-IN This was the 1120 departure from London Heathrow to New York, a flight time of 7 hours and 30 minutes. We took off at 1150, slightly late. BOARDING I was directed to my seat, which was 20A, towards the rear of the middle (main) cabin of the three Club World cabins on this B747-400. This is a rear-facing window seat with uninterrupted access to the aisle. I was asked if I wanted champagne, orange juice or water, my jacket was hung and I was given a bottle of water at the same time as the amenity pack. The White Company amenity bag included a toothbrush and toothpaste, a soft eye mask, ear plugs, some lip balm, moisturiser, plus a balm called Pulse Point that is supposed to help you sleep. THE SEAT The new bedding was waiting at the seat. This comprised a large pillow, a smaller pillow and a large bag containing the mattress topper, duvet and blanket. THE FLIGHT The drinks service has changed, so merits special mention. There’s a choice of spirits and to avoid mess on the tables, the drinks are pre-poured.
The new menu is presented differently. The crew ask for your main course choices, but you choose starters from a trolley as it comes through the cabins. The crew were experienced at this, but it’s an inherently slow system.
The flight crew were attentive and enthusiastic, enjoying explaining the new service to passengers. The choice of starters included a roasted beef carpaccio with WHAT’S NEW The White Company bedding and amenity bags, and the meal service. WHAT’S NOT The seat and the aircraft. PRICE Internet rates for a flexible return Club World ticket from London to New York in February range from £1,840 to £8,294. FLIGHT TIME 7 hours 30 minutes CONFIGURATION 2-4-2 / 2-2 BED LENGTH 72in/183cm SEAT WIDTH 20.5in/52cm SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees CURRENT ROUTES These new tweaks are currently only on the London Heathrow to New York JFK (and return) routes. It will follow on other North American routes, with Boston and Washington DC next to receive the bedding, by the end of 2017, and then the new meal service. CONTACT britishairways.com horseradish crème fraîche; smoked red pepper soup with cheese straws; or a“tapas selection”comprising tuna and tomato tart, avocado, jamón ibérico and Manchego. I had the carpaccio, which was delicious, and the soup, which I thought was too salty. Mains were then brought to each seat. I had the heritage breed beef cheeks, which were tender and very tasty. The choice of desserts included tiramisu, fresh mango with vanilla crème fraîche, or a warm chocolate soufflé. There was also a cheese board with Chevington, Shropshire Blue, Applewood Cheddar, walnuts, grapes and apple pear chutney. I opeted for the cheeses and didn’t regret it – they were all fresh and delicious.
The wine choices included three champagnes. The whites were a Piedmontese Gavi or a South African Sauvignon Blanc; the reds were a California Pinot Noir or a Barossa Valley Shiraz. After dining I retrieved the White Company products and reclined my seat, laying out the mattress topper and making use of the blanket, duvet and eyemask. I slept for a couple of hours and found it very comfortable.
I woke in time for the afternoon service. I was too full to do this justice, but the selection was much greater than previously, with sandwiches (ham, egg, cheese or smoked salmon) and a dish of prawns, mozzarella and grilled vegetables.
We landed at JFK on time and were at the stand and into immigration without delay. Tom Otley VERDICT A huge amount of time and effort has gone into these Club World changes, and they are a definite improvement in terms of quality and choice. While the trolleys make the meal more of an event, they also slow things down. This is a big investment by British Airways both in quality and training, and the White Company products are lovely.