British Airways A380 Club WorldBack to Forum
Anonymous8 Apr 2014
I’d been looking forward to this. The last time I had such a keen anticipation was when I was aged 11 and knew I was flying on a VC10 which, as everyone knew back then, was the coolest airliner in the skies.
Anyway, this was my first flight in an A380. London to Johannesburg, Club World.
Boarding: a little bit chaotic. The gate staff announced that boarding would by strictly by seat numbers “because this is a high capacity aircraft”, but people either don’t listen to or ignore the instructions, and try and board before they’re called.
There’s no sensation of boarding a double-decker. You simply follow the gangway numbers for your seat, and you board. That’s it.
First impression was that the upper deck wasn’t as spacious as I’d anticipated. Obviously, you have the curve of the fuselage top over you. But BA’s done a good job with it, because they’ve used the extra side space (if you have a window seat) to add some storage cubbyholes. This really solves one of my grumbles about BA CW, which is a lack of stash space, but obviously you only benefit from them if you have a window seat.
Standard welcome, standard offerings of water, juice or champagne. So far so normal. But BA has made some subtle improvements to its sleeper seat pods.
First, the seat feels more substantial. No idea whether it is, but what has definitely changed is the fold down footrest which plays its part in turning the seat into a bed. These have always been a bit flimsy, but the new one is definitely sturdier. There’s an additional button on the console for raising and lowering the privacy screen, saving you from grabbing around at the top for it (the top button remains, for the cabin staff benefit).
We were running half an hour late (two tyres had to be changed, apparently). Take-off came around, and the A380’s party trick became clear. My God, this thing is quiet. Uncannily quiet. You can hear people whisper. My wife, in the adjacent seat, was equally amazed.
Talking to the cabin staff later, I found the aircraft’s wondrous silence has its drawbacks: other noises become more noticeable. They said they have to be quieter than usual in the galleys – less banging of pots and pans – because the noise carries more now. And the forward staircase is off-limits during flight, because the first class passengers in 1E and 1F get tired of hearing people tramping up and down above their heads.
“There’s another staircase at the rear,” I was told, but you have to walk all the way back, go down it, and then go all the way forward, so it’s easier just to pick up the phone and ask for someone.”
They also said that while there was plenty of room in the galleys in CW, in WT and WTP it’s distinctly cramped – less room than in a Series 400 Boeing 747, they reckoned.
After a double Tanqueray and tonic, dinner: a good gravadlax, and an excellent risotto. Cabin service took some time, though, with a long gap between courses. I’ve no idea why. The while, a Pouilly Fume, was excellent.
In-flight entertainment? A big improvement. More choice, better screen, faster loading. I’d seen most f the films I wanted to see on a previous trip to Buenos Aires, so I wallowed in watching Mitchell & Webb’s The Ambassadors again – as a child in a diplomatic family, I can assure you that they got this series spot-on.
Oh, another thing. The forward loos are huge, for airliner standards. Apparently this is where Emirates put their showers. The other loos are ‘standard’ size.
Bed: yes, it’s better, and I think they’ve changed the pillow for something a bit bigger as well. The wash bag snow a bag rather than a pouch, but the offerings appear unchanged. Nothing wrong with that.
We got into Jo’burg half an hour late, so there was a bit of a scramble for the connection to Cape Town. Our return flight will be direct from Cape Town on a 747, and I’d rather be on a 380.
It’s a game changer. It really, really is. Not the extra size – the cabins have dividers anyway, so you don’t appreciate its vastness from inside unless you go walkabout. No, for me it was the amazing lack of noise. Brilliant.8 Apr 2014
Having flown both upstairs Club and First … Which is lower deck…on BAs A380, it is highly noticeable how much quieter life is on the upper deck. The inflight noise caused by the external airflow over the fuselage is much noisier in First. The noise level is the same as in the F cabin in the 747. I gather this is one of the reasons that airlines such as Lufthansa have their F upstairs. It was not a wise decision by BA to have its First on the lower deck, if only for this reason.9 Apr 2014
Excellent review TiredOldHack2. I was lucky enough to fly CW to HKG shortly after the A380 started on the route and it was astonishing how quiet the plane was on take off. You barely notice the plane accelerating and getting airborne.9 Apr 2014
” the first class passengers in 1E and 1F get tired of hearing people tramping up and down above their heads”
is this down to poor levels of insulation. Have not read this comment from any other airline review. BA suffers from “heavy feet” on the -400 and 318. Surely the noise of people walking upstairs, should not carry downstairs on a brand new 380….9 Apr 2014
MartinSinclair…..I gather from a CSD that the truth is that they are stopping the upstairs Club from nipping down the stairs to hog the First toilets! Fair reason.9 Apr 2014
I concur with most of the points. The Bathrooms at the front of CW upper deck really are good sized for getting changed also the lights fade in gradually when the door is opened.
Only gripe on a recent BA26 was the unedible Beef – more like shoe leather , the CSD agreed. Also on BA 26 last weekend they ran out of English Breakfasts -not just me but lots of other PAX equally disgruntled !9 Apr 2014
Hohum. Can’t change the posting monicker on seatplans.com, it seems, and can’t can the account either and start a new one, as far as I can tell.
Interestingly, a colleague has joined me here in Cape Town. He flew direct in a 747 (I assume the reason why the A380 only goes to Jo’burg is because Cape Town hasn’t yet got the gangways in place – correct?). He too was chatting with the cabin staff, and they were raving about the A380, saying how quiet it was.
They echoed BA744fan’s comment that you didn’t notice the thing taking off.
Watching A380s fly low over London, on the easterly approach to LHR, I’ve always been struck by how quiet they are. Just didn’t expect it to be so quiet on the inside.
If the First cabin really is noticeably noisier, then I’d agree that BA has boobed slightly.9 Apr 2014
@TiredOldHack Cape Town won’t see the A380 for a long time. The whole airfield has to be refurbished. The runways and taxiways have low Load Classification Numbers and cannot support the A380 wheel loading. The turns on the taxiways are also too restrictive for the A380. That is why the BA A380 could only do a fly past recently on its tour of SA.
The annoying thing is that DUR can handle the aircraft, but doesn’t have the traffic. So JNB it is for the time being.9 Apr 2014
Thanks for the review, I am soon to be flying on my first BA 380 flight, having previously flown on Singapore airlines big beast. It will be interesting to compare.9 Apr 2014
Interestingly, way back in 2008 there were complaints about the A380’s cabin being too quiet.
The complaints came from Emirates’ A380 pilots who were being disturbed by passenger noise in their rest areas.
Not sure if or how the problem was resolved.9 Apr 2014
MartynSinclair – 09/04/2014 08:43 GMT : ” the first class passengers in 1E and 1F get tired of hearing people tramping up and down above their heads” is this down to poor levels of insulation. Have not read this comment from any other airline review. BA suffers from “heavy feet” on the -400 and 318. Surely the noise of people walking upstairs, should not carry downstairs on a brand new 380….
I read the OP’s review differently – that the problem isn’t people upstairs and the noise carrying down, rather it was the noise of people actually on the staircase. This would be consistent with a review by rferguson (at http://www.seatplans.com/airlines/british-airways/seatplan-classes/A380-First-3/user-reviews – not the first one that appears from him but the one underneath it) where he said: “Which seat to choose. I chose seat 1K. And in honestly I would make sure I did not choose the same seat again. In fact the first thing I did when I got to Hong Kong was to jump on the airport wifi and change from 1K for my return journey! There is a set of stairs to the upper deck from the very front of the A380. It literally goes directly over 2EF (the first row of centre seats). The A380 is such a quiet aircraft that inflight you can hear a pin drop. And everytime someone went up or down those stairs through the night I could hear it.”
TiredOldHack – 09/04/2014 15:37 GMT : Hohum. Can’t change the posting monicker on seatplans.com, it seems, and can’t can the account either and start a new one, as far as I can tell.
Have you tried logging out of seatplans.com and BT, then logging back into BT and then going to seatplans.com? I may be wrong, but I thought one sign-in worked for both.10 Apr 2014