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This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  ViajeroUK 2 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #571628

    Anonymous
    #571629

    I was lucky enough to fly with British Airways in their Club World Sleeper Service, and made a video review to share my thoughts on the business class experience with you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd7t8b5Eb8E&hd=1

    This was an overnight flight, from Washington Dulles Airport to London Heathrow in a British Airways 777. BA offer an interesting service on these flights – a ‘sleeper service’ where the priority is on sleep rather than on-board amenities.

    This makes a lot of sense – these flights are short, the time zones work against your body, and the BA Club World experience is already focussed on the bed (rather than fine dining for example).

    Unlike the sleeper services from the Middle East, BA’s US East Coast departures have an improved lounge experience that can only be accessed by Club World passengers – economy passengers with fancy cards have to make do with sandwiches and nibbles. Business passengers gain access to a buffet with a selection of hot and cold food – plus there’s some stir-fry made to order. Cooking food on the ground rather than in the cramped environment of an aeroplane means more care can be taken, and better equipment used.

    Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the advertised chicken makhanwala and pasta dish were both long gone – and we saw the last poached cod be nabbed before our eyes! There was still some salad left, and the staff found us some spare soup – but it wasn’t a great experience. Fortunately there was still plenty of champagne left in the bar to entertain us.

    The plane itself was in decent condition, with good-sized TVs and video on demand. The onboard food menu still has hot options, but only 2 to choose from; this limited choice meant we ended up getting a curry from economy instead, which was formally presented to us in a Club World bowl! It was tasty, and similar in quality to the business class options.

    The meal is served on a single tray in order to speed up the service; the advertised chocolates were missing (no big deal, but I note they do make up a third of the menu!) so we had some delicious hot cookies instead.

    It was soon time to sleep – the E/F double beds are unique to BA, and are fantastic if you’re a couple – total nightmare though if you’re with a colleague or stranger next to you! Like the other Club World seats, these are ‘fully flat’ but are made up of different parts that don’t perfectly line up. The lack of a mattress means you can feel all these bumps, which means Virgin Atlantic’s beds are much better for sleeping on. The lack of a mattress does mean you are able to switch your seat in to a bed without standing up, which is a plus to BA.

    The amenity bags handed out had some toothbrushes and moisturiser in them, but no eye masks or ear plugs in them! I can understand that BA might want to restrict these on daytime flights to save wastage, but this was a flight that was specifically advertised as a sleeper service. There was a small card advertising Elemis in the bag which stated eye masks and ear plugs were available on request, but as it was midnight I don’t think most passengers were bothering to read the advertising material.

    Having to eat on-board meant we only got a handful of hours sleep, and we were soon descending in Heathrow. We landed at a bus gate, which is understandable due to the number of arrivals BA has in the early morning.

    What was disappointing was the fact that although we landed on time, we had to wait 10 minutes for the busses to arrive. Unlike the busses you see at some other airports, passengers from every cabin were jammed on to each bus until the legal maximum carrying capacity was reached. First and Business class passengers were jammed cheek by jowl, looking jealously at those people who were lucky enough to be able to get a seat.

    In summary:
    – Sleeper Service is a great idea, that utilises BA’s flat beds to deliver an important competitive advantage
    – For it to work, it needs a good selection of food on the ground that isn’t going to run out if some passengers from the early flight are particularly hungry
    – Some joined-up thinking is needed for these sleeper services – eye masks and ear plugs should be handed out to all passengers
    – A 777 landing at Heathrow should not surprise BA – buses should waiting for the expensive plane, rather than the other way around. Add in more time wasted as ground crew insist another 3 people can fit on the bus if we all “just shuffle up a bit more”, and you’ve got a decidedly non-premium experience

    Link to video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd7t8b5Eb8E&hd=1

    #571630

    SimonS1
    Participant

    So no food left in the lounge and the best offering on board was a curry from economy.

    To fly, to serve.

    #571631

    superchris
    Participant

    Great video thank you, but as alluded too by SimonS1, the service here is an absolute disgrace. And this from what should be a flagship route too.

    How difficult is it to check your loads and ensure you have enough food in the lounge for your high yield customers? Plus frankly, they should be giving you a voucher to go gets hot bit elsewhere in the airport. Ridiculous. If you paid for this ticket, then you should be seeking redress.

    #571632

    Slotski
    Participant

    NTA thanks for a great review. I have thought about taking a NYC – London sleeper service, but you have confirmed my fears of the limited food service. Based on your review I will avoid it.

    #571633

    SimonS1 – the service is all about the bed, and as long as people will put up with the other failings, I can’t see it improving. I would have shifted my return to Virgin, but my ticket was inflexible. Fortunately that trip went a lot smoother!

    #571634

    SimonS1
    Participant

    I can appreciate it’s about the bed, however a key part of the ‘sleeper service’ is surely the ability to maximise sleep by eating in the lounge beforehand. So BA failed to deliver on a fundamental part of the proposition.

    Of course marketing speak is easy, delivery less so. I suppose once they have your cash the rest is academic – the worst that can happen is they will bung you a few Avios which with steadily reducing reward availability you will struggle to spend (unless you fancy a trip to Frankfurt….).

    #571635

    JordanD
    Participant

    Key question, that I would like to address: when was this video from?

    BA’s IAD lounge was closed over the summer (for refurb), with this information well trailed to passengers, with temporary facilities being used, where full pre-flight dinner was not available. Just want to square that away, before I can comment on the standards of the lounge or otherwise.

    #571636

    This was shortly before they closed the lounge (to expand it for A380 operations) and decamped to their current temporary one Jordan – this was a full, regular pre-flight dining service that had just run out of food before we got there. I haven’t been on one, but I believe the current flights have a full menu to make up for the (official) lack of preflight dining that is occurring in August.

    Simon – indeed, the promised food didn’t materialise, but we ended up with a service not dissimilar (but clearly worse) than the United and Virgin alternatives from Dulles. Having been disappointed with BA’s attempts at customer service recovery in the past, we didn’t bother to complain. My next longhaul flights have been booked on SQ and MAS instead.

    The frustrating part is that this is an easy part of BA’s marketing for the front line to deliver – just order a bit more food in the lounge! Sadly, at 9pm the Dulles gates are a bit of a ghost town so there was nowhere easy to eat that would let us finish a meal before boarding began.

    #571637

    canucklad
    Participant

    Maybe they could market the service you received as ” Shabby Cheap” ….

    I’m not sure I get the whole sleeper service concept either…..There is a massive assumption by BA that the whole of CW wants to arrive early enough at an airport to waste time eating in a lounge.

    I know when I return from North America that I’m landslide until the death, sharing valuable time with family and friends.

    It’s a great idea,but surely allow premium passengers the choice.

    #571638

    canucklad
    Participant

    Maybe they could market the service you received as ” Shabby Cheap” ….

    I’m not sure I get the whole sleeper service concept either…..There is a massive assumption by BA that the whole of CW wants to arrive early enough at an airport to waste time eating in a lounge.

    I know when I return from North America that I’m landslide until the death, sharing valuable time with family and friends.

    It’s a great idea,but surely allow premium passengers the choice.

    #571639

    ViajeroUK
    Participant

    Food issues apart, for me the biggest gripe with the flight would have been LHR arrival. Flight from IAD should surely have docked at a jetway/gate, with premium pax disembarking first.

    Remote stand with late arrival of the busses is not acceptable. Far worse is the ground agents cramming people on to bus, with no doubt a mix of pax from all cabins jammed together, a nice cost saving measure. I know that at times remote stands are unavoidable, but I also know that some other EU airlines ensure that premium pax disembark first and that ‘their’ bus travels to the terminal before non premium pax disembark, a much better experience.

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