Video Reviews and Thoughts: BA A380 WT, WTP, CW, FBack to Forum
Anonymous5 Aug 2013
I’ve put together some video reviews looking at BA’s latest products on their A380, which are overall pretty solid indeed.
Some nice changes to the onboard product, but it’s a product that is constrained by BA’s cheap upgrades (with vouchers and miles). Bearing this in mind, a very solid product.
Better looking than the first photos suggested, and great double beds for couples. High density works well for families, less good for solo business travellers.
Privacy dividers are now automatically lowered whenever the inflight power sockets are switched off (which covers boarding, taxi, takeoff and the last 40 minutes of flight)
Overhead lights (by the seatbelt signs) are not installed – when the cabin lights are dimmed, you will need to use the small spotlight by your shoulder to light up your books / laptop which is unchanged from the current seat
WT is is fantastic – a choice of cabins to choose from in the plane (with a very small quiet one upstairs at the back, and seats with extra seat storage available) along with power & USB sockets.
WTP is nicer than WT (as you’d expect) but overall it’s well beaten by BA’s competitors.
Check out the videos (and more detailed reviews) here http://nicetraveladventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/ba-club-world-a380-trip-report.html5 Aug 2013
Great review and pictures.
One question about the USB chargers – is inflight recharging of phones allowed on the 380 – remember the discussions re charging phones on the 747’s…??5 Aug 2013
Yes, as long as you are awake. Now, if crew will go around a dark WT cabin looking for rogue cables in the middle seat and leaning over 2 asleep people to unplug them…5 Aug 2013
Read your blog. Your review of AA777 demonstrates just how weak club world is and even on the A380 it remains a very weak proposition. The issues of Club world plus ( BA call it First) are also highlighted but I would take issue with the availability and cost of getting into this cabin. It is neither cheap nor readily available but I could not agree more that if paying you will get better service and products on many other carriers.5 Aug 2013
Passengers continue to use Club World in very high numbers, as the latest BA passenger stats reveal, and its consistency – a fully flat bed across the longhaul fleet – is a notable benefit.
The window seats are very private and excellent for solo business travellers, especially on the Upper Deck where the side-storage gives extra space.
The AA777 Business Class looks great, but how many destinations in North America does AA fly direct from London? A handful, compared to BA’s network of:
Miami, Tampa, Orlando, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Pheonix, Denver, Las Vegas, San Diego, LA, Seattle, San Franciso, Houston, Dallas as well as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Mexico City (have I missed any?!!).
…all of which have fully flat beds in Business Class right now, and have done for over 10 years.
Through its strategic Joint Venture with AA, BA benefits from the fares of any passengers who choose to sample the AA cabin, so AA is not really significant “competition” to BA’s Club World, simply another string to bolster BA’s continued profitability.
Other airlines have upped their game in recent years, but many operate their new fully flat offering on only a few routes. Others are removing their First Class cabins even on non-leisure routes once the new flat beds arrive in Business Class.
The innovative and unique patented Club World ying/yang design has stood the test of time (unlike other airlines such as Cathay Pacific which made a terrible mistake with its coffin seats, removing them after only a few years in operation).
And let’s not forget that there are several major airlines which still have the dreadul lie-flat-at-an-angle wedgy beds, whreas Club World has been fully, 180degrees flat to the floor for well over a decade.
Club World is an extrememly cost effective cabin, with flights sometimes as low as £1250 to the Middle East; most exEUR fares will get this cabin for around £1500 at any time of year.
I haven’t been able to click on the above youtube links as they are not “live” but here is an excellent video diary of the first A380 LHR-FRA-LHR commercial flight which was documented last week:
Operating the A380 strengthens the Club World offering, and the small improvements in the Club World cabin made on the A380 move an already excellent product forward as it updates to remain in tune with current demand, rather than having to be entirely transformed as other less successful cabins have been.5 Aug 2013
NTA – I’m curious to learn more about First on BA’s A380. What are the changes to the onboard product? How different is it from the current product? More info would be helpful.
Also, could you explain what you mean by BA’s First product on the A380 being constrained by BA’s cheap upgrades (vouchers and miles)? How does this differ from other carriers that also offer opportunities to use miles or other promos to fly in their F cabins?
I don’t recall overhead lights in Club World on several recent sectors on 747 and 777 aircraft (happily, since I sleep on my back and overhead lights can be a real pain if you aren’t using a mask).
From seatplans.com, it shows three small CW cabins. I quite like that idea as it stops the dormitory look I’ve experienced on MH and QF and SQ A380s, and seen on EK’s (I flew EK F and hated it…putting F on the upper deck made it claustrophobic, dark and cramped). I think BA, MH and QF, by putting their First cabins on the main deck, have taken better advantage of the width and height of the cabin.
The new WT Plus looks good. Again, it is the same seat that is on the 777-300ERs which have been around for a couple of years now. Can you advise how other products are better than WT Plus in terms of seating, service and value?
Many thanks!5 Aug 2013
Stephen – there’s extra detail in the videos, which most effectively demonstrate the changes BA have made.
The First Class video review is at http://nicetraveladventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/ba-a380-first-class-review.html and shows how they’ve made use of the extra space with side tables and a bigger cupboard. The economics of BA F are pretty poor – BA offer free upgrade to frequent travellers for every couple of flights they take, using their “Upgrade Using Avios” feature. No other international carrier offers an easier opportunity – lower yield means less money to invest – and easier to please customers (as they have paid less).
Overhead individual lights were taken out in the last CW updates, but there were lampshades – these are now gone. You can see more in the video here http://nicetraveladventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/ba-club-world-a380-trip-report.html
In terms of World Traveller Plus, whose video is at http://nicetraveladventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-short-trip-on-british-airways-brand.html other carriers offer better food and drink which is similar to business class (BA only offers a business class main course, and no drink improvements other than a real glass for wine), and also premium check-in and boarding.
Hope this helps!5 Aug 2013
Thanks, NTA – I did look at your videos, hence my asking the questions as it wasn’t clear to me.
New First has the side tables and the magazine pockets, again at least on the 777s, so no change there. I welcome the bigger wardrobes. As for upgrades, I use my UA or AA miles, my QR miles and my CX miles for upgrades from J to F rather effortlessly. Even Etihad permits this into their Diamond First Class. Is BA easier, then? If so, how best to go about getting these vouchers after two flights? I doubt yield per cabin equals investment per cabin.
As for the lights, now I see you were referring to the three lampshades in Club World cabin on 777s. Personally, I’ve never found them to shed enough light to read the back of my hand, let along anything else. I’m not overly distressed at seeing their removal on the A380.
Again, I’ve seen your video of WT Plus. Of the other carriers offering premium economy, which do you think are the best? Which are offering business class meals, check-in and boarding? You seem to know this information, but it would be helpful if you could spell it out for those of us not familiar with all the various airline products.
Stephen5 Aug 2013
Stephen, of course, other airlines offer upgrades – but BA is very generous. Silver card holders get just about enough miles after every return trip to upgrade a business leg to first (non-status people can only upgrade 1 in 4 legs)
As for WT+, it’s a nice step up from WT – but still lags behind Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Air New Zealand to name but 3 airlines, who offer a combination of better food & drink, choice of pre-flight drinks, dedicated check-in counters and priority boarding.5 Aug 2013
Qantas and Air NZ need to offer an enhanced product as their routes are more often than not ultra long haul. With BA’s core East Coast US market seldom more than 8 hours, there simply isn’t demand for more than is offered; the cabin sells very nicely.
As for Virgin Atlantic’s supposedly better PE product, I assume you have flown with them lately? Many BA outstations do offer dedicated PE check-in. I cannot understand this rush to prioritise even the lowliest traveller with priority boarding. If everyone gets it (and BA also risks failing on this measure) then no-one will be prioritised!
It should be for First, Business, Gold and Silver and those with little sprogs. Anything else is an abomination.5 Aug 2013
Oh, I quite understand BA’s thinking in restricting priority boarding and check-in – but from the perspective of an end customer, who is faced with similar fares on BA and Virgin, would they not be better off picking the airline that doesn’t make them join the back of the economy check-in queue to drop off their bags, and lets them on the plane earlier for a drink?5 Aug 2013
So what you’re saying now, NiceTravelAdventures, is that I’d need to fly four flights AND be a silver member in order to take advantage of an upgrade from business to first.
If I’m an ordinary blue member, then I guess I’d need more flights from, say, London to New York….more like seven flights, if I’ve read the BA website correctly, needing 20,000 miles for the upgrade from select fares for a one-way trip. Add to that, there are additional fees to pay for fuel surcharges along with taxes totalling about £365 one-way from LHR-JFK…so it doesn’t seem to be the free bargain of the century or easy route to an upgrade, or am I getting this wrong?
Of the three premium economy cabins that you’ve flown – Virgin, Qantas and Air New Zealand, which one do you think is the best?
SergeantMajor has a good point…if everyone gets priority, then no-one will be prioritised!5 Aug 2013
I think you’re missing my point Stephen, which is not me trying to evangelise BA and suggest you transfer your business to them.
What I am saying is that BA has a huge chunk of the UK corporate market, ferrying a lot of status holders around on J fares, who want to fly F but can’t afford it / don’t have the right travel policy.
Assume that half of the business class cabin on the A380 has a shiny card collecting Avios – they can upgrade every other flight to First, with no copay or extra taxes / fuel fees to pay, from any business class cash fare
97 passengers x 0.5 to give shiny card holders – 48 people
48 passengers upgrading every other flight – 24 people per plane wanting F
With this high demand, BA doesn’t have to have the greatest F product in the sky – if you want this, you can pick and choose from SQ, Jet, MH, Emirates etc. Instead, BA have made a solid product that is a noticeable step up from J in order to keep its J flyers loyal. Any people who pay for F right off the bat are a bonus.5 Aug 2013
I get your point, but it is the same with other carriers. I can upgrade to F from a corp fare on CX, although now with only six seats in F, the chances of getting one is rare. Arguably CX has a huge chunk of the HKG corp market, so many people chasing fewer seats. Ditto UA in the US.
You didn’t answer my premium econ question. Would you?
Stephen5 Aug 2013