Tried & Tested

British Airways B777 Club World

26 Feb 2009 by Tom Otley

Check-in I had checked in online for my flight online and accepted window seat 12K in the Club World cabin. I arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at about 1230 for the 1420 departure on flight BA0049 to Seattle, and walked to the far end of the terminal where the Club World desks are situated. Seeing no queue at the passport and visa check-in desk, I asked if I could drop my bags there as well as having the check completed. This was done quickly and courteously, and after a five-minute wait for security, I was airside.

As all silver and gold tier, and Club World regulars will know, to get to the first or Club World lounges you have to walk north until you reach the escalators, go down a level, walk south, and take the escalators back up.

Boarding Flights aren’t called from the lounge, so I checked which gate was showing on the system, and since as it was Gate 10E, I knew that we would be bussed to the aircraft. I had a small portion of curry and rice and a glass of water, before taking the escalators back down to the main concourse and a lift down to my gate. There was no priority boarding so I waited until the queue had shortened and took my place for the extremely slow bus ride out to the plane.

The seat We were on a B777 aircraft with the Club cabin made up of rows ten to 15 in a 2-4-2 (A-B, D-E-F-G, J-K) configuration of backward- and forward-facing seats. There are a number of different configurations on the B777 aircraft, with either a three-class layout (economy, premium economy and business) or four-class layout (economy, premium economy, business and first).

Note that on this B777, the window seats (A and K) are all backward-facing, as are the centre seats (E and F), so if you want to face forwards, you need to chose an aisle seat, which is obviously good if you want to stretch your legs, but also means you have people stepping over you from the inside seat.

Row 12, which I had chosen, has no window adjacent to it since it is where the wing joins the aircraft fuselage, so if you like a view, avoid both 12A and 12K. The best window seats are probably 15A and 15K, since there is also unimpeded access to the aisle, but they do have their drawbacks – sitting here means you are at the back of the cabin and so last to disembark, the World Traveller Plus cabin is on the other side of the curtain so there could be some disturbance from there, and they are almost behind the engines, so it may well be noisier.

There was a slight delay waiting for permission to push back from the stand, and after a couple of false starts, the safety video would not play on the in-flight entertainment system so the crew had to perform a manual demonstration. After take-off, which took place just after 1500, the crew then had to reset the whole IFE system in an attempt to get it started, which also caused the in-seat power to be inactive for 30 minutes. As long daytime sectors are good for catching up on work, my main worry was that my laptop would die only three hours into the flight, but the system came to life shortly afterwards and worked throughout the rest of the flight.

The plane was only about one-third full on this Sunday afternoon, so after the seatbelt sign had been turned off, I moved to one of the centre backward-facing seats (12F). With neighbouring 12E also vacant, I could spread out and get on with some work. On this flight, the table bounced when I typed, which was very annoying, and funnily enough, another passenger remarked on it so I showed him how the blanket can be wedged between the arm of the seat and the bottom of the table to make it more secure.

The flight There were two meal services during the flight. The first was about an hour after take-off. The lunch choices were: smoked salmon with beetroot and horseradish cream; marinated artichoke with rocket and Parmesan or fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette; followed by smoked haddock, cod and prawn pie; Liam Tomlin’s braised veal shank with potato gnocchi, mushrooms and peas; three-bean cassoulet with feta and herbs or a chilled salad of lemon-infused chicken. Desserts were rhubarb tart with light ginger custard, a selection of fruits and chocolates, or Cornish Camembert and St Stithians cheese with oatcakes and biscuits.

White wines included Hahn Estates Monterey Chardonnay 2006 or Michel Redde Pouilly-Fume La Moynerie 2006, while red wines included Cline Cellars Cool Climate Syrah 2005, Artesa Elements Napa/Sonoma Meritage 2005 and Eric Texier Crozes Hermitage 2007. The champagne was Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. I was impressed by how British Airways alters the choices to reflect the destination – I tried some of the Californian West Coast vintages and they proved very good.

Before landing, afternoon tea was offered. There was a selection of sandwiches filled with poached salmon with lemon dressing, char-grilled Mediterranean vegetables with soft herb cheese, or marinated feta and chilli-roasted aubergine salad, as well as plain or fruit scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve or a traditional Bakewell tart.

Arrival We landed on time at Seattle and were quickly disembarked via an airbridge. I queued at immigration for about five minutes and my baggage arrived shortly afterwards.

Verdict A good flight. Apart from the slight hiccup with the in-flight power, there were no problems, with good service from an experienced and friendly crew. Club World prices for forthcoming months are extremely high, which might explain why the Club World cabin was half empty, and World Traveller Plus (premium economy) was full.

Price Online prices for a return business class flight from London to Seattle in March started from £6,127.


Tom Otley

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