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BA Club World
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 drinks are served, along with new bedding and amenities by the White Company. 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 11h20 departure from London Heathrow to New York, a flight time of seven hours and 30 minutes. We took off at 11h50, slightly late.

BOARDING: I was directed to my seat, 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 offered 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 including gins (Gordon?s or Tanqueray). To avoid mess on the tables, the drinks are pre-poured, so you don?t have the little miniature of gin and can of Fever-Tree tonic water brought to your table. Instead, you are given a single measure (half the miniature) rather than a double measure. If you want the entire double measure, you need to ask for it.

Bear in mind that although the new glasses being used are lovely, they are not very large, so your drink will be very strong. Or normal, depending on how you pour at home. The new menu is presented differently. Not only is it on a much larger piece of card, but while the flight attendants still ask for your main course choices, you choose starters from a trolley as it comes through the cabins. The flight attendants were experienced at this, but it?s an inherently slow system. For my meal, I chose the roasted beef carpaccio with horseradish cr?me fraiche (delicious); smoked red pepper soup with cheese straws (a bit too salty); and braised beef cheeks and aubergine with tomato salsa and pommes au gratin (tender and very tasty).

For dessert I chose the cheese board which I didn?t regret ? 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. The topper enhances the comfort levels, as there is the sensation of having something between you and the seat cushion.

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.

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.

Tom Otley

Source: Business Traveller Africa
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