Flight: London Heathrow to Dubai
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA107
Plane: Airbus A350-1000
Plane Reg: G-XWBG
Cabin: Business Class/Club Suite
BA offer two flights to Dubai from Heathrow, one around lunchtime and one in the evening.
The evening flight involves leaving Heathrow around 10pm and arriving in Dubai around 8am. Whereas the 12:55 flight lands just before midnight.
I guess you can look at these flights either way in terms of which is most convenient, but as I had business meetings, I figured it would be better to land in Dubai and get a good 8 hours sleep – instead of landing and running around Dubai red-eyed and tired.
BA Gold members or those traveling in First can make use of the First check in, which is at the South end of Terminal 5. I chose to check in here.
Pre-Covid the First Check In desks moved extremely quickly, however, in this case they were pretty slow. I entered the queue (of about 8 in front of me) at 09:40 and didn’t get to a desk until 10:55. Pre-Covid, this wouldn’t even be a queue at all!
However, this isn’t to be considered a criticism. The Check In guys have an amass of work to do, and for every destination need to cross-check their iPAD’s for the latest Covid information, and ensure passengers have the correct paperwork, tests, etc.
Even as I was lining up to check in, there were some American travellers who needed to be tested before leaving.
Once checked in, Security was a dream. I was through there in less than 3 minutes! It’s therefore clear to see where BA excel, and where Covid is slowing things down.
One excellent feature about BA’s First Check In is that you’re placed straight into their First Lounge in the South Galleries. This is simply brilliant, and genius!
Previously, food in the Lounge was self-service, with an option to order from a menu. Post-Covid, it’s all table service, you order via a QR code, and food is brought to your table. I don’t do Breakfast, so I ordered some toast and a few drinks.
This service is excellent. My drinks came in around 2 minutes from ordering, and the food within 5 minutes!
There are some self-service stuff in the fridges at the side – water, muffins, crisps etc.
Wifi in the lounge was good, and easy to connect to. I had quite a few bits of paperwork to do and emails to shoot out, so the fast Wifi connection was invaluable.
Reserving a shower is also done via the App (the same as the food App). There was a shower free, so I walked to the showers next to the Concorde Room, and they had my reservation – and off I went.
The showers were hot, and the water pressure good. However, they do look like hospital showers – plastic and very clinical. This seemed to go against the grain of the rest of the lounge, which is a shame.
I thought as a point of interest I would head to the T5B Lounge on the way to my gate (I was C63). However it was closed! Nobody told me that!
Boarding was pretty standard, and no different to usual. It was done via Group Number, after those that needed more time to board.
For some reason, about 20 rebels (not in Group 1) decided to unclip the tensa barrier and walk to the boarding desks. This was quickly rebutted by the BA team – and order was resumed.
This was my first time in BA’s new Airbus A350 – and I was lucky as this was the newest to the fleet – #8!
I have to say the plane was slightly louder than I had imagined it would be. On the A380 I’ve only heard a hum as the engines start, and you barely notice you’ve taken off! The A350 was considerably louder, especially during takeoff.
During the cruise, the A350 was, I would say quieter than a 777 and certainly quieter than a 747!
As someone who has spent a lot of time in the older backwards/forwards Club World cabin, there is no doubt the new Club World cabin is a game changing product for BA. The leg room, was huge – and there was somewhere to put your shoes!
One of my ‘hacks’ used to be booking American Airlines flights via BA, to take advantage of American’s Flagship Business – because it’s better than the older Club World. Now, I’d happily take either.
BA’s new Club World has closing doors, which add a lot of privacy – especially as in the old Club World you sometimes felt you needed to breath in when someone came down the aisle! The doors have to be locked open for Takeoff and Landing (for obvious reasons) – but once airborne the Cabin Crew quickly unlock the doors. For some annoying reason the closing position of the doors is 1” from being fully closed.
Another excellent feature of this seat was the control. Easy to use, minor adjustments were easily done – and most importantly the seat was very comfortable.
One other thing I really liked is that the table slides back and forth. Perfect for a bathroom break, where you can push the tray back and step out!
Being anal, I did notice a couple of annoying things about the Seat and the new Club World Cabin:
Firstly, if you have a Mac, you can’t plug it in! No seriously, if you have the plug bit that attaches to a charger, you can’t charge your Mac, it grounds out before it goes all the way into the socket! Because I travel quite a bit, I have all kinds of adaptors, cables and leads, so I could make it work. But if you don’t have them – you may find yourself with a bit of a problem if you’re low on battery!
Secondly, there seem to be lots of cubbyholes, that are a bit pointless. There was a cubbyhole with the 240V socket, USB’s and headphone jacks and also the IFE control. Behind this, was a very narrow compartment, which I could just about get my wash bag into. Behind this, was a vertically opening compartment about 1” deep with a mirror.
Personally, I like to get to my seat and dump my Laptop, Phone, Passport, Wash Bag, Bedding, etc around my seat so I don’t have to get up once in cruise to get it all out from the overhead bins. Sadly, the new Club World design didn’t prevent me from doing this.
All in all, I can’t criticise this new Club World product, other than minor details. It was mostly very well thought about, private and roomy – and since many of my colleagues berate me for using a Mac……perhaps it’s me?!
As usual, BA supplied a White Company Wash Bag. Items in the bag were;
- Socks and Blind Fold
- Lip Balm
- Lavender Scent stuff
- Ear Plugs
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- A Pen
I’ve no idea who the White Company are (I’m sure I’ve been dragged through their shops a few times in my life), but for me the style of the Wash Bag itself doesn’t look very premium. I know nothing about fashion so it may well be made of original purple spotted cow’s leather and completed with a traditional a hen’s teeth zip – I don’t know, but it just doesn’t look like a premium product. It looks like a pencil case with a fading stamp on it.
I am going to be anal, again. The Pen didn’t work!! I dare say these bags are from 2020, and probably the pen dried out in storage! A bit annoying as I had an Immigration Form to fill out – but luckily, I had my bag of stationary with me………in the overhead bin!
On a side note, the pen was black and plain. Would this not have been a great opportunity to have a BA branded pen?
Food and Drink
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on this flight but was pleasantly surprised.
After sitting down at my seat, I was offered Water or Champagne.
Once airborne, I was offered the bar service and had my food order taken. I took a Heineken, and accompanied with a bag of pretzels. Upon delivering the pretzels a member of the Cabin Crew apologised profusely for not being able to give me any nuts (I didn’t even ask for any) – due to someone on the plane with an allergy.
Food available was BA’s new trademark roast dinner, or there was chicken leak and mushroom pie, or vegetarian curry. I chose the roast dinner.
Traditionally, Starters, Mains and a choice of Deserts would be served separately, however a member of the Cabin Crew explained to me that the food was a reduced service due to social distancing in the galley.
I’ll be honest…..I don’t know how, if everyone is wearing masks, there is any difference between normal and reduced service – but apparently there was.
So, it was a one tray service with everything on it. A bit of a shame really, as the Deserts BA offers usually are much bigger and much more ranging in type. However if that’s what has to happen (hopefully on a temporary basis) to get people flying, then so be it!
I was just glad not to be eating out of a cardboard box to be honest.
Other than that, the food was pretty good and tasted nice. I took a glass of the Pinot Noir to have with the beef, which as very nice! The Cabin Crew had the knowledge to be able to advise on the wine based on a pairing – this is another nice touch that shows excellence in BA’s training.
Around 90 minutes before landing, the light dinner was served. Toastie or Avocado on rye bread. I chose the toastie. Good job I wasn’t that hungry – I don’t know who got the other half of the slice of bread – it was cut very small!
Throughout the flight was BA’s usual Club Kitchen. Less than 2 hours after being fully stocked, it was empty. I don’t know if this was because the plane was full of gannets packing things into their bags for later – or if there was a supply and demand issue. Either way, it’s a shame this wasn’t stocked a bit better as there is no way this was enough for 56 seats over nearly 8 hours.
Another REALLY good thing is that BA offer Heineken 0%. This is really good if, like me you like beer and you’re driving the other end! This time I wasn’t driving, but I usually am if I’m flying to the US.
The screen was a great size and because it wasn’t a flippy in/out screen could be used immediately. No annoying BA safety video here either – the Cabin Crew did the demo themselves.
There is a handset used to control the TV – or you can use the touch screen. One really cool thing I liked was you could move the map on the handset controller – zooming in and out, etc. It’s the little things!
Content wise, for me personally, this was a bit of a let-down to some of the great entertainment I have previously had on BA flights. However, this is probably because I’m quite particular about what I like watching and/or listening to. This is the first time in about 10 years I’ve flown with BA and Absolutely Fabulous wasn’t on offer! Neither were any other British ‘classics’ – most unusual.
My preferences aside, the point is there was plenty of new movies, TV shows, music, audio books, etc, etc, to occupy you for the entirety of the flight.
A slightly annoying thing was that when I went to play some of the compilation music tracks, the track listing was one single track of about 1 hour. Whereas on other IFE’s at BA it lists track by track, and see what the compilation is made of. Please fix that 🙂
The Cabin Crew were brilliant!
It genuinely felt like there was a buzz about the Crew and an air of excitement to be back doing what they do best.
On boarding the flight I was warmly welcomed back, before being directed to my seat.
Once in the air, a member of the Cabin Crew approached me and said “Mr Scrivener, welcome back, thank you for your loyalty to BA” and had a quick catchup – which seems to be a standard thing for Gold members. Again, it’s a training thing that works.
As I mentioned above, one of the Cabin Crew was very sorry about not being able to offer me nuts with my drink – so insisted on bringing me about 10 bags of these pretzels. Likewise another member was able to offer advice on the best wine to have with the meal.
These are small touches – but it makes you feel welcomed and valued as a customer.
Throughout the course of the flight I would estimate the Cabin Crew walked the aisles at least every 10 to 15 minutes, checking to see if people wanted drinks, etc. They were proactive and not waiting for the call bells.
There is no doubt about the fact the Cabin Crew had a hard job on their hands. Many passengers had to be told to put their masks on, wear them properly, etc. The Cabin Crew shouldn’t be down-marked on that – they ensured the rules were complied with and did so in a firm but fair way. Nobody wants aviation to stop for another 18 months because there are some idiots on the plane!
Finally, it should be noted that contrary to common belief, the Cabin Crew aren’t going off to their crew hotels for a jolly. In countries such as Hong Kong and China, they are required not to leave their hotel room and can be fined. In Dubai the Cabin Crew could leave their rooms to go to the pool – but not leave the resort to go to the Mall. It’s definitely not a jolly, if it ever was before Covid!
I purchased the BA Wifi for £14.99 for the entire flight. There was a cheaper option at £4.99 – but allegedly, this allowed you to stream and browse the internet.
Unfortunately, the reality was that it was barely capable of doing the basics. I tried to send two 1.8mb images as an attachment to an email and the Wifi couldn’t do it, even after waiting 20 minutes.
I was somewhat skeptical about what chaos I was going to be letting myself in for when we landed in Dubai. Particularly, as a KLM 777, AirFrance 777 and an Air India 787 had also just landed.
However, I was pleasantly surprised.
The Cabin Crew disembarked row by row, so there wasn’t the usual scrum down the aisle to the door.
Before getting on the train to the main terminal, Covid PCR test certificates were checked by Dubai Airport officials.
Then a very swift move through Border Control. I waited literally 2 minutes in the queue.
In total, getting from the Plane to Baggage Hall took less than 15 minutes – including the 7 minute train ride!
This was all round an excellent flight, in a game-changing new Club World on board BA’s new flagship new A350.
There’s not much that can be said to fault this experience, other than a few niggles.
89 out of 93 – or 95%.
This is a highly scoring flight! My only de-marks are (a) the Check In experience, but this is more because it didn’t feel like a ‘First Class’ product – but I recognize the fact the guys were doing their best with all the Covid nonsense; and (b) the Club Kitchen, it’s obvious from looking at those photos that that doesn’t go far to keeping 56 seats in check for 8 hours.