Flight: Dubai to London Heathrow
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA104
Plane: Boeing 787-9
Plane Reg: G-ZBKP
Cabin: Business Class/Club World
There are currently two flights which return from Dubai to Heathrow.
I’d previously written about the A350 on the way over to Dubai. I chose the B787 route home because of the times. This flight departed Dubai at 12:15pm and landed in London at 16:55.
The A350 leaves around 2:15am in the morning and lands at around 6:45. This would have been a nightmare for trying to stay awake, etc. So I chose the B787 route.
With that said, I can easily see why the 2:15 would appeal if you’re short of time, etc.
Despite being brilliant on my entry to Dubai, I thought I’d better get to the airport early in case it was a bit chaotic heading back to London. Suffice to say from Dubai Airport’s stance, I had nothing to worry about – however the check in desks were far from ideal.
I arrived at the Airport at 8:20 heading for the check in desks. Nobody was there.
At 8:45 a few members arrived at the desks, mainly standing around. At 8:55 I decided to stand at the barrier, looking threatening, in the hope to speed things up. I was told the desks would open in “5 minutes”.
At 9:00 a few more members turned up, spending most of their time taking pictures and messing around. The desks opened at 9:15.
This may have been because of a contract dnata (who operated the desks) have with BA – but by 9:15 there was quite a queue, and it didn’t help with the all the messing around. I’d rather the messing around was done in a non-public area, than in full view of waiting passengers.
During the course of checking in, my negative Covid-19 test and Passenger Locator Form were checked. It was clear there was an expectation that this needed to be printed, and the same at Heathrow end, so I’d advise spending time printing these documents to save a headache.
Once all checked in, I headed to Security. As I had been accustomed to at Dubai Airport, this was very straightforward, and super fast! I was through Security (which was very quiet) in less than 2 minutes!
I should add that this was Dubai’s Terminal 1, Concourse D, the plane was at Gate D9.
BA have their own Lounge in Dubai Airport, however it was closed – presumably owing to Covid-19. Consequently, BA had struck a deal with the Marhaba Lounge, just opposite.
Frankly, this lounge was a poor choice to have done the deal with. The seating was plentiful and the lounge quiet. However, the food was primitive and poor, there was noisy drilling going on, and they wanted 60AED (£12) to use the showers!
On the 787-9, BA have a First cabin as well as Club World. I can only assume that First passengers also use the Marhaba Lounge – but not 100% sure. If they did, this would have been a very poor experience indeed!
I did an hour or so of work in Marhaba, then I thought about checking what other lounges were in Concourse D. I then realised I’d been very stupid! There was another Lounge called Ahlan, which I could access via my Priority Pass.
Slightly strangely, Ahlan Lounge accepts Qatar and Cathay passengers (part of OneWorld), so for BA not to have paired up with them was clearly a missed opportunity. I tried to use my OneWorld Emerald status for entry and was refused as I wasn’t flying with Qatar or Cathay. Annoying! But got in via my Priority Pass.
The Ahlan Lounge was by far more premium. In fact, it was very nice indeed! The décor was a million times more premium, the food miles better and more premium, the drinks better, there was a nice kitchen and there was a nice bar. Oh, and the showers were free!
As I said, I’m not sure what lounge First passengers had access to (in theory the same as me, as a Gold Member) – but I’d be very disappointed if I was flying First and my lounge was the Marhaba…..
This was BA’s Boeing 787-9.
BA’s 787-9 and 787-10 both have 8 x First Cabins, whereas the 787-8 doesn’t have First at all.
I’m yet to get my head around BA’s various 787 routes, and whether the 787’s are interchangeable on routes.
Interestingly, I found the 787 to be a lot quieter than the A350. I may of course be wrong, on the technicalities of decibels – but that was how it felt!
This was BA’s ‘old’ Club World.
I was in 13A, which was in reverse position, facing a cabin bulkhead. This was a great seat in itself as it felt very private. Because of the seat’s location, to leave my seat I didn’t have to jump over a strangers feet – which is often the case in the other Club World seats, because of the foot stool thing.
One thing (in my view) about BA’s ‘old’ Club World is the privacy issue. Unlike many other airlines, BA’s ‘old’ Club World has two seats next to the windows – whereas many other airlines have just one. Likewise, in the centres, most airlines have two seats – whereas BA have 4 abreast (A380, 777) – in the case of the B787 Dreamliner, 3.
For this reason, when flying alone, I virtually never fly on BA if I can avoid it. It’s a strange experience facing a complete stranger, with the dividing screens down. If you’re a couple, it’s actually quite nice, I guess. Luckily, on this flight the seat next to me was empty.
One thing that annoyed me about the ‘new’ Club World was the lack of useful storage. However, the ‘old’ Club World has a very handy drawer. This drawer I could get everything in – laptop, chargers, passport, washbag, phone, the lot!
That said, unlike the ‘new’ Club World there was nowhere to store my shoes, until we were in the air, and I was allowed to flip the stool down.
The ‘old’ Club World doesn’t have the luxury doors the ‘new’ Club World does. However, that didn’t matter for where I was sitting – but I can see why you’d want it in the aisle, especially crammed 7 seats wide.
Moving the seat was very basic. The seat was comfortable but felt by far narrower and smaller than the ‘new’ Club World.
Another issue, which has always annoyed me about the ‘old’ Club World tables is they are only supported on one side, and very poorly! This means that when you place a laptop, or even food tray on it – it starts to bend one un-supported side. I tried to do some paperwork on the table, and as I wrote on it, it continued to flex – to the point I had to put my knees under to prop it up!
Having flown into Dubai on the ‘new’ Club World, it’s difficult to compare the ‘old’ Club World objectively. But there are a few horses for courses as you can see!
As usual, BA supplied a White Company Wash Bag. Items in the bag were;
- Socks and Blind Fold
- Lip Balm
- Lavender Sent stuff
- Ear Plugs
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- A Pen
Food and Drink
As customary, the Cabin Crew offered champagne. In a slightly different service style – they offered bottles of water, instead of glasses of water.
Menus were handed out before takeoff, and orders taken once in the air. On offer was Barbecue Beef, Gulf-style Chicken or Orecchiette Pasta (which to anyone who doesn’t shop in Harrods, is called pasta shells). During the course of the order, I was also asked if I wanted a drink – I took a Heineken.
I chose the beef (again) and accompanied it with the Pino Noir (again). Good combination!
As per my inbound trip to Dubai, this service as a ‘reduced’ service, so everything was on one tray at once.
Generally speaking, the good was fine. I felt that the main could have done with a bit more in the way of beef – but it tasted ok. I didn’t even bother with the Arabic Mezze (whatever that is).
In summary, the main meal from London to Dubai was ‘British’ and clearly the food on the return from Dubai back to London was ‘Arabic’ influenced. I, personally, would have far preferred it to be the other way round.
BA’s afternoon tea was served, with a choice of sandwiches. I didn’t like the look of either, so asked for anything but the sandwiches.
As I’d spent only 2 days in Dubai, and it was a very quick set of meetings, between mealtimes I was fast asleep – so I didn’t make it to the Club World Kitchen.
The IFE was pretty much the same as the outbound to Dubai – in fact, it may have been identical.
In a rare case for me, I chose to watch a movie, Cruella.
It has to be said, the screen is noticeably smaller than the ‘new’ Club World. The screen being smaller wasn’t as immersive – but it did its job.
If not watching movies or TV, I usually keep the Moving Map on. The Moving Map is a bit different to the A350.
Unfortunately, this flight was somewhat of a mixed experience. Broadly, the Cabin Crew were very good – Henrique and Darren being standouts. But it was let down one of the female members.
This particular member just wasn’t very premium and was borderline rude. For example, when handing out the champagne, she didn’t say a word and put the tray under my nose.
During the afternoon tea service, I had some paperwork on the desk and because I was facing backwards, didn’t see her coming. This lady literally shoved the tray in my face, almost in frustration that I dare have something on the table.
The way she spoke to other people on flight was stern and unfriendly.
Conversely, Henrique and Darren were excellent. If they wanted to ask me anything it was “excuse me Sir, sorry for interrupting you”. For the lunch service, I also had paperwork on the table, and Henrique said to be “I’m everso sorry, but I have your lunch here”.
It should be said, Henrique was also excellent in the ‘Gold Members catchup’. He clearly knew the airline and OneWorld alliance well and was making suggestions to be about trips and routing – he was clearly well travelled on the alliance and was able to make suggestions from experience. These are the bits that sell your airline, when enthusiastic Cabin Crew can advise you on new trips to book, from their broad knowledge and personal experience.
The other let down on this flight, unfortunately, was speed of service. 13A was the very back of the Club World cabin – but it felt like it took for ever to be offered a drink. It also took a very very long time to bring my lunch. Coincidentally, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt that Service on a 787 has been slow. I did wonder if this was due to the density of Club World – but I’ve not experienced this on the slightly denser 777.
To be honest, I still don’t know if I did something wrong given that I was coming back from an Amber List country!
The plane disembarked at 17:05 by Row Number. I had to wait and get the train from C-gates to A-gate, and then to Passport Control.
Here, I joined the queue, which was very fast. I scanned my passport, and off I went to baggage reclaim.
I had my suitcase and was out to the terminal bus station by 17:30.
Given the horror stories I’d heard about Heathrow, 5-hour queues, etc – this was an extremely pleasant surprise! I even asked one of the Cabin Crew before landing how bad it was, and he said the best he’d seen at Terminal 5 was 30 minutes and the worst 3 hours.
Re-entering the UK felt no different to pre-Covid times, with a short electronic passport queue and a quick scan. Despite this, of course, I had my negative Covid test, and my Passenger Locator form printed in my hand!
This was a mixed flight, with some good and some bad thrown in.
Checking in at Dubai was frustrating. But landing and re-entering the UK at Heathrow was very smooth.
The flight in general was fine. It certainly wasn’t my best Club World experience – but, I’d spent a busy 2 days in Dubai and to get me home comfortably, it was fine!
75 out of 90 – or 83%.
I’ve marked down the Check In – although the lined moved quickly once open, watching the Check In staff chat and take selfies wasn’t great.
I’ve only scored the Marhaba Lounge, scoring lowly on Food/Drink – and even lower on charging for the Shower!
The seat scores generally highly, with the exception of privacy.
And, unfortunately, I’ve lower-scored the Service because (a) it took ages and (b) because of the one particular member of Cabin Crew.