Flight: London Heathrow to Los Angeles
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA269
Plane: Airbus A380-800
Cabin: Business Class/Club World
This was a business trip I took to LAX for some meetings, actually in San Jose – so I was transiting LAX for a connection. Due to costs and various logistical reasons, I took the flight on 1st January 2022.
BA269 is one of the flights that BA operate on the A380 to LAX. Before Covid-19 BA operated 3 flights per day via the Boeing 747, Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380. I believe this route is back to 3 flights per day – 2 on the 777-300 and one on the A380.
BA269 leaves Heathrow at 15:15 landing around 18:35 local time. It’s slightly unusual for me to take this flight, as I tend to prefer the American Airlines at 11:00 to LAX – however, the cost of this was around £9,000 when booking! Also, as it was New Year’s Day, a 7am alarm for an 11am flight seemed a little inappropriate.
The American 11am is however perfect if you’re driving from the Airport, as there isn’t so much traffic around LA if you’re picking a car up. Whereas landing at LAX at 6pm is not quite so good with the traffic!
I used the First Wing at Terminal 5 to check in, as one can with a Gold Member status.
I was greeted by a host outside the area who then took me to a check in desk. No desks were available, so I waited 2 minutes next to the host in a sort of awkward silence (she didn’t ask where I was going or anything….literal silence). I’m not sure what having the host for the 20 second journey really adds – it was a bit awkward – but maybe other people who fly First see it has a must have! Or maybe the host could tell I was ‘only’ flying Club!
One checked in, Security was a breeze, as always – and it was through to the First Galleries Lounge.
This plane was British Airways’ Airbus A380-800, which has 14 First, 97 Club World, 55 World Traveler Plus and 303 Economy seats – a total capacity of 469. Also board this flight was 20 Cabin Crew.
BA have not retrofitted their A380’s with Club Suites yet, and I don’t know if they will, so this was ‘old school’ Club World!
One thing I will say about the A380 is that it is super quiet – even without headphones!
I chose seat 53A because it is by a bulkhead (and by the window) – a little hack I have when I travel on my own, meaning you don’t have to step over someone else’s feet. This seat is upstairs in the A380 – and an excellent choice!
On this trip, I had a lot of work to do, and it was paper-heavy. 53A was the perfect seat – I had SO much room to have my paperwork around me and be able to cross-reference whilst I worked – it was great!
The other really good thing about this seat was the storage, 3 bins next to the seat to put stuff in, as well as the drawer at the bottom! Really good!
The only drawback to 53A it is right next to the galley, and it’s pretty noisy when meals are being prepped, of clattering, etc.
I find these seats really comfortable for long flights – I am only 5’10”, but even if you were a lot taller than me, you’d still be comfortable.
There are a few downsides to this seat in practicality sides:
Firstly, the ‘old’ Club World tables only support from one side. This means if you’re eating, working or using a laptop – you have a VERY bouncy and bendy table.
Secondly, the lighting is built into the seat – about 45cm (18”) above the entertainment remote control – or maybe 2ft above shoulder height. This means when the cabin lights go down after dinner, it’s VERY difficult to read paperwork or books/magazines – as there no overhead lighting and it was dark outside.
Thirdly, about 2” under the entertainment is a USB socket. There is also one by the footstool, and a multi-voltage socket. The issue for me, was that my arm was pressing on it whilst it was plugged in. This got annoying after a while – and my cable was too short to get the other socket. It’s not very comfortable sitting with a USB plug embedded in your arm!
A final point: on this trip was that there was a lady was sat opposite me in 53B. That wasn’t an issue in itself – she seemed a nice lady! But with the screen down (required for Takeoff and Landing), it was far from private and actually quite awkward and intrusive. I always think of the ‘old’ Club World as being a couple’s style of seating.
Shortly into the flight, a gentleman sat 2 seats to the left of me (53D) had his seat fail completely – the electrics stopped, so it couldn’t be moved at all. Luckily, the Cabin Crew found another seat for him.
Then the lady next to me in 53B had her seat stop working.
Then I had my seat stop working! It was stuck in recline mode – even for the landing it couldn’t be stowed to upright – I’d say the electrical supply to the seat had been cut off somehow.
At this point there were no alternate seats – so this is something BA will need to address in due course – as it’s not the product paid for!
On offer was BA’s washbag from the White Company. I have reviewed them so many times and they never change – but here’s what was in it:
- Eye Mask
- Ear Plugs
- Cheap un-branded pen (come on BA….stay on brand!)
- Lavender stuff for your pillow (Mrs Neil swears by it)
- Lip Balm
As always, this goes in the drawer at home with all the others – but our guests love it when they stay!
Food and Drink
Before departing, Water or Champagne were offered, along with the Wash Bags and Menus – still no idea what happened to the Orange Juice!
Once airborne, one Cabin Crew member took my food order. A second member came and took my drinks order to have before the meal. It seemed they’d cracked it after my previous rant!
Well not quite, as I wasn’t asked if I wanted a drink with my meal other than still or sparkling water. So, when the meal came, I asked for a glass of wine. I chose to do this proactively, as often there is no telling when the opportunity will next arise!
So, BA, let’s get this right – one order for drinks NOW – one order for drinks WITH THE MEAL. That’s how it needs to be.
These are relatively minor things, but in my view in Business Class they DO count, airlines like Qatar and Emirates have them down to a tee – and I work in an industry where the little touches do matter.
I’ll stop ranting, for now.
I had a Brewdog Jet Stream beer and was given those peanut things BA give out. They tasted stale, so much so I checked the packet for the use by date – which was March 2022. Not sure what happened there?
Once again, it was a one tray does all service. I’ve already ranted about the one-tray service WHICH REALLY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED, SEAN DOYLE (I know you’re reading this!) – I’ve done enough long haul post-Covid flights to know that is currently BA’s offering.
The starter was Avocado and Edamame ‘super green salad’ – what a treat!
For mains there was a choice between Roast Pork, Chicken Tika Masala and Vegan Cottage Pie.
Deserts on offer were a Winter Berry Trifle and Cheese Board…….which I’m not sure you’d get away with under the Trade Descriptions Act! I say on offer…….it’s on the tray!
I didn’t enjoy the starter at all – it just wasn’t nice. I had the Pork dinner was nice, I’d have rathered another potato and less cabbage. With dinner I had a glass of the Pino Noir, which is generally my go to on BA – it’s pretty good.
Desert was ok. But I am sure most people would rather have a chocolate brownie or ice cream sundae than some berry thing (he says holding out hope for the later American Airlines flight). Take note, Sean!
During the course of the flight there is what BA call the Club Kitchen. It was reasonably stocked – but by no means inspirationally. However, it was far better stocked than my previous experiences on BA flights.
The afternoon’s ‘light meal’ was the choice between Herb Roasted Chicken Breast and Grilled Polenta. Because I’ve no idea what Polenta is, I took the chicken.
To start the ‘light meal’ was roasted apparently Cauliflower, and the desert was a Panna Cotta.
I have to say, that I personally found the chicken meal to be quite heavy and on par with the lunch I had in terms of size, it wasn’t that light of a meal – but that’s an observation (in a good way) rather than complaint!
I really enjoyed the chicken – the starter I didn’t bother with – and desert I guess was nice if you like that kind of thing.
The screen for the Entertainment is a LOT smaller than in the Club Suites or on American Airlines’ Business cabin. It also has to be stowed (flipped in in colloquial terms) for Takeoff and Landing.
It is sort of a Touch Screen and sort of not. I say that because when I tried to take it off the Moving Map to write about it – it crashed!
There is a remote control which has the controls for the IFE, which has various features including the Call Button, Light Control, etc, etc
Once my IFE reset there were a series of Films (lots of new releases), TV (box sets, etc) and audio to listen to. Sadly still no One Foot in the Grave or Only Fools and Horses though!
About 3 hours before landing, the Interactive Map decided to stop working, and was never fixed.
I paid £19.99 for full flight Wifi. It seemed pretty good and pages were loading quickly. You can easily work, do emails, etc on the wifi.
I have my unwritten rule which is that it’s common decency not to be streaming or downloading/uploading huge files when on shared wifi – especially at 38,000 feet!
There are two bathrooms in the upstairs nose of the A380, and they are HUGE! I’m not sure if it’s for accessibility reasons or because there is nothing else that fits there – but the toilets are huge and have loads of room to get changed in. Unlike some of the 777’s where you have to pretty much reverse into them!
On my previous MLE flight I had some serious overarching concerns about BA’s Cabin Crew.
I am glad to report my concerns as a broad brush were misplaced!
The one thing that the Cabin Crew didn’t do was address me by name or thank me for my loyalty to BA – which is what BA seem to do now only randomly.
Other than that, the Cabin Crew were excellent! There was a really friendly lady called Jo for who was nothing was too much trouble – she’d been with BA since 1995. I had a transit question when landing which none of the Cabin Crew knew the answer to – so she offered to radio ahead to LAX and find out!
Another excellent Cabin Crew member was Edson, he repeatedly checked all the seats down the aircraft to see if people needed drinks. Frequently, he’d shake my beer or coke can to see if it was empty and would automatically get me other, without asking! That’s service!
Another great thing about Edson was his manner. For example, he asked “may I” or “do you mind if I” – and he also give me advanced warning of dinner so I could have my table free of paperwork! Al good little touches which make the service feel more premium.
One thing I would say about the dinner service was that one of the members of the Cabin Crew was going up and down with a bottle of wine. This is of course a good thing as many other flights don’t bother! The issue however is (in my view) that they served the entire cabin either side of the galley their dinners first and then did the re-fills – so consequently, by the time the opportunity for a refill came about most people had finished their entire meals. These are minutely logistical things – but it’s why people hire me to look at them!
Top marks for this Cabin Crew, their attitude, service and willingness to help deserves top marks!
Landing in LAX
The plane landed in Terminal B and unfortunately the Air Bridge to the Upper Deck wasn’t playing ball. This meant that we waited around 15 minutes whilst the Lower Deck were disembarked. Eventually, we went down the stairs at the front of the aircraft and then on the Air Bridge attached to the Lower Deck.
Going through Border Control was a dream! I scanned my passport in Global Entry, and 1 minute later my name was called and I was told “you’re all set”. And it was off to Baggage Reclaim.
Baggage Reclaim, I am afraid was a WHOLE different story. Given the fact I was flying Club World, supposedly had ‘Priority Luggage’ and was connecting – I got to the baggage carrousel at 6:45pm, and it wasn’t until 7:35 that I got my suitcase! I can’t even begin to imagine the excuses as to why this happened – but it’s not acceptable.
The irony of this is that there was a label on my suitcase that said “short transfer” – I’ve had some pretty short transfers in my years of flying – and this label would not have helped the situation!
My connecting flight was 21:55 – from LAX’s 52 Gate island at Terminal 5 (this is a 20-minute bus ride from Terminal 5, plus allow 30 minutes for boarding, plus even TSA Pre-Check took 20 minutes, plus the walk from Terminal B to Terminal 5) – although it was delayed until 23:30. However, one way or the other this could have been tight time wise if it wasn’t for the delay!
It’s difficult to score this flight objectively when (a) my seat broke and (b) the IFE was unreliable. However, I think it’s fair to look at this assuming that maintenance issues are what happens with technology.
That said, this should be a red flag to BA that their A380’s (or at least this one) needs some serious attention!
How BA deal with the seat issue, and what compensation they provide is another story – and something I shall be re-reporting on in due course!
My personal experience was an excellent Cabin Crew service, good food (any let down was probably my preference than the quality), a really spacious seat with HUGE amounts of room for working, and super quiet plane!
However, the baggage at the end was a let down!
Score: 89 out of 100 – or 89%.
I’ve not counted the Lounge into this score, and the Cabin Crew stormed it. However, the baggage and seat issues did cause me to lower the score.