With the marathon flight from Kuala Lumpur to London clocking in at around 13 hours, I was delighted to find myself amongst the elite in Club World, BA’s business class proposition.
As you know, I’m far more of a World Traveller Plus (premium economy) regular, so this represented a radical departure to my typical travel style. So how was it?
Climbing aboard, I was seated in row 7E (in the dead middle). BA get a bit of criticism for this ying-yang non-aisle access layout, and I will admit after 13 hours, I was still keen to get off the plane – and while facing backward is something I thought would trouble me immensely, I’ve got to say it; row 7, seat E (or the same at the very back of the business cabin) are the absolute seats to go for.
My seat literally (I can’t believe I’m waxing lyrical about an airplane seat) had it all; aisle access on to both aisles, as private as you could get once the two blinds were up on either side – it was almost private booth-like, with a convenient extra space off to the side of the seat into which I decanted my wine glasses throughout the night, spare headphones, etc. Also, the issue of facing backwards, perhaps by virtue of having had a few drinks before and during the flight (folks please don’t, if you’re not sure how you’ll handle drinking and flying – please; I have discovered it makes me just sleep, which is convenient!), didn’t trouble me in the slightest beyond being slightly bizarre on take-off as you kind of fall forward a little out of the seat.
Service kicked off on the ground with the offer of some champagne (and water, and possibly orange juice but clearly neither of those options appealed to me), before being collected as we taxied out for take-off. Since I tend to be sitting – OK, I won’t lie, I don’t “tend”, I am always sitting – in row 16, at the very front of premium economy, I was also surprised by how much quieter the cabin is up front. Whereas row 16 seems to attract some strange whining hydraulic motor noise on pushback, take-off and around landing time, there was barely a sound to be heard.
Up in the air, dinner service commenced quickly. I won’t lie, I can’t remember much of it nor did I pinch the menu like many an #avgeek would (honestly, the last thing I need floating around my apartment is a Club World menu card). What I can say though is, it started off with a salmon tartare (pictured), followed by the traditional Malaysian satay – which seems to be a BA favourite ex-KL. Pretty good food all around.
On these long flights, BA have some kind of arrangement whereby they seem to keep the last 2 seats in row 7 free for crew rest. This provided some unexpected in-flight entertainment for me as around this time, the guy beside me (who would have been I suppose 7F) decided to properly kick-off that he wasn’t being allowed to use those seats, since they ostensibly appeared to be free. Rather than hear out the (very well-worded) explanation and agreeing to comply, he went off the charts throwing out some of the classic lines “so you’re refusing a paying customer over staff”, etc. The crewmember working the aisle couldn’t have been more professional and empathetic (whereas I was dying to pop my window down and ask him was he hard of hearing, or deliberately just being combative).
Finally, bed time. Actually, to be honest, I decided it was bed time literally the second the food was all done and finished and I shuffled my tray back, ran to the bathroom before anyone else had a chance, washed up, and proceeded to immediately make my bed, stick on my eye shades and call it a night.
The sleep was great; honestly I do like the swing-down pedestal at the end rather than the other far more awkward arrangement of your feet being slid into some coffin-like box at the end like on many airlines. Having said that, I still swung my foot out once or twice a bit wildly and nearly ended up tumbling out onto the floor. But, as airplane sleeps go, it was pretty much perfect and I woke up just in time for the beginning of breakfast service; surely on a 13-hour sleep it doesn’t get much better than that?
Overall, I found the BA Club World seat perfectly fine and exactly what was needed for a journey of this length and especially for a trip of this length (2.5 days in Germany for Oktoberfest). I know it gets a lot of flak, and to be honest, maybe I wouldn’t fancy being in a non-aisle access seat tucked in, facing backwards, by the window.
But this seat was perfect, very comfortable and the experience, while perhaps not the absolute best in the world, was perfectly functional, offers a fully-flat bed, good food and drink, great service and of course if you’re lucky, fantastic entertainment from your seatmate who left promising to pen a “strongly-worded e-mail”!