It’s time for another snapshot, this time focusing on the passenger experience aboard British Airways on their Airbus A380 between London Heathrow and Chicago O’Hare (unexpectedly) in Club World.
In case you’ve forgotten how we do travel write-ups on Economy Class and Beyond, I have two major travel writing styles:
- Trip Reports – These are full deep-dive reports taking you into the experience and the small things… as well as the big things!
- Snapshots – These are bite-sized reviews that show you the basic product in some nice gentle headlines (and normally, only images shot on the phone)
Today, we’re on the Snapshot. The full in-depth review is… many cups of coffee away.
And I mean many.
Initially, I booked this flight as a Return journey, with World Traveller (the economy seat product) on the way out and World Traveller Plus (the premium economy product) on the way back from Chicago.
As the flight deadline neared, I caved in and purchased an upgrade to World Traveller Plus, arguing to myself that I could do with the extra space to be comfortable in. I queried the map using Seat Expert, which showed lots of window seats free. On that basis, I brought the upgrade and found that there were four seats free – in the middle of the first row of World Traveller Plus and the three back seats of the cabin. I chose an aisle seat and prayed for a seat swap.
With the work going on in one of my other lives, I completely forgot to check-in. Thus, I had to check in at the desk at Heathrow at Terminal 5.
The process was longer than usual, with the agent wanting to see physical proof of both my ESTA and my COVID-19 Vaccination status.
With that in hand, I was advised that I had been upgraded to Club World as a complimentary upgrade from British Airways, and I was assigned a seat on the upper deck of the aircraft.
It seemed the smell of strike action was in the air, with staff less than happy to be clearing people through and being… direct, rather than rude, with them more shouty, rather than asking for compliance.
It also didn’t help that one of the lanes at Priority Security was shut, resulting in extended wait times and passengers going through the normal security lines like I had to.
One bag was pulled over for a compliance check due to the camera gear inside it – but I was released to go after it was cleared.
I chose the Galleries Club Lounge South (near south security) for both convenience and ease of access. For those who have missed the flip-dot cloud not working, there’s good news – it’s now working after… many years.
The lounge was offering a help-your-self breakfast, with it fully reverting to a self-service model, rather than order-by-app service.
This started to transition to a lunch service by the time I was preparing to leave.
Bubbles were provided (with Prosecco offered).
Boarding was delayed initially from 10:15 to 10:54 due to catering issues. By the time I arrived at the gate (at the C Gates), this was continuing with the flight looking like it was going to be heavily delayed. Boarding finally started by groups at 11:40. I made it through ticket and passport check at 11:46, being able to board.
Three jetbridges were used for boarding.
I would be flying aboard an Airbus A380 to Chicago.
This is configured in a four-class layout over two decks – the lower deck containing First, Club World and World Traveller, whilst the upper deck contains Club World, Word Traveller Plus and World Traveller.
The set is a custom version of the British Airways Club World/Business Class seat with a yin-yang arrangement. Seating on the upper deck is laid out in a 2-3-2 formation.
The seat I was allocated was a front-facing aisle seat.
Pushback and taxi
There was an extended wait for the pushback and taxi sequence, due to an issue with loading that needed to be cleared before the aircraft departed. From a booked departure time of 11:15, our A380 was airborne at 13:07.
British Airways has a Thales IFE System installed on this seat – which is accessible via a flip-out screen. This has the old-generation interface on it, with touch-responsiveness a little sluggish, requiring interaction with the handset. Noise-cancelling headphones (BA branded) were supplied for use.
The screen featured contains a 12.1-inch screen, USB Power at two points, and mains output, which powered and charged a 14″ MacBook Pro without any issues.
Connectivity (In-Flight Wi-fi)
Onboard connectivity was provided aboard this aircraft with a 2Ku connectivity option powered by Intelsat (formally Gogo 2Ku).
Menus were offered before departure – as well as a choice of pre-departure beverages (water/champagne).
Once airborne, a drinks round with a snack was offered.
There might have been gin in this.
From the menu, I chose salmon as a starter
Followed by the Braised leg of lamb
And finally, the Bannaa chocolate moose (as most of you know, I have a thing against cheese in its uncooked form).
For a pre-arrivals service, a traditional afternoon tea service was offered with a scone.
The aircraft made an approach to O’Hare over Lake Michigan, making a direct approach over the city. Upon landing, there was a 10-minute taxi back to Terminal 5.
With the A380 docked at Gate M11, it was a quick walk from the aircraft’s upper deck down towards to immigration.
In the immigration hall, there was already three flights worth of passengers in it, with our flight quickly filling up the ten switchback lanes to the maximum, with further passengers filling over and queuing.
Luggage delivery took additional time, taking 25 minutes to clear immigration, and a further 20 minutes to collect luggage.
The full review of British Airways 295 is coming soon!
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