*DEAL GONE* Outrageously cheap airfare! Amsterdam or Brussels to Tokyo in Business Class (roundtrip) for £550!January 12, 2017
REVIEW – Conrad SingaporeJanuary 21, 2017
British Airways (BA)
- Flight: BA 11
- Class: Club World (Business)
- From: London (LHR)
- To: Singapore (SIN)
- Duration: 12hr50
- Aircraft: Airbus A380
- Seat: 51K
- Status during flight: OneWorld Sapphire
- Cost: £1300 for TXL-LHR-SIN-HKG-DPS round trip in Business Class
- Date: December 2015
After a mad dash we arrived at the gate only to see that “gate closing” wasn’t quite true. There was still a very large line of Economy class passengers and a number of Business passengers were still lining up to board.
This was actually my first time flying in Business Class on an A380, after numerous A380 flights in First it felt a bit strange seeing so many people and seats in a space that holds so few on other airlines.
The BA A380, much like their B747, offers a distinctly superior proposition on the upper deck. The seating is arranged in a 2-3-2 formation as opposed to the 2-4-2 found in most BA Club World cabins. In addition to making the cabin feel far less cramped, the removal of the fourth centre seat also eliminates the awkward possibility of ending up in a weird ‘honeymoon seat’ with a total stranger.
Another cool thing about the upper deck is that the seats have a ton of storage space. One of the things that bothered me the most when I first tried BA Business class was that there is almost no storage and the one small drawer is almost impossible to access in bed mode. Here on the A380 upper deck every window seat gets two giant storage bins which can be accessed throughout the flight.
Here’s the thing: people always tout seat consistency as one of the key benefits of BA:
‘Sure I may not get direct aisle access but I’ll always get a flat bed and never end up in a reclining chair instead.’
Fair enough, I agree in principle. Nobody wants to pay for business class and end up in a recliner (although AA will accommodate you on an alternate carrier if you get a last minute aircraft swap – as I once discovered ‘INVOL EQUIP CHG’). However, I would argue that the 777 and A380 Upper Deck products are remarkably different. The A380 cabin is subdivided into various smaller cabins and seats less people across than the 777, this gives a far more premium feel and eliminates the feeling of being in a giant dormitory. The A380 IFE system is also better, the windows are bigger, there’s more storage, the air quality is better, the lighting is better and as I would later find out, even the tableware is better!
After reading countless reviews online I never thought I would say this but my initial impressions of the BA A380 cabin actually put it ahead of my recent experience flying on JAL’s 777 business class. Sure, I didn’t have direct aisle access but I was getting just as much storage (if not more) and all of the finishes in the cabin are markedly superior on BA. The black, silver and grey colour scheme is really clean and modern, moreover the purple and blue lighting adds markedly to the effect.
After our eerily quiet take-off the cabin crew kicked into gear and came around offering drinks and bags of mixed nuts.
I went with a glass of the Castelnau 2004 champagne, a lovely drop with a notable Pinot Noir dryness. The FA made a point of saying here is your ‘vintage champagne’ when handing it over. The The nuts were served cold, in the packet. In this regard BA falls behind the likes of AA and QR who serve more copious quantities of warm cashews and almonds, in ceramic bowls.
Conversely, I have always been impressed with hoe good BA are at keeping your glass topped up. Within seconds of reaching the halfway mark on my glass, the FA was leaning over the divider offering me more champagne. I’m not sure what it says about British culture in general but my home airline never lets you go thirsty 🙂
At this stage I was thinking that I had perhaps been a little mean to BA in the past, certainly a good BA crew always makes me feel at home. The conversation flows very easily and things just feel comfortable.
Looking through the menu it seemed like I wasn’t going to be disappointed here either:
At this stage in the flight, things went a bit wrong. I waited for my main course for twenty minutes. I tried a bit of Kamara’s salmon in the meantime which kept me somewhat entertained. Twenty minutes later, still nothing. The cabin crew were wandering around clearing plates and bringing people deserts. I tried pressing the call button but got nowhere. It was just ignored. With the table down, I was kind of trapped, not to mention the fact that I was blocked from the aisle by another passenger’s foot rest.
Finally I was able to wave to one of the FA’s whilst her arms weren’t full of trays. I asked her if everything was ok with my main course. The cabin manager heard this and apologised profusely, saying that my main would be right out.
It was brought to me by the junior FA, with the following words: “Sorry about that, we were busy chatting”.
Just like that, all the hard work of her colleagues, the impressive cabin finishes and the great IFE selection were forgotten. This is the one thing that I remember the most from this flight. Being trapped and hungry and being told that chatting to colleagues was more important than looking after a paying customer. Unreal. Once you’ve flown the likes of Singapore, ANA and JAL, you’ve seen the apex of service, the pinnacle of what can be achieved. Those words would never have been uttered by an employee of one of those airlines. Never.
I didn’t have any coffee after the meal because BA don’t offer espresso based coffee to business class passengers. The £0.10 Nespresso capsules are reserved for people in First class. So much for Business Class being a ‘premium’ cabin.
I sat and watched a movie for an hour or so, at which point I smelled the smell of breakfast being heated up. An odour which permeates an airplane cabin and usually brings with it a slight sense of sadness, as it almost invariably marks the closing stanza of an intercontinental flight.
The upper deck window seats on the BA A380 solve most pressing concern that I had with the 777 Club World experience: lack of storage space.
There are plenty of other advantages to the A380, irrespective of your choice of seat:
- Lack of privacy due to being one enormous, undivided cabin is avoided. Club World on the A380 is broken into a series of smaller, more intimate spaces.
- Air quality is better. You feel less eye, mouth and nose dryness and you feel less jetlagged.
- IFE is guaranteed to be the newest HD Thales system
However, the beef is still inedible; the coffee is still undrinkable; aisle seats still have no privacy at all and the crew are still capable of being extremely unprofessional.
For the price I paid for this ticket, I certainly got value for money. honestly I feel like the price is about right for what you get. The thing is that BA, until recently, used to charge double this price (or more). Having luxuriated in the sheer opulence of the Singapore Airlines cabin on this route, I would gladly pay £2k+ to fly to Singapore with them. The memory of each flight with SQ is a delight that lasts a lifetime.
Would I pay £2k to fly BA? No chance.
- Part 1:
- British Airways : Galleries North Business Class Lounge – London Heathrow T5
- Part 2:
- British Airways : Club World (Business Class) – A380 – London Heathrow to Singapore
- Part 3:
- Conrad Singapore : Centennial Suite
- Part 4:
- DNATA Lounge – Singapore Changi T1
- Part 5:
- Cathay Pacific : Business Class – A330 – Singapore to Hong Kong
- Part 6:
- Intercontinental Hong Kong : Harbour View Room
- Part 7:
- Qantas : First and Business Class Lounge – Hong Kong
- Part 8:
- Cathay Pacific : The Bridge Business Class Lounge – Hong Kong
- Part 9:
- Cathay Pacific : Business Class – B747 – Hong Kong to Bali
- Part 10:
- Intercontinental Bali : Singaraja Room
- Part 11:
- Villa Kerasan (Airbnb) Ubud, Bali
- Part 12:
- Alila Villas Soori, Bali
- Part 13:
- Villa Jiwa (Airbnb) Jimbaran, Bali
- Part 14:
- Sofitel Nusa Dua, Bali
- Part 15:
- An updated guide to Bali
- Part 16:
- Cathay Pacific : Business Class – B772 – Bali Denpasar Hong Kong
- Part 17:
- Cathay Pacific : Business Class – B77W – Hong Kong to London Heathrow