Flight Details: Sydney, Kingsford Smith to London, Heathrow (T5), January 2020.
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300 jet
Flight number: BA0016
Seating: 56 flat-bed seats in Business 11J & 11K
Duration: 23 hours 30 minutes via Singapore.
Tier points: 480 Tier points return. Avios dependent on your Executive Club Tier.
2 x 32kg checked baggage allowance.
Separate cabin offering more privacy, personal space and comfort.
Three course dining-menu.
* Over standard World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy).
When the Unique Boutique Travel team travels for business it is invariably at the client’s expense. That means budget airlines and chain hotels. When we travel for pleasure we always prefer to travel in style. That means Business class or Premium Economy whenever possible.
As an Australian living in London, I have made the return journey to Sydney many times over the last twenty years. In the early days, the budget limited the flight to Economy class, which is a horrendous journey. At 6ft 2”, the Economy seating is oppressive. My knees touch the back of the seat in front and it’s a crushing voyage of nearly 24 hours. In recent times the budget has extended to Premium Economy and finally Business class. British Airways may be our preferred airline, but this remains an unbiased review of their long-haul Club World (Business Class) offering.
Check-in, Security and Lounge
Check-in is so simple for Club World passengers. There is a dedicated Club World check-in line and an adequate number of staff at the desks. We had arrived three hours before take-off and were near the front of the Club World queue when the Check-in desk opened. It took less than ten minutes to complete the Check-in process before we were on our way to Fast Track through security. Next stop was the allocated British Airways lounge, which was The House at Kingsford Smith. Less than thirty minutes after joining the check-in queue I was handed a G&T at the bar in the lounge.
Another benefit of Club World is that you board in Group 2, so it is really only the First Class passengers that are boarding before you. On the aircraft, you are greeted by name and directed to your seat. We were seated with our luggage stowed away and a pre-flight sparkling wine in hand before the economy passengers began filing past. Our hostess introduced herself and handed us the Club World menu and the White Company amenities bag before the aircraft began taxiing.
In the Boeing 777-300 layout, the Club World flat-bed seating is in a 2-4-2 arrangement. The outer two seats are facing one another with an electric screen between the seats for privacy. The inner two seats are in a couple’s formation facing the rear of the plane. All of the aisle seats face forward. The flat-bed, as the name suggests, folds down to be a fully flat six-foot bed. In addition, there is the usual fold-out TV screen and a very useful laptop tray for storing tablets, books etc. There are also two USB sockets for charging mobile devices.
The flat-bed is comfortable and a huge step up from the economy seating. At 6ft 2” tall I found the bed a fraction too short to stretch out completely. The bedding included an under-sheet, a quilt and a sheet, which was more than adequate to keep you warm on the air-conditioned Boeing.
The dining experience is a step above that received in Economy. This includes fine china crockery, contemporary tableware and linen serviettes. Each course is served separately, with the used cutlery and crockery removed before the next course. The dining experience is more like a restaurant than the takeaway service received at the rear of the plane.
The service is exactly what you would expect from Business class. Prior to take off the cabin staff were introduced by name over the PA. There were three allocated to the 14 First Class passengers, four to Club World (56 passengers) and another four to the remainder of the passengers in economy (200+). This ratio of cabin staff to passengers in Club World allows them to provide an attentive and personalised service.
The service during the meal was restaurant quality. My wine glass was never once empty as my attentive hostess was always on hand for a top-up.
Club World is a considerable mark up over World Traveller Plus. The list price is probably double, but if you shop around and are flexible with your travel plans this number can come down. Is it worth the extra cost? In the opinion of Unique Boutique Travel, absolutely yes. The flat-bed seat, the lounge access and the attentive onboard service makes a long-haul flight that much more bearable, perhaps even enjoyable.
The down-side to exploring the enhanced options is purely financial. Previously we had upgraded to Premium Economy for long-haul flights, but now after travelling in Club World we doubt that we can ever go back to the rear of the plane.