Dom Airplane Quest: British Airways Business Class. How to enjoy trip on one of the worst Business Class in the sky for long haul travel? Is it worth to upgrade to Business class?

Enjoying view from the window

Abstract

This post is about how to enjoy trip on one of the worst Business Class in the sky for long haul travel. I will say my opinion about Is it worth to upgrade to Business class and who should do it. This blog entry can be useful for people who usually travel in economy/premium economy and are curious about the experience in BA’s long-haul business class.

Keywords

BA, British Airways, Club Traveller, Business Class

Bullet points to take away

  • I had the best flight, and I did in BA’s Business Class. It was my little dream come true.
  • The cabin crew was fantastic.
  • The main course was delicious food and breakfast is less shit version of breakfast in the economy class. Good selection of alkocholic beverages.
  • The seat itself is comfortable, but overall design and features was done by a person who hates flying and wants to design a product that breaks all UX rules.
  • You will have a great experience if you set your expectations low regards seat features and you don’t care about privacy.
  • BA’s Business Class is not the product for people who are on the business trip, people with money, need do some work or require rest in privacy as it lacks a feature that is important for them.
  • The lounge is very practical and designs the way that everybody will enjoy it. Having access to the lounge is an excellent perk to have.
  • This business seat should be reused as a premium economy seat.
  • 16A(or H) is great for privacy, and you don’t need step over other passengers, but the view from windows is restricted with massive engine and wing. you can enjoy views with a bit of creativity.
  • The flight information on the screen is inadequate. It has decent necessary details, but an ugly and bearly usable map.
  • No outside camera.

INTRODUCTION

British Airways’ Business class is famous for being one of the worst long-haul Business Class in the sky today. It received fair criticism from business travellers like Dennis Bunnik who simply recommend using another airline.  If you business traveller, check his video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brzbPmSHpt0. He gives you better details that you need to make a decision.

I watched a few ‘Luxurious Youtube influencers’ and they just love to hate BA’s Business Class.

I decide to do a challenge: Is it possible to enjoy a trip on one of the worst Business Class in the sky?

What I did enjoy to enjoy this flight?

  • I did research and watch a review on Youtube. I learn seat features are limited. Main problem is with table, very limited space and storage.
  • I knew that it is not worth to buy a business class ticket, so I collect points to upgrade to Business class.
  • I was aware that the table is rubbish, so I didn’t use the laptop this time, and another reason is I left my laptop last time on an airplane and it took me ages to recover due to crap/lack BA support. (Thanks to Beijing Airport staff of help).
  • I knew there is only one drawer, so I pack my stuff into a bag with things I will use on airplane.
  • As BA rips off for choose seat. I collect enough tier points previous year to get bronze status that allows me to select seat I want earlier than rest. I aimed to reserve 16A or 16H as they offer all the things I need.

It is not a review. I am not a frequent flyer to make judgments on what is right and wrong. For me, it is a privilege to fly. This flight is a little dream come true to travel in the business class. It means my focus on the experience and how to make the best of this experience.

South lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5

Lounge

After check-in and fast track security, I got the order to buy ‘a few’ thing from my wife. When I finally to do it, I head into the south lounge at Terminal 5.

On the way, I saw most delicious Airbus A380 ever. It was made of chocolate. There was another model of Airbus A380 but made from typical material.

It is a quite big and very busy lounge. It is split into functional zones. You have space for: seat and enjoy view of the runway, relax, work, eat, watch a movie (everybody was sleeping there) and kids zone. There is a zone anybody. My main focus was exploring all zones and eating all sorts of food and pounding coffee and wine.

I like a posters with a history of BA( BOAC) and a picture of Concorde.

I belive, access to the lounge is an excellent perk to have.

Flight

I flew from London Heathrow to Beijing on the Boeing 777 300 ER. This airplane is almost nine years old. It had a 4 class configuration (14 First, 56 Business, 44 Premium and 183 Economy seats). Flight time is around 10 hours.

We were departing from one of the a few gate 10.

Gate A10, 5 of them.
The Bus replacement service to Beijing. Sorry, you journey will be delayed up to 2 weeks 🙂

At first, it feels like we got a bus replacement service to Beijing and some people were really confused about it but gate 10 is use to get people to remote gates. I actually like boarding from ground because you can see airplane from really close.

I didn’t know that Boeing’s 777-300ER’s engines are so HUGE. We boarding quite quickly but we departed late. The pilot mentioned a few things but I hear only about waiting for last container with luggage to arrive. I am not really sure as sound quality of the PA was poor. We departed and arrived late as result of it.

If you lucky, during approaching to runaway , you will see BA’s Concorde.

Concorde

You can as well see wide range of airplanes from various carriers.

I love this flight as it is full of spectacular views and main reason why I like to fly.

So how was the flight ? It was an amazing experience for me. Let’s talk about different aspect.

Service

The cabin crew is fantastic as always. They are happy to help and do what is possible. For example slippers are offers in First Class only but crew did exception for elderly couple. I always respect staff on BA for these things. You must be very unlucky to experience a bad service on long haul flight.

Seat

Business Class Seat

I chose 16A because it is one of a few seats that do not require interaction with other passengers when leaving/going back to my place, and it is back-facing seat. I want to experience to seat this unusual way.

If you are interested in experience with flying this way, check my post here: https://dominiksymonowicz.com/2019/09/02/what-is-an-experience-with-flying-back-facing-seat-on-the-airplane/

The seat itself is very comfortable and much better than premium economy and economy. Unfortunately, It is very narrow. You feel like fish in the tin. While most business class has 1-2-1, 2-2-2, BA decided for 2-4-2 configuration. The same configuration as the premium economy and it feels like you are in a coffin. This narrowest harms overall experience and limits the number of features that are considered normal in other business class. As for me, I was amazed you could convert the seat to the bed and sleep. I had an excellent sleep for 3 hours, and I never had a proper sleep on the airplane before. It was mindblowing for me.

The bed is made from the seat and ‘foot chair’ that is tricky to use. The footstool is a weird thing … luckily, it works for me, but I saw a people who have fun to make this working after it collapsed.

To ensure that you feel claustrophobic they added … oh … my apologize .. this is called a privacy divider. It is a useful feature as otherwise, you will look into somebody face for many hours. It must feel very odd.

If you like some looking on you for a few hours then keep divider down otherwise keep up.

Lucky, the gentleman next to me was a fascinating person, and we spoke for hours about China, Chinese culture and his life experience with the western world. I had a great pub experience.

If you hate privacy, use an aisle seat.

Seat features

This were all reviews go wild.

The table is an interesting. It is actually .. much worse than in economy class. I thought that is so flimsy so it can absorb turbulence and keep table stable during severe turbulence. I put video on Instagram if you want check: https://www.instagram.com/p/B10a5C6BDDy/. It turns out I was wrong as my tablet ‘flown away’ after single microturbulence. However, the feature has proven to be useful for kids who got great fun using the table as a catapult for their toys. It is hard to do any work on this table.

Drawer

Storage. You have one drawer for .. .everything. The problem is that you cannot access in the bed position. There is plenty of space on the floor, but again you cannot access while you are in the bed position. I guess UX wasn’t a priority for BA in 2003. I had a few bags to organise stuff, so I was OK.

12″ touchscreen

Screen and entertainment.. It is 12″ touchscreen. Screen quality is mediocre in comparison to my tablet. Responsiveness is clunky. It is especially painful when I wanted to use the map route. Movie choices are good as I, my wife and my son always find something to watch. No outside camera is another drawback.

Headphones I think, they are the same as premium economy. In comparison to economy class, there are usable, but sound quality is tolerable but noise cancellation is bad or I just haven’t notice a difference. My Bose Q35 are far more superior to whatever junk they gave.

That was last major complain in the post. It actually will get positive again (almost).

Food. That was an amazing experience. While in economy you indluge yourself in cheap chain food (except if you order premium meal ) then on the business class it is a feast that takes ages and it is fantastic.

Cheeseboard was decent. Biscuits taste great.

Cheeseboard

I don’t know why but all English Breakfast taste horrible in the sky. The business class taste just less shit in comparison to (premium) economy.

English breakfast

Lucikly, before breakfast, they give you this and it taste great.

The fruit platter

Snacks were available . They have fruit plater ,crisps, ice cream and sandwiches. They are not bad.

Vanilla Ice Cream

However, so far my favourite snack is …. noodle soup on the way back from Beijing in the economy class.

Drink

Drinking alcohol on the flight is bad for a few reasons but I like to drink wine as it helps me go to sleep on the long haul flight (yes, it is a bad quality sleep but still a sleep). On this trip I was so excited and I tried various type of alcohol.

I started from champagne.

champagne

During dinner, I was pounding a red wine.

Red wine

And before sleep I enjoy a whiskey. All of them taste great. I think, wine wise the one in the lounge was the best for my liking. As always, I am don’t know definition of great wine by expert is. My approach is simple: Is it smell good, is it taste smooth and flavorful and do is my stomach do NOT feel like I just drank bleach.

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

The only amenity kit i had in the past was in premium economy.

They give away a special edition case, and I really like it. Inside you can find three potions. I thought they give some powers, but it turns out one is a lip balm for your dry lips. The second potion is a moisturiser, and it makes my skin smooth apparently. The last one is called pulse point, and I have no idea what is for. I thought it is to smell lavender, but apparently, it helps you relax — wine doing a better job.
They have socks as slippers that look they were bought in not pound shop but in a penny shop. However, if you like a walk in the socks, then using provided socks is a good idea. The eye mask is super useful as it helps you sleep. It also contains earplugs and toothbrush and toothpaste.

The content of the amenity kit

I really like the amenity kit.

Toilets .

Unfortunately for me, one of the toilets was out service. In means, one in front of me was in constant use by folks from business and premium economy. If you bothered by the sound of flash waste in the toilet, then maybe a seat in row 16 is not for you.
The main difference between is the toilet in business and economy is a brand of the toiletries. In the business class, toilet soap and lotion are provided by “The White Company” while the economy uses a soap by some ‘no-name’ brand.

Summary.

Dom is ready to have an epic flight

I had best flight, ever. You may ask, how this is even possible when everybody complains everybody with passion and even I point out so many things.

Well.. First, you need understand 2 thing about BA and their Business class.

  • This is not product for people who are on the business trip, people with money, need do some work or require rest in privacy.
  • You need set right expectation about BA. BA is not same company as it was in the past. It behaves as premium Ryanair/lower’ish cost carrier. If you want reserve seat ? pay up to 90 pounds. do you want decent meal in economy? pay 15 quid. I fix this problem with my bronze status

Second. I love travelling on the train and airplane. I always try to do my best to have great fun with what I have. I researched to understand what to expect from BA’s Business Class, and I prepared myself. I chose a seat that met my need , and I understood the limitation of features it offers. As a result, I had a superb experience, and I was lucky that person I faced was interesting, and we end up with interesting conversations. The crew cabin was great. Food and drinks were great too. I slept for 3 hours and that amazing thing for me.
You can have a fantastic flight in this business class with the right mindset.

I think, if you have points to upgrade to business class. Yes, It is worth to upgrage. It will sounds controvesial but I think this seat will be a best … premium economy seat. However, currently premium economy is the best value for money when you compare their classes,so I am not sure is it worth to change that. It is also a fantastic option for family with 1 and 2 kids. As I saw parents with kids had good fun (except, when footstool colapse).

There is a light in the tunnel. A new business class introduced on BA’s Airbus A350 looks awesome and i dream to try it someday. However as I travel only between UK and China is unlikely to happen but as it took me only a few years to travel on Business Class so I will work hard to do it somehow, someday.

I had an mindblowing experience on this trip. It was like little dream come true and it was spectacular and I hope you will have great experience on your flight.

Happy Dom after epic flight