British Airways B777-200 Club World04/10/2012
Check-in British Airways flies daily to Abu Dhabi, with the route continuing on to Muscat. I arrived at Heathrow T5 at 0715 for flight BA0073 departing at 0940, and checked in my bag at the quiet premium check-in zone J at the southern end of the terminal.
I was travelling on a group press trip with BA (for a review of BA's old First product on the return leg, click here), so once through security we were escorted through the so-called Millionaires' Door, usually restricted to First passengers and VIPs, allowing travellers to bypass the walk through the terminal’s Duty Free section.
The lounge We were granted access to the Concorde Room, again usually restricted to First passengers. Much has been written on this website about the Galleries lounges at T5 – for previous BA reviews click here. Food is served at the table in the Concorde Room, and I ordered eggs benedict. When the food for the rest of our group arrived after about ten minutes, mine did not materialise, and it took a reminder and another 15 minutes for my food to be served.
We were departing from satellite terminal T5B, so we made our way to the Galleries lounge in that building at around 0900, by which time the BA employee within our group had been informed that the flight was likely to be delayed, as the pilot had not turned up and a replacement would need to be sought. There is free wifi throughout the lounges, and the password was "Vancouver" when i visited.
Boarding We boarded around 0945, and at around 1015 the customer services director announced that the replacement pilot was now at the airport, and making his way through security. He was apologetic, and said that the in-flight entertainment system would be switched on on the ground while we waited.
I was sat in aisle seat 13G, facing forward with a travelling partner in 13F facing me. Next to her was a gentleman who asked us if we would mind swapping with two family members in backward facing seats 12 E and F – normally I would have steered clear of these middle seats, but the man asked politely and it didn’t seem much of a hardship for us to move. I managed to leave my headphones and blanket at the old seat, but a staff member was happy to get these for me, and apologised again for the delay.
In Club World we were offered drinks and an amenity kit, and our meal choices were taken. At 1105 the CSD cheerfully announced: “I’m pleased to say that Elvis is now in the building, and we are looking to push back in ten minutes”. At this point the IFE system was switched off – thankfully this aircraft was fitted with the Rockwell Collins audio visual on demand system, allowing passengers to fast forward to the desired position after take off.
Unfortunately by the time we did push back, we were then stuck in a queue of aircraft, and eventually took off at 1155.
The seat This B777-200 aircraft was fitted with BA's new First product, followed by one cabin of Club World, then World Traveller Plus and then World Traveller. The Club World cabin was fitted with six rows of 2-4-2, for 48 seats in total. For a seatplan of this aircraft, click here.
Again we have written in much detail about the Club World seat on this website, and previous reviews can be seen here. But a few observations from this particular flight – my table seemed to be even more wobbly than the design is renowned for being, and two travellers within our group also had problems getting their IFE screen to hold in place – it kept swinging back towards its casing. This being a day flight, I did not recline into the sleeping posotion - in fact I did not touch the recline buttons at all during the flight.
Which seat to choose? With only one Club World cabin on this aircraft, it really depends on whether you are travelling with a friend / partner, in which case the middle seats may be desirable. Personally I would always choose one of the aisle seats, as I like to get up often and stretch my legs. However sitting on any of the forward-facing aisle seats on either side of the bank of four (B, D, G or J) does mean that food gets served over you to the passengers adjacent to you, which can be both distracting if you’re watching the in-flight entertainment, and scary if the passenger in question has ordered a spillable meal. So my preference would be to opt for the forward-facing aisle seats B or J, probably in rows 11 or 12, so as to be slightly away from the galley, but still served relatively quickly.
The flight All Club World and First seats were taken on this flight, and World Traveller Plus also looked busy. Drinks were served at around 1230, and meals followed shortly afterwards. The menu promotes the carrier’s "Height Cuisine", “designed to maximise taste at altitude”, with ingredients naturally high in “umami”, referred to as the “fifth taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour”, and occurring naturally in foods including seaweed, mackerel, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.
I chose the Five Mile Dairy Irish Goat’s Cheese mousse with beetroot salsa, which I enjoyed. For my main course I opted for the Welsh line-caught seared sea bass with a prawn and winter bean fricassee, which I thought was pretty bland (no umami perhaps). The other choices were:
- Meze plate featuring chicken and potato salad, baba ghanoush, red pepper hummus and Labneh cheese
- Moroccan lamb curry and French beans, with sesame seeds, sultana and almond rice
- Roasted nut tian with purple sprouting broccoli, white onion and mushroom cream
- Chilled main course salad of citrus poached corn-fed chicken with pomegranate and spring onion couscous
- clotted cream panna cotta with strawberry and lime compote
- a selection of fruit
- blue Wensleydale and smoked Cheddar served with chutney and biscuits.
I did not drink during the flight, but choices were:
- Champagne: Taittinger Brut Reserve NV
- Whites: Meursault 2009, Reine Pedauque, Burgundy, France; Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Nelson, New Zealand
- Reds: Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2009, Domaine Font de Michelle, Rhone, France; The Gentleman Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Eden Valley, South Australia
Port, tea and coffee was offered after the meal, along with a bottle of water.
I settled in to watch a couple of movies – among the choices were the excellent Margin Call with Paul Bettany and Kevin Spacey, and the Oscar-nominated The Ides of March, directed by George Clooney.
At 1645 (2045 Abu Dhabi time) wet towels were brought round, then a pre-packed finger sandwich selection of Wensleydale cheese and red onion chutney, prawn cocktail and chicken with basil mayonnaise and rocket, which were not bad, followed by warm scones, clotted cream and jam, which I was impressed with.
Arrival We landed at around 2130, about an hour late but having made up some of the delay.
Verdict An unfortunate delayed departure, and it would have made more sense to delay the boarding until the pilot was nearly at the aircraft, but once we were on board the delay was handled well by attentive and apologetic staff. In-flight food was a mixed bag, and the IFE system worked seamlessly with a good selection of movies.
Price Internet rates for a flexible business class flight from London to Abu Dhabi in March (not including a Saturday-night stay) started from £3,702.