In my last instalment about my recent experience with British Airways in their Club World and Club Europe cabins, I’m going to be talking about the amenities, the entertainment and the service aboard my flights, which interested me for a few reasons. First, British Airways recently introduced new bedding and amenities from The White Company, a British bedding and lifestyle company. This was incredibly impressive, especially considering that most airlines (Cathay Pacific, I’m looking at you) have some pretty lacklustre offerings when it comes to bedding.
British Airways Boeing 777-200ER Club World Cabin
This was also going to be my first chance to directly compare British Airways’ “newly hired” Mixed Fleet crew, who are supposedly much younger and less experienced, as well as British Airways’ veteran Worldwide Fleet crew. I’ve heard a lot that Mixed Fleet crew tend to be less experienced and professional, while Worldwide Fleet crew are generally better, so I wanted to see if this was true.
British Airways’ New The White Company Bedding
During boarding, a large pillow was and a grey White Company “pouch” was waiting on my seat. Inside the pouch was a day blanket, a thicker duvet for sleeping and a mattress pad.
British Airways Club World Pillow (I had moved the pouch to the overhead bin at this time)
British Airways Club World Blanket
I was really impressed by the pillow. It was large and plush and provided excellent support. I also quite liked the day blanket which was comfortable, although a little scratchy.
Along with the blanket, the pouch had a mattress topper and a duvet, which I was less impressed by.
British Airways Club World Duvet
British Airways Club World Mattress Pad
The duvet was surprisingly quite thin and didn’t keep the heat very well, which was a shame especially considering how cold British Airways keeps their cabins. In fact, on my return flight to Hong Kong, even with the duvet and the blanket I caught a bit of a cold during the flight. I was most disappointed by the mattress topper, which I can only describe as half-assed. It was literally one sheet, with nothing that could strap it to the seat. Every time I tried to move around in bed the topper would just move along with me. It also didn’t provide much additional support, nor did it smooth out the seat. It was pretty much useless. I ended up putting it back in the grey pouch and leaving it there for the rest of the flight after testing it out.
British Airways’ Club World Amenities
When I boarded, there was already a set of headphones in the storage compartment attached to the seat waiting for me, which was wrapped with a Comic Relief Flying Start envelope. The headphones worked fine but were quite uncomfortable to wear.
British Airways Club World Amenity Kit and Headphones
Shortly after boarding on both of my flights, the crew handed out black leather The White Company amenity kits as well as bottles of Harrogate water. The amenity kit looked really classy, although the contents were pretty standards. There were a pair of socks, an eyeshade, a dental kit and some plastic-wrapped earplugs. In addition, there was also a set of amenities from the White Company’s SPA line, which were quite nice, although I thought the size of the lotions and creams were quite small.
British Airways Club World Amenity Kit Products
On my two long-haul flights in Club World, I had the chance to try out two versions of British Airways’ entertainment systems. On my outbound from Bangkok to London, I tried out their first-generation on-demand entertainment system, supplied by Rockwell Collins. This system has not been updated since 2006 and is featured on non-refurbished Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. Meanwhile, on my return from London to Hong Kong, I also tried out their second-generation on-demand entertainment system, which is supplied by Thales and featured on select Boeing 777-200ER aircraft as well as Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 aircraft.
The Rockwell Collins system was awful. It was clear that this was introduced over a decade ago. The screen was of horrible quality and all of the content was played in a 4:3 format. All of the entertainment would be in arranged in a list under different sections in the home page. The system was also not very responsive and I’d have to press multiple times before the screen would change pages. It was also difficult to use the touchscreen and turn the screen on and off. or adjust the brightness.
British Airways Boeing 777-200ER Club World Entertainment System
British Airways Boeing 777-200ER Club World Entertainment System
In addition, there were just several shows that were missing when I’d try and play them, which was also disappointing. British Airways runs ads on their entertainment system which is annoying, even if they’re relatively short and easy to skip past. So yeah, I expect more from British Airways in 2019. Despite it being outdated, the system was still relatively functional and I managed to enjoy a few sitcom episodes.
Meanwhile, on the return, while I didn’t actually use the entertainment system much as it was a night flight, I had a look through the entertainment system which looked much better.
British Airways Boeing 777-300ER Club World Entertainment System
Even on this newer aircraft, the system was still laggy and not very responsive. The touchscreen, in particular, didn’t seem to work, although that’s a hardware issue. As such, I resorted to using the entertainment controller. Despite this, the quality of the screen and the content being played was much better, and the system was both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. My only gripe would be that when using the handset controller, I needed to scroll through each title instead of being able to scroll through pages of content. While it’s not the most sophisticated system out there, it does the job quite well.
As for the content itself, there was a decent selection of relatively recent movies that I hadn’t watched, in addition to quite a few “box sets” of television shows. While it wasn’t industry-leading, there was plenty to keep me entertained during the flight. My only complaint is that the audio selection was horrible, but I wasn’t bothered since I just listen to music on my phone.
I also tried British Airways’ WiFi, although I can’t find the screenshots I took of the system. I purchased the Stream package on my outbound flight for 24 pounds, which was quite pricey (though not unacceptable for unlimited WiFi). It worked very well and I was able to watch Netflix and YouTube with no issues. One thing to note is that the WiFi doesn’t work over India or China, which is something worth noting when deciding what plan to purchase.
I pay a lot of attention to inflight service, so my thoughts on inflight service tend to be very in-depth. Overall, there was a lack of consistency with the quality of service. The service I received ranged from excellent to average to pretty bad. Even on each flight, there was quite a big difference in the quality of service by each individual cabin crew member, which surprised me.
On my flight from Bangkok to London, our flight was operated by a Mixed Fleet crew, who are on cheaper contracts and tend to be less experienced and less polished than British Airways’ “legacy” Worldwide Fleet crew members. I thought the service overall was fine but not great. While some individual members of the crew were really great, the rest of them were just kinda “meh”. In one specific instance, a passenger got up when the seat-belt sign was on, and one of the cabin crew yelled at him in a way that reminded me a little of this:
To be fair to the cabin crew, they definitely warmed up by the end of the flight, but overall I still found the service as a whole to be not especially warm or efficient.
Meanwhile, on my flight from London to Lisbon, the Mixed Fleet cabin crew were phenomenal. They were friendly, professional, attentive and efficient. I was addressed by name throughout the meal service, and they took the time to engage with passengers which I appreciated. Meanwhile, the service on the return from Lisbon to London was pretty average.
The most interesting flight was my final flight from London to Hong Kong, which was operated by one of British Airways’ veteran Worldwide Fleet crew. I went in with pretty high standards, and they were mostly met. Right off the bat, the service was much more professional, formal, polished and attentive. They were friendly but also a little reserved, and their experience definitely showed in the ease in which they conducted the service. While the service felt more “premium” and they were obviously more experienced, I wouldn’t say that they were objectively better than the Mixed Fleet crew that I had from London to Lisbon but definitely better than the two other crews that I flew with.
I’m always interested in the inflight service even though I personally don’t have very high standards. Overall, the service was never actively unpleasant and there were definitely a few stand out moments with some of the cabin crew I flew with. However, in general, the standard of service was fine: not phenomenal but not bad either.
Bottom Line: British Airways Club World Soft Product
I enjoyed my flights with British Airways’ Club World. Despite having heard a lot of bad things about the product, I was actually quite impressed with certain aspects of the experience and would fly them again if the price was right (as it had been this time).
With regards to the amenities, perhaps I was just expecting too much from British Airways’ marketing on their new Club World soft product, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. Specifically, the quality of the mattress pad and the blankets weren’t as good as I had expected, but they were still usable.
Have you flown British Airways Club World before? Did your experience align with mine?