This was a great flight with many of the basics right, and British Airways' Club Suite is a great new seat. I don't love the £100+ prices they charged for seat selection, though.
While I’ve flown British Airways’ older Club World configuration a few times, I’ve wanted to try British Airways’ Club Suites since the product was introduced. Just a few years ago, British Airways’ business class was known as a bit of a laughing stock, due to their underwhelming hard product and uncompetitive soft product (from the pricey seat selection, to the catering, to the bedding, to their non-existent onboard WiFi). Over the past few years, however, British Airways invested heavily in their Club World soft product, and also started rolling out Club Suites on an increasing number of routes.
I found some time in my schedule to try out British Airways’ Club Suites from London to Vancouver, so jumped at the opportunity to book. This website indicates which British Airways routes currently feature Club Suites, though it’s not entirely correct – if you have a specific flight and date in mind, I’d suggest checking the seat map on ExpertFlyer.
How I Booked British Airways’ A350 Club Suites
I booked these tickets expressly to try out British Airways’ new Club Suites, and also wanted to visit a friend in Vancouver, not to mention that it’d been a good while since I’d been anywhere in North America. On top of that, Asia Miles attained before January 1, 2020 expire (we subsequently managed to extend our miles to expire indefinitely with an HSBC promotion), so we had an incentive to spend Asia Miles at the time of booking.
I ended up finding award space in British Airways Club World for a set of dates that worked for me, and booked a roundtrip Club World ticket between London and Vancouver using 122,000 Asia Miles and HK$7,033 (~£671) in taxes. While London’s departure tax is obscene, there wasn’t much of a way to avoid it this case, given my short window of availability.
I’m thankful to my parents – they graciously gifted me the Asia Miles I needed for this trip, and paid for the taxes as well (I’m applying for internships at the moment, and am planning to repay the £671 spent).
Getting My Documents Verified to Enter Canada with British Airways Prior to Check-In
Before entry to Canada, I had to fill out a form on ArriveCAN stating my travel plans and a quarantine plan in case I tested positive for COVID. I also had to purchase an eTA in order to access Canada as a citizen on a Hong Kong passport. The former had to be uploaded onto VeriFLY prior to online check-in, along with my vaccination details.
Canada’s entry requirements involve either a negative privately arranged LFT or PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (public tests such as NHS tests will not get you in), or a positive PCR test taken between 10 and 180 days before arrival in Canada. As someone who fit into the latter category, I need to note that VeriFLY doesn’t allow you to upload a positive PCR test, which means you won’t be able to check in online if you’re getting into Canada that way – given that British Airways charges for seat selection unless you’re checking in, that’s a big deal. I circumvented this by doing a Fit to Fly test with my university, Imperial College London, anyway before flying (it returned negative), but I recognise that not everybody has access to this.
Ground Experience and Boarding British Airways’ A350 Club Suites
Once I uploaded my negative PCR test, my ArriveCAN form, and my vaccination details onto VeriFLY, I had no issues checking in on the British Airways app, despite the fact that their IT system suffered a catastrophic outage just the day before. I was able to select a window seat at check-in, which otherwise cost £100 (HK$1055) to pre-select. Expensive (let alone non-complimentary) seat selection is one of my major complaints about flying British Airways Club World, and one of the remnants of a once terrible business class experience – though I wouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon, since British Airways can get away with it. By the time check-in opened, over half of the seats in the cabin had been selected. Also note that once you’ve downloaded your boarding pass you’ll be unable to change your seat, even if a better one opens up (you can’t even restart the check-in process, which I thought was annoying).
Executive Club Silver or Gold (or oneworld equivalent) members can select a seat for free at the time of booking, whereas Bronze members can select a seat for free seven days before departure – I doubt everyone who selected a seat had status, though. If you’re flying Club World for the first time, don’t expect seat selection to be anywhere near complimentary.
British Airways recommends for you to be at the airport 3 hours before departure before longhaul flights, which I felt like was slight overkill on the day I was travelling – while the lines for check-in were quite long, bag drop was painless. I scanned my mobile boarding pass before entering the Fast Track lane to go through customs, which generated an error message the first time round, asking me to contact a British Airways staff member. I did so, and the staff member checked my passport, presumably checked that I was verified with VeriFLY, and sent me on my way (my mobile boarding pass was subsequently successfully scanned). I killed time at the British Airways Galleries lounge in their B concourse, which I’ll be reviewing shortly.
My boarding pass stated that boarding began at 4:30 PM, so I made it to gate C66 a few minutes ahead of that. It was a beautiful day outside, which provided a stunning backdrop for the gorgeous just-over-a-year-old A350 that would take me to Vancouver.
British Airways A350 Heathrow Airport
Due to the IT shortage Heathrow was short of gate staff, which meant that they were still struggling to board a 4:10 PM flight to Las Vegas by the time 4:30 PM rolled around. I wanted to be first onboard for cabin photos on the British Airways A350, so I lingered around the gate (finding myself joined by quite a few others as time went by). A few minutes later the pilots and cabin crew boarded, and eventually the gate agents took their positions. I was surprised by the sheer number of baby strollers that were on the flight (who boarded before business class passengers and status holders did) – including families with small children and infirm, a total of at least 30 people must’ve preboarded the flight.
Boarding finally began at 5:10 PM, 40 minutes after the scheduled boarding time, starting with business class passengers, Executive Club Silver members and oneworld Sapphire members. Gate C66 has a really long jetbridge, as it’s on one of the corners of the concourse – the plane is parked so that the airport is to its right, whereas passengers board from the left, so the jetbridge ends up manouvering “around” the plane. Since Heathrow’s walkways to their jetbridges (not the actual jetbridges themselves) are clear, I got a really cool head-on view of the A350 I’d be getting on shortly.
British Airways A350 Heathrow Airport
I was welcomed onto the plane by cheery flight attendants who directed me to my seat 10K.
British Airways Flight 85
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Origin: London Heathrow (LHR) Gate: C66 Dep: 17:30 (18:15)
Destination: Vancouver (YVR) Gate: D71 Arr: 19:10 (19:35)
Duration: 9 hr 40 min (9 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: G-XWBH
Seat: 10K (Business Class/Club World)
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Cabin, Seats and Amenities
Right after I boarded I asked if I could check out the rear business class cabin, which featured 12 seats spread across three rows (I would’ve sat here if not actively reviewing the product, since none of the window seats were taken, though I wanted to review the service flow as well).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Rear Mini-Cabin
I also checked out the 48-seat premium economy cabin located just behind. British Airways has a different version of their premium economy seat on their A350s as they do on their 777s, so I hope to check these seats out sometime – they looked more well-padded than their 777 counterparts.
British Airways A350 Premium Economy Cabin
I headed to the main business class cabin located at the front of the aircraft, where I would be seated. The cabin is massive, featuring 44 reverse herringbone business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. British Airways’ colour tones are quite sterile, and along with the lack of mood lighting I did feel like the cabin evoked a somewhat pharmaceutical environment, in a cool way.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Main Cabin
British Airways’ Club Suites are B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats, but they added a door – otherwise these are almost identical to the seats you’ll find on airlines such as Hong Kong Airlines’ business class. As with all reverse herringbone seats, the window seats are angled towards the fuselage, allowing for extra privacy.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Seat 11K (Window Seat)
The center seats are angled towards each other, though the privacy partition between seats goes all the way back, in case you end up in one while travelling solo. Of course, the privacy partition does retract if you’re travelling with someone.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Seat 11F (Center Seat)
Despite only assigning myself a seat at online check-in, I managed to snag seat 10K, the window seat in the second last row on the right side of the aircraft. I knew coming in that the seat would have two windows (if you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see that seat 11K, like many other seats in the cabin, only have one).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Seat 10K
While the cabin itself feels sterile, the seat is actually really stylishly designed, with a quilted stitching pattern on the seat’s upholstery and faux wood finishes by the seat’s panelling. I did found the seat to be adequately padded.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Upholstery
The seat controls are located on a touchscreen panel, and in my case they were located on my right. While it’s always cool to have touchscreen controls of your seat, the interface was intuitive, and I liked the preset lazy-Z and flat bed positions, the controls were otherwise rudimentary, with separate controls for the seat pan and legrest angle but no lumbar support control or ability to move my seat forwards or backwards. I was able to control the brightness of the reading light using the touchscreen seat control panel, however.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Touchscreen Seat Controls
As is standard with reverse herringbone seats, there was a footwell under the seat in front of me, which became part of the bed when the seat was put in bed mode. I didn’t find the size of the footwell to be an issue, though I’ve heard reports from people not considering themselves to be particularly tall saying that they couldn’t stretch out comfortably in the A350 Club Suite.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Ottoman
The inflight entertainment screen was located in front of me, and was touchscreen-enabled and responsive.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites TV Screen
The tray table slid out from under the TV screen, and was bi-fold and “locked” into three adjustable preset positions. I appreciated that while eating, I could simply move my tray table forwards if I wanted to get out of my seat, without folding it back up. The tray table also moves forwards and upwards when stowing it away, which is smart – on Qatar Airways’ non-QSuites reverse herringbone business class, the tray table simply moves forward into quite a low stowed position, making it easy for passengers to bang their knees on the table while moving around in bed mode.
More importantly, though, in contrast to the flimsy tray table in British Airways’ old business class product, I found this tray table to be very sturdy.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Tray Table
One of the biggest issues of British Airways’ old business class seat was the lack of storage space, which wasn’t an issue in this seat – there were three separate storage compartments located to my right, and more space to store bedding or a bag under the ottoman.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Storage Compartments
One of the storage compartments housed an amenity kit (I don’t think the flight attendants knew this, since I was handed another one before takeoff).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Storage Compartment
Another of the storage compartments featured a 110V universal power port as well as a USB port, and the compartment door was designed so that cables could lead out without getting clipped. I believe these were the only power ports at the seat, though I didn’t look around for any more.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Power Ports
This compartment also featured a touchscreen remote for the IFE (I didn’t try it out much, since I only noticed its presence at the end fo the flight).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites IFE Handheld Controls
Also located to my right was a reading light with two brightness settings.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Reading Light
At this point the seat’s door was locked in the “open” position, so I’ll go through my thoughts on it separately below. I was very happily perched in my seat – even sans door, reverse herringbone seats are some of my favourite business class seats out there, as they provide so much storage and privacy. I find the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat to be really well-designed, and this seat retained all the features that make me believe so. I believed the finishes were quite well thought out as well – all the storage compartments were easy to open and close, and I didn’t find myself banging my elbows against the seat controls or anything else at any point in the flight. I will say that the tray table deployment mechanism could have been a little easier, since I felt like I had to find the toggle button with my fingers at multiple points throughout, though that’s a minor issue.
Seat 10K also featured a beautiful view of the wing and engine (not that I’d get to enjoy the view for long, since this was an evening flight that flew mostly in the dark).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites View out of Seat 10K
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Pre-Departure Service
Shortly after I boarded I was offered a pre-departure beverage by the flight attendant, with a choice between champagne or water. As you can see in the picture below, I decided to be sensible since it was still morning in Vancouver, and chose water.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Pre-Departure Champagne
After the door closed, the cabin crew came around with menus (menu can be found below), as well as amenity kits, or “washbags” – that was interesting, since a kit was already provided at our seat to begin with. I find British Airways’ Club World amenity kits to be too small and stiff for my liking, and I don’t really like the material – though it featured an adequate selection of amenities, including socks, an eyeshade, a pen, a dental kit, some The White Company toiletries, as well as earplugs.
British Airways Business Class Amenity Kit and Contents
Before departure, the cabin crew also came down the aisle to take meal orders. I thought the way in which they did so was quite polished – “have you had a chance to look at our menu?” – and I ended up getting my first choice of main course, despite being towards the back of the cabin. I was also proactively offered a drink to come with my main course, as well as a choice of still and sparkling water.
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Lavatory
British Airways’ A350 Club World cabin features three lavatories, two of which are featured behind row 11, and one of which is located in the very front of the aircraft. The lavatory was quite standard for an A350, and featured toiletries from The White Company.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Lavatory
Departure from London Heathrow Airport
We encountered a rolling delay due to the delayed boarding process, and boarding was eventually complete at around 5:50 PM (indicated by a “boarding complete” announcement on the PA). Captain Elliot came onto the PA and introduced himself, saying that we were running late by around half an hour, and mentioned that this was due to staffing issues at the departure gate. He also mentioned that boarding was complete, though it’d take 5-10 minutes to offload a passenger’s bag since they didn’t have the correct paperwork to enter Canada. I suspected this would’ve been the person sitting in front of me, since seat 9K was shown as occupied on both British Airways’ website and ExpertFlyer, but remained empty. The captain also informed us of our flight time of 8 hours and 45 minutes, and explained that he’d try to claw back some of the time that we’d lost due to the departure delay.
Otherwise, the forward cabin was around 70% full, whereas the rear cabin had a few more empty seats (interestingly enough all of the middle seats were occupied, but all of the window seats were left empty).
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Cabin After Boarding
We pushed back at 6:15 PM, around 45 minutes behind schedule, and taxied our way towards runway 09R, where we’d head eastbound before turning north towards Vancouver. During this time the cabin crew came around to ensure that all surfaces were left clear and seats left upright, and the cabin lights were dimmed ahead of our evening departure. I particularly liked the choice of mood lighting present when the cabin lights were dimmed.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Cabin Lights Dimmed upon Takeoff
Our taxi was long but quick, and lasted around 20 minutes. At 6:35 PM we took off, and our northbound manouever meant that I had great views over central London from my right-hand-side window seat.
Takeoff from Heathrow Airport
The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after wheels-up, and the cabin was lit up orange.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Cabin Lighting
Around 15 minutes into the flight I was presented with a bottle of water.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Water
British Airways’ A350 WiFi
During this time I decided to purchase inflight WiFi on my laptop. I’m pleased to say that British Airways’ WiFi is now charged by duration of use instead of by data usage regardless of the aircraft you’re flying, since their A350 WiFi was charged by data usage until very recently. I far prefer that, and am typically willing to pay significantly more for a flight pass if data usage isn’t capped, which was the case on my flight.
British Airways offers two types of WiFi – a “Messaging” package and a “Browse and Stream” package. The former cost £2.99 for an hour’s use and £4.99 for a flight pass, and the latter cost $11.99 for four hours of use and £17.99 for a flight pass. The one annoying thing is that you can’t switch between devices (a feature generally available when using inflight WiFi on other airlines). I decided to purchase a flight pass to use on my laptop.
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Door
While handing out the bottles of water, the flight attendant working my aisle also unlocked my suite door, so I got to explore some of its features (longtime readers might not find it a surprise that I didn’t realise the flight attendant unlocked my suite door, and I asked her when I’d be able to close it – she simply gave me door a tug to show that she’d unlocked it before I’d said anything).
The suite door is magnetically kept open/shut, and the magnets were quite sturdy, so I never had an issue with leaving the door in either position – however, you wouldn’t be able to leave the door ajar if you wanted to. Here’s what the door looks like from the inside of the seat:
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Door
Here’s what the door looks like from the outside:
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Door
As you can tell, this certainly isn’t the kind of door that will give you full privacy, and I was fully aware (and visible) every time someone walked down the aisle towards the galley. However, I don’t think the door was designed to allow full privacy in the first place, but rather just to provide more privacy than a typical reverse herringbone seat with no door otherwise would. In that respect I thought the door served as an ample extended privacy partition from the aisle, and I did feel cozied up in an enclosed space whenever the door was shut, especially in bed mode; I also didn’t feel claustrophobic by any means. While you shouldn’t expect full privacy in the British Airways Club Suite, I thought the door was a successful enhancement.
I think the crew could’ve made it a little clearer that the Club Suite doors existed and were there to enhance privacy, since I could count the number of closed suite doors on one hand when walking down the aisle.
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Bed
Speaking of bed mode, I also took this opportunity to see what the seat was like in its fully flat position. Whenever the seat reached a near-flat angle, it would stop and automatically start reversing, as if something was stuck inside – I had to apply pressure to the seatback while pressing the “bed mode” button in order to get the seat to lie fully flat. I checked both the seat and my own belongings to see if something had been stuck inside the seat, though couldn’t detect anything.
Apart from the additional privacy (which was much appreciated and does in fact set this seat apart from its doorless counterparts), I thought the comfort of the Club Suite in bed mode was comparable to any other reverse herringbone seat. I felt like I could stretch out comfortably, but also didn’t think it was ridiculously spacious.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Bed
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Meal Service
The menu, handed to me before takeoff, read as follows:
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Menu
The drinks selection read as follows:
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Beverages Selection
Around 40 minutes after takeoff I was asked what I wanted to drink. The flight attendant started from the back of the cabin this time, so I was taken by surprise when my drink order was taken. I decided to order a red wine, and was asked whether I wanted a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon – I asked for the latter, and the flight attendant came back checking “it’s actually a Shiraz, do you still want it?”.
The Shiraz was a 2016 d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia, and I think I was taken aback by how good it was. I also loved the glass it was served in, since it was sturdy and the rim was thin.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Red Wine
Another 40 minutes later I was served my main course. That’s not particularly impressive in terms of speed, though I’m fine with this on a non-overnight flight, since I wasn’t otherwise sleeping. The crew brought trays of food over individually instead of on a trolley, which I appreciated, since it led to more personalised service – and to be fair to them, I was one of the last people to be served.
I decided to order the slow roasted short rib of British beef. Since British Airways switched to DO&CO as their catering provider, their catering has consistently been excellent. Particularly, I find that British Airways excels at slow-cooked, fall-apart tender meats, which is why I knew I was ordering the short rib off the menu once I saw it. My prediction was correct – I felt like the dish was a little short on gravy, but was otherwise delicious, and everything was very well-executed (including the soft and supple Yorkshire pudding).
The meal was accompanied by a roasted cauliflower starter – while I thought the roasted cauliflower-red pepper puree combo was delicious and very gourmet, I would’ve appreciated if more than one cauliflower was served with the dish. As with all desserts I’ve had catered by DO&CO, the chocolate mousse offered for dessert was exquisite both in terms of texture and taste, and the raspberry compote hidden at the bottom was a nice surprise. I also really enjoyed the cheese plate, consisting of a cheddar and red leicester cheese with fig relish, as well as the accompanying bread basket. I also ordered a gin fizz while my order was taken on the ground, but realised that I probably prefer British Airways’ wines to their cocktails – the cocktail was very gin-forward and didn’t otherwise feel very well mixed.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Meal
While it took a while for dinner to be served, trays were cleared very efficiently, and I found my table clear within a few minutes after having my last bite. At this point in the flight I figured I’d have a short nap, and woke up around halfway through the flight with just over four hours left to go.
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Service
British Airways used to have two sets of crew – a Worldwide crew, who had worked at British Airways since before their strikes in 2010, and were generally more experienced and much better paid, and a Mixed Fleet crew, who were hired after British Airways’ crew strikes, and were generally paid much less and stayed at cheaper hotels. Due to COVID-19, both team were mixed together and paid (and treated) like Mixed Fleet crews. I found service on this flight to be friendly and polished, though generally impersonal, probably due to the large cabin size. I also appreciated elements of the service structure such as the lack of use of trolleys, and the fact that our meal orders were taken separately prior to takeoff – this was backed up by a meal service that was of very good quality. While you definitely won’t feel like you’re dining in a restaurant while in British Airways’ Club World (e.g. there’s not particular attention paid to the plating, or any “wow factor” in that regard), I was impressed by both the meal and the way it was served.
Flying Over Nunavut, Canada
At this point we were somewhere over Nunavut, Canada. Clearly I was super tired since I fell asleep before the cabin lights were dimmed, though I quite enjoyed the cabin ambience – we were getting a little bit of daylight from being as far north as we were, though the light wasn’t bright enough for most people to close their windows.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Cabin Light Dimmed
I also tried to use seat 9K to get a few more shots of the Club Suite (and didn’t do a particularly good job, since given the low lighting conditions and my subpar photography skills). 9K also acted as a studio for some people seated in middle seats to look out of the window – I’m surprised nobody moved here, since many people in center seats had their privacy dividers up (suggesting they were travelling alone) and 9K was one of the few window seats in the cabin with two full windows.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Seat 9K
The sunset over Nunavut was pretty, though we couldn’t see much of it, since we were flying due west in the direction of the sunset.
Sunset over Nunavut
Since I’d never been to the North American East Coast before, this part of the journey was thrilling to me. I really do want to visit the U.S. soon, though need to be able to sort out a B-2 visitor visa before I can do so, which would’ve been most easily done in Hong Kong as a Hong Kong passport holder. I did consider visiting Toronto this time around, though the Club Suite wasn’t flying there, and additionally I didn’t have friends staying in the city (I have friends in Montreal and the U.S. east coast, though we would’ve had to find somewhere to live). I’d also figured that since I was parting with 61,000 Asia Miles anyway, I might as well pick the longest flight, so I could fly the shorter flight between London and the East Coast in economy or premium economy at a later date when award space was more limited.
British Airways’ A350 Club Kitchen
In order to move closer to the east coast on our westbound plane, I walked eastward to the Club Kitchen located behind row 11, British Airways’ Club World self-service inflight bar offering. Okay, all jokes aside, the selection was pathetic – I appreciate the thought, though between tiny cans of drinks and cartons of juice, a single open bottle of wine, as well as a small selection of cashews and crisps, I wonder if this meagre Club Kitchen selection actually cheapens the experience. I generally like self-service options since they’re not a lot of work for flight attendants, though I’d heard of previous Club Kitchen spreads involving pots of fruit salad and other fresh options – in comparison, this seemed like a very weak selection to me.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Club Kitchen
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Inflight Entertainment
I didn’t check out the entertainment system much on this flight (that’s been phased out of my travel habits ever since onboard WiFi was introduced), but BA’s Highflyer entertainment system features a pleasant and intuitive interface. The selection also made sense – for example, entire seasons of TV shows were uploaded, and there was an extensive selection of movies. One caveat is the lack of a tail camera, a feature that’s pretty common on most A350s – it’s a bit of a shame, given that the map is otherwise super cool.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Entertainment System
I ended up just doing some admin on my laptop for a couple of hours before the pre-arrival meal.
British Airways’ A350 Club Suites Pre-Arrival Meal
British Airways served a “light meal” before landing on this transatlantic nine-hour flight. My pre-arrival meal order was taken about an hour before landing, and the flight attendant seemed surprised that I ordered a port pre-arrival (it was 6 PM in Vancouver, so I wasn’t about to have a tea or coffee as recommended). As opposed to the first meal, food was immediately brought to seats after orders were taken, so I was presented with the “homemade Hertfordshire saddleback pork sausage roll”. The roll tasted good (if not a bit low on dispersed fat), though of a remarkably lower calibre compared to the first meal service. I also thought the attention to detail was a little bit sparser than the typical British Airways main meal – for example, the tomato sauce was served cold, and I almost would’ve preferred if the Tyrrell’s crisps (served as an appetiser) were left off. On the plus side, the carrot cake for dessert was good, and I loved the port that I ordered.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Pre-Arrival Snack
Landing into Vancouver Airport
Soon enough captain Elliot came onto the PA again to announce that we were landing in Vancouver soon. I appreciated that he explained that we’d be coming in from the east and U-turning towards the airport in order to land, and thus would add a couple of extra minutes to our flying time. He described the rainy and cold weather in Vancouver, and also mentioned that we’d have a five-minute taxi to the gate. I just loved his professionalism. He ended his announcement with a “cabin crew, 40 minutes to go”. A cabin crewmember then came onto the PA to announce that the seatbelt sign would be turned on in 20 minutes, and invited us to use the lavatory and stow our personal belongings in that time.
Sure enough, around 20 minutes later, the cabin lights were turned on all the way in anticipation for landing, before once again being dimmed as we landed into Vancouver.
British Airways A350 Business Class Club Suites Cabin before Landing
We had a bit of a rough touchdown in Vancouver, likely due to the rainy weather – but it was indeed a very short taxi to the gate. We were invited to stay seated and not retrieve our bags until not only when the seatbelt sign was turned off, but until our row numbers were called, due to Canadian social distancing requirements. I was among the first few rows called, so grabbed my stuff and alighted the aircraft, bidding farewell to the crew along the way.
I was asked a painful number of questions by a border security agent (“if you haven’t seen your friend for so long, why are you only seeing him for two days?”), and our bags also took a while to be loaded onto the carousel. My bag was one of the first ones out, though everyone was subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing (normally mandatory PCR testing at the Canadian border is done at random, though the exempt line was closed at Vancouver Airport that evening). I had tested positive within 180 days of arriving in Canada, so flagged an airport staff member down and showed them my previous positive test. She referred me to another staff member who noted down my details and let me through the exempt line.
Conclusion: British Airways’ A350 Club Suite Business Class
British Airways’ A350 business class hard product is many strides ahead of their previous product, and I’d go as far as to say that it’s currently industry leading, at least as of 2022. The seat itself is well designed, and I think the addition of the door adds to the privacy and comfort you get in the seat – while it won’t give you full privacy, it acts as an extended privacy partition and shields you from foot traffic in the aisle. I don’t think the seat is as good as Qatar Airways’ QSuites, since I believe the QSuite is better designed than the Club Suite, including more shoulder space and a taller door affording more privacy. However, even though a growing number of airlines are adopting customised enhancements to their hard product, currently that number isn’t large, pushing British Airways to the top of the pack.
British Airways has invested heavily in their soft product in recent years, and I felt like that consistently shows whenever I fly in Club World. The service procedure felt a little impersonal due to the size of the cabin, though otherwise felt polished. British Airways’ partnerships with The White Company and DO&CO have improved their bedding and food offerings substantially, and I believe they do solidly in both departments (though they aren’t industry leading).
British Airways can still get away with a few dirty tricks – for example, they don’t really have an incentive to improve their mediocre lounges since they monopolise Heathrow’s Terminal 5, and they charge obscene prices for seat selection in Club World, knowing that the demographic of passengers flying Club World longhaul to/from London can and will pay for it. These things stop British Airways’ Club World product from being one of the world’s best business class products, even when flying the Club Suite and with recent soft product improvements. However, setting those aside, if you can guarantee a flight with Club Suites installed, British Airways offers a solid business class product that I’d wholeheartedly recommend.
For what it’s worth, British Airways is quite reliable with their Club Suites – they have Club Suites onboard all of their A350s and plan to install all 777s with them by the end of 2022. Their 787-10s also feature Club Suites. I have heard stories from passengers who’d booked themselves onto a flight offering Club Suites only to end up in British Airways’ older (and far inferior) business class product due to equipment swaps, though these stories are less common compared to Qatar Airways, at least in my knowledge.
Have you flown British Airways’ Club Suite before?