British Airways operates three daily flights from Los Angeles to London Heathrow using a variety of aircraft. These include Airbus A380, Boeing 777, Boeing 747 and Boeing 787. My flight was on a Boeing 787-900, registration G-ZBKR. This particular aircraft is relatively a new aircraft which came into service on 1st April 2018, making it just over a year old.
My incoming flight from Vancouver arrived at 10 am into a remote terminal in LAX. From there, I took a bus transfer to alight at LAX Terminal 5. As I was on a separate ticket, I had to retrieve my bag and check-in again. I casually walked from Terminal 5 to Terminal B (Tom Bradley) which took about 7-8 minutes. The only setback was that the BA counters were not open until 12 noon, so I had to hang around for almost two hours. When they opened, as a BA Gold, I used the first class check-in counter. It was speedy and I was away in minutes. Unfortunately, it was a different story with the security queue. It was quite a wait but nonetheless it went smoothly without the need for additional scrutiny.
It is a common knowledge that the Qantas First Class Lounge is one of the best airline lounges in LAX. Its access is available to Oneworld Emerald members regardless of class of travel, and of course, to first class passengers (without status) flying with Oneworld carriers. Business class passengers and Oneworld Sapphires have to use the Oneworld Business Lounge.
I have used the Qantas First Class Lounge at least a dozen of times, but could not help feeling that the service and quality of this lounge are on a decline. The sit-down dinner used to be something special that I looked forward to; but now, I felt the quality and service were marginally better than an average cafeteria. Having said that, I still like this lounge as it is quite spacious and has a lot of facilities; definitely no problem in passing more than a couple of hours before the flight.
This was my very first – boarding using facial recognition! Boarding was done by group. Those requiring special assistance went first, followed by Group 1, 2 and 3 (Group 1 was for Oneworld Emerald and first class passengers, while Group 2 was for Oneworld Sapphire and Ruby, and business class passengers). No passport and no boarding pass were required! All that was needed was to stand in a position facing the machine’s camera (assisted by painted yellow footprints on the floor).
The photo was then instantly matched against the facial image database and BA’s passenger database. The whole process took mere seconds. If the details match, the electronic barrier opens up and you head straight to the aircraft. Impressive! But that was as far as it went. At the very aircraft’s entrance, the good old fashion boarding pass was required to get you to the seat. Boarding completed in 35 minutes for an on time departure from the gate. This flight had a scheduled flying time of 10 hours 35 minutes. The safety video was the humorous version featuring numerous British personalities.
Cabin & Seating
This flight had four classes – first, business (Club World), premium economy (World Traveller Plus) and economy (World Traveller). The business class cabins were in between the first and premium economy. There were two separate cabins for the business class. One was a small one with just two rows of seats, located immediately behind the first class. The other one was more sizeable with four rows. In between the two business cabins was the galley. The business cabin has a total of 46 seats.
The cabin layout was 2-3-2. As with all current (ancient) BA’s business cabin, they are not the most inspiring. Many of the seats do not have direct aisle access. Unless you are strategically seated such as at the window seat on the last row (eg 7A, 7K, 13A, 13K), you will have to either jump over someone or someone has to jump over you. I was on seat 7A, so I did not have this issue.
The other awkward and annoying feature of the seating is that it has front and rear facing seats next to each other (the Ying-Yang configuration). You are literally ‘inches’ away from the face of your neighbouring passenger. There is a privacy glass in between but on take off and landing, the privacy glass must be lowered down.
Info: Eventually, the access and privacy issues will be somewhat remedied with the roll out of BA’s newly-branded ‘Club Suite’ that offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, and seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Unfortunately, it will only be rolled out on the new A350 aircraft from 1st Oct 2019 for selected long haul flights – currently to Toronto, Dubai and Tel Aviv. It will take a long while before the entire BA fleet gets a retrofit (some probably not).
The seat itself was newish, clean and comfortable although it was a tad narrow (20″ seat width). The bed length (72″) was more than adequate for me.
The cabin ambience was pleasantly maintained by the LED mood lighting. The seat transformed into 180° lie flat bed. There were preset modes for various positions. I did notice that the seating lacked personal storage space, so many of my personal items had to be kept in the cabin bag and stored in the overhead compartment.
Power outlet with universal sockets and a USB charger were available, located awkwardly towards the far bottom of the floor.
The bedding set was furnished by The White Company – of course, a British company. It consisted of a duvet, blanket and large soft plush pillow. The White Company claimed “to exude the very British style and quality…”. I had only a vague idea as to what it was referring to, but sufficient to say that, they were quite comfy.
The amenity kit was also supplied by The White Company. The bag was made from soft black leather. Inside were the usual cabin socks, eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush kit, lotions and a pen. I actually quite like the bag – I might just keep it as an accessory bag.
The washroom was kind of basic and not so spacious. It was not equipped with all the amenities and features like those found in Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines. It did have smart lighting where it gradually brightened up after the bathroom door was locked – a thoughtful feature especially if you have just woken up and the cabin was dark. Overall, the washrooms could make do with more regular cleaning by the cabin crew.
The cabin crew was just okay. They did their job but were not overly warm. In many BA services, the cabin service manager (or director) will come around and introduce himself or herself and welcome the passengers, especially to the BA Gold members. There were none of that in this flight. They seemed to spend a lot of time in the galley. BA recently overhauled their inflight meals with new gourmet menus from Do&Co. I am not sure if this was taking a lot of their focus away from the passengers.
The inflight entertainment was the Thales On Demand IFE System with 15.4″ screen (source: TheBAsource.com). There were many blockbuster movies on offer (eg Bohemian Rhapsody, Star is Born, Widows, Aquaman). The inflight visual is a foldaway screen; that means you cannot view your movies from point to point as it has to be stored away during take off and landing for safety reason.
A pre-flight drink and a cold towel were offered after boarding. After reaching the cruising altitude, a drink of your choice and mixed nuts were served. Note the crystal glass (yes, in a proper crystal glass, not a simulated plastic glass)!
For starter, I had the split pea and kale soup. My main was a pan-roasted salmon with Spanish broccoli rice, and I finished off with a chocolate marquise crisp. They were all delicious. But as mentioned earlier, it did take them a long time to individually prepare and serve the meals. Also of note, the meals were also served on quality dinnerware.
About 75 minutes before landing, I was served a two-course breakfast. The first was a selection of warm breads and fresh seasonal fruits that were pleasantly presented. This was followed by my choice of a traditional English breakfast.
In my opinion, the new menu and quality of food had gone up a few notches. I actually did enjoy my meals!
I did not see any food or drinks in the galley (aka self-help Club Kitchen) during mid-flight. Either I completely missed it by the time I woke up from my rest, or there genuinely wasn’t one.
After about 10 hours in the air, our flight landed Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 at 11:05 am and arrived the gate at 11:25 am (scheduled arrival was 11:30 am).
Overall, I had a pleasant flight. The cabin and seats were new, fresh and clean. Coupled with the new Do&Co meal menu, they made flying this aircraft quite an enjoyable experience.
Airline Review: BA280 British Airways B787-900 Los Angeles to London Heathrow Club World (Business Class)
Date Flown: 08-MAY-2019