Video Review: British Airways Club World Sleeper Service

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  1. Nice Travel Adventures

    Nice Travel Adventures Silver Member

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    I was lucky enough to fly with British Airways in their Club World Sleeper Service, and made a video review to share my thoughts on the business class experience with you:



    This was an overnight flight, from Washington Dulles Airport to London Heathrow in a British Airways 777. BA offer an interesting service on these flights – a ‘sleeper service’ where the priority is on sleep rather than on-board amenities.

    This makes a lot of sense – these flights are short, the time zones work against your body, and the BA Club World experience is already focussed on the bed (rather than fine dining for example).

    Unlike the sleeper services from the Middle East, BA’s US East Coast departures have an improved lounge experience that can only be accessed by Club World passengers – economy passengers with fancy cards have to make do with sandwiches and nibbles. Business passengers gain access to a buffet with a selection of hot and cold food – plus there’s some stir-fry made to order. Cooking food on the ground rather than in the cramped environment of an aeroplane means more care can be taken, and better equipment used.

    Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the advertised chicken makhanwala and pasta dish were both long gone – and we saw the last poached cod be nabbed before our eyes! There was still some salad left, and the staff found us some spare soup – but it wasn’t a great experience. Fortunately there was still plenty of champagne left in the bar to entertain us.

    The plane itself was in decent condition, with good-sized TVs and video on demand. The onboard food menu still has hot options, but only 2 to choose from; this limited choice meant we ended up getting a curry from economy instead, which was formally presented to us in a Club World bowl! It was tasty, and similar in quality to the business class options.

    The meal is served on a single tray in order to speed up the service; the advertised chocolates were missing (no big deal, but I note they do make up a third of the menu!) so we had some delicious hot cookies instead.

    It was soon time to sleep – the E/F double beds are unique to BA, and are fantastic if you’re a couple – total nightmare though if you’re with a colleague or stranger next to you! Like the other Club World seats, these are ‘fully flat’ but are made up of different parts that don’t perfectly line up. The lack of a mattress means you can feel all these bumps, which means Virgin Atlantic’s beds are much better for sleeping on. The lack of a mattress does mean you are able to switch your seat in to a bed without standing up, which is a plus to BA.

    The amenity bags handed out had some toothbrushes and moisturiser in them, but no eye masks or ear plugs in them! I can understand that BA might want to restrict these on daytime flights to save wastage, but this was a flight that was specifically advertised as a sleeper service. There was a small card advertising Elemis in the bag which stated eye masks and ear plugs were available on request, but as it was midnight I don’t think most passengers were bothering to read the advertising material.

    Having to eat on-board meant we only got a handful of hours sleep, and we were soon descending in Heathrow. We landed at a bus gate, which is understandable due to the number of arrivals BA has in the early morning. What was disappointing was the fact that although we landed on time, we had to wait 10 minutes for the busses to arrive. Unlike the busses you see at some other airports, passengers from every cabin were jammed on to each bus until the legal maximum carrying capacity was reached. First and Business class passengers were jammed cheek by jowl, looking jealously at those people who were lucky enough to be able to get a seat.

    In summary:
    • Sleeper Service is a great idea, that utilises BA’s flat beds to deliver an important competitive advantage
    • For it to work, it needs a good selection of food on the ground that isn’t going to run out if some passengers from the early flight are particularly hungry
    • Some joined-up thinking is needed for these sleeper services – eye masks and ear plugs should be handed out to all passengers
    • A 777 landing at Heathrow should not surprise BA – buses should waiting for the expensive plane, rather than the other way around. Add in more time wasted as ground crew insist another 3 people can fit on the bus if we all "just shuffle up a bit more", and you’ve got a decidedly non-premium experience
     
    blackjack-21 and Newscience like this.

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