Review: British Airways A380 Business Class from London to Miami

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Today (February 17, 2021): British Airways A380 Business Class from London to Miami

Early 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic forced international travel to shut down. While in lockdown, I ‘discovered’ some unpublished material of flight clips and photos on my computer, recorded over the past years. Since most of us miss flying longhaul, I decided to upload some of it on my YouTube channel and my travel blog (despite the so-so quality of the footage) to boost our morale in times of never-ending travel restrictions (it almost feels like 2021 is worse than 2020 for travelers).

In spring 2019, I flew with British Airways in Business Class (dubbed ‘Club World’ by the carrier) onboard an Airbus A380 from London to Miami. The A380 is British Airways’ largest wide-body plane and flagship aircraft. The airline has 12 A380s in its fleet, which have remained grounded for the duration of the pandemic. Contrary to other airlines, British Airways still considers the A380 to be a valued part of its fleet and has currently no plans to retire the jumbojets. In fact, the airline is currently finalizing details for their A380 cabins to be retrofitted with the new terrific Business Class seats that you find on the carrier’s A350 and retrofitted Boeing 777s (meaning an excellent 1-2-1 layout in Club World, with direct aisle access and sliding doors for all passengers).

While I am still impressed by the A380 (and feel honored every time I can fly in one), I was not impressed by the Business Class service provided by British AIrways on this flight (e.g. mediocre food and broken seat features). That said, since I took this flight, British Airways has dramatically stepped up its game with the introduction of new and impressive service concepts (e.g. catering, bedding, etc …), which I wrote about in this trip report featuring a British Airways flight from the Seychelles to London.

Have you ever flown with British Airways? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

  • Trip: London (LHR) to Miami (MIA)
  • Airline: British Airways
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A380
  • Aircraft registration number: G-XLEI
  • On time departure: Yes (1.30 pm)
  • On time arrival: Yes (6 pm)
  • Miles: 4410 miles
  • Flight time: 9 hours and 30 minutes
  • Seat: 59K
  • Class: Business Class (Club World)

In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube video):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Lounge
  3. Business Class cabin
  4. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  5. Amenities & bedding
  6. Meals
  7. Entertainment
  8. Onboard internet
  9. Other inflight experiences
  10. My verdict (score)


1. COST OF MY TICKET

I paid this one-way ticket with miles. Total price: 57,500 AAdvantage miles (= American Airlines miles) + $150 USD. Read my review of AAdvantage here.


2. LOUNGE

I have previously reviewed the British Airways Lounge at London Heathrow Airport here.


3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

British Airways’ Airbus A380 has a total of 469 seats: 14 seats in First (which I reviewed here), 97 in Club World (Business Class), 55 in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 303 in World Traveller (Economy). The 97 Business Class seats are spread over 3 cabins: one on the lower deck (between First and Economy Class) and two on the upper deck in the plane’s front section (with a galley in between them). The lower cabin contains 44 seats, while the two, more intimate upper deck cabins contain 25 and 28 seats respectively. All 3 Business Class cabins offer a sophisticated and contemporary atmosphere, giving a reassuring sense of wellbeing and comfort.

On the lower deck of the A380, the cabin has a 2-4-2 layout (similar to what is found on British Airways’ B777s). On the smaller upper deck, the cabin has a 2-3-2 layout, so there is more space for fewer passengers. All Business Class seats are arranged in an innovative “Ying/Yang” layout which is unique to British Airways: window and middle seats face backwards, while aisle seats face forwards. Because of this unique concept, passengers seated in seated in a backward facing seat may have to jump over another passenger’s legs to reach the aisle.

For a seating plan of British Aiways’ A380, click here.

BUSINESS CLASS ON THE UPPER DECK
BUSINESS CLASS ON THE UPPER DECK
BUSINESS CLASS ON THE UPPER DECK
BUSINESS CLASS ON THE LOWER DECK
BUSINESS CLASS: YING/YANG LAYOUT
BUSINESS CLASS: YING/YANG LAYOUT

4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

The British Airways A380 Business Class (‘Club World’) seat is located within its own cocoon or suite. It has a pitch of 72 inches (182 cm) and a seat cushion width of 20 inches (50 cm). In front of the seat is a foot rest, which needs to be manually tilted in order to use it for comfort or as an extension of the flatbed. The angle of maximum seat recline is 180 degrees, and the overall length of seat when fully reclined into a flat-bed is a 6 ft (183 cm). The seat also has a reclined Z-position for relaxing and watching films in a near-recumbent position.

Each seat has its own private entertainment screen, which swings out from the suite’s side wall. With 12 inches or 20 cm, the screen is considerably larger compared to the TVs you find on British Airways’ older wide body planes. The screen tilts up and down, so watching the entertainment selection from the near or fully flat-bed position is perfectly possible. A decently sized tray table (18×14 inches or 45×35 cm) with bi-fold design is located below the screen. This side of the suite wall also features a power port, the seat controls, a handset for the inflight entertainment, and – at floor level – a storage compartment that can be used to stow away your shoes during the flight.

One of the most talked about (and unpopular) features of British Airways’ Business Class is the retractable privacy divider between adjoining seats. This screen can be lowered or raised, depending on the fact whether you are traveling solo or with a companion. The divider needs to be lowered during the safety briefing, and in addition, the crew will also lower it when they serve you meals & drinks; this can feel very awkward when you are seated next to a stranger because you are directly looking at him/her.

The main question is how to choose the best Business Class seat onboard the British Airways A380? Using this seat plan helps to understand the information outlined below:

  • The two upper deck cabins feel more intimate as compared to the larger cabin on lower deck (because they contain less seats), so choose an upper deck seat. In addition, the upper deck is higher above the massive Rolls Royce engines and thus quieter.
  • For solo travelers: the rear facing, window seats are more private and the ones you want to be seated in. In addition, the seats on the upper deck have a couple of side lockers, which are very useful for storing personal items.
  • For solo travelers: if you cannot secure a window seat, your next best choice is the middle seat in the 2-3-2 upper deck configuration as it has an extra storage compartment. Note that you will have to step over the feet of the passengers either side unless you are in the rearmost row (in each cabin).
  • For couples: the “honeymoon” center seats on the lower deck, where you’re basically seated as close to the person next to you as you would be in economy, are great if you’re traveling with someone you want to be that close to, though it would be downright awkward when you end up next to a stranger in that configuration.

What are the best Business Class seats on British Airways’ A380?

  • Row 53 (upper deck, front cabin): the window seats A & K are the single best seats on the plane since they offer direct aisle access without having to jump over the feet of other passengers. While the window seats on row 15 (lower deck) and row 59 (upper deck) also offer a clear exit route, they are less than desirable (cf below).
  • The middle seat in the 2-3-2 upper deck configuration on rows 53 and 59 not only has an extra storage compartment, but also offers direct aisle access.

What are the worst Business Class seats on British Airways’ A380?

  • Row 50 (upper deck, front cabin): the windows seats A & K are missing a window.
  • Row 50 (upper deck, front cabin): aisle seats B & J are to be avoided at all costs since other flyers tend to bump into these seats when they return from the lavatory.
  • Row 59 (upper deck, second cabin): the Club World seats A, B, J & K are aligned with the middle seats of the first row in World Traveller Plus, which means that you are an aisle width and just a cloth curtain away from the baby bassinets against the cabin divider on the other side.
  • Row 56 (upper deck, second cabin: the Club World seats F, J & K are located close to the lavatory, which may be bothersome to some flyers.
  • Row 15 (lower deck): the Club World seats A, B, J & K are located close to the lavatory, which may be bothersome to some flyers.
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLAT BED POSITION

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLAT BED POSITION

BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLAT BED POSITION

5. AMENITIES & BEDDING

I received the following amenities on this British Airways A380 longhaul flight:

  • An amenity kit, which was presented a drawstring bag (one for men and one for women) designed to double up as a shoe or lingerie and underwear bag. Both the men and women’s versions included Elemis spa products (moisturizer and lip balm), as well as an eyeshade, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and a pen for filling out arrivals forms.
  • Sleeping amenities, which included a thin blanket and a decently sized pillow
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
AMENITY KIT
AMENITY KIT

6. MEALS

Upon boarding, I was offered a welcome drink (choice between a glass of Champagne, water, or orange juice). Shortly after take-off, I received a hot towel (with a disappointing texture). I was also served a soft drink (with ice & lemon) and a small bag with an assortment of cold salted & roasted nuts. Soon thereafter, lunch was offered (served on a single tray). I choose the following selection from the menu:

  • Starter: Rosary Ash goat’s cheese mousse with pickled vegetable salad and samphire
  • Main course: Chettinad chicken with coriander rice and tadka dal
  • Duo of desserts: Mango & chocolate tower + berry cheesecake with raspberry compote

90 minutes prior to landing, I was served afternoon tea. I am not a big fan of British Airways’ afternoon tea & snacks concept (especially not of the sandwiches served in a plastic container), and it was not different this time. The afternoon tea service comprised the following items:

  • Sandwiches featuring sliced British pastrami with Emmental cheese, gherkin and mayonnaise dressing; oak and apple smoked salmon with lemon and crème fraîche dressing; and sliced French brie with caralamized onion chutney, apollo lettuce, and mayonnaise.
  • Sweets featuring buttermilk and fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, Victioria cone, and chocolate and salted caramel fondant.
HOT TOWEL AFTER TAKEOFF
MENU
MENU
MENU
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
AFTERNOON TEA

7. ENTERTAINMENT

The British AIrways A380 Business Class seat is equipped with a private screen, two USB sockets, a power port, and a video RCA connection for your camcorder, DVD player or camera. The private screen (12 inches or 20 cm) swings out from the side of the suite’s cabin wall, and it also tilts up and down, so watching the entertainment selection from the near or fully flat-bed position is perfectly possible. The in-flight entertainment offers dozens of movies and box sets, alongside a range of other content, including an interactive flight map and chat sessions with other passengers (so if you fancy striking up a conversation with someone six rows or even a cabin away, now is your chance).

BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
BRITISH AIRWAYS B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

8. ONBOARD INTERNET

Unfortunately, WiFi was not available on this flight. British Airways is currently rolling out WiFi across its fleet and it is expected that 100% of the carrier’s aircraft will be connected by the end of this year. At present, there is no way of knowing for certain if your flight will have WiFi (you will only be notified once on board a connected flight).


9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

# CREW: As always, the British Airways cabin crew did a terrific job. I am a huge fan of the carrier’s crew, which ranks among the most experienced in the air. Pilots and cabin crew have an average of 15 years’ experience. That is a reassuring thought for a nervous flyer like myself.

# BAR: Contrary to other airliners, British Airways did not install a fancy bar on its A380s for premium flyers. Why would they when they can pack the plane with paying passengers? Nevertheless, the plane has a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, where Business and First Class fliers can graze between meals. During this flight, the walk-up bar offered retro sweets, Cadbury chocolates, and Kettle chips.

WALK UP BAR: CLUB KITCHEN
WALK UP BAR: CLUB KITCHEN

# LAVATORY: the two A380 upper deck Business Class cabins have two lavatories in total: one between the two cabins, and two in the nose of the plane. The latter are pretty large. All lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.

LAVATORY
LAVATORY
LAVATORY

10. MY VERDICT
  • Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
  • Food (quality): 5/10
  • Food (quantity): 6/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 7/10
  • WiFi: 0/10 (not available)
  • Service: 9/10
  • Cabin design: 8/10
  • Overall experience: average 7/10

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