My thoughts after flying the BA 787-9 in Club World

On Good Friday we flew down to Abu Dhabi on one of the new Boeing 787-9 British Airways aircraft.  (Click here for the special 787-9 page on  This is the second, larger, iteration of the 787 and includes a small eight-seat First Class cabin.

Here are a few thoughts:

The Terminal 5B lounge is the place to be

On Good Friday, in a hugely crowded Heathrow Terminal 5, this was the state of the British Airways lounge in the Terminal 5B satellite:

British Airways lounge Heathrow Terminal 5B satellite

(Quick pause whilst all of those readers who have endured the overcrowded No 1 Traveller / BA lounge at Gatwick North recently pick themselves up off the floor.)

You may need to ask check-in staff if your flight will depart from a B or C gate as it is often not shown on the display boards until near to departure time.  Coincidentally, this leaves you with more time to visit the shops in the main terminal.

The front Club World mini-cabin of a 787-9 is the place to be

This is the seating plan for the 787-9 (click on the link halfway down).

Whatever you may think of the seating, the layout of the Club World seating on the 787-9 cannot be beat.  There is a 2-row mini-cabin (Row 6 and Row 7), followed by a galley and the Club Kitchen, followed by a 4-row cabin.

Even the 4-row cabin is a massive improvement than the ‘dormitory’ style Club World layout on the Boeing 777 fleet.  Row 6 and Row 7 is the place to be, however.   What you see in the photo below is the entire mini-cabin:

British Airways Boeing 787-9 Club World business class review

The interiors are classy

Again, irrespective of how you find Club World seating, it is hard to deny that the interior is very classy.  In terms of the ambiance created by the colour scheme and by the gently glowing Speedbird logo, the cabin looks very smart indeed.  I would honestly put it ahead of Qatar, Emirates and Etihad on this front.  The photo above does not do it full justice.

And, before anyone asks, the windows ARE noticeably bigger than on older aircraft.  It was most apparent at Heathrow where the 787 was stood next to a 747.

The seats are still well behind the competition

You can’t hide the fact, however, that the Club World seat cannot compare, in any way, to what is offered by Etihad on the A380 or 777, by Qatar on a 787, A380 or A350 or by Emirates on an A380.

This passenger is not exactly overweight but you can see that even he hasn’t got a lot of space:

British Airways Boeing 787-9 Club World business class review

Many airlines are now flying 1-2-1 in Business Class, mainly using a ‘reverse herringone’ angled layout with all seats facing forward.  BA flies 2-4-2 on the 777, A380 and 747 and 2-3-2 on the 787 with up to 50% of the seats facing backwards.

British Airways has, to be fair, done as much as it can given the current design:

  • The seat was comfy
  • The taupe colour scheme is classy
  • I loved the fact the tray table can be slid back so you can still get out of your seat during the meal service
  • The reading light is excellent (and missing on many business class seats from competing airlines)
  • The IFE selection was perfectly acceptable and appears to have improved
  • Because there are overhead luggage bins in the middle section (some airlines take them out for cosmetic reasons) there is a lot of overhead space even though the seat has virtually no storage

The seat is, frankly, too narrow and lacks storage.  Privacy from the person next to you is poor (not a problem for me here obviously) and the privacy screen really blocks in the person by the window.  With the screen up, serving food is difficult.  Window passengers must jump over your feet to reach the aisle when seats are in bed mode.

Sitting in an aisle, I also felt very exposed every time a trolley came down the cabin – as the arm rests are so narrow I felt in permanent danger of being hit.  You can see what I mean here:

British Airways Boeing 787-9 Club World business class review

In terms of ‘best seat’, anything in rows 6 or 7 will be OK.  My daughter had 7K, by the window, which allowed her to get into the aisle without jumping over anyone as it was by the bulkhead.  This seat is also directly next to the Club Kitchen – which is now pathetically understocked – and the loos which is handy for kids.  (The Club Kitchen and the galley separate you from the loo so there is no disturbance.)

Whilst the middle seat in the middle block may seem unattractive (it is also rear facing), it has the advantage of being hemmed in from both sides.  On night flights it is apparently proving popular for passengers who wish to sleep because you are not disturbed by passing trolleys or window light.

PS.  If you are travelling to Dubai, as we were, it is well worth considering flying to Abu Dhabi.  A Mercedes from the airport (not pre-booked) to Dubai was only £40 and took just under an hour.  You can easily take 30 minutes in heavy traffic from Dubai International to many of the resorts.  More importantly, the Abu Dhabi flight leaves before the first BA Dubai flight so you get there earlier – we were in our hotel by 11pm local time.  You also get to experience the new 787.

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Meanwhile, over at Mumsnet today ..... is HFP about to cause its first divorce?!
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  1. OT but does anyone know if there is a chart or listing somewhere of Fees / Taxes charged from various airports or countries for BA redemption flights?

  2. Did you find the 787 CW seat to be narrower than CW seats on other BA aircraft or are you comparing the CW seat to the likes of EY,QR and EK Business product? My reason for asking is there is a lot of ruffled feathers (and broken knees) of passengers sitting towards the back of the BA Dreamliner as they hem the world traveller seats in 3-3-3 (essentially the same as Thomson do in a Y charter configuration) and wondered whether it was a noticeable thing up front too.
    I had previously bagged 7J/K to AUH for our annual New Year trip but as we’ve changed destination now to DXB (the later 12noon departure is more appealing to us + the civilised afternoon return time too compared to 0240 departure ex AUH saves us paying for late check out on our hotel room), we’ve bagged row 62AB upstairs on the 86J 744 going out and 11AB on the 772 coming home using our AX241. These are aircraft/seats I’m familiar with when travelling BA and the seat width in absolutely fine for us. If what I think you’re implying is correct and the 777 J product is narrower then its another good reason to fly via an older aircraft DXB. As an aside, I’ve noticed in the past when travelling VS Upper Class a distinct narrowing of their Upper Class Suite on the A340-600 and A330 vs the Boeing 747-400. To the point I won’t pay out for Upper Class anymore unless the route is operated by a 747-400 (a route network that is shrinking all the time!) If anyone thinks BA CW is coffin like – try Virgin Upper Class on an Airbus and re-evaluate.

  3. Can’t agree about Row 7, as the noise from crew in the galley and traffic to the loos make it unattractive for a night flight. The smaller Club cabin is more exclusive, which I flew to Delhi last year: a far better option.

  4. Just did the BA 73 CW yesterday, really felt cramped in 7K and was forgotten by crew for menu, safety screen, clearing tray etc in fact most things. Can they see you from the narrow aisle? Poor value for money, and when BA use mixed crew why do the two experienced members work together and give a superior service and leave the two newbies to do their own thing. Service suffers!

  5. PS 3 F Avios seats were available on Friday for the Sunday 2/4/16 departure but sadly had to be in Abu Dhabi for Sun a.m.