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 ba.com.)  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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Comments

  1. Daftboy – I have no complaints over either 13 A or 13K , i didnt get any noise at all , and slept like a baby both ways , actually i prefer to the second row of the mini cabin as the toilet and galley are close by , which can give noise

    I would agree with some of the other comments regarding EK/QR etc , but if you travel frequently between CGK and LHR the option of the better seat against a quicker flight , the quicker flight will win every time , plus in addition the FF schemes of both Emirates and Etihad make BAEC look more appealing especially being GGL which makes the use of miles easier , if i was to go on comfort alone SQ would win every time , there business class is miles ahead of others .

    Emirates for example on the 777 has 5 seats across , which makes it very tight , the A380 is good i agree , but it never flies to Jakarta ,

    Qatar is similar both the 380 , 787 and new A350 have great seats (both beware of row 6, the ones next to the bathroom on the 787 , which without doubt are the worst positioned i have seen) but the 330 and 340 are both totally different .

    Etihad has decent seats throughout but a terrible FFP. If my choice was based

    Anyway just my thoughts

  2. I’m surpirsed by some of the comments in this review.

    I flew EZE-LHR in Club World on the B787 and I was in the front mini-cabin. I was disappointed but perhaps that was due to having flown Cathay’s 1-2-1 in Business Class recently. It doesn’t have the ‘finishing touches’ of the airline’s logo and a classy interior like BA’s 787 but the service, food and seat space is excellent.

    I couldn’t get out of my seat during dinner service in Club World and the lowering of the divider is bothersome when being served food and drinks (I’m always by the window).

    When in the ‘pod’ that is the window seat in Club World it makes little difference if you’re located in a small or large Club World cabin. Service is not affected as you still have a ‘hit or miss’ crew – I had both on my EZE trip. The fact is, what other airline beats BA’s Club when seeking a direct service from Buenos Aires to London… When it comes to London – Asia, BA is not even my third choice.

    • Just flown Cathay business and it was good as BA first. Amazed at how much better the product is, always addressed by name and never wanting for anything as they’ve always thought of it. If they lost the trolley meal service it would be even better. I do though prefer galleries at Heathrow to the Wing in Hong Kong although the showers are better in the wing.

    • not sure eze is 787 route is it? sure it was 787? cheers

  3. An O/T ask for advice following this great info. With T-355 for Easter 2017 approaching, would appreciate HFPers’ advice on best use of 200k (Household) Avios and 2x BA Companion Vouchers for family of four, with no BAEC status.

    Have readers any thoughts on routing ex-LON in CW (WT+ minimum), given restrictions on flying BA metal, limited reward availability and booking outbound and return legs? Currently considering USA West Coast/Canada – possibly via new San Jose routing – but flexible over destination arrival/departure airports. Any advice gratefully received.

    And thanks again for the great site Rob – you’ve enabled an unforgettable trip to NYC in F/J and a crazy few days in Madrid via Frankfurt on LAN!

    • Scallder says:

      Adam – Given BA appear to be playing around with peak days, I would expect that the whole of the Easter 2017 period will all be deemed peak dates. As a result, a CW return to the West Coast of the US or Canada would cost 150k Avios return. Therefore to fly 4 of you, it would need to be in WT+ (100k Avios return each, so doable with 200k and 2 x 2for1 vouchers), however whether BA release reward seats in WT+ is another story.

      It looks like in CW, BA offer one ways for 45k + £540 + taxes/fees etc. However someone else might be able to confirm/deny but I’m not sure what the state of play is when using a 2 for 1 voucher and whether you’ll need the full amount of Avios for those redemptions…

      • 241 voucher requires payment in full with avios, no part pay permitted…therein lies the problem with the 241 voucher…unless u can generate the requisite number of avios, the vouchers are useless,

  4. I flew CX HKG-MAN for the first time a few weeks ago and their 1-2-1 layout is wonderful. I could hardly tell which other seats were occupied (I was in the last row) and the seat was longer and more comfortable in bed mode than BA (I am almost 2m tall).
    Not only is there direct aisle access but a lot more shelf and storage space than BA. I could keep my laptop, tablet, drinks etc all within reach and no shuffling things around if I wanted to get out of the seat.
    Given a choice I would choose CX over BA anytime (and even with BAEC silver the lounge in HKG had showers available on arrival and good choice of food).

  5. when using a 241 you need to pay the full Avios , you cant pay part cash part miles , also if youre doing one way make sure that its the flight departing London , you cant use the 241 when leaving say Singapore , the first flight must be from London .

  6. T5B lounge certainly wasn’t quite when I was there on Good Friday morning. Whilst it wasn’t heaving in the above picture you have posted there were people on all the seats. As with all these things it’s about timing.

  7. interesting… below link is not working today….we might finally be about to get an answer to what is going to change with peak/off peak calendar for 2017

    http://www.britishairways.com/travel/offpeakdatesmodalfancybox/public/en_gb

  8. Managed to get 4 CW Sears to JNB next March and am now looking for the return. When checking on the direct flight from JNB there only ever seems to be 2 seats but if I look from CPT it’s showing 6 seats in both CW and First, on several days, on an indirect flight via JNB (i.e the one I want seats on). How can there only be 2 seats if you start your journey in JNB but 6 seats if you are connecting to the same flight from CPT. I can’t book the indirect flights as I’m trying to use a 241. Don’t suppose there’s anyway around this?

  9. Hello Rob,

    I was in 2E on the same flight!

    I hope it was not one of your children who had the bad cough.

    I enjoyed the First seat, which is an evolution from the current First on 747 etc. More privacy, wider space but not wider seat, controls that confused me and some of the cabin crew and lights that were not all operational.

    I found the service was great. The CSM was particularly good, I thought, although you may have seen more of her as she was working in Club.

    Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

    • Ha! No, it wasn’t mine – that kid was on the other side of the cabin. I should have had a wander into F – I thought it was very ‘close’ to CW with no galley.

      The crew were good on the flight, I can’t knock them at all. I now know I am not marked as a VIP by BA as I didn’t get the special CSM iPad-driven greeting!

  10. In the last 4 months I have tried J class on BA 747, AA 777-300 and QR 787,a380,777. Basically I am usually paying for my J class leisure flights out of my own pocket. At 6’+ I want space, I want not to queue to drop bags and I want a nice(ish) lounge. However what really drives the choice for me is cash! It’s that simple. So far the AA hard product was best, the BA service I liked most (subjective I know and maybe I just got lucky) and QR had the best ground services and food. A direct flight is also important if not trying to accrue TPs. The midnight swap of planes at Doha is a killer. I’ll happily take CW if it’s the cheapest. I am however all too aware that this is unlikely to be the case.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.