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First review of the new British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner

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It is now three weeks since the first British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner started commercial service between Heathrow and Delhi.

This is the longer version of the 787-8 and, unlike the smaller aircraft, features First Class.  BA has also ordered the forthcoming 787-10 series which will be even larger.

I am due to fly one of these next Easter.  However, since it would be a shame to wait that long for a review, I was pleased when HfP reader Alan sent me his thoughts on one of the first flights as well as some photographs.  As usual, I have edited his article and any mistakes are probably mine.

BA British Airways 787-9

Flying the new British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner

“Flying to New Delhi on 28 October with British Airways, I discovered from the seating plan that it would be Day 3 of BA’s first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service.

This was the first commercial flight of our aircraft.   Everything was squeaky clean and with that unusual new carpet smell.  The new fuel efficient engines also make the Dreamliner QUIETER.  Bliss.  The cabin altitude equivalent is considerably lower than a Boeing 747 and more comfortable for passengers.

First Class on the new British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner

The 787-9 boasts the new First pods (just eight) with more privacy than the earlier design, iPhone dock, large screen IFE and improved space and storage. First was full and passengers I spoke to after landing at Delhi were impressed. Good news for British Airways

This is the new First seat:

British Airways 787-9 First Class review

Club World on the new British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner

In Club World, nothing discernible has changed. On the 787-9, the 42 Club seats are split into two cabins: the front cabin is best, with just two rows of seats in a 2-3-2 configuration facing each other as usual. I was at the front in 6A. Aft of the galley is a larger 4-row Club cabin followed by World Traveller Plus (32) and 127 in World Traveller.

The crew were excellent.  The had originally trained on the 787-8 so had little time to sort themselves out with the new layout before boarding passengers. It’s not a crew friendly aircraft, apparently, due mostly to restricted space.

BA had a chance to rework their Club World offer on these new aircraft, but we still have such irritating features as:

– passengers in window seats have no direct aisle access, so clamber over sleeping passengers to get out
– hard armrests
– nail breaking table release mechanism
– shoulder dislocating reading light adjustment
– not enough storage space (just a drawer below the table

What is wrong with a herringbone layout used by other airlines?

Here is a photograph of the Club World front cabin:

British Airways 787-9 Club World business class review

On the plus side, the in flight entertainment is much improved with a better screen and easier selection of content. I didn’t bother with the seat-to-seat “chat” facility but it could be fun (call 1A in First?)

Window blinds are replaced with ingenious touch buttons that “dim” the new, larger windows. “Mood” cabin lighting is also improved, though the bright BA logo blazes through the night on the front wall!

The meal service was spirited and fun with an enthusiastic crew. But on an 8hr+ night flight it still took 3 hours to complete the meal service and dim the lights. Galley issues?

What happened to the Club Kitchen? It’s now reduced to a sad pile of confectionery and crisp packets and a few bananas. No chilled sandwiches or salads (fruit or otherwise), let alone an ice cream! Someone slashed the budget. Shame.

Six of the Club World seats wouldn’t recline properly (it’s brand new, Boeing!) so the cabin services director and crew were crawling around on the floor with a torch and tools to get them working. Not totally successfully, I heard. Mine worked perfectly.

We left and arrived on time. I still prefer upstairs on a 747, to be honest: 64A/K is the place to be!”

Thanks Alan.  You can learn more about the British Airways 787-9 fleet on this special page.

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Comments (48)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • oyster says:

    I have always loved the ying yang style of BA Club World. Seated backwards is more fun and as I like looking out the window it has better views.

    Is the stepping over really so hard? It’s about 20 inches high, hardly a high jump. And do we all dislike our fellow humans so much that we want so much separation? Even from our own travelling companions?

    • Jason says:

      You can get closer, to your fellow travellers, at the back! 🙂

    • Rob says:

      I admit, with kids and potentially for a couple, the yin yang has some benefits in terms of being able to see another person (and, for kids, trapping them in the middle pair as there is no direct aisle access).

      Unfortunately, these exact same features annoy other people who are travelling alone.

    • DV says:

      This design is 15 or 16 years old now. Other airlines have moved on and improved on this. It’s disappointing that BA fits it in brand new aircraft.

    • Fenny says:

      20 inches isn’t much if you’re fit and healthy. Much more of an issue if you have any kind of mobility issues. For most people, it’s well above knee height.

    • Riaz says:

      It’s such an awful design. You only have to fly Qatar or even the newer AA planes to see how lame the BA setup is.

  • Alan says:

    Eek not so good on the day malfunction front, although sounds like the IFE at least worked OK!

    Disappointing re Club Kitchen, used to be pretty decent.

    Personally I’ve no issues with the yin-yang design, but mainly because I like the backwards-facing view from the window seats (esp during takeoff) and don’t find it that much of a hassle getting out of them.

    (NB I’m a different Alan to the one in the review, I’m not just commenting on my own article! :D)

  • aliks says:

    You hit the nail on the head – they had a chance to rework the Club World Offer but did very little.

    We flew back from JNB last month in an A380 with exactly the same seating layout and the flaws were just as you listed them. It may only be 20 inches to step over, but in the middle of the night, half asleep I’m afraid I woke up my fellow passenger at least twice.

    When you see what Qatar have done with the same space it makes you wonder whether BA have given up on being the world’s favourite airline.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, if you’re a short arse like me it’s quite uncomfortable stepping over someone and you tend to struggle to do it without waking them. It’s especially awkward on night flights if you need a few loo trips, so although I would prefer to be by the window I now go for an aisle.

    • Paul says:

      BA manage fit in many more seats in the same physical space they won’t be changing this layout for years, the new seats they designed lost too many seats to be taken forward.

  • S says:

    Did you sit next to the window?
    The dimming window blocks light but not the heat.

  • CV3V says:

    All the reviews I have seen so far of the 787-9 have focused on the new(er) First, nice to see something on CW. Just to point out that First on the old 777-200 came with 12 seats not 14 (or at least some of them, and despite what a seat map might say), 2 seats are lost to accommodate access to the crew rest area.

    In CW on the 787-9, in the smaller forward cabin seats 7J and 7K are being blocked off by BA, anyone know why? I have seats 6F and 6J booked on future flights in this cabin, which I consider to be the best of a bad bunch. I don’t think there is an actual seat which I would think as the ‘best seat’. That all said I have enjoyed BA CW and First, the crew have always been great, and I have always had a great sleep.

    Apparently, on overnight flights the CW kitchen isn’t as well stocked and they don’t include ice cream, which is a stupid move considering how restrictive they are with the desert or cheese option (pick one only!). However those little bags of popcorn are great.

    • Polly says:

      Really hard to get 787 F seats LH, we are again on the 777 to HKG. And using avios on CX J to bali. We really want to use BA J but it is cramped compared to QR J. I know, I know, we have that transit in Doha. But those BA J flights often leave 02am and 03 am so you can and do have nights hang arounds in those far flung places or in the ME. Swings and roundabouts, think we will aim for a 241 F every second year, with a QR J ex EU as the other option. Also QR good for us non biz travellers who need to keep Silver. Just wish we didn’t have to disturb people by climbing over them. Agree it’s such a shame they didn’t at least do a 222 config. Just to have that feeling of a little more spaciousness in the cabin. Oh, we lot are spoiled!

      • Erico1875 says:

        We used to have 6 in a Hilman Imp, 2 trips needed to get to Butlins Ayr. 10 of us crammed into a 6 berth chalet for a week.
        CW is good enough for me.

        • harry says:

          Indeed. No complaints about my 20″. Should be enough for anybody unless you’re paying for more.

  • DeltaCharlie says:

    I have flown the 787-9 twice now, both in First and find the new suites very nice, certainly these are a product improvement over the rest of the fleet.
    Did write a brief report for FT and as stated there the new coat or jacket locker is not great for anything longer than a blazer or suit jacket. Crew will still stow some long coats on request but they now have very little room. Also the IFE controller will not be to everybody’s liking, it is smaller than an iPhone and certainly less responsive to touch commands.
    Apart from these little issues it is a great product in my opinion, although I must admit I do not fly First on other airlines so have no real comparison to competitors.

    Nearly forgot, the middle seats are now far better for couples. Those that wish to talk anyway!

    Raffles: If you are interested, I do have some photos that I am happy to send over if you wished to add them.

  • Rohan says:

    I think
    BA CW is better for young families .
    For solo travellers it
    Be quite irritating

  • CV3V says:

    I know BA are promoting, amongst other improvements, the new IFE controller – this is only available in First and to put some perspective on it, Emirates economy (!) have had a separate little touch screen controller for years from which you can control the main screen as well as use the controller as a second screen.

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