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Review: British Airways Boeing 787-9 in Club World business class

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This is my review of British Airways Club World business class on a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

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:

Max Burgess

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 (79)

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

  • Geoggy says:

    Glad you enjoyed acres of space on the way out in the lounge Rob.

    On the way home it will be a different story if you are flying out of DXB.

    I’m typing this from the new BA lounge and it is very small and full ahead of our LHR flight on the 777 at 9.20 am.

    There is one coffee machine and there’s a queue.

    The food offering is limited but not awful.

    I can’t decide if it’s an improvement on the old lounge or not. It’s not a 20 minute walk so better in that respect.

    I look forward to your review – if I wasn’t dreadfully hung over I would have written you one!

    • Rob says:

      We are F from DXB back so will be n the private room!

      • Ian Boyle says:

        I peered through the glass into the Concord Bar.

        Couldn’t see much but could see it wasn’t as busy as the main room!

    • Ann says:

      We flew back from Dubai at the weekend and the BA lounge seemed closed probably because we were on the much earlier QR flight. We were admitted to the International Hotel Business Lounge and I really liked it. The hostesses couldn’t do enough for you and the food selection, including a la carte was superb – much better than T5 first lounge in my opinion where I personally don’t rate the food highly

  • Ralphy says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the 242 layout of Club World Rob. Having flown BA F several times now and AA in J, I, but more importantly, Mrs R, was shocked at the limited room in BA Club World. Narrow seating, having to climb over others feet in order to get out from a window seat or middle seat and absolutely NO storage space. This was the deal breaker for me. There is one small “drawer” at floor level that is difficult to reach when everything is stored away but impossible to access with the tray table out or when the seat is reclined. Nowhere to put my glasses or phone or tablet or water. Absolutely shocking and unforgivable design. Privacy is low as one is facing someone else 30″ away and if you are on an isle you are so exposed. Unfortunately, the cabin was full on the flight to Singapore and almost full on the second leg to Sydney. I say unfortunately because whilst BA keeps filling it’s cabins it has no real pressure to improve things for its customers. I will have to console myself when thinking of the return flight by having another Bacardi and coke as I sit here sunning myself at the CP Gold Coast…

    • ThinkSquare says:

      I like the floor-level drawer BECAUSE it can’t be opened when the seat is reclined. Somewhere safe to keep valuables while I’m sleeping.

  • simon says:

    Having taken the 787 to KUL several times over the past few months , i agree with your comments with regards to space , but to be honest i quite like 13A , the last seat in the larger cabin , you can access the seat without doing the High Jump

    On the last flight i was in 1A , i have to say i much prefer the 787 first to either the 380 or 777 ,

    Not sure how much more I will be using BA , as Garuda have started direct flights to Jakarta , and by all accounts there First Class is hard to beat , especially when you consider First Class (full refundable ) is the same price as BA CW , I will send you my thoughts and a few photos in April

    • Daftboy says:

      Hi Simon – do you find there is much noise disturbance from the front row of WT+ when in row 13, and in particular from bassinets? I am in row 6 in the mini-cabin outbound to KUL on a flight in a few weeks, but best option seemed to be 13K on the return…

      • Tim says:

        Daftboy, go with the 13a or 13k option and wear ear plugs if you need to. The open access means that you can go to the loo without climbing over anyone and they will serve you dinner without that confounded partition coming down leaving you staring at a complete stranger. It’s not a pleasant experience.

  • JamesLHR says:

    Interesting that BA first is 1-2-1 in a cabin fuselage that is narrower than the 777 where other airlines business is 1-2-1.

    • helper says:

      I think you’ll find that 1-2-1 in business is generally much more angled than in BA first. Counting the number of seats in a row isn’t the best way to measure space.

  • JP says:

    “Club World seat cannot compare, in any way, to what is offered by Etihad on the A380 or 777”

    787 not 777

  • JamesWag says:

    Whenever I consider flying BA CW now I just can’t bring myself to do it as it is so very substandard now. With 8 or 9 seats across compared to several carriers with just 4 across it irks me to pay similar prices for a ticket. If BA was 1/3 the price I’d consider it but when fares are compatible (or even favour the other airlines !!!!) Why on earth would I choose a lesser comfort option ??
    I appreciate sometime speed (no stopover when leaving the London on BA) can win out over the comfort difference but not for me.

    CW 8 or 9 across must be working for BA but I don’t see why.

    Are the other carriers heavily subsidised ?
    Does BA have so many blindly loyal customers who have no idea of the competitions offering ?
    Does BA have incredibly low prices they offer to business focused travel agents (the ones embedded inside large companies) that the other carriers aren’t competing with but we as the general public can’t get ???

    BA CW is clearly much better than economy and not a terrible experience but I just don’t see how CW is winning customers at the moment. Anyone know ??

    • JamesWag says:

      When I want to fly BA F, I fly J on one of the better carriers 🙂

      Appreciate some of the soft products are better in BA F but for most people I don’t think they’d matter all that much.

      These other carriers have a J product more akin to BA F than BA J.

    • JamesWag says:

      Having said its not terrible, I am now recalling a business trip where I flew back overnight from Hong Kong in a packed CW cabin. It was actually terrible having ‘got used’ to the EK product. With the exclusion of the (thin aisle side) flat bed I think I would have been just as comfortable / satisfied in economy and just drunk for ten hours !

    • Brian says:

      Yes, the Middle-Eastern carriers are heavily subsidised, I imagine, since they seem to be run by the state.

      • James says:

        Still not really an excuse is it? You can virtually name a carrier these days and it will have a superior product, it’s not limited to the ME carriers.

        • Rob says:

          Not subsidised. Aircraft are funded at commercial rates. Any idiot can make money operating brand new fuel efficient aircraft 24 hours a day through uncrowded hub airports which easily connect about 80% of the global population. Also no pension deficits etc.

    • Nick C says:

      I know BA’s coffin class as in inferior product, but let’s not pretend it’s worse than it is. 9 across? I don’t think so. 8 across max. Same as WT+ (which is probably the best value for money if you have to fly BA)

    • Paul says:

      Yes CW may not be ‘better’ than other carriers (don’t forget that it’s not the worst, there are many airlines/aircraft with non-lay flat seats still), but BA manages to fill their CW cabins, and has even increased the size of it on the 747 Super Hi J.

      Why would a company re-design their product to be less dense when they can sell all the seats at a profit already?

      There was a rumour going around recently of BA threatening legal action against a seat manufacture & airline due to them copying the Yin Yang design before the patent expired, so it is a desirable layout for some airlines.

  • Paul says:

    I too flew out on Good Friday in First to SEA. The Concorde room was quiet though getting to it was challenging given the dreadful management of fast track at 6am.
    The crew and food in First were both very good however the bottom line was that the experience overall was on a par with our Qatar Airways last year. Indeed the flight was rather spoiled when our premium labelled bags were delivered in the last 20 off the aircraft.
    Yes the seats are a bit bigger, yes there was proper bedding, but it was very pedestrian and simply not value for money.
    I thought that Qatar’s 787 and A350 were both stunning and a great deal of though had gone into them. I am surprised that you think the BA cabin is better designed/looking. That would not be my experience.

  • James67 says:

    For a moment I thought this was a sponsored post! This is certainly as generous as one could be with BA CW, and having flew to KUL recently on front row of a refurbished 777, and used the B lounge, I cannot disagree. However a reality check is needed, CW is now at the tail end of business class products, it should not even be compared to the best examples. Other airlines are removing superior seats to CW to upgrade their cabins while BA continues to fit this dated product to new deliveries. The harsh reality remains that the CW seat and associated features are too small and limitted, and the cabuns are too overcrowded and on most aircraft in the fleet, too grubby and dirty. And I say all that as somebody who still rather likes CW seats but finds it difficult to understand why.

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