Following my family’s Chinese New Year celebration in Toronto, I embarked on my journey to Barcelona via London onboard British Airways A350 business class business class.
Club Suites are part of the airline’s newly revamped Club World cabins, which was first introduced in 2019 and has caught the attention of many airline enthusiasts.
In my case, this happened to be my first time flying in a premium cabin with British Airways as well. Given that the airline has a fairly mixed reputation, I was very curious how their newest flagship business class product would turn out.
If you’re looking to book a flight with British Airways, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is one of the more favourable Oneworld programs to consider. This is because it will result in the most favourable surcharges on award flights with British Airways, which typically come with exorbitant fees.
In my case, I booked this trip from Toronto to London and onwards to Barcelona for 61,000 Asia Miles, plus about $500 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
In comparison, other Oneworld programs such as Alaska Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, and British Airways Avios would have commanded roughly a similar amount of miles, but would charge you $800+ (CAD) in surcharges instead.
This is always something to keep in mind, since all of the programs, aside from Alaska Mileage Plan, are transfer partners with either American Express Membership Rewards, RBC Avion, or HSBC Rewards.
You can book the same product with any of the programs for roughly the same amount of points, but you can save a few hundred dollars by being selective about the program you use.
Before getting on my flight, I stopped by the new Plaza Premium Landmark Lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport. This is Plaza Premium’s latest flagship location in Terminal 3.
Within the lounge, British Airways operates a private area with dedicated sections for those flying business class, and then a separate section for those flying First Class and with top-tier Oneworld Emerald elite status.
The British Airways section of the lounge was quite enticing, so I opted to spend the majority of my time over there instead of in the main lounge.
There was a hot buffet selection that was better than what was available in the rest of the lounge, as well as a bar with made-to-order drinks.
I appreciated the modern design of the lounge, and it indeed provided a pleasant space to relax before heading to my gate. It’s definitely a nice little perk if you’re flying First Class or business class with British Airways out of Toronto.
After boarding the plane through the second door on the port side, I was directed left towards the business class cabin.
The British Airways Airbus A350-1000 has a total of 56 reverse herringbone business class seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, each with direct aisle access.
Of these seats, 44 are located in the front cabin, spread across 11 rows, with an additional three rows of 12 seats forming a mini-cabin in the back.
The cabin featured jet-black and grey finishes, with the British Airways logo serving as a sleek backdrop.
In particular, I noted the woodgrain inlays at each seat that contrasted against the cabin’s monochrome palette and added a touch of class to the overall design, marking a significant improvement over the previous Club World cabins.
The centre seats, denoted with letters “E” and “F”, are angled towards each other, and are therefore an optimal seating option for those travelling as a pair.
If you’re flying solo, I’d recommend going for a window seat in either “A” or “K”. Not only do these seats offer more privacy, but you’ll have the benefit of having direct access to both the window and the aisle.
However, in case you end up in a middle seat as a solo traveller, it’s worth noting that the dividing screen between the seats provides a decent amount of privacy.
In my case, I usually like to have a window seat whenever I travel. Naturally, I chose Seat 11A, which was towards the rear of the main cabin, for this particular flight.
I was surprised to see that this flight was only lightly occupied. The main Club Suites cabin was less than half full, while the mini-cabin was completely empty.
The introduction of Club Suites is a fresh chapter for the airline, which previously relied on a fairly outdated business class offering. As someone who loves trying out new airline products, settling into a seat I’ve never experienced before always brings a touch of excitement.
British Airways had chosen a Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which is very similar to the standard reverse herringbone design that you’d find on Air Canada, WestJet, and Etihad Airways, amongst others.
This particular product features a sliding door, which is in line with the industry standard in terms of the newest business class seat designs at the moment.
I was very impressed with the quilted stitching pattern on the seat’s upholstery and the faux-wood finishes by the seat’s panelling. I particularly liked the white stitch designs on the black seat covers, as it gave off a classy and sophisticated vibe.
Commencing my tour of the new seat, I directed my attention to the 17-inch entertainment screen positioned in front of me. The entertainment screen is mounted to the back of the seat in front in a fixed position.
Beneath the screen, a sturdy tray table can be deployed outwards by pulling the latch underneath towards you while also pushing down on the release.
This table can then be extended to double its size, providing adequate surface space for eating or working.
Below the seat console lies the footwell, which becomes part of the bed when the seat is reclined into lie-flat mode.
While the size of the footwell is fairly standard for this type of seat, it’s worth noting that it is on the smaller side, and could feel restrictive for passengers who prioritize ample foot space while flying.
There’s some room for storage underneath the footwell if you need a place to store your shoes or other small items.
Also located near your feet, you’ll find a literature pocket and a deep storage well, which is handy for storing a water bottle or other such loose items.
On the right-hand side of the seat, there’s an armrest that can be raised or lowered to your liking.
The seat functions can be controlled from a panel on the left-hand side of the seat, with options to toggle between upright, reclining, and lie-flat modes.
Above the seat, you’ll find three separate storage compartments. The first compartment is relatively shallow, and ideal for storing small items like phones or wallets.
Moving over to the right, you’ll find a slightly deeper compartment that houses a universal power outlet, USB port, and headphone jack.
Additionally, this compartment also contains the entertainment controller, which can be unlatched and held in your hand to navigate the entertainment system.
Above the console at shoulder height, there’s a thin compartment built into the vertical surface that can be flipped open. Inside this compartment, you’ll find a mirror, a light, and storage space for thin items such as a book.
Each seat is equipped with a total of two overhead lights, as well as a reading light positioned above the shoulder. It’s worth noting, however, that there are no personal air vents.
The latest Club Suite design features a sliding door that fully closes, although there is a small gap between the door and the cabin wall. Despite this, the door is of a good height, and boasts an elegant suede finish on the interior.
Upon arriving to my seat, there was a pillow and bedding waiting for me already.
Within just a few minutes of settling in, the crew came by to offer a choice of pre-departure beverages. This time, I opted for a glass of Champagne to kick off the flight.
Shortly thereafter, I was presented with an amenity kit from The White Company in a sleek black leather casing. British Airways had announced a partnership with The White Company as a part of the revamp for these new business class cabins.
The kit was nicely stocked with a selection of useful items, including socks, eyeshades, earplugs, a dental kit, a pen, and skincare products from the brand’s Restore & Relax Spa Collection.
I was quite impressed with the quality of the eyeshades provided in the amenity kit, which were incredibly plush and comfortable. In fact, I ended up using these eyeshades to catch up on sleep along the journey during the rest of my trip.
The onboard meal service began soon after we reached cruising altitude.
The food and drink menu read as follows:
I began with a glass of sparkling water, which was served elegantly on a tray with a bag of nuts.
I then decided to try the Johnnie Ginger signature cocktail – whiskey, orange juice, and ginger ale – which had a delightful zesty flavour and really hit the spot.
Shortly after, I switched to a cabernet sauvignon to go with my meal.
This was followed by the meal presentation itself, with a Canadian smoked salmon appetizer, quinoa salad, and fresh bun delivered on one tray, and the appetizer later being replaced by the main course.
The Canadian smoked salmon was particularly noteworthy. I found that it was light and refreshing, and its flavours balanced delicately against the accompaniments of lemon, capers, horseradish, and dill.
For my main course, I opted for the braised short rib. While it was indeed quite tasty, I thought that it could’ve benefited from a touch more salt. I’m also not the biggest fan of polenta, so that part of the dish didn’t do it for me.
That said, the accompanying sauce was quite flavourful, and I especially enjoyed the pearl onion on the side, which paired well with the South African cabernet sauvignon.
To wrap up the meal, I was presented with a cheese plate and a lemon meringue tart, which were fine, but not particularly outstanding. I then finished off the meal with a nice cup of black tea.
On this showing, I’d characterize the meal service on British Airways business class as above average in the transatlantic market, with generally nice-tasting dishes, good wine pairings, and high marks on the presentation side.
Before settling in for some rest, I made a quick stop at the restroom to freshen up.
British Airways’s A350 Club World cabin has a total of three bathrooms. Two are located behind the 11th row, and one is at the very front of the aircraft.
Inside the restroom, I found a pretty standard setup for an A350, complete with a baby changing table and toiletries provided by The White Company.
There were about four hours of flying time left to go upon returning to the cabin. After working at my seat for a while, I decided to make my bed in Seat 11E opposite from me, since the cabin was sparsely occupied.
The footwell in the Club Suite was a little cramped towards the far end, but again, this wasn’t unexpected for a reverse herringbone seat. The bedding package included a pillow, a mattress sheet, a duvet, and a blanket.
With my sliding door closed for some additional privacy, I managed to get about two hours of rest on this short overnight transatlantic flight.
British Airways boasts an impressive in-flight entertainment system, complete with a responsive 17-inch 4K resolution screen.
The airline has partnered with Paramount+ to provide a wide selection of blockbusters and TV shows across various genres such as drama, action, reality, comedy, documentaries, and children’s programming.
For Wi-Fi connectivity, British Airways offers two packages:
I had picked up a Browse & Stream package for four hours, since I anticipated getting some rest towards the end of the flight and not necessarily needing connectivity the whole time.
If you find yourself in need of a quick snack or refreshing beverage during your flight, British Airways has a small snack bar located in the galley. Here, you can find a variety of options such as soft drinks, juices, chips, chocolates, and more.
It’s a nice option for those who can’t wait for the next meal service, or who just want a quick bite before snoozing again. Plus, it’s also a good excuse to get up and stretch your legs for a bit during the flight.
When it came to breakfast, I had woken up slightly late, just as we were about to begin our descent into London Heathrow. As a result, I was rather hurriedly presented with a breakfast tray with a sandwich, croissant, and oatmeal – but the crew didn’t have time to make a coffee.
The breakfast items were very average, which is fairly typical for the pre-arrival meal on overnight transatlantic business class flights. In my experience, breakfast services on flights rarely exceed expectations, so this come as a huge disappointment here on British Airways either.
In terms of service, the crew on this flight were friendly enough, but there were a few moments when I sensed a slight attitude or lack of professionalism.
For example, when I requested my quick breakfast tray shortly before landing, the crew member was quite stern in the way he lectured me that they had tried to wake me earlier, but that I had been fast asleep.
In addition, most of my “thank you”s were met with an “it’s okay” or “that’s okay”, which seemed to me like a less professional response than something like “you’re welcome” in terms of what you’d expect when flying in business class.
Having now flown British Airways’s A350 Club Suites for the first time, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the new flagship business class product, despite the airline not having the most stellar reputation.
The cabin was sleek and modern, with upscale faux wood finishes. The seats were comfortable and well-equipped as well, with all of the benefits of a standard reverse herringbone enhanced by the sliding door for extra privacy.
The onboard meal service also left me with mildly positive impressions, with the Johnnie Ginger cocktail and smoked salmon appetizer standing out as noteworthy items.
Overall, British Airways’s new Club Suites business class product exceeded my expectations – though not to such an extent that it justifies the punitive surcharges when redeeming points, compared to other options in the transatlantic market.
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