British Airways | Club World
Photo: © BRITISH AIRWAYS
London (LHR) to Philadelphia (PHL)
On the Ground: I checked in online the night before and forwarded our boarding passes to the front clerk at the Corinthia Hotel for printing. I was traveling with my wife after crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2 and spending a few days in London to see friends. I arranged a car service to take us to Heathrow, which turned out to be a smart move, as the trains were all stopped due to an issue. Checking luggage was swift, as was security, and I was looking forward to spending some time in the British Airways lounge. However, a traffic delay did not allow us that luxury. Instead, we took the airport train system to the gate and waited for the plane to board.
Pre-Flight: Once the flight started boarding, we were both selected for an additional security check. It was rather detailed, involving taking the escalator down to the boarding tunnel (jetway), where a makeshift security team went through luggage and asked passengers to lift up clothing for review. Perhaps this was due to our one-way ticketing, but those selected hardly fit any profile. Once clear, we were directed back up the escalator to line up for the flight.
Getting all settled with carry-on bags stowed took a few minutes, then the crew passed around newspapers and served Champagne. We were offered the middle seats in a row of four business-class flat beds. As a couple, this was fine, but I imagine it might be awkward as strangers. I was looking forward to tasting BA’s award-winning wines from our annual Wines on the Wing survey (ranked fifth globally) and settling in for my flight.
In-Flight: I find the seating on BA’s business class a little awkward. My middle seat faced backward, so I looked directly in the face of the woman sitting on the aisle. We chatted for a while and she was pleasant, but we both agreed to pull up the privacy screen after takeoff. Fortunately, the gentleman behind her never fully reclined, so I had an easy path to the bathroom during the entire flight; otherwise, I would have had to step over him and straddle his feet to get in and out.
Once airborne, attendants distributed amenity kits, and the BA machine was in full swing as dinner orders and cocktails appeared. I ordered a scotch, served in a rather nice tumbler of cut glass and accompanied by warmed nuts. Unfortunately, this flight was not serving the second- and third-place wines from our survey — Oldenburg Vineyards Chardonnay 2016, South Africa, and Waimea Pinot Gris 2016, New Zealand — but as I ordered a seared filet of British beef, I selected Château de Ruth 2017, Sainte-Cecile Côtes du Rhone Villages, recommended by my flight attendant. By then we had become chummy. The crew offered cheeses and sweets after dinner and presented teas with sandwiches before landing.
As this was a day flight, I watched several movies including The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I also accessed BA’s WiFi for a reasonable fee and emailed my team during the entire flight, making great use of the time.
British Airways is excited about its new uniform designer, Ozwald Boateng, OBE. The new designs are rather smart and seem like a big hit with the crew. British Airways is investing approximately $5.7 billion over the next five years and will install higher-quality WiFi and power in every seat, outfit 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and take delivery of 72 new aircraft. Next year, BA will also introduce a new Club World seat with direct aisle access to really bring the airline up to speed with others as it reaches its 100-year anniversary.
◆ The new Club World seats will help one of aviation’s best innovators move back to the top ranking.
◆ Philadelphia International Airport can use some basic help with luggage delivery.
◆ A good selection of movies kept me entertained, and the WiFi was superb.