HKTravelBlog

Review: British Airways Business Class London to Shanghai

Just a quick heads up, I was not supposed to fly to Shanghai. My original routing was via Helsinki and Chongqing to Beijing. But since my first flight on British Airways was delayed, they kindly rerouted me to this flight upon my request. To be honest, I have heard A LOT of complaints about British Airways’s Business Class (Club World), and I agree 8 seats per row in Business is pathetic. This was my first time flying British Airways Business Class, and the experience is just about what I expected (the word is meh).

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This flight started with another typical hectic day at the airport:

Initially, we planned to fly to Helsinki from London on British Airways Economy, connecting to Finnair Business Class to Chongqing. Then in Chongqing, I will fly to Beijing and the rest of my family will be flying back to Shenzhen and return to Hong Kong.

However, our flight to Helsinki was delayed for 2 hours, resulting in us missing our connection. Hence, British Airways has to reroute us for our journey. I requested that instead of rerouting us to Chongqing, it would be better if they can get me to Beijing and my family directly to Hong Kong.

Luckily for my family, the BA agent at the lounge was able to get the four of them onto a direct flight on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. Unfortunately for me, the only option they have is to Shanghai as their Beijing flight that day was full. I have to get to Beijing by next afternoon so I asked the agent to just book me to Shanghai and I will book my own flight to Beijing from Shanghai (that will be the next instalment).

06 July 2018

BA169 LHR-PVG 1340 0755(+1) B772

Seat 11J Business Class

Upon Boarding

The flight departs from Terminal 3, and I have to clear security again after arriving from Terminal 5. There was a very long queue at security and I was one of the last to reach my gate. The four-class configured B777-200 operating the flight today has 48 Business Class (Club World) seats, which is a rather large cabin for business class. You can find the seat map on SeatGuru here.

The seats are narrow as expected when there are 8 seats per row. British Airways is the first airline to ever introduce a fully flat business class seat in the world. But that almost 20 years ago. In 2018, this seat is just not a competitive hard product for business class anymore. I was seated by the aisle and there was absolutely no privacy at all. The lack of storage space is rather annoying and the seat comfort is just mediocre.

British Airways Business Class Seats

The plane is quite old, and there is no USB charging port, but there is AC power on the right side of the seat. There is a small storage area by the literature pocket beside the power port, which can store and small items like shoes. There are supposed to be WiFi on this flight but it never worked for me.

Seat Storage British Airways Business Class

Seat and IFE Control British Airways Business Class

A flight attendant greeted me when I took my seat and offered a welcome drink with the selection of water or champagne. I ordered the champagne, and it came immediately. The amenity kit was basic and they provide slippers only upon request.

Welcome Drink: Champagne
British Airways Business Class Amenity Kit
British Airways Business Class Slippers

Meal Service – Dinner

The seatbelt sign turned off about 10 minutes after take-off and flight attendants came around with warm towels and menus; about 40 minutes after takeoff, the first meal service began. The menu reads as follows:

Gin and Tonic British Airways Business Class

Drinks and packaged almonds were first served. I had a glass of gin and tonic, it was served with the can and I placed the drinks on the tray table of the empty seat next to me. Gordon Gin tasted disgusting, so I asked for a cup of tea in the middle of my meal.

I had the salmon and fennel salad to start, and the braised beef for my main. The meal was served with a side of salad with balsamic and olive oil. The meal is served with a tray, which got quite messy at the end of my meal.

The service started quite slow at first, but I requested to be served at a faster pace than others as I wanted to catch some shuteye, and the flight attendant was happy to do so.

Salmon and Fennel Salad British Airways Business Class
Braised Beef British Airways Business Class

I had the Lemon slice with raspberry confit for dessert, as well as a cup of Earl Grey. The tea and dessert were served with some chocolates on the side. The dessert tasted fine but nothing special.

Lemon Slice with Raspberry Confit British Airways Business Class
Post-Meal Chocolates

Overall, the meal service is slow but the flight attendant serving me was fairly attentive. The food was fair, but not really anything great. The starter was simple and the beef in the main was quite dry. The food is like the hard product of British Airways Business Class – mediocre at best.

Other services

One of the biggest issues I had on this flight is with the tray tables. The tray table is extremely weak and is not able to support my 15-inch laptop. I ended up placing the computer on my lap as I did some work. The tray table is so flimsy, twice my drink placed on my tray table just slid onto me when there is turbulence. The second time my drink spilt I had my laptop on my lap, which, not surprisingly, destroyed my laptop. (I ended up paying over 1000USD to get a new motherboard for the computer in China)

Me trying to put my computer on the tray table

Has anyone else had any similar issues with British Airways’s tray tables? Please leave a comment if you had.

The IFE screen on this plane is also tiny. I think this is smaller than the screens carriers such as Singapore Airlines has for Economy Class seats. The selection is not limited but nothing close to good. You really have to try your best to be comfortable on British Airways Business Class. However, at least you get a flatbed!

The minuscule IFE screen measures only 12” diagonally

The flight attendants put up a mini bar in the galley after the dinner service. There was quite a fair selection of cold snacks, fruits and drinks. The space in the galley seems limited as everything is just conglomerated.

Galley Mini Bar British Airways Business Class

I quite like some of the cabin decors of this plane, especially this lamp-like illuminating light on the ceiling. The lack of overhead bin in the centre of the cabin also made the cabin feel more spacious, which I appreciate.

Meal Service – Breakfast

The breakfast service began about 2 hours before landing. British Airways does offer an express breakfast offer than you can order before you go to sleep, but I chose to review the full breakfast. The full menu read as follows:

I chose to have a traditional English breakfast. The service began with a fruit plate and a selection of bread from the bread basket. I had a cup of tea to go with breakfast. The meal was served with jam and butter on the side.

The breakfast is plated with not much care and it tasted nothing special. The service was attentive at times but mostly feels like an assembly line. Overall, the meal is just fair.

The crew made an announcement with detailed arrival info into Shanghai about 40 minutes before landing. I like the fact they inform you of the various ways to get into Shanghai as Pudong airport is extremely far from the center of the city. They even gave a small intro to the famous Maglev train connecting Pudong airport.

The plane landed at 7:50am local time and spent 15 minutes taxiing to the gate. British Airways uses Terminal 2 in Shanghai Pudong and my next flight to Beijing is departing Terminal 1. So I have about 2 hours to change terminals in Shanghai Pudong for my domestic flight on China United Airlines to Beijing.

Conclusion

Overall, I would not go out of my way to fly British Airways Business Class. The product is not as good as many other Airlines offer and is in need of a refresh. The crew can be a hit or miss and on this particular flight, it was quite a pleasant experience. The seat will be my main complaint as its just way too narrow and you really have to try to “make yourself comfortable” as they say:

However, the redeeming factor is that you can almost guarantee to get award space o British Airways Business Class and it’s always good to get a flatbed anyway. I would not recommend British Airways Business Class but I will not avoid it. It is just an OK product.

2 comments

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    • No, they will only pay for costs if I accept their routing. I opted for them to route me to Shanghai (where their liability will end) and paid myself to Beijing. I have to get to Beijing before that evening for a meeting and their routing will only get me there at night the earliest.

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