British Airways Club World & Club Europe, post covid

I was excited for my first long haul trip since covid, particularly as we were flying in the new British Airways Club Suite, which BA started to install on their Boeing 777 fleet in 2019.

As it became clear that we probably wouldn’t get to Vietnam, I was scouring the internet for any interesting destinations and The Bahamas came up. I set an alert on Seatspy for 2 seats in business class and waited.

Flash forward to a breezy August day and in pops an email from Seatspy that BA had released some seats in business class on flights to The Bahamas. The timing couldn’t have been better as I’d not long earned my 2-4-1 voucher from the BA Premium Plus credit card. The other half’s new Premium Plus card had also just arrived and this purchase would contribute nicely towards our spend target for the 25,000 Avios welcome bonus.

I excitedly logged in to the BA app to make the booking and my heart skipped a beat when I saw 2 seats in first class on the outbound flight. I tried a couple of times but the booking wouldn’t go through with the first class seats. Not wanting to risk losing the business class seats, and conscious that I should be talking to the friend I’d met for dinner, I booked business class both ways. Only when looking at the seat map did I realise that it was club suite, so I was quite happy with that. I did set an alert on Seatspy for first class but it didn’t go on sale for cash or points and no one other then the crew sat there during the flights.

This was actually the first time I’d flown business class with BA, after a disappointing experience in Premium Economy on our way back from Peru. It was also my first time flying out of Heathrow Terminal 5 so I was keen to see what it was like.

Although I’d used VeriFLY to upload all of our covid documents prior to online check-in, we bypassed the bag drop and went to a proper check-in desk to collect our boarding passes, just in case there was something I’d missed in the paperwork. Everything was in order and we were through security in no time at all.

There’s 2 lounges for business class passengers in T5, Galleries North & South. As we had a long transit on our return flight, we decided to use Galleries North on the outbound and South on the inbound.

Our flight was at 1040 so we were in the lounge for breakfast, and it was busy. Nearly all tables were taken. I liked the online menu and ordering system, you just scan the QR code on your table and it takes you to a website with the current menu options.

The food was disappointing though, the watermelon tasted off, like it had been sat in plastic for a long time and the bread on the bacon bap was so dry it sucked all of the moisture out of your mouth. The contents of the baps was fine, but the overall quality isn’t brilliant. Greggs is nicer. The cups tasted of dishwasher salt, but at least you knew they’d been through the wash! I asked for champagne but there was only Prosecco available from the self serve bar. Tea, coffee and soft drinks were self service too. The good thing about Galleries North is the amount of natural light, with full length windows on 2 sides. I enjoyed the view of The Shard in the distance.

Being new to T5, I didn’t realise how far away B & C gates are from the main terminal and didn’t see any obvious signs advising of the time it would take to reach them. We were departing from C gates and it took about 15 minutes to get there via the transit train. The flight wasn’t busy so we boarded quickly and was offered a welcome drink of water or champagne. There were some delays with loading luggage and cargo which meant we took off about 30 minutes late. We only had one drink service during the wait.

I was pleased with the club suite. The cabin felt new and modern, even if the seat was a little narrow. There wasn’t a massive amount of storage space and the head height cupboard wouldn’t open on the outbound flight, but I was able to store water in it in the return. I quite liked that it had a mirror in it!

The crew didn’t explain how the seat worked so I spent some time randomly pressing buttons and figuring things out. It certainly is comfy, but not at the level of Qatar Airways. There didn’t seem to be as many seat positions as on Qatar and mum found it difficult to get comfy because her legs aren’t long enough to reach the foot stool without being in fully flat bed mode.

Obviously, the big thing with club suite is the privacy door. It took me a little while to figure out how to unlock it using the little switch towards the back of door, but it really does add a level of privacy. When in a seating position, only the tallest person’s head is above the door and when reclined or fully flat, you feel very cocooned. The crew were able to serve over the door, but it is a little awkward when trying to manoeuvre a full tray rather than a single drink.

There was a blanket and pillow on the seat and The White Company bedding for the night flight home. I really didn’t see the point of the mattress sheet, it looked like a giant sanitary towel and didn’t add anything to the comfort, it was so thin. The flight was very hot so the blanket was a bit surplus. The amenity kit was cute and included the usual handy bits of toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, flight socks and eye mask. As face masks had to be worn whenever not eating or drinking, we looked pretty special with both a face mask and an eye mask!

After take off, another drinks service was offered and the Besserat de Bellefon rose champagne was tasty. BA used to have a reputation for its stingy wine budget but at around £40 a bottle, I was quite happy with this choice. The nuts were also very good!

One thing I enjoy the most about flying is the meal service, and especially in business class, meals have a sense of occasion with each course severed separately as you would expect in a restaurant. That’s not currently the case as BA tries to limit interaction between passengers and crew because of covid. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of the meal service all on one tray.

The food itself was good. The bread very nice, I remember that from the flight back from Peru. The red pepper dip was very tasty as was the lamb. The highlight was the crumble, which was excellent! The whole lunch service was over by about an hour 20 in to the flight. I settled down with a cocktail and a movie before having a nap.

A light afternoon tea was served later in the flight, which was a nice snack. I live for scones!

I did find service a little distant but I’m assuming that’s a covid thing. The crew did respond to requests for drinks, but we had to ask rather than them being offered. I still managed a few glasses of champagne and a couple of cocktails, so it wasn’t all bad!

On our inbound, we were greeted warmly at the Lignum Lounge which had the lovely smell of fresh buttery popcorn. We were asked to sanitise our hands and given vouchers for 2 free alcoholic drinks each. The food selection selection wasn’t brilliant, but I wasn’t hungry anyway after a week of All Inclusive! The little sandwich in brioche was tasty, and there was the option of hot pasta and meatballs which I didn’t try. The lounge staff made frequent rounds to offer drinks and snacks from the bar, but it was a shame that they ran out of the popcorn!

The flight seemed quiet with business class almost full and hardly anyone further back. Dinner was served within 40 minutes of take off and I really enjoyed the fish but the broccoli was the best bit! Mum didn’t enjoy the beef so she gave it to me! It was very butter beany.

It was a late flight, leaving at 2140 and the crew seemed keen to get everything cleared away as I was asked twice in 5 minutes whether I wanted my plate clearing, despite still having things to eat. I just ordered a peppermint tea and asked to keep the cheese!

After delicious food, the next best thing about business class is obviously the fully flat bed and I slept for about 2 hours before hitting a spot of turbulence which woke me up. It was quite bumpy from then on and the seat belt sign stayed on for the rest of the flight, or at least every time I lifted my eye mask to check. During the bumpiest bit, we hit a ground speed of 680mph!

The seat feels quite narrow for sleeping, especially as I’m a side sleeper but it’s still way better than trying to sleep in economy. I slept again until about 75 minutes before landing when it was time to wake up, get changed and have some breakfast. Mum didn’t like any of what was on offer, although I quite liked the bagel. It was a little tough so didn’t actually eat the bagel and scooped out the filling! I really enjoyed my first decent cup of tea in a week, hot and strong, just how I like it!

When checking in at Nassau, the helpful young lad on the desk asked if we were connecting on past London. We were, but on separate tickets and BA are usually fastidious in not checking bags through on separate tickets. I gave him the details of the flight to Paris and he was able to check the bags all the way through. I was chuffed with that as we now didn’t have to go landslide at Heathrow and avoid going through UK border control. I’d allowed plenty of time for the connection, but had seen the massive queues at Heathrow and was glad to be able to avoid them.

It still took almost an hour from landing to get through transit security and in to the lounge. We tried Galeries South which is much bigger than the North lounge but less natural light as the left side of the lounge faces in to the terminal. If you head to the right on entering the lounge you might be able to get a window seat.

We ordered something to eat using the QR code on the table, Mum had an afternoon tea and I had a vegetarian Vietnamese curry, but not until after a shower. Booking a shower was easy and much needed after a hot, sticky flight. You pass the showers on your left before heading up the escalator.

You can check shower availability in the same app where you order food and I had to refresh the app a couple of times for a shower to show available. Once booked, it’s held for 10 minutes. The shower cubicle was spotlessly clean, the water pressure excellent and the water hot. The Elemis toiletries were revitalising.

The flight to Paris left 50 minutes late. We boarded on schedule but the flight was almost full and there were paperwork queries which delayed other passengers boarding. There was then a runway inspection which delayed us further. Not really what we wanted when we already had a 5 hour wait and our flight from Nassau arrived half an hour early because of the strong jet stream. We landed only 20 minutes late though so it wasn’t too bad in the end.

As we were flying business class, the crew speedily brought around an afternoon tea, same as what we had on the flight out to Nassau. Being a short haul flight, business class was the middle seat blocked with a tray table, you don’t need a flat bed for a flight this short!

Date of trip; November 2022

Price paid; 62500 Avios + £648.50 per person for the Nassau flights, using a 2-4-1 voucher. 12000 + £25.50 per person for the Paris flight.

Points earned; 4044 Avios for paying with the BA Premium Plus credit card.

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