Quite often, I have this habit of writing trip reports out of sequence because sometimes I just lose interest in what I'm typing... or another trip came up which was more exciting... In this case, this TR is actually Part II of Heading Home Part I: The Fine Old BA Birdy To AMS. (by pokfur Jun 18 2015 in Trip Reports), and this flight took place back in May 2015. If you recall, I had flown a positioning flight to AMS, spent a night there, and was flying back home to Singapore on an Avios-upgraded Business Class flight on BA.
While I've actually typed out the AMS-LHR sector I've decided to just completely ditch it and not include it here. Suffice to say that it was probably one of the most unexciting and uninspiring BA flights ever, except for the fact that it is till date my one and only flight on a sharklet-ed A320. Still not used to such a sight; these huge winglets belong on the 737!
This flight would be my first time ever on BA's club world. I was fairly excited but had low expectations. I've heard both good and bad things about Club World, and so I was happy that I had gotten a cheap ex-AMS WTP fare and managed to upgrade with Avios before the devaluation happened. The net output was something like 2000+ Avios which was incredible value. If I was disappointed, I wouldn't be too upset since I didn't pay cash for it. If I was delighted, it would be all the more sweeter
The trip continued from the above. I had just arrived in LHR from AMS on a beautiful Saturday. Seated at 6F, I was quickly off the aircraft and headed straight for flight connections.
Follow the purple signs!
I was eligible for fast track, which till date had the longest queue I've seen.
Having said that I've heard stories of far worse situations. I had a comfortable 2 hour plus transit time so I wasn't worried at all. Seems like it was a busy saturday mid morning.
Soon, I was beeped through and it was up the escalators for a security check.
This probably went by in typical unfriendly slow Heathrow fashion, and soon I was spewed out into T5.
Lots of people!!
This was my first time seeing T5 heaving with so many people. I guess I've never travelled through Heathrow at such a time of the day before. It was lunch time and I was getting hungry so I headed to the lounge to get some sustenance.
Up up up!!
I remember at the time, uncertain about what work would be like or where it would take me, thinking that it would be a while before I would be back again. Turns out I've already been back through Heathrow 8 times since for work, most recently just last week!
I stepped into the Galleries First lounge and headed straight to the dining area.
I decided to try something new today: -
The Hunter's Chicken.
I remember the chicken being very soft and well-cooked, and tasty. I distinctly remember liking it very much too!
Once done, I moved over by the windows.
Might have had more wine and champagne too...
View of the lounge.
Must've taken this shot while heading to the toilet!
I'm pretty sure I went to take a shower as well, though I have no photographic proof of this. Nevertheless having spent some time in the lounge chilling and filling up, it was time to head over to my gate for departure. There was no doubt that the A380 would depart from either a B or C gates so this necessitated a train ride underground.
Unfortunately, the longest escalators in the whole of Heathrow weren't functioning that day so there were a lot of people heaving their bags down the steps! In hindsight this was actually very risky because someone (or someone's luggage) could have lost their balance and just tumbled down like dunno-how-many steps!! When I finally made it down, it was time to take a train ride!
The automated people mover.
Emerging into the C gates.
Unfortunately by this time BA had stopped giving eligible lounge-goers a £15 credit for Starbucks. They probably figured people were just capitalizing on getting some freebies like coffee mugs and tumblers and coffee beans…
Boarding had yet to begin yet there was already a queue, ironically by priority boarders. I find it strange that only at Heathrow do I see priority boarders queue up to make sure that they're at the front of the priority queue. Soon, boarding was announced and I made my way forward.
View after being beeped through.
So I have to confess This A380 you see? It's not actually my aircraft! The one I was about to board was the A380 in the background. My gate was one of those that had an über long jet bridge.
Just one section of the said über long jet bridge.
I made the uphill climb to the upper deck, and was welcomed at the door and directed across the aisle, to the left.
So why was this flight unique? You may have noticed that so far my photographs have all been taken during the day. Yet BA only has two evening/night flights to Singapore - BA 11 and BA 15. So why's the sky so bright? And wait. My flight number is BA 1011??
So yes it turns out this was a one-off day flight for G-XLEA to fly to Singapore for maintenance! That also explained the very light load on today's unique flight.
The cabin crew were still doing their last checks on the cabin when I entered. Oops!
That's my seat 51K right there.
My first impression of the cabin was that BA had done a rather classy job with Club World on the A380. The darker grey seats and shell looked slightly more upmarket, even more so in real life than in the pictures.
My seat, plus the little storage box.
A closer view.
Some of the comments on the A380 upper deck Club World were true. For example, the curved, low ceiling really did get in the way, and I'm by no means tall. At all. On the contrary the side bins were fabulous. But they're fabulous on any upper deck seat anyway.
View of the aisle seat. Imagine someone sitting right there.
Random photo of the nice-looking bulkhead.
As mentioned, the load was very light and I had no seat mate. In fact the front upper deck CW cabin was probably filled with something like 6 people.
View from my window.
Very soon after I had settled into my seat, a stewardess popped by my seat. Let's call her Jane.
"Can I get you a drink, Mr. pokfur?" Jane asked.
"Can I have a glass of champagne, and some water, please!" I replied.
Being address by name on BA? Apparently not the norm in Club World and definitely a good start!! Jane disappeared and reappeared shortly with my drinks.
As I sipped on my drinks I explored the seat a bit more.
I discovered, for example, that releasing both the screen and the tray table was a bitch. Yes there was a release catch but there was no way to really pry the table and screen out unless one had long, unbreakable fingernails.
View through the divider and across the aisle. I love the white on grey.
View of the cabin.
Passengers had trickled on board and I know there was someone in front of and behind me. Soon, a second flight attendant, let's call her Lucy, came by and distributed menus. Lucy was Singaporean, and it was surprisingly nice to hear a familiar accent having spent 3 weeks in Europe (yes I spent it with my wife but she doesn't count )
Simple looking menu.
Soon, the captain welcomed us on board, and the safety video was played while our A380 was slowly pushed back from stand.
Pushing back carefully.
Looks like a crab!
I was bored and decided to poke around further, and this time, I pressed the divider button. I was shocked to my core when the mechanism for the divider made an extremely loud whirring noise in the otherwise completely silent cabin and the divider went up. I was so embarrassed but thankfully nobody could see me now
Shutting the cabin out.
Again it was absolutely true that with the divider up the Club world window seat provided unparalleled privacy. The only other equally private (but much more spacious) seat that I can think of is SQ in Suites!! Speaking of spacious I found the seat width to be very adequate, despite BA squeezing in a ridiculous amount of seats in one row (8 on a 777!). No complaints there.
Ready to go!
The trents spooled up silently as we made our way to the runway.
Dwarfing an A321 from the upper deck.
Hey what's that!!
Apparently that was special livery for the GREAT Festival of Creativity, Shanghai. Fascinating.
Holding just before the runway.
Time for take off!
The Trents whirred to life, and we began out take-off roll. Indeed it was a slightly strange sensation moving backward, but nothing that was overly weird or anything. The Club World seats are already slightly reclined so you won't find yourself toppling forward out of your seat.
Trundling down the runway.
We had a nice slow roll before rotating seemingly rather far down the runway.
Here we go!
Up up and away!
Somehow I felt like we were seriously not climbing very far into the sky.... Perhaps I was too used to rocketing out of LHR on A320s!
Still climbing mildly if you ask me!
Crossing the M25.
Sometime later, we made it through the cloud cover.
The fake-big A380 windows.
The cabin crew were soon released, and Jane came by to hand out amenity kits.
Elemis kit in the form of a wash bag.
Contents. There's an eyeshade hiding under the socks.
However I had brought along my own pair of slippers, so I removed my shoes and donned them for greater comfort!
I also figured out how to use the footrest. There's actually an instruction sheet for dummies!
It could be lowered to act more like a leg rest.
At this point in time, Lucy came around and took my order for lunch. Hmm time to consult the menu.
Decisions... Decisions... again.
Against my better judgement (I've heard horror stories of steak on BA) I went for the steak. Frankly the other options didn't appeal to me at all.
Before service begun, I quickly went to the toilet. In typical A380 fashion, there were two very large toilets at the front of the cabin.
Ample space for one (or two?) to do whatever one needed to do!
Random picture of the aisle seat on my way back.
Back at my seat Jane came around to offer me a hot towel. The FAs have a button at the top to lower the divider so it was quite a shock when it happened the first time, since I didn't even know that she was there. What they would do would be to lower the divider, pass you whatever they need to pass you, then raise it back up again. I can imagine that's especially irritating for the passenger in the aisle seat. While waiting for the service to start I decided to poke around the IFE.
Control and headphone jack conveniently located next to my head.
Jane soon announced her presence by once again lowering the divider.
"Can I get you a drink, Mr pokfur?" she asked kindly.
I thought for a while before requesting for a glass of apple juice and some water. This was accompanied by a pack of nuts. WHIRRRRRRRRRRR went the divider back up.
I got comfy!
I let the airshow run while sitting there enjoying the flight. Everything was great so far. The seat was more comfortable than I imagined it to be, the crew were lovely, the A380 was nice, stable, and quiet. I was a ball of happiness.
Some time later, the meal service began. I decided to just leave my divider down. There wasn't anyone sitting in the aisle seat anyway the whirring noise was beginning to become irritating (yet still shocking). Jane came by with a trolley, and sat my tray down on my table.
"Would you like a drink, Mr pokfur?"
Hmm.. A drink you say?
Which to choose??
"Actually, could I have a small glass of each of the 3 champagnes?" I asked unashamedly.
"All three??" Jane replied, incredulous. I felt like an insolent child who had asked for too much chocolates However, before I could stutter a reply, she began picking up a bottle of champagne.
"No problem Mr pokfur. Though I'm not even sure we have three different types of champagne, but here you go with the Taittenger and the Rosé. I'll have a check in the galley and I'll be right back with the third glass!" she said firmly. Gosh, I really thought she was going to scold me like a school teacher would!!
The starters tray.
The crayfish cocktail thing was very nice. The salad, however, I didn't touch, but that's generally because I don't quite like vegetables... Jane soon returned with some bad news.
"Mr pokfur, I have looked all over the galley and have called downstairs to my colleagues working the lower deck Club World cabin but there are no signs of the Castelnau champagne on board. I'm so sorry; the caterers must have missed it out," she said apologetically.
I told her that it was fine and that I was enjoying my 2 glasses of champagne already! In any case I thought it was odd that BA would offer 3 types of champagne on board Club World. Even 2 is already more than most Business Class!
For the main course it was Lucy who came by my seat to clear my plate, and deliver the steak that I had ordered. Time to pick an appropriate wine for the main course!
To accompany my meal, I went for a glass of red wine, though I can't remember which. I probably chose the Shiraz - something stronger for the dulled sense on board.
I was pretty impressed by the plating of the main course. I expected the steak to appear in a boring white plate but hey look at this stylish grey plate!
Here's a close-up!
I dug into my steak, which expectedly was well-done through and through. But at least it was tasty and wasn't too tough.
The condiments paired the steak nicely, and I slowly ate my lunch while enjoying being whisked through the sky at 35,000 feet.
Somewhere over Czech Republic having lunch.
Jane came by several times and always made sure my drink was topped up
Soon, I was done with lunch and was offered a choice between cheese or the torte. Already very very full, I chose the latter.
Orange torte with bitter chocolate sauce. Yummy!!!
This dessert was lovely! Orange and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations so this really hot the spot for me. Halfway through, Jane came around offering tea or coffee, and I went with a cup of coffee to accompany my dessert.
Unfortunately I remember the coffee tasting a bit strange... or at least, not any better than those served in Economy, which was a let down.
Soon, my tray was cleared and I was given a bottle of water to accompany me for the rest of the flight.
I kept the praline as a mid-flight snack!
As the meal service came to an end, the cabin lights were dimmed somewhat and put into a calming sort of mood lighting.
Many passengers had their window shades down but I kept mine open. I was totally wide awake. No chance of sleeping.. Dum di dum, what shall I do now...
Heading towards turkey now, with 9h 45mins to go
It's getting darker outside too, isn't it?
Maybe I should try to sleep? Now it was time to figure out the seat buttons in full detail.
Extremely simple and intuitive. Note how the takeoff/landing position isn't actually the most upright position.
Sun setting at an alarming rate.
Soon, the cabin was plunged into darkness and I decided that perhaps I should try to nap for a while. After all, I'd be arriving into Singapore in the late morning and would have a whole day ahead of me.
My bed for the, uh, daynight.
Somehow, BA has very cleverly made Club World work. This had to be the most private J class bed in the skies. I felt happily encapsulated in my little corner. Seat width was sufficient, seat length was definitely more than enough and I didn't have to stick my feet into some cubby hole somewhere! The seat cushioning was very comfortable too.
Try as I might, though, I couldn't get myself to fall asleep. It seems others couldn't either as a visit to the galley/toilet revealed a little gathering of sorts going on amongst the other passengers. I spied with my little eyes some freshly squeezed orange juice and asked for a glass.
To be honest I was pleasantly surprised that BA had freshly squeezed orange juice. I think my expectations really were way too low!
To pass the time, I put on a movie. I believe it was Rio 2.
Entertaining and quite funny.
I left my divider down during this period and could see Lucy patrolling the cabin occasionally. When my movie had ended and during one of these patrols, she actually stopped by and we had a chat. As mentioned earlier it was nice to have a fellow Singaporean to chat with and I found out that the Singapore crew did mostly the Asian routes where speaking Chinese was required. They would do a sort of W pattern e.g. SIN-LHR-HKG-LHR-SIN or something like that. Sadly, though, it seems that since then BA has decided to close the Singapore base. I hope Lucy and her fellow Singaporean BA crew find a good way out of it!
At the end of our chat, Lucy offered to get me some drinks/snacks so I asked for a cup of hot chocolate which she was more than happy to make for me.
Yummy shortbread biscuits to accompany it.
The moon shining brightly in the night sky.
I spent the next few hours snoozing in my comfortable bed in the sky. I couldn't fall asleep, and got rather bored as seems to be the norm nowadays on these über long day flights. Eventually though, daylight began to stream into the cabin as we transited closer and closer towards GMT +8.
And as we sped closer towards Singapore, it was soon time for the second meal service.
Jane was back again! She wished me a cheery good morning and asked me for my choice of starters - the fruit or the muesli. I went for the latter. I was also offered a smoothie to go along with my dish, and some coffee. Lucy followed along shortly with the bread basket and as always for breakfast I opted for the croissant.
Breafast tray all nicely put together!
I have to say both the muesli and croissant were super yummy. That apple compote thing that was on top of the muesli? Heavenly. And the croissant warm and crispy. Unfortunately I hadn't realised that the smoothie contained passionfruit which I dislike so I requested Jane to swap it out for some freshly squeezed orange juice instead. Now my
Mmm I was really enjoying this! When I had lapped everything up, Jane came by to clear my plates, and asked me what I'd like for the main dish. Seeing as this was BA and I had to see how the English breakfast in Club World differed from that in Economy I decide to go for that.
"Absolutely!" Jane said and tottered off to the galley. She returned a while later to deliver my main dish.
There was a difference! That sausage looked more succulent, the potatoes fried better, and the bacon thicker. Uh, the tomato looked the same though.
And indeed this English breakfast tasted heavenly! Well, if the British can't do it well then who can, eh?
No doubt I ate everything up. Ahh and now it was time to "enjoy" another cup of (actually rather bad) coffee while we got closer to Singapore.
In general I find that BA times their meals rather well. Even in Economy they don't wake passengers up too early, and by the time the food is cleared, it's just about 45 mins to 1 hour out from the destination, which to me is acceptable. SQ for example finishes it's second meal nearly 1.5hours out! Still so much time to kill!! Anyway, as a result, we began our descent into Singapore not too long after our meal trays were cleared.
Top of the descent.
Some bridge in Malaysia.
Closer to arrival, the cabin was secured and I packed my stuff and straightened my seat in preparation for arrival.
Another plus point of flying backwards? Photography out of the window was effortless.
Approaching Singapore from the North
Coming in high over the displaced threshold
Our A380 touched down fairly gently on Singapore tarmac and we gently slowed down.
Slowly lumbering off the runway.
Ah. Home sweet home. It was good to be back but of course it was bittersweet to leave my (then) fiancée behind in the UK. It's all moot of course because she's back home with me for good now but I remember that bittersweet feeling, and yet also the comforting thought that I'd be flying back to see her again in 3 weeks' time
There's no place like home.
Going past an SQ birdy on a long taxi route.
And finally on stand.
The seat belt signs were turned off and the passengers got up and prepared to disembark. I thanked Jane and Lucy for the wonderful flight and service before stepping off G-XLEA. Later on, after collecting my luggage, I bumped into the crew again and gave them a delightful wave before grabbing a taxi home.
My inaugural Club World flight flying backwards was definitely something etched quite deeply into my mind (hence I could still write this TR lol!) Jane and Lucy really took care of their passengers and did the best they could throughout the flight. The Club World hard product is a very clever design. It has its downsides, such as the lack of storage space, and for the less agile, the need to climb over someone else, but the upsides of a having very private 'cubicle' (when the divider is up) and having ample space to toss and turn while sleeping in my opinion outweighed the downsides. The food in my opinion was above par, despite the well-cooked steak. All in all this flight far exceeded my expectations and certainly made my Avios upgrade all the more sweeter.
Fortunately, I did manage to upgrade my flight 3 weeks later again to Club World. Unfortunately, that was a fully packed flight and I got to experience the 'typical' Club experience. Less personalised service, that awkward eye contact with the passenger in the aisle seat, the constant up down of the divider, and I even had to queue for the toilets! Nonetheless, it wasn't bad, just obviously not as good as what I had got the first time round. The food was still great, the bed was still comfy, and it was still a very comfortable way to spend 13 hours in the air.
Previous (readable) Trip Reports:
Dual Upgrades Part I - GRU-LHR On BA! (by pokfur Feb 13 2016 in Trip Reports)
Lounging In The Latest Lounges In Asia! SIN & HKG (by pokfur Jan 6 2016 in Trip Reports)
Squishy BA 787 And SQ's New Y On The 77W! (by pokfur Sep 25 2015 in Trip Reports)
Heading Home Part I: The Fine Old BA Birdy To AMS. (by pokfur Jun 18 2015 in Trip Reports)
Dirty Dirty BA To Croatia And Explosive EZY Back! (by pokfur Jun 10 2015 in Trip Reports)
An Unexpected TR Featuring BA's LHR Arrival Lounge (by pokfur Jun 4 2015 in Trip Reports)
CX Adventures Part II: Ok Not Just CX... (by pokfur May 1 2015 in Trip Reports)
A Suite Escape: SIN-LHR With SQ (by pokfur Mar 27 2015 in Trip Reports)
CX Adventures Part I: The Old And New J To JFK (by pokfur Mar 20 2015 in Trip Reports)
BA/IB A380/77W/CRJ: Exit Row Or IFE Box? (by pokfur Mar 14 2015 in Trip Reports)
Qatar Widebodies Part 2: The A350! (by pokfur Feb 14 2015 in Trip Reports)
Qatar Widebodies Part 1: 787, A346, And A350? (by pokfur Feb 6 2015 in Trip Reports)
The Qantas Singapore Lounge + BA To Paris! (by pokfur Jan 9 2015 in Trip Reports)
A Roundabout Way Home: IB/BA LCY-MAD-LHR-SIN! (by pokfur Jan 3 2015 in Trip Reports)