Australians are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to options to fly from major cities in Australia to London, a city which we can safely say is the hub of Europe.
As I will be spending time in London and will be in Europe for quite a while, it made sense to fly British Airways. Being the UK’s national carrier, London is BA’s hub and flying from Sydney, it stops briefly in Singapore to refuel. (No airline flies direct from Australia to Europe / UK at the moment).
Also, it was British Airways that pioneered the lie-flat seat concept in Business Class back in the year 2000. Fast forward 15 years later, not only do most airlines offer a lie-flat seat on their premium products, but also engage in a fierce competition as to which airline offers the most value for money.
This is my first time to fly British Airways long-haul, and without further adieu, allow me to present the trip report.
British Airways Sydney to London (via Singapore)
Flight Number: BA 16
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Seat Numbers: 13G / 13F on Sydney to Singapore (yin-yang seat) and 16E / 16F on Singapore to London (middle seats)
Flight time: 7 hours 35 minutes (Sydney to Singapore) / 13 hours 25 minutes (Singapore to London)
Transit time in Singapore Changi Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes
With a departure time of 16:30, we were at the airport by 13:00 and the rush hour of Sydney Airport has well and truly gone by then. It was a pleasant check-in and overall airport experience at this time.
There was hardly a queue at check-in for all classes in British Airways, and I initially thought it was due to the flight not being full. I later discovered it was actually a full flight so I have to say that the quick check-in is due to the check-in agents’ efficiency.
One thing that I found quite unusual with British Airways is their hand luggage allowance.
While it does have the usual size restrictions, 40cm x 30cm x 15cm for a handbag / laptop bag and up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm for the additional bag, the maximum weight per bag is 23 kg and you must be able to lift and store the bags in the overhead compartments by yourself.
This is certainly very refreshing from the usual world of 7-kg hand luggage allowance, and most certainly very last-minute shopping-friendly!
British Airways being a One World airline, uses the Qantas Lounge in Sydney International Airport.
There’s a fair selection of light and healthy meals (lots of beans, quinoa, soup and pasta salads). But there’s also a gelato station which makes waiting for your flight a whole lot sweeter and more fun.
Boarding / Pre-Take Off
Boarding was on time and just as efficient and speedy as check-in. Minimal fanfare with absolute efficiency.
Drinks and hot towels upon boarding as soon as we got settled in our seats.
What I remember the most about British Airways was Yanni’s “Aria” back in the late 80’s/ early 90’s. This was the golden age of British Airways’ ads/ marketing and I remember seeing this ad and hearing this music and thinking, “Now that’s an airline I want to fly with”
I mentioned this ad because British Airways’ boarding music is a modern version of Yanni’s Aria which I really like. It’s very catchy and uplifting.
With seat numbers 13G and 13F on the Sydney – Singapore leg, it meant we were seated on the middle section (seat configuration is 2-4-2) which had the aisle and inside seat. This also meant that we had the ‘yin-yang’ seat arrangement, where passengers sit next to each other but face opposite directions.
For solo travellers who would like solitude and silence, a privacy screen can be lifted but this must remain down during take off and landing.
When the privacy screen is down, it is quite inevitable to hold brief eye-contacts with the passenger you are sitting across from. I can see why this can be slightly awkward for strangers (or hey, it can be a ‘how I met your mother/father/ my best friend moment”) but for a travelling couple like us, this was a surprising and refreshingly pleasant quality time.
I called the seating experience our unexpected “couples therapy” Well take watching movies for example. Normally, when we are sitting on an aircraft side by side, I would just get a glimpse of what Zombie is watching from his entertainment monitor (and it usually would be a Young Adult film think: TMNT, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and I would just sigh, roll my eyes and continue with my own movie and food.
But this time, what I saw were the glee in his eyes and complete joy in his chuckles over what he was watching.
Likewise, what he saw were my expressions of satisfaction and relaxation when I was watching this:
The seating configuration overall encouraged interaction which was also great because flying long-haul usually meant we would both be wrapped up in our own world / movies.
The Club World Seat
The Club World (Business Class) seats on British Airways comes with its own instruction card to utilise and maximise your comfort on its lie-flat seats.
The instructions are quite detailed, as the seat has essentially 2 parts. One is the seat itself, and the other is a ‘leg rest’ contraption that folds down to form the last 1/4 part of the lie-flat bed.
After a short transit in Singapore (1 hour 30 minutes), we changed our seats to experience what it’s like in the inner middle seats (so both seats are facing the same direction, which means you are essentially ‘flying backwards’)
We had seat numbers 16E and 16F:
If you are travelling as a couple, these middle seats offer more exclusivity and privacy. With the privacy window up, it felt like you are in your very own couples capsule.
What is it like flying backwards?
This was one of the F.A.Q that I got when I uploaded photos of the seat on social media. Driving or riding a land vehicle backwards can be nauseating but I can tell you with certainty that it is NOT the same case when flying backwards.
I honestly didn’t feel any difference when flying. During take-off and landing, of course there was a change in sensation as the throttle is felt on the opposite side. But it wasn’t nauseating at all.
Was I able to sleep soundly?
The seat converts to 183 cm (6 feet) flat bed.
I slept quite soundly. With seats that lie-flat, there really weren’t any issues with regards to sleeping well. I do not take sleeping medications but instead listen to sounds under the “Wellness & Relaxation” music genre of BA’s in-flight entertainment.
The Club World menu of British Airways has it written down that they utilise “Height Cuisine” in creating the meals on-board. It means that they use the freshest local ingredients to produce food packed with flavour at altitude.
This is good news for me because it meant not using extra seasoning and flavours to give more taste to food in altitude.
I would describe the British Airways in-flight menu as safe and basic. Nothing too exotic or unknown.
The meal service was served from a singular tray (starters, main and dessert) which was quite practical.
I didn’t pre-order special meals but just chose the pescetarian choices (seafood or vegetable) in the menu. Meals with meat were ordered by Zombie.
There is an abundance of seafood in the regular menu so I was quite happy with that.
British Airways In-Flight Menu
DINNER (Sydney – Singapore)
Italian-style prosciutto with grilled artichokes & kalamata olives
Roasted baby beetrood & Persian feta salad
Fresh Seasonal salad seasoned with vinaigrette (above left)
Grilled fillet of Australian grass-fed beef with red wine balsamic sauce, potato and cheddar au gratin & mixed vegetables
Pan-fried Barramndi fillet in tomato caper sauce with fresh herb risotto
Penne Pasta with Pesto cream sauce and wilted spinach
Chicken caesar salad with pan-fried breast of chicken
Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart with Creme Fraiche
Jindi blue and gouda cheese served with grapes & crackers
I enjoyed the barramundi immensely. Though, like the steak it did seem to all have been heated in one plate, the barramundi still retained its firmness.
As mentioned, the menu may have been basic and the flavours quite safe but it also meant nothing was shocking or disappointing.
British Airways’ Club World also has Club Kitchen, a space where you can stretch your legs and help yourself to some snacks any time during the flight. Snacks ranged from small packets of chips to cookies and biscuits like Tim Tam, chocolate bars, and fresh fruit.
On the Sydney to Singapore leg, afternoon tea was served prior to landing. While there were no fancy sandwich trays, they did serve both sweet (tarts, pastries) and savoury (sandwiches). No scones though.
Singapore – London Club World Menu
Salmon Tartare with horseradish creme fraiche
Vegetarian Nicoise with Olive tapenade
Moroccan-spiced chicken breast with roasted sweet potato, aubergine and courgette
Seared sea bass with red pepper sauce, creamy polenta and sauteed vegetables
Gnocchi with cherry tomato & Caciocavallo cheese sauce
Salad of grilled king prawn, papaya & thai chilli dressing (not available)
Tipsy cake with caramelised pineapple & vanilla cream
Selection of cheese and crackers
Chilled Fruit Juice
Energising Fruit Smoothie
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Bircher Muesli with Strawberry
*although the starters had their own section in the menu, they were served alongside the main breakfast*
Selection of warm breads & breakfast pastries
Omelette with pork sausage, back bacon, lyonnaise potatoes & roasted tomato
Mushroom & cheddar omelette with sauteed potato, spinach & cherry tomato
Continental breakfast featuring beef pastrami, gammon ham, camembert and aged cheddar
Scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar & tomato chutney on ciabatta bread
*Though they had a vegetarian option for breakfast which was the mushroom & cheddar omelette with sauteed potato, spinach & cherry tomato, they ran out of this option very quickly*
The Amenity Kit (which the crew call a wash bag) is by Elemis and it contains the following:
- eye mask
- ear plugs
- toothbrush + toothpaste
- Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Ultra Rich Cream
- Elemis Minty Moisture Lip Balm
- Elemis Skin Nourishing Hand Lotion
The British Airways Club World entertainment monitors measure 10.4 inches wide.
There’s a handheld controller but the monitor is also touch screen. The movie entertainment selection contains classics, all-time favourites , and new releases among all other genres.
Service / Safety
British Airways’ service is all about efficiency and safety. Requests are handled immediately and what really impressed me with the most is how all cabin crew prioritised safety.
They were very strict about not having anything on your lap and in front of your seat during take off and landing.
All cabin crew were proactive in taking your jacket / bag off you and place it in the overhead bin for take off, and once the seatbelt signs are off, they would immediately hand it over to you without you having to remind them.
Also during mid-flight whenever the flight would experience turbulence and the seatbelt sign is switched on, I was amazed to see the cabin crew not just make the usual rounds of reminding everyone to fasten their seatbelts, but actually physically check under passengers’ blankets to see that they were really strapped in.
One of the cabin crew gave me a tip and advised me to fasten my seatbelt outside my blanket so that they would not have to look underneath. Yes, they really do check and place passengers’ safety first and foremost.
And this does not just go for business class crew. On my flight from London to Bucharest on economy, the passenger behind me asked for a can of beer and without skipping a beat, the cabin crew asked him how old he was and for identification. (The guy was of age but it pays to be sure!)
This was really memorable to me because when I was working as cabin crew more than 10 years ago, I (and the rest of the team on that dreaded flight) got in deep trouble for unknowingly serving a minor cans of beer and getting him intoxicated, and seated next to this kid was an undercover police officer.
Long, long story short – we did get out of trouble, just by the skin of our teeth after I spoke at a length with the police officer.
I realise I’ve written longer about passenger safety than any other aspects of the British Airways flight, because at this day and age of airlines trying really hard to provide impressive and luxurious comfort to passengers, I find that certain airlines’ cabin crew focus on making the passengers happy, and not safe. (for instance, I know some would be hesitant to ‘disturb’ sleeping passengers in order to check if seatbelts are fastened.)
Another remarkable thing I noticed: Windows. British Airways’ cabin crew did not mind if windows were closed / half open during take off and landing. Perhaps this is now considered an old safety procedure? They were more particular about seatbelts during take off and landing, which makes sense to me because more accidents and mishaps occur with unfastened seatbelts than unopened windows.
Here’s a video I created of the flight, which I hope is detailed enough for your to vicariously experience what it’s like to fly British Airways BA 16 Sydney to London on Club World.
I arrived in Heathrow wide awake and well-rested. My overall experience with British Airways’ Club World was very pleasant and if I could sum it up in 2 words, they would be: Secure and Safe. I felt secure that I am in good hands should anything go wrong (from slight hiccups like delays to actual emergencies). Service from ground to air by BA staff were very consistent, and I would not hesitate to fly British Airways once more for long-haul journeys.
Have you experienced flying British Airways’ Club World? How was the experience?
Do you think you would enjoy the yin-yang seats?
We flew on the Club World cabin experience as guests of British Airways for the purpose of a review, but all honest thoughts and opinions are mine.