British Airways B767-300 Club World04/10/2012
CHECK-IN I arrived at Newark Liberty airport at 1950 for the 2305 British Airways departure to London Heathrow in Club World. I made my way to the British Airways Club World desk, located in a dark corner at the far left-hand side of the terminal building. There are no electronic kiosks and just one Club World desk. I got in line behind one other customer and then handed over my passport and one piece of luggage to be checked in.
I was checked in by 2000 and directed to the new Galleries lounge (see online news April 5) by going up three floors in a lift then through the security gates 50-58 and walking straight ahead where my passport was checked before joining a lengthy queue. However a third lane was opened as soon as I joined the line, shoes off, laptop out and I was through by 2015.
From here I carried on straight past the sign on my right directing passengers up to the new Galleries lounge in order to pick up some duty free. The main departures area is small with a bar, a small duty free concession selling cigarettes, alcohol and sweets and a Hudson News concession. The seating areas were busy and the area looked generally untidy as some improvement work was underway.
THE LOUNGE I then made my way towards the lounge, took the painfully slow lift up one level and entered. Here I was greeted and my boarding pass was checked. British Airways opened its new lounge at Newark in December - for a full review, click here.
As this flight was a sleeper service I opted to dine in the lounge. First customers can opt to dine from an a-la-carte menu in white leather booths and Club World passengers can choose from a hot and cold buffet. On this occasion hot oriental gyozas were being prepared to order in a garlic and ginger sauce. There was also a chicken curry, vegetarian lasagne, cheese and biscuits, cookies, brownies and a selection of salads and vegetable dishes.
After eating I decamped to the comfortable seating toward the back of the lounge and got my laptop out and signed in to the wifi (password America on this occasion) and finished my glass of wine. Staff came round to ask if I wanted anything more but I declined. There wasn’t a great selection of magazines but plenty of US and international papers so I grabbed an English newspaper (The Times or Daily Mail) before leaving.
BOARDING Boarding was slated for 2220 but was not announced by the lounge staff until 2235. We took the stairs down and the short walk to gate 56, on the left hand side. There were quite a few people waiting to board but as a Club World passenger I was allowed to jump to the front and was through by 2240.
THE SEAT I was in seat 1K, the first row on the far side of the cabin upon boarding. This was the old style Club World seat as this particular B767 had yet to be refurbished, for a review of the refurbished seat on my outbound journey click here. BA is gradually refurbishing its short and long-haul B767 aircraft at a rate of about one per month.
This is a backward facing window seat just beyond the main galley, located at the front of the cabin. I placed my bag in the overhead locker and moved my blanket and noise cancelling headphones onto the floor before settling into my seat.
The seat hadn’t been properly cleared from the previous flight and there were some wrappings stuffed into one of the crevices and an old amenity kit left in the literature pocket. Newspapers were then offered around as well as orange juice, champagne and water. I took water and had a chat with the American lady sat next to me; the seats are actually in quite close proximity to one another if you are sitting next to a stranger. My jacket was taken and it was really quite warm on board.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I would choose the seat I travelled out on, 4K, as this offers a little more privacy and you do not have to step over the legs of the person in the aisle seat, as I had to here. This can be particularly awkward on a night flight like this one. The window seats are certainly better for getting a good night’s rest as they are further from the busy aisle and feel a lot more private.
THE FLIGHT Pull back was at 2310 and take off at 2320. Menus and vouchers for the arrivals lounge at T5 were handed out shortly after takeoff and consisted of: A chilled Caesar salad with prawns or Charolais beef with creamy mustard sauce as well as an Elderflower cheesecake, fruit or hot chocolate with warm cookies. I was tempted by something sweet so ordered the hot chocolate and cookies. Breakfast was also listed as a selection of juice, yoghurt, fruit, a bacon roll or pastries.
I got up and climbed over the person in 3H’s feet to go to the toilet and grab my laptop down. I perched my laptop on the tray table and waited for my hot chocolate to arrive. Annoyingly I had got myself comfortable, with the table out, when I realised I did not have the DVD I wanted to watch. I asked a member of cabin crew to grab it for me and this was no problem, taking out my bag from the overhead locker and replacing it again afterwards.
The cabin lights were dimmed almost immediately after takeoff as many wanted to rest. There was plenty of room for my laptop and the drink and cookies on the tray table when it arrived at 2350. The cookies were warm and gooey, falling apart when you pick them up, a real late night treat.
The empty plate and mug were taken at 0000 and a bottle of water brought round. I took off my shoes and forced them into the small under seat cupboard, got out my blanket and flattened my seat at 0030, to try and get some sleep. The seat is very comfortable for sleeping as it affords a sense of privacy once laid flat and one can sleep side on as there is sufficient knee space. The seat drops down slightly at the end where the seat joins the drop down footrest.
I slept very well, the cabin was quiet and the temperature had levelled off nicely. I woke when the cabin lights were turned on at 1010 (UK time) as the captain announced 30 minutes to landing and was offered tea or coffee at 1015. I had a tea but nothing to eat.
ARRIVAL We landed at 1045 and were transferred by bus to the terminal building. We reached immigration by 1100 and there was no sign of the immigration chaos that has been mentioned on our forum recently (see forum here). I made my way to the e-passport gates which had no queue, but could not get it to work. I was directed to a single officer who quickly checked my passport and let me through.
We had misread the board at baggage reclaim but soon worked out that we needed carousel nine not ten. My bag did not arrive until 1120, despite being priority tagged. I exited through customs and turned left to get the lift up to the arrivals lounge. Here I handed over my voucher and boarding pass and headed toward the hydrotherapy zone to the right.
I was assigned a shower cubicle and had a great hot shower and got changed before going back out to grab a paper and some breakfast. There is a suit pressing service available while you shower, simply hang the items in a concealed locker from your side of the door and staff can take it from the other side without disturbing you. The lounge also has an Elemis spa, with guest benfitting from a complimentary treatment, subject to availability, and a small business centre with computers and printers as well as wifi throughout (password Budapest on this occasion).
The breakfast selection includes cereals, yoghurts, fruit, pastries, muffins and a selection of breads with jam, butter and Marmite. There are also bags of crisps and soft drinks as well as two tea and coffee machines. First class passengers can take advantage of a separate breakfast room with white table cloths and flowers on the table.
Everything is self service except toast which can be brought over by staff. Hot food choices include boiled eggs, pancakes and full English breakfast. I had a bowl of fruit and yoghurt and a couple of slices of bread with jam before grabbing a sausage and some scrambled egg. I read the paper, caught up on some emails and watched the news before heading off towards the Underground to get the tube back to Victoria.
VERDICT The seat is certainly looking tired but appearances can be deceptive. As soon as the lights went down I found the seat comfortable and enjoyed a good night’s rest on this short six hour, 25 minute flight.
PRICE Internet rates for a return Club World flight in May ranged between £2,540 and £6,590 depending on flexibility.