British Airways B777 Club World04/10/2012
BACKGROUND British Airways’ new London Heathrow-Las Vegas service is operated daily on a B777 fitted with the airline’s newer fully-flat seat offering in Club World. Virgin Atlantic serves the US city from London Gatwick.
CHECK-IN I arrived at McCarran International airport at 1910 for my 2120 flight BA274. There are several British Airways counters straight ahead as you walk in, including an economy check-in, a Club World check-in and three fast bag-drops. There was no queue ahead of me, although I found the service a little slow. Security was at the top of an escalator to the left-hand side. There was no one ahead of me and I was airside by 1925. There wasn’t much in the way of shops to browse in so I went straight to the lounge, located by Gate 3, a short walk to the left of security past some fast-food outlets.
THE LOUNGE The airport’s VIP lounge is very traditionally decorated, with dark wood furniture and panelling, landscape prints on the walls, potted plants, brown leather sofas and glass-topped coffee tables. There is a fully serviced bar, a limited selection of crisps, pastries and fruit, a range of newspapers and magazines, a couple of TVs and a business centre with a PC, fax and telephone. Wifi is free, and flights are announced in the lounge.
BOARDING We were invited to board at 2100. There was no one ahead of me at Gate 2, although a bit of a queue had built up on the airbridge. On boarding the aircraft I turned left for Club World and was in my seat by 2110. I was quickly offered a welcome drink and a newspaper.
THE SEAT The London-Las Vegas flight is operated in a three-class configuration of Club World (business), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy), with 36, 24 and 212 seats respectively. Club World was configured 2-4-2 with BA’s combination of forward- and backward-facing seats, labelled AB-DEFG-JK. Seats B, D, G and J face the front, while A, E, F and K face the rear. I was in seat 2E. Upholstered in navy fabric with leather armrests, it converted to a comfortable fully-flat bed well designed for sleeping. It was separated from the seat to my right by an adjustable privacy screen. Built into the dividing wall by my right elbow was the control for the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system and, above that, a reading light. A 10-inch TV screen folded out from the divider, along with a good-sized table that wasn’t very sturdy for typing on a laptop. A handy storage drawer at floor level could store my laptop. The seat adjusted four different ways via preset buttons in the right-hand divider, and there was a UK/US plug socket. Ahead was a footstool that folded down to make the bed.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Club World’s forward-backward seat configuration means all seats have direct access to the aisle, although on a night flight, if you are in a window seat or one of the centre seats labelled E or F, you will have to climb over the legs of the passenger in the facing row if they are in fully-flat position. Normally I would have been unhappy with my E seat unless I was travelling in a pair because, unlike the others, there is no dividing wall between it and seat F, which also faces the rear, so you are very close to the person next to you, particularly with the dense four-across seating in this section. However in this case, as the business cabin wasn’t full, my neighbour moved to a free seat elsewhere, leaving me with what amounted to a double-size suite once I had raised the privacy screens on either side. Window seats also feel private on a night flight. If you are in an aisle seat, you may find cabin crew have to lean over you to serve your neighbour, but being forward-facing, you won’t have to crane your neck to see what’s going on at the galley. The Club World galley and toilet are at the front of the cabin and World Traveller Plus’s ones are at the rear of it, so you may wish to avoid seats near these if you are worried about disturbance.
THE FLIGHT We pushed back at 2120 and were in the air about 15 minutes later. We were given amenity kits and as soon as we had levelled out the meal service began. To start there was Asian style grilled prawns with smoked aubergine purée and a courgette roll stuffed with goat’s cheese (juicy and delicious); or roast beets and grilled hearts of palm with potato and mushroom salad. The mains were seared fillet of beef served with truffle butter, potatoes au gratin and sautéed red Swiss chard; Thai green chicken curry with vegetable fried rice and bok-choy (tasty, although the rice was a bit soggy); sautéed salmon with fingerling potatoes, fava beans, morels and horseradish sauce; goat’s cheese and caramelized onion tortelloni with olive tomato sauce served with Parmesan; or a grilled chicken and roast pumpkin salad with balsamic olive oil dressing. The meal came with a salad and an individual bottle of tomato chilli vinagrette, a selection of rolls (offered twice), and chilled cutlery. The wine selection included a Terra do Gargalo 2007, Monterrei, and a Montes Alpha Syrah 2006.
For dessert there was a choice of vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry compote, or cheese and biscuits. I declined as I wanted to sleep, so put my seat into bed position and got a peaceful five hours, then did some work. I didn’t avail of the audio-video on-demand IFE system on this flight, though noted there was a wide variety of films, TV programmes and music on offer. The sound through the noise-cancelling headphones was good.
An hour before landing, breakfast was served. You could have fresh fruit or cereal to start, followed by a bacon roll. It was served with a yogurt, juice, tea or coffee, rolls and muffins. Service was excellent throughout the flight – friendly and thoughtful.
ARRIVAL We landed at 1355, ten minutes ahead of schedule, and were off the aircraft ten minutes later. A bus transported us to the Satellite A building, from where it was a short walk to immigration – queues were reasonable and it took five to ten minutes to get through – then on to baggage collection. Despite my bag being labelled as a priority, it was one of the last to appear on the carousel.
VERDICT A much-needed addition to the London-Las Vegas route. Great service and a very comfortable seat.
PRICE A business class return from London Heathrow to Las Vegas in November started from £3,251 online.