Good Advice Tried and Tested

British Airways B787-9 Club World

05/05/2016

BACKGROUND

This was the inaugural British Airways flight to San Jose in California, which took place on May 4, 2016, from Heathrow Terminal 5.

The new route increases BA’s offering to four Californian destinations daily. Los Angeles and San Francisco are served by an A380, San Diego by a B747 and San Jose with the B787-9. 

Taken together with its joint business with American Airlines, Iberia and Finnair, the airlines have a total of up to 127 daily flights across the Atlantic every day.

Although San Jose is only a short drive south of San Francisco, it is more convenient for the industries of Silicon Valley and BA is keen to promote the presence of Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Ebay, Google and Intel nearby.

There’s also little doubt that San Jose Airport (SJC) was keen to have the airline fly there, to the point of waiving landing, gate and ticket centre fees for two years

The B787-9 (pictured below) has 216 seats in a configuration of 127 economy seats, 39 in premium economy, 42 in business class and eight in first class.

British Airways B787-9

BA has ordered a total of 42 B787s, made up of nine B787-8s (eight of which have arrived, with the last one scheduled for 2017), 21 of the stretched B787-9s (14 of which are still to be delivered) and 12 B787-10 (the first is estimated to arrive in 2019).

The carrier's B787-9 (pictured below) currently operates on routes to Abu Dhabi, Delhi, Houston, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat, Newark and San Jose.

I have previously reviewed First on board the B787-9 on a trip to Austin (for that review, click here). You can read a lot about the aircraft there, and also in previous pieces on the B787-8 here and B787-9 here.

We have reviewed the business class on the B787-8, but the business class layout on this extended version of the Dreamliner is different (the aircraft is 20ft longer than the B787-8).

The service was as normal and so I thought it worthwhile to write this one up. The only unusual aspect was an onboard press briefing from Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of BA’s owning company, IAG, and the arrival of the aircraft at San Jose, where we were met by some photographers.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I arrived at 1330 for the 1515 departure on BA279 which has a flight time of 10 hours (5360 miles). Check-in was swift (the airport is quiet at this time on a weekday) and I was through security and made my way to the lounge where a presentation took place on new digital initiatives for IAG airlines.

Our flight was departing from satellite B, so at 1445 we left the lounge, took the shuttle across to Satellite B (Gate B38) and boarded.

THE SEAT

As can be seen from the seatplan herethe business class cabin is divided into two cabins. I was in the front cabin (rows 6 and 7) in seat 6K.

BA B787-9 Club World cabin

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

The front cabin is smaller than the rear one, and quiet. If I had a choice of seats I would pick a rear-facing window seat. Normally it’s good to have unimpeded access to the aisle without stepping over the feet of another passenger, so that would be seat 7A or 7K, but actually these seats and the whole of row 7 back onto the galley.

For this reason, I think row 6 is to be preferred since it has relatively little disturbance because of the rope across the corridor for most of the flight screening off first class.

The flight attendants welcomed us, introduced themselves and offered to hang jackets. Drinks were offered (orange juice, water and Champagne) and newspapers. There were magazines in the racks at the front of the aircraft.

We had a short queue for take-off and once airborne were offered drinks. Service was at a good pace, including hot towels, drinks and top ups on drinks, but with this being a long day-flight (ten hours), no one was in a rush, and I worked, though as usual the Club World table sloped to one side.

BA B787-9 Club World cabin

The way around this is to jam the blanket between the armrest and the table to even it out. I did this after taking this photo.

THE FLIGHT

Food and drink

Starters

  • Asparagus and Richard Woodall cured ham with Burford brown egg, pea sponge and truffle dressing
  • Beetroot carpaccio with celeriac remoulade, pistachio-crusted goat’s cheese and redcurrant jelly

Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette

Mains

  • Seared fillet of British beef with sautéed potato, Portobello mushroom, roasted tomato and béarnaise sauce
  • Roasted breast of corn-fed chicken with Cheddar mash, broccoli, carrots and onion gravy
  • Penne pasta with smoked sun-dried tomato, roasted peppers rocket and bocconcini
  • Chilled main course Nicoise salad of salmon with a creamy mustard grain dressing
BA B787-9 Club World food
 
Dessert
  • Chocolate and mango delice with mascarpone cream
  • Coastal Cheddar and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese served with grapes and biscuits
  • Selection of whole fresh fruit

Tea, coffee and chocolates.

Drinks

  • Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV
  • Champagne de Castelnau Brut Reserve NV,
  • Champagne de Castelnau Brut Rose NV

White wines

  • Quinta de Couselo “Rosal” 2014, Rias Baixas, Galicia Spain
  • Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2013, California

Red wines

  • Chateau Paloumey 2012, Haut-Medoc, Cruo Bourgeois, Bordeaux, France
  • Truchard Pinot Noir 2013, Carneros, Napa Valley, California, USA.

Around this time we flew over Greenland.

Greenland

There was then a media briefing with Willie Walsh, with questions asked on everything from legislation on drones through to the effect of Brexit on airline pricing and whether he was planning to retire anytime soon (he isn’t).

Most of the other passengers in the cabin continued to work or watched films. I took advantage of the long flight to sleep for four hours, and was woken when the crew came around offering the next set of food. I wasn’t hungry, but here was what was on offer.

Light meal

  • Tarragon and orange-cured Shetland salmon gravlax with vegetable caviar
  • Meze plate featuring aubergine, pepper and tomato salad, labneh with mint, harissa and chilli hummus

Main

  • A selection of toasties featuring cheese with tomato and ham with cheese
  • Thai vegetable curry with steamed Asian rice
  • Main course Far East salad with sweet chilli dressing accompanied by warn seared tiger prawns
  • Warm sandwich of paprika marinated breast of corn-fed chicken with tomato chutney and watercress

Dessert

  • Fresh seasonal fruit

By now there was around 90 minutes left before landing.

BA to San Jose

The flight attendants were kept busy offering extra cups of coffee and tea, and when I woke up I went and checked out the Club World Kitchen and had an apple.

The Club World Kitchen

The cabin then was gradually cleared ready for our arrival. We then landed at 1815 (local time).

San Jose Airport

VERDICT

An excellent on time flight, with a good crew and a great aircraft.

San Jose Airport

FACT FILE

  • JOURNEY TIME ten hours
  • AIRCRAFT TYPE B787-9
  • CONFIGURATION 2-3-2
  • SEAT WIDTH 25 inches
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • BED LENGTH 72in/198cm
  • PRICE £2,681 return
  • CONTACT ba.com
Tom Otley