British Airways Is Adjusting Club World Service… Again

British Airways is in the (very slow) process of refreshing their longhaul business class product, which they call Club World. The airline claims that they’re investing £600m in Club World alone, which is a lot of money.

The airline has been working on improving their business class soft product, and is expected to introduce a new business class seat next year. I can’t help but feel like they’re moving at a snail’s pace, though, both when it comes to rolling out the new seat design, and also when it comes to improving their soft product.

The airline started by rolling out new catering, which first debuted on their New York JFK route as of September 2017, and then they followed that up with introducing new bedding on the route as of October 2017.

The catch is that they’ve been rolling this out at a very slow pace. I get that some trial and error is required, though even this year they’re still rolling out the new soft product on some routes.

Well, just about a year after the new soft product was announced, it looks like British Airways will be making some changes to it, and they’ll be eliminating some of the positive developments that were made (as of October 28, 2018).

What made the new Club World dining experience different was that they used trolleys for starters and desserts, so that passengers could see what they were ordering.

Apparently British Airways has found that this service concept just takes too long, and that’s feedback I’ve heard from people as well. Business Traveller quotes a BA spokesperson as sharing the following details of the changes that will be happening:

  • Priority order at beginning of service
  • Separate meal and drink order (as per the original service routine)
  • Starter order taken with main meal order
  • Starter and dessert delivery fully hand-run
  • Special meals delivered at the same time as standard meals
  • Removal of the service trolley, etagere, wine bowl and associated equipment

So you can say goodbye to the trolley, and I imagine a lot of the restaurant-style elements will go, given the focus on speed.

Of course it’s disappointing that British Airways specifically advertised these features and is now eliminating some of them, though at the same time they have to make sure they can actually deliver on the service they’re promising in a realistic way. I can totally see how time consuming this service was, especially given British Airways’ huge Club World cabins.

I’d still say the service is a significant net-improvement over the old service. Back in the day they’d use regular carts rather than display trolleys, while now they’ll just be hand-running things.

I never had the chance to experience the current Club World service since it was introduced last year, though I’ll be flying Club World shortly after these changes kick in, so I’m guess I’m happy I’ll be among the first to experience the new service.

What do you make of British Airways’ changes to their Club World service protocol?

Comments

  1. I just came from JFK this morning and the service on the upper deck was superb as was on the flight to JFK. The crew asked me before take off about my main meal and on tonight’s flight about starter. No trolley was seen. However the comfort on the upper deck and amazing service made me satisfied!

  2. While BA has plenty of long haul routes (LHR-SCL, for instance), the bulk of their CW traffic will be very much shorter routes – and especially LHR to and from the east coast of North America. Eastbound the vast majority of these are red-eyes, at 6 or 7 hours (sometimes even less). It’s insane to design a service routine for these flights which takes up a high proportion of flight time. I say “good riddance” to the trolleys and “hurrah” for the faster service – so I can try to grab a bit more sleep.

    Equally, I’d be happy for them to keep the trolleys on the longer-haul routes (LGW-LIM tomorrow, where the interruptions for meal service are, for me, welcome).

  3. This is a good thing. As a window seat geek, the trolley was pointless as I couldn’t see anything. I also had no problem with how they did it previously – taking orders for starters and mains early on in the flight and very often hand delivering. So this will be welcomed.

    The quality of food by the new caterers Do&Co is very good and their new Canard-Duchêne champagne is excellent. I can’t wait to see what the new club world seats will be like when they supposedly roll them out next year on the new A350.

  4. @Nico, in my limited experience, the upper deck of the 747 is the best service of the whole fleet (haven’t tried F yet, but in terms of service I don’t think they can up it much). If you’re on the J-heavy 747s downstairs, however, it’s a whole other kettle of fish…

  5. The “United” model of over promising and under delivering was bound to come back and bite BA in the proverbial ass.

  6. Did LHRORDLHR in September. Out B747 back A380. Service was OK on both, better W/B than the return. But they really need to do something about those seats, they’ve been around a long time now. Too long.

  7. I flew LAX to LHR in August Club World on the A380 and definitely saw an uptick in the food service offered. The new linens were also a remarkable improvement, especially that they now include a “mattress cover” that they install over the seat for sleeping. It was more comfortable and cozy. I love the A380 Club World product in most ways, except for the seats, which as many have already commented, are outdated, too narrow and exposed if you’re on the aisle. A new business class seat is a must if BA wants to compete on its long haul routes. I flew home on a refurbished AA 772, and its seats were noticeably more comfortable and the entertainment system notably better than on BA. That’s a switch given that for years BA way surpassed AA in this arena. BA – please continue to improve your game so you can stay in the running. As of now, if I have a choice between AA and BA on the West Coast to LHR routes I will go with AA, until the new seats are installed.

  8. Alex,

    Yes, J on the upper deck of a 747 is great, and beats business class in most other airlines simply in terms of scale and privacy. In fact I only choose F with BA if it is not a 747, or on a 747 if I can get seat !A, which always seems hard to get (do they lock them out for VIPs?)

  9. As you say, snails pace. September 2017 new catering on NY-London. For my October 2018 Miami-London I still can’t even pre order my meal. Crazy.

  10. Sounds as if they are changing this based on JFK LHR which is a very short route (relatively) and where speedy meal service and sleep time are of paramount importance. Not sure a lot of these comments are applicable to say JNB and HKG.

  11. BA is an arrogant airline. I remember the excellent britishar****ys website in the late 90’s which was tracking their poor service.
    Just as a matter of comparison with Swiss premium staff they never answered F complaints (of course they would have had to pay) and recently after landing C in Geneva I was told no way I would get a wheel repaired on my bag as the function of my suitcase was not affected by a missing wheel. UK based colleagues have little choice sometimes. Luckily I am not there anymore…
    Don’t get me wrong Swiss is not always perfect but still they try to help when they can F passengers and reply next day to emails sent to them.

  12. @skedguy- I agree. On a quick transatlantic flight, doing the whole trolley thing makes zero sense.
    Personally I wouldn’t want it on longer flights either. Being stuck under a table for 2+ hours is a pointless pain.
    I find the whole display trolly idea really tacky. I definitely don’t expect it at high end restaurants, much less in the air.

  13. the trolley service may have looked nice from the aisle (I never saw it tbh as always go window seat anyway) but it took way, way too long. It was actually annoying, I was nearly halfway through a recent LHR-JFK before it was done. As long as the keep the much-improved Do&Co catering then hand-running everything would be a big improvement actually. BA simply cannot run the trolley service on planes which have 86 J seats for example.

    @Lucky, do ensure you get the refurbed 747s for your upcoming travels. The old cabins on the ‘mid-J’ fleet are intolerable. I got stuck on a couple recently and I would now change my flight to avoid them.

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