Yesterday British Airways operated their inaugural Airbus A350 service to Madrid. The aircraft saw the world’s debut of the airline’s new suite product. British Airways invited Simple Flying to sample their new offering. So, here’s our opinion! This was a press flight organised by British Airways and. as such, some features may differ from the regular service.
Checking in for the flight to Madrid was one of my more interesting check-in experiences. We were told to meet at the H check-in zone for 10 am. However, to not be late, I arrived an hour early at 9 am. Desk H1 was set up as a special desk just for the event, and here we received our boarding passes. While seats had been allocated, who had what was a secret until boarding passes were handed out. I had been allocated seat 8K, a suite with one and a half windows.
Having checked in, we used the South fast track security channel, which was quick and hassle-free. We then proceeded to head to Terminal 5B.
Out of four of us travelling through the airport, two opted to take the train, while myself and a friend took the walkway. To our surprise, the walkway was around a minute quicker than the train.
In the lounge, we were given a chance to mingle before Alex Cruz, CEO of British Airways, gave a short presentation. Here, he talked about the Airbus A350 and its new Club Suite cabin, in addition to covering British Airways’ 100th anniversary.
He warned not to expect a grand event to celebrate this, as the airline will likely have a more reserved celebration. Following some question and answer time, Alex invited us to head down to the aircraft.
We were then given the opportunity to explore the cabin before general passengers boarded.
The cabin was arguably the most import and exciting part of the flight to Madrid. We were incredibly fortunate to be among the first passengers in the world to experience the new suite, and what an experience it was.
We boarded the aircraft by the second doors and turned left to enter the main Club Suites cabin. This is something that caught me off guard, being used to turning right on smaller narrowbody aircraft.
I proceeded to find my seat. After wandering around the cabin, I sat down and got comfortable. I was able to store smaller items in the many storage spaces and my backpack under the ottoman. My carry on suitcase went into the overhead locker, where there was ample space for the cabin’s storage needs.
The seat itself is super comfortable. Due to its angled nature, passengers are required to wear a three-point harness. This was the only thing which annoyed me, as the third strap didn’t sit quite right on my shoulder for some reason. While the suite has a door which can be closed for privacy, we were advised to keep these open for the cabin service given the short flight time.
I did fully recline the seat into the lie flat bed and was able to remain in the seat while doing so. Elsewhere in the cabin, I was able to try a bed that had been made up. The bed itself was comfortable and was plenty long enough for my tall stature.
The cabin attendant showing the bed off pointed out several features. Firstly, the tray table is intentionally high. This allows passengers to roll over without knocking against parts of the chair. The crew explained to us that this helps to avoid disturbing sleep.
Unfortunately, the cabin service we received on the flight was not representative of a typical A350 flight, due to the short duration. Despite this, we will still cover the area as it makes for interesting reading. Upon boarding, we were given a glass of champagne and offered olives. During the takeoff, we had to stow everything and place the chair in an upright position. However, once we had been cruising for a little, a three-course meal was presented.
I opted for the Gnocchi. This was so good that I also chose it for the return flight to London. This was preceded by a lovely Mozzarella salad, and succeeded by the amazing Do&Co millionaires shortbread. The meal was accompanied by a vodka orange pre-mixed by the crew, and a glass of water. The crew were incredibly attentive throughout the flight, and I had one member of cabin crew assigned to my area who addressed me by name and introduced himself.
During the meal service I used the in-flight entertainment for this review, however, did not watch for more than 10 minutes due to the length of the flight. Onboard the Airbus A350, Club Suite passengers get an 18.5-inch touch screen.
This can be used for movies, TV, audio, and games in addition to acting as a moving map. The clarity of the screen was great, and it felt perfectly positioned. Also, the noise-canceling headphones did a good job of putting the focus on the content.
The WiFi onboard the aircraft was not bad. We were given complimentary use of the service during the flight. I believe that all of the aircraft’s occupants were also given WiFi access, which meant that the connection was a bit slow, but not unusable. In fact, it was strong enough to stream video and post pictures of the aircraft’s beautiful wingtips on Instagram!
I have a few criticisms of the new Club Suite in the Airbus A350, but they shouldn’t be thought of as moans; more as pointers, as they by no way ruin the Club Suite experience.
Firstly regarding the power sockets: There are two USBs, and one plug at each suite. The USB which I used charged my iPhone incredibly slowly. Additionally, the power socket is positioned in such a way that you cannot plug in a MacBook with an English plug due to the size of the MacBooks plug.
This could be annoying for some business travelers on long haul flights. Secondly, the moving map allows passengers to pinch and zoom. I was excited as I thought you’d be able to explore the areas you are overflying. However, zooming in on the map also zooms the aircraft, blocking your view of the map.
Overall, I was very impressed with British Airways’ new Airbus A350 and their new Club World suite. Yesterday we wrote about the flight in general. While my criticisms are annoying, they are also minor showing how good the product is. I would love to fly in the cabin again, and can’t wait to see it rolled out across the fleet.
What do you make of the new Club World Suite? Let us know in the comments!