Flying British Airways’ New Airbus A350 Club Suite – A Complete Review

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.

A350
The aircraft is flying to Madrid for staff training. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Check-in

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.

British Airways, Airbus A350, Inaugural Flight
A special check-in desk was set up for guests. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The lounge

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.

Cake
There was, of course, a cake! Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

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Alex Cruz
Alex Cruz gave a presentation before the flight. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

Stop line
The aircraft’s stop line is currently indicated by chalk, potentially limiting its gate compatibility. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

A350 On stand
The aircraft waiting at gate B35. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

We were then given the opportunity to explore the cabin before general passengers boarded.

There was a photo opportunity before boarding. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The cabin

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.

Tom Boon - Alex Cruz
I even got the chance to meet Alex Cruz. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

1-2-1 Layout
The suites are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. Photo: British Airways

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.

Photo of overhead bins
The overhead bins had plenty of storage! Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The seat

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.

British Airways, Airbus A350, Inaugural Flight
Each passenger was given a certificate. Photo: British Airways

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.

Safety Cards
A member of cabin crew shows off the new safety cards. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

Photo of lie flat bed
The lie-flat bed is incredibly comfortable. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Cabin service

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.

The food served on board was delicious. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

Typical Meal
What a typical meal could look like. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

In-flight entertainment

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.

IFE Map
The IFE screen has a great map function. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

IFE Screen
The IFE screen is great! (The full screen is used for most video) Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

WiFi

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!

The Wi-Fi is perfect for uploading photos straight to Instagram. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Criticisms

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.

Club Suite Plug
You cannot plug a MacBook into the plug. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

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.

Moving Map
The aircraft zooms as the map is zoomed, blocking the map. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Overall thoughts

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.

British Airways Airbus A350
It was eventually time to say goodbye to the aircraft. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

What do you make of the new Club World Suite? Let us know in the comments!

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