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Onboard the First British Airways A380 Flight from LAX to London

September 30, 2013 at 11:36 AM | by | Comments (2)

Los Angeles International Airport had a week like no other last week: a new terminal, a Hello Kitty invasion, a new Star Alliance flagship lounge, and inaugural flights of the British Airways Airbus A380. We’ve been giving you all the details from the front line, now with everything you need to know onboard during a regular long-haul flight.

LAX-LHR may be the only British Airways A380 route to North America right now, but we’re pretty sure that Miami will be the second US destination, beginning some time in 2014. Let’s hope so, because in every aspect the A380 is an improved flying experience, no matter which cabin you are in.

Once the A380 touched down in Los Angeles and received her water cannon salute from the LAX fire brigade, it was our turn to try her out. We waved goodbye to the Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra impersonators at the gate's red carpet and went up the air bridge to an upper deck Club World (Business Class) seat for the overnight flight to London.

Club World seats (and which is best)

In a window seat in the second upper deck Club World cabin, between the first CW cabin and World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), we faced backwards. A full gallery of the Club cabin, and all others, can be found in our previous post. We still like the updated color pattern, and the overall solidity of the seat pods has definitely improved, including that of the footrest. A control for the dividing screen has been added at seat level, making it easier to raise and lower for those times you prefer privacy.

As we predicted before, we’d avoid seats 50B and 50J, the forward-most aisle Club seats upstairs, as the likelihood of being bumped into by passengers on their way to the bathrooms is too high for our taste. We’d also avoid the entire last row in Club, especially the two outer aisle seats (59B and 59J). Cabin layout has these last seats aligned with the middle seats of the first row in World Traveller Plus, which means that you are an aisle width and just a cloth curtain away from the baby bassinets against the cabin divider on the other side.

There are, however, a few stellar seats with marginally more than the standard Club legroom, and only a few window seats that do not require a step over to get to the aisle. Frequent travelers of BA's Boeing 747 upper deck will notice there's no "unlimited" legroom seats, but the legroom available is plenty regardless.

If you have your choice of seats, pick a spot on the upper deck and try to either get a window seat for a solo traveler or take a pair, to have access to storage bins alongside the windows. For best views you want the first Club World section as the second one sits more above the football field-sized wings.

Lie-flat, the seat provides a similar sleep experience as the current Club seat, which we’ve always found comfortable. The pillow is better than before, and an amenity kit adds the usual eye shades/earplugs/lotion/toothbrush.

Service, food & entertainment

First Class may enjoy the full-on, five-course tasting menu created with The Langham, but the new Club World menu also has the Langham touch. A difference with current Club service is the drinks round served to each seat, individually by order, from the galley rather than from the cart.

We had a truly delicious salmon starter, with an excellent side salad: fresh, tasty, and really all we could ask for in an in-flight meal. We specifically opted for the beef as our main course to see if the fancy A380 ovens would deliver a better result, but while it was good it was still a little too well-done for our taste. We skipped desert in favor of catching some much needed sleep on the overnight flight.

The new Thales in-flight entertainment (available in all classes) is light years ahead of what BA currently offers on other planes, and screen quality has significantly improved. There are tons of movies and box sets to explore, alongside a range of other content, including a much-enhanced flight map. We also gave the new in-flight chat a whirl, however briefly. We weren’t that adventurous as we stuck to chats with our seatmate (whom we knew), but there are both seat-to-seat options and chat rooms available. Operating the chat will be intuitive to anyone remotely familiar with other chat programs, so if you fancy striking up a conversation with someone six rows or even a cabin away, now is your chance.

Service throughout the flight was friendly, if still clearly a work in progress, with crew finding its feet on the new plane and with the small changes to how the flight is usually run. While not particular to the British Airways version, the silence of an A380 mid-flight really makes you wonder: are we moving at all?

How to book

Take the 09.30pm BA268 service from LAX to try the A380 for yourself. As British Airways accepts delivery of additional planes, services will increase to daily on the route over the next months. Inaugural flights to Hong Kong will take off in October, and from early next year you should be able to A380 it all the way from LAX to Johannesburg, with services from Heathrow to the South African business capital being the third route. Hopefully we can officially add another American city to the map soon.

We traveled on the inaugural as a guest of British Airways, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: JasonD for Jaunted]

Comments (2)

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Btw...!

Hi there... Gr8 piece on the British Airways A380...but one glaring error I fear! South Africa actually has 3 capitals, viz-Pretoria (Administrative), Cape Town (Legislative) and Bloemfontein (Judicial)...Johannesburg is (merely!) the largest city-and Oliver Tambo International Airport a smashing spot to ogle many airline's A380's. Cheers! @jamescapetown

Re: Johannesburg

@jamescapetown, you are totally right. We meant to write "the South African business capital" and didn't. Thanks for keeping us on our toes! We'll correct it.

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