BA is flying the A380 between London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and more recently Johannesburg. The Johannesburg service got under way on 12 February, with three flights a week due to increase to six in March.
My flight was departing Tom Bradley International Terminal at 17h45. I had my boarding pass on my smartphone (thanks to the BA app) and as I didn’t have any luggage to drop off, I was able to go straight to security, which took 10 minutes to get through.
The Oneworld lounge is in the older part of the terminal, so it is not new, although large and long. A self-service buffet was laid out – the food selection was fairly limited, though there was a choice of both hot and cold dishes such as noodles and salads, and a few drinks and snacks. At the end of the lounge was a bar, toilets and showers. I found a seat near a power socket, logged on to the free Wi-Fi and did some work.
By the time I reached the gate at 17h00, the flight was boarding. As I was on the upper deck, I had to take an escalator from level four to level five.
Once in my seat, my jacket was taken and I was offered water, orange juice and champagne. There are two Club World cabins on the upper deck configured 2-3-2, and one on the main deck in a 2-4-2 layout. Business class is BA’s existing forward and backward-facing fully-flat bed product. I was in the second section on the upper deck in aisle seat 58D. The first thing I noticed was that I could not fit my laptop into the footlocker. There was, however, in-seat power for EU, US and UK plugs.
Which Seat to Choose?
Choose a window seat (A or K) for extra side storage or a middle seat (E), which is tucked away from the aisle. Avoid aisle seats (B, D, F and J), which feel a little cramped, and the last row of the second cabin (59), which backs on to the baby bassinets attached to the bulkhead in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy).
The plane took off at 18h10, during which time I listened to music through the new Thales in-flight entertainment system, which has a 12-inch screen. Once the seat-belt sign was turned off, the Club World amenity bags with Elemis products were passed around. It took five or 10 minutes before the seat power came on, and during that time we could not raise the dividers between the seats. Drinks orders were taken in pairs, which slowed up service. Orders for food were taken shortly after, at 19h05, and meals started being served from the front of the cabin at 19h30. The menu included smoked Balmoral salmon terrine with leek and potato confit, lemon and crème fraîche to start, and grilled fillet of Omaha beef with curry herb crust, potato fondant and Bordelaise sauce to follow. There were three champagnes, two whites and two reds on offer. After eating, I reclined my seat and slept for about five hours. Waking two hours before landing, I raided the Club kitchen, which was stocked with fruit, biscuits and chocolate, and the friendly, organised crew made me cups of tea. Breakfast was served 70 minutes before landing and I had fruit juice, a smoothie and a warm bacon roll, which was delicious.
We landed on schedule at Heathrow and caught the shuttle train back to Terminal 5. I didn’t have any luggage so was quickly through immigration.
A very good service. The next time I fly I would like to try the main deck and, if I flew on the upper deck again, would go for the front cabin and either a window or middle seat. The A380 enables a smoother flight and less noise than older aircraft.