Airline: British Airways
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Flight #: BA178
Route: New York (JFK) > London Heathrow (LHR)
Date: April 27, 2022
Duration: 6hr 17mins
Cabin and Layout: British Airways Club Suite 1-2-1
Cash used: $1,524 one-way
When flying from the U.S. back to the U.K., I always try and book a day flight, as I much prefer it to a red-eye.
American Airlines, British Airways, United, and Virgin Atlantic are the only 4 airlines that offer nonstop daytime flights from New York to London.
With that in mind, I was pretty limited to my options, but I managed to bag myself a pretty “Suite” deal.
Booking British Airways Club Suite
Having originally booked a British Airways World Traveller Plus (premium economy) ticket, I ended up flying in Club Suite (business class). Initially, I was very happy with the $935 bargain one-way fare from New York (JFK) to my hometown of Newcastle (NCL) via London (LHR).
However, I managed to pay just $1,524 for a one-way Club Suite ticket for the New York (JFK) to London (LHR) sector. That’s incredible value considering the average one-way fare will set you back a cool $5,028!
How did I do it? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out.
This is also a great example of where using miles isn’t always the best option.
The equivalent cash value of the suggested 60,000 Avios + £638.85 (~$788) option comes to a staggering $1,552 (per our current points valuations)
As ever, when booking a flight, we always advise using a card that will give you bonus points for booking. In this case of British Airways, the highest bonus would be 5x points per dollar spent when purchasing with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or The Platinum Card® from American Express. You could also use your British Airways Visa Signature® Card which would earn you 3x Avios per dollar spent.
As I live in the U.K., I used the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card, the U.K. equivalent of the British Airways Visa card, which also earns 3x Avios per pound spent.
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
It was an early start at JFK, but the sunrise over the airport at 6 a.m. made up for the sore eyes.
Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Iberia, Icelandair, and United all use JFK’s Terminal 8.
There’s a screen advising passengers in which zone they’ll find their airline’s check-in desks.
The main check-in area was very quiet. This is because almost all transatlantic flights back to Europe depart in the evening.
British Airways has a separate check-in section to the left of the main area.
Passengers had the option of using the kiosks before heading to the bag drop.
Following round to the right were the bag drop and regular check-in area for World Traveller (economy) and World Traveller Plus (premium economy) passengers, which echoed the quietness of the main terminal area.
The next 2 check-in areas are reserved for First and Club World (business class) passengers, as well as those with British Airways Executive Club or Oneworld elite status.
My World Traveler Plus (premium economy) ticket meant I wouldn’t have been eligible to check in at the first area set out for Club World and Silver members of the Executive Club (Oneworld Sapphire).
And my ticket certainly didn’t grant eligibility to use BA’s dedicated First and Gold member check-in area at JFK. However, as this was to be my first flight as a British Airways Gold Status (Oneworld Emerald) holder, I was able to check it out.
Bottom Line: To climb through the ranks of the British Airways Executive Club, you need to earn Tier Points. These are earned by flying British Airways or other Oneworld member carriers — such as American Airlines. I earned 210 Tier points when flying American Airlines Flagship First and 140 when flying Flagship Business at the start of my trip, which was enough to get me over the then 1,125 Tier Point threshold to earn Gold status.
As a British Airways Gold member, you’re eligible to use the most exclusive First check-in area no matter which cabin class you’re flying.
My first First check-in experience was flawless thanks to Nona.
We got off to a great start as I noticed she had a Greek flag on her name tag, meaning she speaks Greek. I jumped at the chance to practice my very basic Greek and she loved it!
Next up, I asked how much an upgrade to Club Suite would be as I’d heard via fellow Upgraded Points staffer Nick Ellis that upgrades were going for around $500. For the chance to fly Club Suite long-haul for the first time and review the product for the website, I thought that was a great deal.
Nona confirmed the upgrade would be $589. I snapped it up without hesitation. Within seconds, the payment was processed and I had my very first long-haul Club Suite ticket. I was like a kid at Christmas.
All British Airways priority customers get to use BA’s Fast Track security lane.
Next up was a quick visit to the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at JFK — another first for me.
A sign immediately after clearing security showed me the way.
A few steps more and it was up a set of escalators next to the Duty Free Americas entrance.
The arrival landing is where you find the entrance to both the Alaska Lounge and British Airways Galleries Lounge. I could have accessed both given that Alaska Airlines is also a Oneworld member airline.
To my dismay, BA’s First lounge at JFK only opens for its evening flights.
So instead of turning left, I turned right into the part of the Galleries Lounge reserved for Club World and those with British Airways Silver (Oneworld Sapphire) status.
The first few zones of the lounge were pretty much empty at this early hour.
Once I turned left where the lockers were, that’s when I started to see people milling around.
A complete refurbishment of the lounge was completed in 2019. Given almost 2 years of barely any travel from early 2020, the space still felt fresh and new.
Depending on what I wanted to do with my time in the lounge, I could have picked from a variety of seating, including high stools at a table, comfy armchairs, leather booths, or restaurant-style tables and chairs.
My only complaint about this lounge is the lack of windows. In a busy international airport such as JFK, it’s a shame not to be able to see out onto the apron or runways.
I got excited when I saw the doors to what looked like a terrace. Alas, the doors were locked.
Except for the dining area, power outlets could be found by almost every seat. The ports were compatible with U.S. plugs with a few USB ports here and there.
British Airways has maintained at-table hot food ordering using a QR code, which started because of the pandemic. I’m a fan and I hope it’s here to stay. Having food served at your table is a far more premium experience than queueing for a buffet.
The hot breakfast was the BA Breakfast Platter — basically a pick and mix breakfast. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, pork sausage, baked beans, and home fries.
I liked that I was able to select just egg whites rather than whole eggs for my scramble.
My egg white scramble, home fries, and 2 pork sausages were delicious.
There was also a whole host of grab-and-go options available, including fruit (wrapped in plastic — I will never understand this), a make-it-yourself granola, fruit, and yogurt bowl, pastries, a bread, bagel, and English breakfast muffin stand, and, of course, pancakes. It wouldn’t be American without pancakes after all, would it?
To drink, Pommery Champagne was on ice. At just after 7 a.m., it was a little too early for me to indulge.
I was happy to see a bean-to-cup espresso machine. The coffee was great, too.
Self-serve juices, sodas, wines, spirits, and pour-your-own Brew Dog beer on tap were also on offer.
Hot Tip: Learn more about how to access British Airways lounges (Concorde, Galleries, Arrival), as well as our full list of U.S. British Airways lounges and locations, hours, and more.
Boarding at JFK
After what felt like just 2 minutes in the lounge, it was time to head to gate 9 — just a short walk from the lounge.
British Airways boards passengers who need extra time or those traveling with children first, after which it’s priority boarding for groups 1 through 3. As a Gold status holder, I get to board with group 1 whichever class I’m traveling in.
As usual, a line had formed at the gate before boarding had started. Of the 4 people in front of me, 2 were asked to wait their turn as they’d tried to board before their group was called. It’s a pretty simple system to follow…
A whole 38 minutes before our scheduled departure, I was already on board BA’s 25-year-old Boeing 777-200 registered G-VIIA. There was no view of the aircraft from the gate, but I managed to snap this from the AirTrain en route to the terminal.
And this was my home for the next 6-ish hours: Seat 9K. A definite improvement from premium economy.
I couldn’t have asked for a better view, either.
Shortly after getting comfy, 3 cabin crew members passed through the cabin at intervals of a few minutes and handed out Club World menus, an amenity kit (or wash bag as it was referred to), a bottle of water, and the all-important welcome drink. I can’t help but think it would be a simpler process and less work for the crew to have these items already waiting on each seat.
I could have chosen from a glass of water, orange juice, or Champagne.
To toast the end of an incredible 10-week trip, I treated myself to a glass of bubbles.
On Board British Airways Boeing 777-200
As we taxied to the runway, JFK treated me to some perfect AvGeek scenery.
To top it off, being on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft heading to JFK’s runway 31L meant stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.
After a quick taxi, we were third in line for takeoff after 2 JetBlue birds headed off to sunnier climes.
We left the ground at 8:13 a.m. — 18 minutes after our scheduled departure time.
The view of the Manhattan skyline was even more impressive from the sky.
Then we rotated counter-clockwise through 270 degrees to these beautiful views of Long Island.
Club Suite Seat
BA’s Club Suite seat looks smart, to say the least. The black felt, black plastic, and wood-finish paneling are offset nicely by the bright white headrest and the white cross accents of the dark navy seat fabric.
Even though I only upgraded to Club World at check-in, I was able to snag a window seat in the 1-2-1 configured cabin. This configuration gives all business class passengers direct aisle access and is a far superior layout to BA’s out-of-touch 2-4-2 Club World cabins you still find on other aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380.
As my seat was located at the bulkhead in the first row of the larger, second Club Suite cabin, this is also where bassinets for babies are fitted.
The second most notable addition to the Club Suite is the sliding door for increased privacy.
With a gap of a couple of inches, the Club Suite cannot be considered “fully enclosed.”
Even still, I was more than happy with the improved privacy of the Club Suite.
An armrest on the aisle side could be lowered or raised to my preference.
The seat’s position could easily be changed using the panel to my right. Presets included takeoff/landing, a 45-degree angled position, and the most important: fully flatbed.
The main storage areas were 2 compartments underneath the window that flipped open with the pressing of a button.
The larger of the 2 is where I found my headphones, as well as an international charging outlet, 2 USB ports, and the headphone port.
Up next to my shoulder was a reading light and a small door, which opened to reveal a mirror and a small space that was big enough to store my passport and document wallet.
Underneath the IFE screen was the tray table that could be released with a small catch.
When the table was extended, I again found it rather awkward and fiddly to find the catch. Another small storage area perfect for a bottle of water could be found down by the right of my feet.
Once fully extended, the tray table was more than big enough for my 13-inch MacBook Air.
The Club Suite also has ample legroom: my legs didn’t even reach the footrest (these slippers are from my flight over to the U.S. in Mint with JetBlue).
Club Suite Cabin
British Airways is currently retrofitting some of its Boeing 777 aircraft with its Club Suite product.
You’ll know if your aircraft has the Club Suite while selecting your seat at booking. There’s a smaller forward cabin of 13 seats starting at row 5. Rows 5 through 7 are in a 1-2-1 configuration and then 8K is the only seat in row 8 at the back of the cabin.
The main Club Suite cabin has 36 seats in 9 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
I got on the aircraft as early as I could so I can snag a couple of snaps of the First cabin. It’s just 8 seats in 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Down the back, the cabin seemed tiny. Still, there were a total of 134 seats, mostly in rows of 10 in the 3-4-3 configuration you typically find on Boeing 777 aircraft.
For some reason on my cabin trip, I didn’t get a snap of the World Traveller Plus cabin. I’ll do better next time!
Food and Beverage
I was asked what I’d like from the menu at just after 9:10 a.m. By this point, I was pretty hungry as I didn’t have the time to finish what I’d ordered in the lounge.
More often than not, my inflight breakfast experiences have been rather lackluster — especially as a second or final meal on landing after a red-eye.
As BA178 is BA’s day flight across the Atlantic, the first and main meal of the flight was breakfast, so I was apprehensive that it wouldn’t cut it.
It turns out that I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.
My options were: traditional British breakfast (scrambled eggs, pork sausage, back bacon, grilled plum tomato, sautéed button mushroom), scrambled eggs with sautéed potatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes, or hazelnut French toast with chocolate sauce and poached pear.
Each main course would come accompanied by fresh seasonal fruit and Greek yogurt with dried fruit.
It was really tasty. And not the typically over-salted tasty that you often get in the sky.
The eggs and potatoes weren’t at all dry, and the roasted tomatoes made for a perfect accompaniment.
Coffee and tea were offered, but I went with sparkling water, as I don’t drink drip coffee on planes and I’m one of the only Brits who doesn’t like tea.
I’d love it if British Airways started serving espresso in the premium cabins.
With just under 4 hours to go, my appetite came back with a vengeance.
I could have picked something from the snack bar in the galley between the 2 Club Suite cabins, but I didn’t fancy anything.
Instead, I ordered my first full alcoholic drink when I passed through the galley after popping to the bathroom. At this point, it was 11:17 a.m. EST and 4:17 p.m. BST, so I figured it was a fair time to start drinking in both time zones.
A crew member then popped her head around the curtain and asked if I’d like regular or pink. The pink option must be new as, if I’m not mistaken, British Airways previously only served pink bubbles in First cabins and lounges.
It was a Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rosé and, had it been properly chilled, it would have been exquisite.
The same crew member apologized about the temperature, explaining that the bottle “hadn’t been in the chiller for long.”
I switched out to a glass of the regular Besserat de Bellefon, which was indeed as chilled as it should be.
A couple more hours passed before our pre-landing meal was served. I had 2 options to choose from: pastrami, Swiss cheese, and mustard mayonnaise panini, or a chickpea and oven-roasted sweet potato and mint labneh wrap. I went for the latter, and it hit the spot nicely. It had a nice kick to it, too.
My wrap was served with a small side salad, a packet of Miss Vickie’s chips, and a chocolate pecan brownie.
My meal was served with a dirty tray cloth, but I think that was just from when it was carried to my seat.
On my tour of the cabins, I noticed a small snack basket at the back of the economy cabin, where I snagged this pack of Belgian chocolate biscuits (I asked first).
The 17-inch Club Suite IFE screens are far superior to their outdated Club World counterparts. They at least seem larger and can be watched from gate to gate. Before we took off, I noticed my screen wasn’t on whereas my neighbor in 9F was already watching hers.
No matter how hard I tapped, the screen didn’t turn on.
I let Angela (one of the crew) know and she immediately offered to reset the screen. When it turned back on, nothing had changed. I was offered to move to another seat, but there were no spare seats by the windows, so I stayed put.
The crew then did a second reset which, at first, seemed to have done the trick. The tactility had improved, but I still needed to tap a couple of times with force for the screen to respond.
Instead, I resorted to using the handset, which was very easy to use and more practical than leaning forward to tap the screen.
I highly recommend “Superintelligence.” I laughed so hard, I cried, but I’m a sucker for any film featuring Melissa McCarthy.
BA’s Club headphones felt cheap and certainly weren’t “noise canceling” as advertised.
The White Company amenity kit was handed out before we took off. The faux-leather case was filled with flight socks, an eye mask, a dental kit, earplugs, lip balm, moisturizers, and the ever-tiny pen.
At my seat when I boarded was a sizeable pillow and a duvet and mattress protector in a fabric casing — all by The White Company.
I was easily able to connect to the Wi-Fi and choose my package.
Wi-Fi in First is free. For everyone else, the options start at £4.99 (~$6.27) for browsing and streaming and just £2.99 (~$3.75) for messaging.
I went for the £14.99 (~$18.84) flight pass, as I needed to work for most of the flight.
At first, the Wi-Fi seemed a little sketchy. I did a speed test to check, and the speed wasn’t bad at all: 56.01 Mbps download and 4.31 Mbps upload. I’m just glad I uploaded the images I needed before the flight.
I was a bit disappointed with how unclean my seat area was. It was by no means filthy, but I’d expect higher standards from British Airways — especially given that this aircraft landed the night before, so there were no excuses for not having enough time to clean properly.
Crumbs and general dust and dirt could be found in the smaller of the 2 storage areas and along the side of the seat.
And the larger storage area where the outlets were was soaking with some unidentified liquid.
Rather than clean it properly, a crew member stuffed this mattress protector into the storage area where it remained for the rest of the flight.
The 2 bathrooms I used were on either side of the galley area in between the 2 Club Suite cabins.
The first was on the small side.
And the second was quite a bit larger.
Both had baby changing facilities and The White Company products.
This was my first long-haul flight without having to wear a mask and it felt great! Honestly, I was just happy to see people’s smiling faces again — especially the crew!
I’d say the service overall was average with an exception to the rule.
For starters, it was almost an hour into the flight before the first drink order was taken, which I thought was longer than usual.
Most of my interactions were with Abigail, who was top class — she stole the show for me.
She was the most proactive of all the crew at popping through the cabin and checking up on passengers. She made sure I was always topped up.
The most proactivity I noticed from the crew was in clearing away finished meals all the while still serving other passengers.
After food service, the crew pretty much stopped passing through the cabin. I’d finished my sparkling water and as the curtain was shut, I couldn’t catch anyone’s attention to ask for another drink. I could have used the call bell, but I decided to head to the galley instead where each of the 3 crew members who were there were all chatting and on their phones.
I was told that I could help myself from the galley whenever I wanted. I don’t know whether this self-service is normal practice for British Airways now in Club, but in previous experiences, cabin crew was very proactive at walking through the cabin making sure drinks were topped up.
I must also shout out to Andrew who was working mainly in the economy cabin. It was his first long-haul flight with British Airways as cabin crew and it was as if he’d been doing it for years.
Before I knew it, we were descending through the U.K.’s clouds on approach to London.
We landed in an easterly direction on runway 9L, which meant we didn’t get the usual London flyover that I was hoping for after so long away from home.
I headed straight to the Galleries First lounge to wait for my connecting flight to Newcastle, where I was treated to some spectacular AvGeek views that included this Emirates A380 donning the beautiful Dubai Expo livery.
The most important question I should probably answer here is, “Was paying for the upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club Suite worth it?” My answer is this: I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Realistically speaking, there was no real need for me to splash out for a relatively short daytime hop across the Atlantic. However, flying long-haul in BA’s Club Suite for the first time is a flight I’ll remember forever.
British Airways will always have a special place in my heart. There’s nothing quite like arriving at the airport before heading back to the U.K. and seeing a British Airways jet waiting for you. It just feels like home.
The Club Suite is poles apart from the old Club World seat — I’d have been happy there for at least double the length of time. I loved the extra feeling of privacy that the sliding door gave.
I was pleasantly surprised with the tasty, well-cooked breakfast and the food and beverage options in general.
Aside from the exceptions I mentioned above, I was a little disappointed with the overall lackluster effort from the crew. As a business class passenger, I’d have expected more proactivity and far more frequent cabin walkthroughs.
The information regarding the British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.