Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 January 2020

Executive travel: how business class compares to premium economy on British Airways flight from Dubai

Although flying business on BA feels like a compromise compared to the offering from Emirates, the flight schedule to London Heathrow from Dubai International is very convenient with British Airways.
Dining and working at the same time could be difficult on a British Airways Club World cabin. Courtesy British Airways
Dining and working at the same time could be difficult on a British Airways Club World cabin. Courtesy British Airways

Luck was on my side for my recent journey to London Heathrow from Dubai International Airport with British Airways.

I’d booked on to the 2.25pm flight in premium economy and because it was overbooked, I was upgraded to Club World (which is business class to the rest of us). This was pure chance, considering that I don’t have a high points status.

My first impressions of the Boeing 777 cabin were promising – it felt spacious and the seat configuration involves backward and front-facing seats – excellent if you’re travelling in pairs. It can, however, make for some awkward moments if you’re face-to-face with a complete stranger.

In World Traveller Plus, which is BA’s premium economy, desk space is an issue when working on board. Surprisingly, the business seats don’t alleviate this issue. Unlike Emirates business class, where you have multiple surfaces, I still had to fumble around with the notepad on my lap while the laptop was on the table. The food then arrives and if you’re in the middle of working, chaos ensues. The fold-out table doesn’t have a surface to rest on at the other end, so it sits at a slight angle and you keep worrying that your laptop is going to slide off if you lean too heavily on the keyboard.

Unfortunately, my laptop power cable didn’t work either despite trying several different seats – I was advised by the purser on board that there is an issue specific to the Boeing 777s with some power adapters. Fortunately a fellow passenger came to my rescue and lent me one that worked.

One plus though – the Club World seat is very comfortable. It is a flat bed and the cabin crew will provide mattresses, sheets and blankets.

The functionality of the on-board entertainment system remains somewhat below what I consider to be the benchmark – Emirates’ ICE.

I found myself jabbing the screen several times to get it to take any notice and while the film selection is OK, it’s nowhere near as extensive as ICE. You realise what a huge differentiator it is for Emirates and goes some way to justifying its fares.

q&a the options from London

Zaid Alrawi expands on his experience in business class with British Airways:

So how does BA’s Club World compare to World Traveller Plus price-wise?

A return fare from Dubai to London in Club World starts at about Dh11,000, which is more than three times the starting price of World Traveller Plus. If you’re planning an overnight flight and you have a meeting the following morning, then it is absolutely worthwhile – you’re unlikely to sleep in World Traveller Plus. You have the lounge experience, but again, you have to put that in context against such a vast fare difference.

What if I need to finish a lot of work during the flight?

If you can stretch your budget, opt for business class on Emirates. Its return flights to London range from Dh18,000 to Dh25,000. The configuration on the A380 Business Class cabin is superior and allows you to work effectively.

So where does this leave BA’s Club World cabin?

Rather than the “Goldilocks” option between World Traveller Plus and Emirates business class, it feels a bit like a compromise. However, the experience on board isn’t the sole determinant. British Airways has the best flight schedule to Heathrow and can be extremely competitive on price. Furthermore, UK-based travellers and Oneworld members will continue to favour BA to accumulate their points balances.

What time did you arrive in London?

At 6.35pm and my departure back from Heathrow was after midday, arriving at 11.30pm.


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Updated: April 23, 2017 04:00 AM