News: BA new Club World routes & changes, leases, group boarding, Qatar QSuites on more routes & aircraft

DO & CO Club Wotrd Club World catering on JFK route

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BA new Club World

There has been a lot of discussions over at Flyertalk and on other blogs about the new Club World service which I reviewed here. As I reported a while ago, no sooner had British Airways rolled out the first routes after JFK with the new service than they began cutting back. My pet peeve is the change of the salt and pepper shakers to the old sachets. Surely this has to be one of the few airlines that do this in long haul business class?

Now it has emerged that instead of using premium caterers Do & Co who have provided the JFK catering for the last couple of years, BA will be using Gate Gourmet. Gate Gourmet are the existing BA caterers but it was not clear until now that despite developing the catering, Do & Co will only be delivering it on the JFK flights.

It will be interesting to see how the catering develops as it launches on new routes. Despite the negative reception to the news that Gate Gourmet remains, I personally think it is too early to tell if it will mean worse food. Aside from the beef, I have found most of my Club World meals by Gate Gourmet to be perfectly acceptable even with the old service over the last 6 months in Club World. You can read reviews of all my BA Club World flights here. Even though it will not be Do & Co there will still be the new service with a choice of 2 starters, soup and salad (which technically you can have one of each of), 3 main courses and several desserts and cheese. This along with the new dining ware and bed linen is definitely an improvement, if not at the standard of Qatar.

As BA are launching lots of new routes this month I thought it would be worth a look at which routes have the new bedding and dining.

ROLLOUTNEW DININGNEW BEDDING
 CompleteLondon City to JFKBoston
New York JFKNew York JFK
New York Newark
London City to JFK
FebruaryBaltimoreAtlanta
ChicagoDubai
DubaiHong Kong
Hong KongHouston
HoustonJohannesburg
New York NewarkKuwait
MontrealLos Angeles
PhiladelphiaMexico City
TorontoRiyadh
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose (US)
Seattle
Washington

Group boarding update

BA Group boarding sign at Stockholm

BA Group boarding sign at Stockholm

After a few false starts and a gradual roll-out since January, group boarding is now live at all airports on mainline BA services. The idea to revamp group boarding was to try to reduce congestion and queuing at the gate which let’s face it had become something of a rugby scrum on a regular basis. I had even taken to arriving at the end of Priority boarding except when in an exit row on bulkhead where luggage space was limited.

When you check in you will be given a number on either your paper or mobile boarding pass that gives your number.

​​

Pre-boarding for families etc will still happen first. At Stockholm, it seemed rather confused this week as the sign said Boarding groups 1,2 and 3 which just ended up in the usual crowd around the gate. They called group 1 first but it didn’t stop someone in group 4 trying to get in ahead of me in group 1! After some conferring with his supervisor, the gate agent turned them away. No announcement was made to tell other passengers to remain seated which didn’t help either. I will be departing from Heathrow next week so it will be interesting to see how it goes there. My previous flight a couple of weeks ago was a bus gate so I didn’t see how they did the groups.

The groups are:

Long Haul Groups:

1 Gold/Emerald/First
2 Silver/Sapphire/Club World
3 Bronze/Ruby/World Traveller Plus
4 and 5 World Traveller

Short Haul Groups:

1 Gold/Emerald/Club Europe
2 Silver/Sapphire.
3 Bronze/Ruby
4 Euro Traveller
5 Euro Traveller customers who have purchased a hand baggage only fare

BA Leased aircraft

Titan british airways seats gatwick

Titan A320 seats on 168 seat version

BA have put an official statement on their website regarding their leased aircraft for this summer. Interestingly they have not contacted me directly about my bookings which are affected. The statement basically says that they will also be using Germania from Gatwick as well as CityFlyer and Titan which I have previously mentioned. Interestingly it says there will be “complimentary catering provided on all of these flights operated by a third party on behalf of British Airways”. So one would assume that this means that economy will get something as at present it looks like no business class will be offered. It would be nice if BA were more open about this in the statement.

All they appear to be offering at present if you are affected is being moved to another BA operated service but since by EU regulations you entitled to 75% of the sector fare if you are downgraded, I would expect more as well as hoping for original routeing credit for the tier points. I plan to contact them shortly and I will let you know the outcome.

The changes can’t be made online so you will need to contact British Airways to do this. The official BA statement is here.

 

Qatar’s QSuites

Qatar business class suite

Qsuite

After using the QSuites on the inaugural flight to Canberra (via Sydney), Qatar will now be using the QSuites on this route from later this year. This will start from June 2018 on the QR907/6. This leaves you with a choice to make if you plan to fly to Sydney after June 2018. Do you choose the QSuites on a B777 or do you have the slightly less private but still excellent A380 seats to fly on the upper deck?

Qatar have also confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the A380s in their fleet will be fitted with revised QSuites in 2020 as the current QSuites can’t be fitted to the upper deck of the A380 due to the curvature of the fuselage. They are now developing a new version of the QSuites that will be fitted in a 1-2-1 configuration. This will first be fitted on the B787-9s with the A380s to follow in 2020. The entire fleet of B777s are expected to be fitted with the QSuites by mid-2019. Qatar have also been looking at how they might improve their First Class seats as this is now less private than the QSuites even though the onboard service is superior.

You can find out more about Qatar’s QSuite here.

redeeming avios on qatar

Qatar Airways new business class QSuite

Have you experienced new Club World catering on the Boston route? How did you find the quality? How have you found the group boarding since its introduction? Is it a genuine improvement or just lip service? Let me know below or on social media.

6 Comments on "News: BA new Club World routes & changes, leases, group boarding, Qatar QSuites on more routes & aircraft"

  1. We experienced the Group boarding system last week at Gatwick. We were in group 2. The anouncement boarded groups one and two simultaneously and it was a scrum, with (the many) families in WT also trying to board. It didn’t help that the gate was very crowded and the PA very quiet.

    • Thanks Amanda. It sounds like they weren’t following the correct procedure of calling each group individually. That is often the problem I find with BA with things not being applied consistently. Let’s hope it was just teething troubles!

  2. We experienced both the new food service from PHL to LHR last Thursday and group boarding on all our trip flights in DUB, LHR, MIA, MCO, CLT & PHL. First the food service. Not really impressed, had beef as main and it wasn’t as nice as previous CW flights where we had the beef. Also our pre-dinner drinks did not happen, they just got delivered with the food about 40 mins into the flight. Not sure if that is part of the new service or we just had a bad crew as they were lacking in other areas too. Agree that paper sachets for salt and pepper is a bit off for a premium service. As for the group boarding. I think its an improvement. We still had loads of people grouping around the various queues and sometimes the group 1 queue was a bit blocked to get to with other groups waiting to be the first in line for when their queue was called. However, I think its an improvement on before. In one of the queues there was someone who wasn’t group one that we saw being turned away so they are policing it. One thing we were unsure of was on the long haul flights I had group 1 but my wife who is silver was group 2, she came through the boarding with me and we were worried whether she would be turned away but she wasn’t. We later read online that its currently a computer glitch that if traveling together with me she should get the gold privilege of being in group 1 as well on long haul. They gates crews know this and shouldn’t turn people away if travelling together.

    • Thanks for the feedback Chris. It’s a shame to hear the new Club World service wasn’t great. It was probably slow/haphazard as for most crew it will be their first or second time delivering it. It sounds like common sense is being applying with the group boarding which is good.

  3. The Qatar route to Canberra routes via Sydney not Sydney via Canberra due to airport limitations at Canberra. So based on your news above the times should be the same but with Qsuites on the 777!

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