- Plenty of personal space
- Sliding door for privacy
- Thoughtful touches for the traveller
- Slow and expensive WiFi
- Noisy Boeing 777
- Comfort and privacy in a well-appointed suite
Three years and one pandemic since British Airways rolled out its all-new Club Suites business class in 2019, the spacious pods and their sliding doors have finally arrived on the Sydney-London ‘Kangaroo Route’.
Frequent travellers on the BA15/BA16 flights will be thrilled to see an end to the cramped dorm-like Club World business class and its forwards-backwards 2-4-2 layout.
In its place, the Club Suite delivers everything you’d expect from a modern international business class – from the 1-2-1 configuration to a sliding door – plus a few thoughtful touches to take the sting out of the long 24-hour trek.
Not that you have to be headed all the way to London: the Sydney-Singapore leg of BA15/BA16 is an oft-overlooked alternative to Qantas and Singapore Airlines, depending on pricing of course.
But there’s a catch: the current 777 with Club Suites running Sydney-Singapore-London was set to be swapped out for a Boeing 787-9 with those older and inferior Club World pews as of late March, 2023.
While the Dreamliner is a superior aircraft in terms of passenger comfort and some natty jet lag-diminishing technology to do with cabin pressure, humidity, air flow and filtration, it’s a definite downgrade in business class.
However, those Dreamliners are being retrofitted with Club Suites, so eventually you’ll see Club Suites on the Kangaroo Route regardless of what aircraft BA is flying.
Ahead of the flight out of Sydney, British Airways directs its business class passengers – along with all lounge-worthy travellers such as high-tier frequent flyers – to The House lounge.
Located near Gate 51, in what Sydney Airport refers to as Pier C (the smaller wing of T1, most often used by Emirates and Star Alliance airlines) The House was the Etihad Airways lounge in a previous life, and is now operated as an independent lounge by Aspire.
However, as BA and Qantas are both members of the Oneworld alliance, this also puts the two international Qantas lounges at your disposal.
So which should you choose? As it happens, you don’t have to choose – you can visit The House lounge and a Qantas lounge. And you’ll probably want to, at least to see which is the better place to spend your pre-flight hours.
When I flew on BA16 from Sydney to London in November, The House had yet to resurrect its quite good pre-pandemic à la carte menu, and the buffet spread was decidedly average.
BA16’s business class passengers, Silver-grade BA Executive Club members and their Oneworld Sapphire equivalents can also head to the Qantas Business Lounge (although the food’s arguably little better, it’s certainly much more crowded and the furniture is less comfortable).
That makes The House more of a ‘least worst’ option, but I’d suggest popping into both lounges anyway.
Of course, if you’re holding BA Executive Club Gold (or Oneworld Emerald) status along with your BA16 boarding pass, the Qantas First Lounge is your unchallenged go-to for a three- or four-course meal at the restaurant plus some fine wines or Champagne, and maybe even nab a treatment at the day spa.
BA16, Sydney to Singapore
The first leg of BA16 departs Sydney at 4.30pm and eight hours later – 9.30pm, Singapore time – you’re landing at Changi Airport.
That’s plenty of time to relax in the Club Suite and become familiar with its many improvements over the long-lived Club World seat, which brings BA into line with the business class experience of most other airlines.
With each seat angled away from the aisle and reclined into its high-walled pod, there’s a substantial degree of privacy before you even reach for that sliding door.
The window seats pleasingly face towards the window and the view...
... with the paired centre seats seperated by a sliding privacy screen.
As for those sliding doors: being the same height as the walls of the suite, these are less about privacy from anybody walking down the aisle and more about closing yourself off from the rest of the cabin, especially when it comes to sleeping.
And unlike the previous-gen Club World seats, BA’s Club Suites offer plenty of personal space and stowage nooks, including a shoulder-height compartment with a handy vanity mirror on the inside of the door.
Something else that’s striking about the Club Suites is how many are on this Boeing 777 – there’s 76 suites in all (almost a third of the 777’s total seat count), split across three cabins.
Our tip: try to get yourself into the first ‘mini-cabin’ of rows 5, 6 and 7 if you want a slightly more exclusive vibe during your trip.
Shortly after take-off, despite that it was close to 6pm in Sydney, ‘lunch’ was served, starting with the obligatory nut mix and a crisp Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV Champagne.
As I’d already eaten at the Qantas First Lounge, I gave the cabin crew my meal preferences from the menu but asked to be served last among my fellow travellers.
And while British Airways often gets a bad rap for its business class meals, I found nothing wrong with BA16’s fare.
The choice of starters included a delicious seared tuna plate (my choice), goat’s cheese salad, pumpkin soup and a salad of roasted pumpkin with barley.
After that it was time for mains: and while the pappardelle pasta and braised lamb shank looked temping, I opted for the seared salmon fillet (pleasingly not too dry), served with a warm kipfler potato salad, kale and macadamia nuts.
This left just enough room for dessert: from the usual roster of fruit, savoury (a cheese board) and sweet, my pick was the caramelised banana toffee pudding.
By now we were halfway to Singapore, which made it time to tidy up some work.
It’s easy to get yourself set up in the spacious Club Suite, which is based on the same popular Collins Aerospace Super Diamond platform as Etihad Airways’ new A350 Business Studio (among many others).
The wide shelf opens to reveal two handy pockets – one of which contains a universal AC and two USB power sockets, along with the remote control for the video screen.
A thin gap under the pop-up lid means you can close that lid to recover the bench space without ‘pinching’ the AC or USB cables juicing up your laptop, tablet or phone.
The smaller of the two recesses is a perfect place to stow your phone while it’s charging but not in use.
The almost-hidden table which discretely slides out from beneath the 17” HD video screen is also thoughtfully designed.
Firmly anchored, there’s none of the droop or bounce which affects the old Club World table when you're hammering away on your laptop.
And for those times when you want to leave your seat while the table is extended – say, while your laptop is out or during the meal service – just push the table back towards the monitor until locks into a halfway detent, leaving enough room to get in and out of your seat.
Sadly, the WiFi is both over-priced and frustratingly under-powered: BA asks $9 for one hour up to $42 for the entire flight, but I found speeds never exceeded a laggard 1Mbps.
Towards the end of the Sydney-Singapore leg of BA16, we were offered a light meal of a bakery item; a chicken wrap or vegetarian panini; and a chocolate and salted caramel mousse cake.
I skipped the snack, preferring to take a proper meal in the lounge during the Singapore stopover. Speaking of which…
BA16’s Singapore stopover
Like the BA15 flight from London, BA16 from Sydney makes a short stopover at Singapore’s Changi Airport to take on fuel, a fresh crew plus new meals and drinks, during which all passengers must leave the plane (along with their carry-on bags and personal items).
When we say a ‘short stopover’, we mean it: the Sydney-Singapore leg of BA16 is scheduled to reach Changi Terminal 1 at 9.30pm, and then it’s back in the skies en route to London at 11.05pm.
Allowing time for getting off the plane at Changi and being back at the boarding gate by 10.30pm (as a security check is done at the gate), you’ll have barely an hour on the ground and well under an hour of lounge time at your disposal.
Given that BA16 most often arrives at Changi T1’s C gates – indeed, it’s usually at the most distant gates, so you’ll spend 10+ minutes on the walk there and back – time is of the essence.
So which lounge should you visit during that short stay?
Here’s our expert tip: skip BA’s own lounge, and the adjacent Qantas business class lounge, and make a beeline for the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge.
Tucked away at the top of the C gates wing and above the signage of the ‘C Transfer Lounge’, it’s easy to miss, especially if you’re following the crowd on auto-pilot.
But you’ll thank us once you step inside this sophisticated boutique lounge, which limits access to business class and first class passengers (barring even top-tier frequent flyers in the process).
The dining room boasts an extensive à la carte menu including satay, sushi, grilled beef fillet or rack of lamb, chicken green curry with jasmine rice and pad thai (click this link to browse the current menu).
There’s also a cocktail bar and beyond that, an impressive buffet spread.
Note that Qatar Airways’ Singapore Premium Lounge has only five showers, so if you want to freshen up before the onwards flight you’ll need to be among the first in the lounge – or head to the Qantas Singapore Business Lounge with its 20 shower suites, and grab a quick meal there (along with the buffet there are two daily dishes, of which the laksa is always my go-to).
The other catch with visiting the British Airways or Qantas business class lounge is that they’re close to another five minutes’ walk from the Qatar Airways lounge, so visiting either lounge means losing ten minutes from your already-too-short stopover.
If your frequent flyer status is BA Gold, Qantas Platinum or Oneworld Emerald then you could set a course for the Qantas Singapore First lounge (above): but with this being further along the main T1 concourse it adds another five minutes there and back (unless your BA16 flight makes a relatively rare arrival at the D gates wing).
BA16, Singapore to London
Shortly after 11pm sees BA16 in the air once more, leaving the lights of Singapore behind as you track northwest across the Bay of Bengal to the southern tip of India; and then on to the Gulf states, Turkey and Europe, where London lies some 14 hours away.
‘Dinner’ is served shortly after midnight, and as that’s 3am in Sydney you’d probably rather sleep. If you’ve already eaten at the lounge, as most business class passengers will have, then tucking into another heavy meal is the last thing you’ll want.
But for what it’s worth, here is the dinner menu or BA16’s Singapore-London leg:
- Smoked salmon
- Cauliflower soup
- Quinoa gareden salad
- Braised beef cheek
- Roasted chicken
- Tofu stuffed with mushrooms, carrots and water chestnuts
- Strawberry cheesecake
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Carrot and walnut pudding
- Cheese board
Given the late hour and that many travellers will already have taken their dinner at the lounge, BA also offers an express dining option with your choice of a main plus starter or dessert, all served on a single tray.
I modified this to skip the main course and just have the smoked salmon starter and cheese board, but asked for this to be held until I was ready to eat, so it served more as a snack to quell a rumbling tummy later in the flight.
There are also more conventional snacks such as chips, chocolates, biscuits and health bars in the galley’s self-serve basket.
As my fellow BA16 business class travellers tucked into their midnight dinner, I changed into BYO pyjamas (British Airways supplies PJs only in first class), reclined the Club Suite into its lie-flat bed mode and unwrapped the White Company bedding set of mattress pad, blanket and plush pillow.
The footwell in front of each seat isn’t overly large… the best amount of space comes from a seat in the front row of each Club Suite cabin, as there’s a substantially bigger cutout in the bulkhead. Those rows are 5, 8 and 19.
In the end, I found it easier to sleep on my side with my legs and feet angled, rather than on my back with legs straight and feet upright.
The final touch is to hit the Do Not Disturb light and close the door, which turns the Club Suite into a cosy little cocoon.
The suite’s inner shell and door are lined with an acoustic dampening material to reduce cabin noise, although the real issue is the ceaselessly loud thrum of the Boeing 777 itself.
Bring a good set of earplugs, or doze wearing noise-cancelling earphones if you can – and don’t overlook the value of a sleeping pill to help nudge you into the land of nod.
After six hours of middling sleep I awoke to a cabin where pretty much everyone else was counting sheep, and had the crew bring out my delayed and abbreviated dinner.
That done, I caught up on Joanna Lumley's Great Cities of the World on the HD video screen until 4am London-time rolled around, when breakfast was trotted out some 90 minutes before landing.
Main course choices for business class breakfast in BA16 were:
- full breakfast of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, baked tomato and potato rosti
- gruyere and chive baked egg with roasted potatoes, sautéed spinach and cherry tomatoes
- buttermilk pancakes with mango compote and vanilla sauce
I honestly find it hard to get excited over the prospect of a reheated inflight breakfast cooked the previous day. I’d much rather have something light and then take my actual breakfast on the ground, especially when there’s a decent arrivals lounge waiting (which is the case at Heathrow T5).
With that in mind, I skipped the full breakfast and opted for a lighter continental version with only the menu’s starters of fresh seasonal fruit, bircher muesli with a croissant.
BA16 is scheduled to touchdown at London Heathrow T5 around 5.25am, and even allowing for catching the inter-terminal transit train and a bit of a queue at the automated immigration gates, travellers with only hand luggage can expect to be on their way to the city around 6am.
Visiting the BA Arrivals Lounge
Unless you’ve a breakfast meeting in the city or a tight connection to an onwards flight, I’d recommend a visit to British Airways Arrivals Lounge at T5.
It’s complimentary for all first class and business class passengers – as well as British Airways Executive Club Gold members in any class – flying into Heathrow on BA16 or other ‘long-haul’ flights.
Treat yourself to a fresh full English breakfast from the buffet – bacon, pork sausages, eggs, mushrooms, hash browns, baked beans, HP sauce and all the trimmings – along with a fruit few slices of Marmite on toast.
There’s also a QR code à la carte menu for a warming bowl of porridge, scrambled eggs on sourdough toast, and pancakes.
If you want to freshen up, head for one of the 94 (yes, 94!) shower suites, where there’s also the option to have items such as a shirt, pants or skirt pressed.
British Airways’ Club Suites brings BA back to being a serious contender for the Kangaroo Route – and with the exception of WiFi, the rest of the airline’s business class playbook certainly hits the mark.
You’ll probably wish there was a bit more time on the Singapore stopover, as it feels quite rushed, but the appeal of the Heathrow arrivals lounge shouldn’t be underestimated for getting your first day in London off to a sharp start.
The writer travelled as a guest of British Airways