Plane of Thrones: A Review of British Airways’ Airbus A321 in Club World from Amman to London
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Most of British Airways’ mid- and long-haul flights are operated by their wide-bodied Boeing fleet of 777’s and 747s. However, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Moscow and Tel Aviv are a few mid-haul destinations that aren’t quite short enough to be short-haul and aren’t quite long enough to be long-haul.
These routes are operated by a fleet of four Airbus A321s. These are narrow-bodied aircraft that feature a staggered 1-2 configuration in business class, which ultimately means more space and privacy. If you’re lucky enough, you can also find yourself on one for European and even domestic routes. This is only when there are scheduling issues, and you will still only receive the usual Club Europe service, depending on the route you’re flying, and there will be no White Company bedding. If you want the best chances of flying on this aircraft, you should consider flying one of the five routes previously mentioned. I knew I was guaranteed a throne seat for my flight back from Amman, Jordan (AMM), and I couldn’t wait to test it out.
The London Heathrow (LHR)-to-Amman route is one of the cheapest options for a business-class redemption, at only 31,250 Avios one-way plus £261.12 in taxes.
Paying in cash for a return business-class ticket can also be pretty good value on this particular route — you can find fares for as low as £1,381.
This might be a solid option for you if you’re in need of a few Tier Points to help you retain status or even progress to the next level. The amount of Tier Points you would earn from this flight is 140 no matter what level of status you have, but the number of Avios to be earned increases with the level of status. Head over to British Airways’ calculator to find out exactly how many Avios you could earn by paying in cash.
It was 5:30am when I got to the airport, and there was barely another passenger to be seen. Amman is the main gateway for the entire Kingdom of Jordan, but still has a very small number of flights compared to most other capital city airports.
The only check-in queue that seemed to have a queue was for my flight, but it was tiny.
And it was smaller still for Club World check-in.
No fast track was needed to clear security, as there were only a couple of people ahead of me.
Finding the lounge was easy. You can’t miss it, in fact. It covers the entire upper mezzanine level of the departures area and is the only lounge in the airport.
There were plenty of seats available, as the lounge was pretty empty. It might have been a good time to get a bit of cleaning done and get some of the stains removed from this sofa.
The food and drinks available were pretty simple and bland for a lounge that caters for several airlines’ business- and first-class passengers. There were sandwiches that looked like they had been vacuum-packed in plastic — not really worthy of a business-class lounge.
After a quick coffee, I made my way to the gate, but not before waiting in a queue to pass a preboarding passport and boarding-pass inspection, which I’d been advised about at check-in.
My chariot for the short five-and-a-bit-hour flight back to London was to be G-MEDF, one of only four British Airways A321s that have lie-flat seats in their business-class cabins.
Cabin and Seat
This cabin was how business class on all narrow-bodied aircraft should be, but it’s rare to find these days, especially on intra-European and mid-haul flights. The 23-seat Club World cabin is in a staggered 1-2 configuration and nine of those seats (1A, 2F, 3A, 4F, 5A, 6F, 7A, 7F and 8F) are nicknamed “throne seats.” They offer direct aisle access, which also means that the cabin crew are able to serve you directly rather than through the awkward sliding hatch on BA’s other Club World products. The seats also recline into fully flat beds, which I didn’t actually do on this flight, but I can say that in the upright position, the seat was very comfortable. The main downfall was the lack of storage space.
I chose seat 1A, the first throne seat in the cabin and closest to the front of the plane. Despite what SeatGuru say about this being potentially bothersome, I quite like being close to the galley, as it means getting served your food and drinks quicker, and I quite like chatting with the crew.
The cabin was perfectly clean and tidy, and the amenities nicely presented on each of the seats ready for boarding.
There were USB and universal power outlets at head height in the seat.
From the seat, my feet barely reached the footwell, so there was plenty of space for spreading out.
The seat itself also had a massage feature. I tested it out but could barely feel it, and when I could, it was more annoying than relaxing, so I just turned it off.
The tray table was big enough to fit my 15-inch laptop comfortably.
I was a little shocked by the state of the washroom. There was engrained dirt around the basin and a strange, reddish colour in the sink and all over the toilet. It’s hard to tell whether this was through lack of cleaning or because something had previously stained the entire bathroom, but it was rather unsightly nonetheless.
Amenities and IFE
The inflight-entertainment screen was nice and big, but out of reach, so I had to use the rather laggy handheld control rather than the touchscreen. While it’s not the most modern of IFE in terms of picture quality, British Airways’ High Fly entertainment system boasts plenty of films, documentaries and series to choose from for both kids and adults alike. There was no Wi-Fi available on this flight.
The moving map worked fine, but was a little outdated. Tail cam and more up-to-date moving-map features would have been nice little additions and are quite commonplace with other airlines.
Food and Beverage
Dine on Demand
Breakfast was a two-course affair and exactly what I needed after the lacklustre options that Amman Airport’s business-class lounge provided me. The salmon starter was tasty and fresh and a nice prelude to the next course. I rarely eat the bread on planes but on this occasion it was warm. The granola looked tasty, but it had yoghurt underneath, so I had to pass due to lactose issues.
I was starving, so I dived straight into the mushrooms and the hash browns of the main course before I realised I hadn’t taken a picture. Eggs can be hit or miss on planes, usually varying from gluey to rubbery, but this was a perfectly textured, delicious omelet, and I ate every bit. The coffee came black, as I had requested, but it wasn’t very strong — I’d have probably needed about three cups to have really woken up.
Due to the very early start, I dozed off for about 30 minutes after eating and woke up starving once again. I asked if there was anything else to eat and was told that my only options were nuts, crisps or chocolate, so I passed. Not a great selection for a business-class cabin.
I thought it would be rude to say no when I was offered a cheeky glass of Champagne after breakfast. It was 5pm somewhere, after all.
The bubbles on offer was Canard-Duchêne. As you may already know from previous reviews, I’m more of a pie-and-a-pint than a Champagne-and-caviar kind of guy — but I still know enough to say that this was a tasty Champagne.
Fruit juice, soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits were available upon request throughout the flight.
From the moment I stepped on the plane, I knew I had a stellar crew. Both the service manager and the crew member running the Club World cabin greeted me personally, and as I was first on the plane with a minute or two before the next person boarded, we had time for a quick chat about what we had been up to in Jordan. Once boarding was complete, I was offered water or orange juice. Due to laws in Jordan, no alcohol is allowed to be served while still on the ground.
Once airborne, it was only about 15 minutes before my order was taken, and I had my start at 9:10am, only 40 minutes after taking off. Service was quick, and the whole thing was finished and cleared away within 30 minutes, leaving the rest of the time in flight to relax and chat with the crew and my dad, who tagged along on the trip with me.
The great service ended in the sky. It is common for A321s to park at remote stands, requiring you to take a bus from the plane to the aircraft terminal. While this is great for AvGeek photo opportunities and can build up the excitement of your flight when you’re departing, the feeling is quite the opposite when landing, as you just want to get off the plane, be reunited with your bags and get home as quickly as possible. This wasn’t possible with this particular flight. There was no separate bus for business-class passengers despite the service manager asking for one.
The ground crew tried to cram the entire plane of passengers onto one bus, which made it cramped and stuffy, and a mother and her children were left outside on the tarmac, as the bus became too full.
I loved my first time in British Airways’ throne seat — it’s definitely a novelty, and I would definitely like to fly it again.
As I’ve said before, the crew, especially in premium cabins, can really make or break a flight for me, and this time the crew were part of the reason why I loved it so much. The team were an absolute dream and a credit to British Airways.
The flight was only five hours long, but it would definitely have benefited from another meal service before landing or at least a better selection of snacks. Otherwise, the food that I did get I actually really enjoyed.
I also switched to the righthand side of the plane to catch a glimpse of one of my favourite views in the world, and it was the icing on the cake to a solid flight back home to London.
All photos by the author.
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