American Airlines Business and British Airways Club World Compared
The airspace over the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America is among the busiest air routes. Every day, between two and three thousand aircraft fly across the North Atlantic between Canada, the United States and Europe, with London - New York being one of the most profitable and busiest commercial routes.
The visualisation below shows Transatlantic traffic over a 24 hour period taken from a day in August 2013 and shows 2,524 flights crossing the North Atlantic.
Although, the North Atlantic skies have been taken over by three major airline alliances — Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, the transatlantic route is mainly dominated by British Airways and American Airlines, both members of the Oneworld alliance.
When you have a choice between American Airlines and British Airways, the big question is which one has the best Business Class product? Well, here you have some facts comparing each carrier’s products and our opinion about the overall winner.
Lounges at Heathrow
British Airways: Club World passengers get access to the Galleries Club Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. It’s quite tricky to compare all lounges of both airlines but in general, BA lounges at Heathrow are far superior than those of American Airlines. They feature a more elegant space with nice views over the runway, a greater selection of food [with multiple hot and cold options], and offer better wine and spirits choices. Galleries Club lounge also has showers, separate work, dining and entertainment areas, complimentary WiFi and lots of magazines on hand.
American Airlines: AA Business Class passengers get access to the American Admirals Club Lounge at Terminal 3, which is inferior to the lounge offered by British Airways, however, since AA departs from Terminal 3, Business Class passengers can also access two other oneworld lounges at the terminal — a British Airways Galleries Club Lounge and Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge (the lounge is closed for refurbishment until June 2016 though), so AA passengers have a slight advantage here as they can get the best of everything: use a lightning speed WiFi at the American Admirals Club Lounge, enjoy freshly prepared noodles at the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge (when it’s open in June 2016), and have some premium drinks at the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge.
Lounges at JFK
British Airways: British Airways’ Galleries Club Lounge, located airside at Terminal 7, features open, airy and elegant space with a mix of modern leather seating and cloth-upholstered club chairs. In addition to several showers, a business centre and complimentary WiFi, an on-site Elemis spa offers 15-minute complimentary treatments and full menu of treatments for purchase. There is a large self-service bar with a decent variety of wines and premium spirits, a breakfast/dinner buffet area with several hot and cold options, and a wide array of snacks.
American Airlines: American’s Admirals Club Lounge is at Terminal 8’s Concourse B, after security. The recently refurbished lounge looks very modern and offers a comfortable seating area. It also features shower facilities [shared with the adjoining first-class Flagship lounge], a small business area with a few PCs and multiple electrical outlets, and a separate kids’ play area. A small selection of beer, wine and house spirits are available for self-service, and food offerings are largely available for purchase, including a full menu of salads and sandwiches.
For years British Airways was the sure winner with a fully lie-flat bed vs. AA’s old angled lie-flat seats, but now that American have upgraded most of their fleet on the London - New York route with new shiny B777’s it is no longer so obvious.
British Airways: On the LHR-JFK route BA offers a pretty consistent business class product with Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s, BA also allow you more flexibility as you may want to choose LHR-EWR, LGW-JFK or LCY-JFK routes. BA offers fully flat-bed seats [with 180 degrees recline] across its wide-body fleet. Each Club World seat has a memory foam headrest, a quilted blanket, and a personal storage compartment located on the floor. Please note that window seats have an extra storage bin between the seat and the window.
American Airlines: AA has been revamping its fleet for a while now, introducing a brand new Boeing 777–300ER as well as retrofitting their Boeing 777–200 planes with new cabins. AA’s new 26-inch-wide, fully lie-flat business class seats in a reverse herringbone pattern that offers all-aisle access to each seat appeared to be more comfortable than those offered by BA. In addition to a personal pillow, duvet and slippers, each seat comes with two personal storage compartments, one to the side of the seat with a door, mirror and hook, and the other on the floor, large enough to hold a handbag or laptop.
British Airways: Each Club World seat features a 10.4-inch flatscreen with extensive range of films, and music options, and noise cancelling headphones. Unfortunately, WiFi is not offered by British Aiways at the moment, although they plan to offer both short-haul and long-haul connectivity across its fleet by early 2019.
American Airlines: American’s new business class seats have a 15.4-inch flatscreen with with a wide array of on-demand audio and video, television shows, and live TV channels, as well as Bose noise cancelling headphones. American offer in-flight WiFi (for purchase) with prices range from $12 for two hours to $19 for the duration of the flight.
British Airways: Club World food service provides a full English breakfast with warm breads and pastries, an afternoon tea with sandwiches and warm scones, hot meal at lunch and dinner (including salad and dessert), bar service includes wines, beers and premium spirits, and Club Kitchen where Club World fliers can graze between meals [with lots of things to choose from including healthy nibbles, sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit and ice cream]. The onboard Champagne offering has recently been updated, the new Club World bar configuration consists of Henriot Brut Souverain NV, de Castelnau Rose and de Castelnau Brut Reserve NV.
BA redesigned their amenity kits over a year ago, drawstring bags contain British-made Elemis products, including an eye mask, earplugs, wash cloth, dental kit, lip balm, body lotion, a pen, and socks.
American Airlines: On AA, Business Class passengers receive warm nuts or fresh-baked cookies, three-course hot meals (including a choice of soup, salad, or both), and, similarly to BA, have access to a walk-up snack bar throughout the flight with a wide spread of snacks, sandwiches, tapas and sweets. There’s no Champagne offered in Business Class, however passengers can enjoy a rather nice glass of Prosecco instead.
AA also rolled out a new business class amenity kit in January this year. The new kits are packaged in Cole Haan-designed zipper toiletry bags and include body lotion, lip balm, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, a packet of tissues and a pen.
Although British Airways offers the best ground experience (mostly due to better lounges at LHR and JFK), American Airlines is a clear winner in terms of the inflight experience [with better seats, entertainment and food]. Nevertheless, the experience will largely depend on the aircraft type, so always take that into consideration when you book a flight.