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Starting our series of competitive routes around the world, we are breaking down the details of what each airline has to offer to help you find the perfect airline for you for your trip.

To start with, we are looking at Los Angeles to London Heathrow. In this post we are looking at the business class offerings from Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air New Zealand, American Airlines and United, that all fly the route direct. To make it easy we have highlighted our winners from each category in bold.

The Breakdown

Virgin Atlantic British Airways American Airlines United Airlines Air New Zealand
Seat Layout 45 seats in a 1 x 1 x 1 herringbone format all offering aisle access. Seats vary on aircraft type, but expect a mix of forward and rear facing seats in a 2 x 4 x 2 format, window seats having to climb over aisle seats to get out. 52 seats, 1 x 2 x 1 each with direct aisle access. Middle seats are great for flying with a companion Mix of 40 forward and rear facing seats in a 2 x 4 x 2 format. 44 seats in a 1 x 2 x 1 herringbone format, all offering aisle access
Seat Comfort
Recliner seat with tray table, storage compartments and ottoman. Seat back can be folded down and turned into a full bed with mattress Reclining seat and fold down ottoman that fully reclines into a bed. Folding down screens offer privacy, but aisle seats offer no protection against roaming trolleys Brand new seats, slightly angled away from the aisle to protect your space. Reclining chair turns into fully flat bed. Your feet will be positioned under the seat infront of you Slightly unorthadox seating arrangement with rows of forward and backward facing seats seperated by walls. Seats recline into a fully flat bed. Middle seats are fairly isolated from the aisle Recliner seat with tray table, storage compartments and ottoman. Seat back can be folded down and turned into a full bed with mattress
Seat Specs
6ft 7.5in long and 33in seat width(at the shoulders) 6ft 1in long and 25in seat width 6ft 6in long and 26in seat width 6ft 4in long and 20in seat width 6ft 7.5in long and 33in seat width(at the shoulders)
Inflight Entertainment
AVOD on a 10.4in screen, with constantly updated films and TV programs. In seat power at all seats AVOD on a 10.4in screen, with a good selection of new and older titles. In seat power at all seats A whopping 15.4in HD touchscreen with 700 hours of AVOD entertainment and in seat power to help you connect to their international wi-fi A lowly 150 hours of AVOD entertainment on a 15.4in touchscreen, so in seat power, which is provided, might be needed to keep you occupied AVOD on a 12.1in screen, good international selection. In seat power at all seats
Best of British, nothing to write home about, but consistantly good dishes, and served direct to your seat, dish by dish. Our tip is eat in the Clubhouse first. Good British food, but limited choices (constantly running out of options for those at the back of the cabin) and items served on a trolley. Lose the trolley and you are on to a winner. Typical American bistro dining, expect steak on every flight and heavy wines. But consistently good dining. A changing menu, with a few good options, but this is definitely airline food and isn’t the best element of the flight. The best offering of the five here. Light healthy choices and other heavier options, excellent Kiwi wines and lighter snacks too.
LHR Clubhouse will spoil you rotten, award winning for all the right reasons. Plan on a good few hours in here first. Good lounges and excellent connecting flights on either end, this is good for those wanting to fly Via London or LAX Good connections, curb-side check-ins and fairly decent lounges Not much to mention, expect a regular business class experience, with lounges and premium check in, but that’s pretty much it. Apart from the awesome safety videos? The only airline to still fly the whole way around the world.
Based on flights 3 days apart booked one week in advance, staying a Saturday night.
£3,825 £6,321 £3,826 £6,516 £6,130

Two flights per day Three flights per day (plus codeshare with American offering a further 1 flight) One flight per day One flight per day One flight per day
TheDesignair Score

8/10 7/10 8.5/10 5/10 8/10


Whilst it is clear to see United is the inferior product here, and that’s in extras, seat and price (the most expensive option!) the other 4 are fairly close in product offering, each one offering an excellent product in their own right. Pick BA for frequency and consistency, Air New Zealand for dining, and Virgin Atlantic for all the little extras that add up to a lot. But American, with their brand new 777 product, that we reviewed on thedesignair recently, has sailed into the lead. Whilst they only have one flight a day, the new business class product is excellent, and as it’s where you spend the most time of your trip, the seat is perfect for a 10 hour plus flight.

Book now at www.aa.com
Also book with Virgin Atlantic at www.virginatlantic.com

Posted by:Jonny Clark

4 replies on “Report: The LAX LHR Business Class comparison

  1. There are other American Airlines routes from LHR to DFW, JFK and ORD with greater route frequency. On these routes, not all of the flights use the new 777-300ERs. For example, only the first of three daily flights to DFW has the new airplane right now. It is a fantastic experience on the 300s in Business Class, but not so fun in economy where you can expect almost every last seat to be sold. This is good for the airline’s financial health, but it can be challenging on long haul depending who you are sat next to, so there is all the more reason to go in Business Class.

  2. Recently flew LHR-LAX on the new AA 777 and it was miles better than the BA product (although the BA lounges are far superior in both directions, especially from LHR) and I would expect it to be better than the A380s that BA will start flying between these cities in October. You’ll need to update your article then.

  3. I must say…this review I found to be a little surprising. Scratch that, REALLY surprising. How an airline like AA could possibly match or even go beyond that of Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand…?

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