In the time leading up to our Moms Trip to Europe, I was constantly joking that the thing I am most looking forward to was going home. While it was a joke, there was definitely a bit of truth to it. The reason for this is in July I took advantage of Iberia’s 90,000 avios promotion which netted 180,000 avios between me and Stephanie. With those avios I gave Stephanie the option of 1 round trip flight on Iberia in business class or British Airways First Class one way. Not knowing when we were going to get the opportunity again, Stephanie chose first class.
Thoughtfulness like this is the main reason why I married Stephanie. The prudent person would have picked business class round trip. It allows you a very comfortable flight to and from Europe. While first class is a splurge, it allows you to experience how the other half lives, but only for a short time. Yet she knew that I dream of us flying first class. Stephanie always wants to make my dreams come true. She literally is the best wife in the world.
So after our short flight to London, it was time for the main event! 10 hours in British Airways First Class.
Why I like British Airways First Class
In the seven months since booking my trip, I read everything the internet had to offer on British Airways First Class. I read everything on BA’s website, I read countless reviews, and I watched youtube video after youtube video. Yes… I know, I have a problem. While consuming this information I learned one thing, “travel experts” love to hate on BA. I read snide remarks about British Airways First being the world’s best business class, and how it pales in comparison to other First Class Products.
However, I feel like those people travel in so much luxury and have so much money, they forget what it is like to be a regular person. I cannot afford to fly first class. Heck, I have never even flown business class. Barring some amazing error fares (like Cathay’s first class for $700 error fare back in January) I will not likely fly in first class again. Unfortunately, I don’t have that type of cash, I don’t spend enough money to have that big of a points bank, and I don’t travel enough with one airline to get status, but British Airways makes that makes the first class dream possible.
BA’s gives the average person a chance to fly in First Class Luxury
For us regular people, first class is just a fantastical figment of our imagination hidden behind an illusive curtain and far from our scope for reality. Yet, British Airways pulls back the curtain to make this dream more accessible to the regular person than any other airline. British Airways offers international first class on 57 routes. This is among the most, if not the most, offered by any airline. I absolutely love this about British Airways because it allows people who live outside of the Major Cities to fly first class from their home without having to take a positioning flight to a major airport. I am from Seattle, a pretty major city. It shocked me to find out how few airlines actually fly first class into SeaTac.
Not only does BA make their First Class available on more routes, they also make it really easy to book with points. British Airways is not stingy with rewards space. They open up a decent number of seats per flight, they make it available to book months out, and they make it available to their partners. Other airlines with “better” first class are more exclusive with their space. Lufthansa will only allow people to book with points 14 days before departure. Without the ability to know exactly when you fly it is extremely tough to plan a trip around. Air France only allows its top tier frequent fliers to book their first class with points. While British Airways gives the average person a chance to fly in First Class Luxury.
British Airways 100th Anniversary
British Airways has been celebrating its 100th Anniversary, and as part of that celebration for the week of Valentine’s Day it upgraded 100 people to First Class. An older lady on our flight received an upgrade through this program. She was ecstatic as she was walking onto the plane and talking to the flight attendant. She raved about how something like this has never happened to her, and how excited she was. This truly brought me joy Throughout boarding and the flight seeing how much she enjoyed it. This is a great example, why British Airways First Class is indeed First Class.
London Heathrow a First Class Playground
While I will write about this more in detail in a separate post, I would be remiss if I did not mention our layover in this article. When scheduling our flight, I purposely scheduled a 6 hour layover at London Heathrow. This gave me chance to experience all the first class amenities that my British Airways First Class ticket provided. Upon landing at terminal 5, I immediately hopped on bus to transfer directly over to terminal three. While our flight left at terminal five, check out the other One World Alliance First Class Lounges. Stephanie and I had breakfast and a shower at the first class lounge and then had Gin and Tonics at the Qantas Lounge.
We then headed back over to terminal five to check out British Airways First Class amenities. We had our spa treatments, enjoyed the terrace in the Concorde Room, and had a 3-course lunch. In First Class, Heathrow can turn from one of the most stressful airports in the world to the most relaxing.
Our flight departed from one of the B gates at London Heathrow. While this is a bit of a hike from the Concorde Lounge, there is a tram that runs between the two every few minutes. We may have spent a bit too much time relaxing in the Concorde Room. By the time the left the lounge the flight was scheduled to board in 5 minutes. However, we got lucky with the timing on the trams, and we got to the gate right when boarding started.
British Airways First Class passengers board in group one. This group contains first class passengers, British Airways Gold Passengers, and One World Alliance Emerald frequent fliers. This is a relatively big group but being one of the first groups to board there was not a delay in getting to the plane. Once aboard the plane I showed the flight attendant my boarding pass and she showed me to my seat. At this point I was a kid in a candy shop. I did not realize how giddy I would be walking into first class. I was literally grinning from ear to ear. As we took our seat and got settled (which took me a while because I had to open every compartment and turn every knob and push every button…yes I am that person) the flight attendant came by and offered us a preflight beverage.
On its routes between London Heathrow and Seattle, British Airways operates either the Boeing 747 or the Boeing 777-200. Based on what I have seen, this is likely seasonal and based on demand as the 747 can fly more people. British Airways operated our flight with a B777 as it was the off-season and demand was low.
British Airways’ First Class cabin is loaded with elegance. It uses dark tones to convey sophistication while wrapping you in comfort. It is evident that British Airways took extra care and thought in every finish. For instance, each window seat did not have a traditional airplane shade. Instead, there were blinds that you could adjust with a simple push of a button. With those blinds shut, it was really hard to remember that you were on an airplane. Another homey yet refined touch was the reading lamp at every seat. It felt like I was sitting in a study. I have never seen a lamp like this on a plane, and it really made British Airways First Class feel special.
The British Airways First Class suite is a what I am calling a semi-open suite. It is not the fully enclosed private palace that other airlines offer, but each suite provides more than sufficient privacy.
When you are sitting back in your seat, you really can’t see anyone as if you are in your own world. The seat stitching reflects the stately aesthetic of the entire British Airways First Class cabin. Though, these seats do not stop at style. Each seat is quite plush and definitely comfortable. There is certainly enough wiggle room at 22 inches wide and has enough legroom to fully stretch your feet to the provided ottoman.
At 5″ 8′ the ottoman was just within my reach. Any shorter and you would need to adjust it to be able to utilize it.
The seat is fully adjustable with the extremely handy and simple to use knob. This will allow you to recline the back as well as extend the legs as you find the perfect amount of recline to watch a movie.
When you are ready to sleep the British Airways First Class seat turns into a lay flat bed. When flat the bed is about 78 inches which should be sufficient for all but the tallest of the tall. It was absolutely perfect for me. In bed mode, I was able to sleep both on back and curled up on my side. As a bed this seat was a dream. I ended up sleeping for over 5 hours of the 10 hour flight. Way more than expected. Way more than usual.
Every first class seat had multiple ways to charge your devices. There was one universal power outlet on the lower side of the suite and two USB ports in between the back of the seat and the area where the tray table pops out. Despite being able to charge my devices, this is probably my only complaint about the first class seat. All of the outlets were pretty hard to access. The universal outlet was inaccessible when the seat is extended, and the USB ports are in a very tight space it is hard to get to.
This. however, is an extremely minor complaint.
Additionally, each seat had a fold out 23 inch high definition television screens (Confession: I didn’t measure it. That is what I have found online, but it seemed a bit smaller), which were stocked with a number of movies and television shows.
Compared to the big 3 US airlines, British Airways does not provide nearly as many movies or tv shows. As someone that sees 2-3 movies a week, there only a few options that I had not seen or wanted to re-watch. If BA could improve anywhere it would be to provide a wider selection of entertainment.
The BA 777-200 was also equipped with in-flight wifi. With all of the lux amenities I was lavished with, I was surprised to find out that internet was not complimentary. However, because I slept longer than expected, I did not get a chance to test it out, or even check how expensive it is.
Where British Airways First Class really shines is the service. From the moment you step on the plane to the second you leave, the British Airways crew provides you with the most amazing customer service. As I entered the plane, I was escorted to my seat and almost immediately asked if I wanted a pre-departure beverage. Is that even a question? Of course, I did! I ordered a glass of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle which is, without a doubt, the best Champagne I have ever tried. While I am not a wine or Champagne person, if I could afford Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, I would easily become one.
Shortly after the flight attendant brought me my drink, she asked me if I wanted a pair of pajamas. Again, I, of course, said yes, and she brought me a pair of pajamas and a Liberty of London Amenity Kit.
The amenity kit contained products from the Refinery including eye gel, lip balm, moisturizer, deodorant and shave gel. It also included a blindfold, socks, a fold out comb, shave kit, and an extremely nice British Airways First Class pen.
Prior to departure, they provided with the menu for our lunch.
Throughout the service if my drink was running low, the flight attendant immediately asked me if I wanted more to drink.
About 15 minutes after departure, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted another drink and whether I wanted to start my meal. For some reason neither Stephanie and I were offered the pre-appetizer, the flight attendant went straight to asking us for our appetizer choice. I chose the Gorgonzola and Walnut Ravioli with a goats cheese crumble and candied pumpkin seeds.
My mouth is watering remembering this dish. They cooked the pasta to perfection. What I really enjoyed about this dish were the candied pumpkin seeds. They really brought the dish together. I ended up eating every bite, and used my spoon to lap up the remaining sauce. No shame.
British Airlines lets you pre-order your main course online. This ensures that you get your first choice. I ordered the roasted rack of British lamb with braised neck tagine and freekeh.
This dish was restaurant quality. My lamb was cooked a perfect medium rare, which is pretty impressive because it is easy to overcook meat on a plane. The dish was aggressively spiced with middle eastern spices (yum), it was right on the upper edge of my spice tolerance without going over. It was perfect, I could not have asked for a better main course.
For desert I chose the chili chocolate cake with the pistachio and almond mousse ball.
It looked like something from a high-end bakery. However, the chocolate was so rich that it overpowered the other flavors. If you like chocolate, this is the dessert for you.
At this point I was so full that I chose not to order the cheese course.
Stephanie went with completely different lunch choices.
After lunch, I was ready for a nap. When you are ready to sleep, you can have the flight attendant turn your seat into a bed. This includes a premium mattress, a big fluffy pillow, and a premium warm comforter. Of course, being new to first class, I did not realize this and went ahead and grabbed the pillow and bedding and made the bed myself. Regardless, it was extremely comfortable. I have never been so comfortable and never slept so well on a plane.
Within a couple minutes of waking up from my nap. The flight attendant came by and asked if I would like afternoon tea…. what type of question is that? Of course I did.
Instead of a second light meal service, British Airways offers an oh-so-British afternoon Tea Service. This includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, and a selection of small desserts.
After eating so much up to this point, the lighter afternoon tea was really perfect. Everything that they offered tasted great. It was a fantastic light meal.
British Airways First Class service was absolutely fantastic. The flight attendants were always present but, really did a great job of leaving us alone unless we actually needed something. While awake, our glasses were never empty, and they never hesitated in ensure all of our needs our met. Our time on British Airways First Class was nothing short of remarkable.
Flight? What flight? Being in British Airways First Class really showed me how the other half lives. Normally in economy, I enjoy a flight, but there are always moments, where I am checking how much time is left in the flight, wondering if we are near the end. But in first class, I never wondered, and if I was checking how much time was left in the flight, it was in hopes that there was more time. The flight itself landed on time and went unbelievably smooth. There was minimal turbulence. Most of the time, with the blinds shut, It didn’t really feel like I was on a plane. Unfortunately, because everything went so smoothly, we landed a few minutes early. I was back home in Seattle.
My experience on British Airways First Class was , in a word, perfect. I could not have asked for better service start to finish. British Airways goes out of their way to make their first class customers feel special and appreciated. Given this experience, I completely understand why people who have the money are willing to spend the extra cost for a premium cabin. Funnily enough, my next scheduled flight is heading back to London on British Airways, but this time I will be in the back of the plane in economy. That is going to be a rough transition. I will be staring longingly at the curtain and daydreaming of being up there.