I fly a lot and try and find the best deals that get me the cheapest business class flights. Disclaimer - I am a loyal British Airways customer (for my sins) and have worked my way up to being a Gold Executive Club member.
Admittedly a lot of those points were gained with other members of the Oneworld alliance but I always have a soft spot for BA and their crew who I find warm and friendly - not sure if that’s me being British and getting our sense of humour and banter.
Back to the flight. BA had a business and first class sale at the start of the year and I found a flight that fit into my price range and was eager to see how their First product - sometimes referred to as the best Business class - compared to the likes of Qatar Airways who have an incredible lounge (in Doha) and service on board with both their seats (have only flown business with them) and their service.
As a Gold member I’d already experienced the new First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5 even when I was in economy. I love T5 anyway and the First Wing was a much needed addition - making it’s customers with a Gold (or Oneworld Emerald) status or those flying in First feel really special. Here you get a dedicated check in desk and security. The latter is the real winner for me as there is never a queue and you get direct access to the First Lounge.
The lovely person who checked me in (I’d checked in on the app but needed to drop of a bag) told me what the First lounge was not for me, but I needed to go through to the Concorde Room which I did.
I was lovely - very British and tastefully decorated. I was no as busy as the First lounge which was nice and I was able to get a table for breakfast right away.
Concorde Dining, as it was called gave the guests a dedicated booth and al a carte menu. I had the Concorde eggs Benedict which was delicious.
As I’d given myself plenty of time to check out the lounge I could have had a massage (complementary for First passengers) but chose against it - instead choosing to try out one of the Cabanas.
This is a room with a comfy sofa and bathroom that you can book out. Good for people with connecting flights. You can also order food and drinks to be delivered to your room. It was a really nice touch and I had a little chill out session before going to the gate.
All in all I really liked the Concorde Lounge and it set a positive tone for the rest of the trip.
As with most US flights this was from T5B which is a short metro journey away.
I’m an avgeek and love planes and so was excited to be back on the old Queen of the Skies - the Boeing 747-400. She may 25 years old but what a beautiful plane. More about that in a moment.
The gate experience wasn’t as slick as I was usually used too... #firstworldproblems - but the direction on when First and Gold members should board was not clear. Instead the ground crew were more concerned about getting the people in groups 3 and 4 (economy) on board.
It’s not the end of the world, but when you’re paying close to £1900 on a flight you want the full experience.
Thankfully one of the Heathrow ground staff asked me what ticket I had and then ushered me to the front of the queue.
OK - now the bit I’d been waiting for...
After a long walk to the door I was greeted by the cabin crew. When Jade (more about her later) the cabin director saw my ticket, she escorted me to my seat. Of to a good start.
I was in 1A - right in the nose of the plane - what a privilege. Once I’d put my carry on in the front cupboard I settled down into my seat and was met with a glass of champagne.
First class on the 747 is made up of 14 seats. 5 window seats on each side (rows A and K) and 4 seats in two pairs in the middle. Each side had a dedicated flight attendant looking after us. Wish I’d taken the name of the guy looking after me as he was brilliant. I’d let him know that it was my first time in First and he was very welcoming and hoped I really enjoyed the experience.
As you’d expect, the seat is folds into a fully flat bed. I was in a refurbished cabin so it had the latest decor and inflight entertainment system. Not the biggest screen but was clear and high def. I think it’s a 15 inch screen.
I feel that I’ve been gushing a bit too much so here are a few negatives with regards to the seat. They is little by way of practical storage. You get a ‘wardrobe’ where you can hang up your clothes when you change into your sleeper suit - but I’d like a few cubbies to put my laptop or camera etc which is a shame. While this might sound like minor niggles, When you compare it to Qatar’s hard business product (and not even the latest QSuite) this is a little below par against the competition. BA’s awkward Clubworld seat has more usable storage in my opinion. Like I said before #firstworldproblems.
Back to the experience.
I could not fault it one bit! Firstly sitting in 1A is an experience in itself - felt like a celebrity! Each window seat gets two windows, which are housed in a frame and share a blind which is illuminated in blue which is cool. You get a unique view in 1A (and K) and can see down the runway before anyone else. My only gripe is as a photographer/videographer - I couldn’t reach the window with my camera but managed to get some nice shots as we taxied onto the runway.
Once in the air the on board service started. Unfortunately I was driving when I got to Philly so didn’t indulge on the excellent champagne but is there on offer as is an extensive drinks menu.
Once we’d reached cruising altitude the cabin director (Jade) came and greeted everyone in first. She was amazing. So personable and genuinely caring. It goes back to what i said at the start on why I like the BA service - when it’s good it’s really good!
You get dining on demand in First so can eat when you want. I had three excellent courses (see the pictures attached) - so delicious and beautifully presented. My table was made up for me and each dish was placed so tastefully. I forced myself to have desert (for the purpose of this review of course) and it was amazing!
After watching a movie I thought I’d have a nap - my flight attendant made up the bed for me which comprised of a mattress topper, a very comfy duvet (with White Company sheets) and fluffy pillow - I slept like a baby!
Three hours later I awoke with only 90 minutes left of the flight. I was then offered a delightful afternoon tea complete with china tea pot, warm scones, cakes and sandwiches. Yum!
Jade came over again with some Magnum’s as they had some leftover from Clubworld.
Sadly we arrived in Philly ahead of time - I say sadly as this was an incredible flight. I could go on and on about it and when viewed as a complete package (lounge and flight experience) I loved it. I have flown better, and sadly in business class (on Qatar) but if the opportunity arose again and the price was right I’d jump at another chance to fly in BA First.