As I look through all the BA First Class menus I have accumulated recently I realize that it is high time I wrote a review for what it’s really like to fly First Class with British Airways. I fly quite often, at least somewhere every month and usually Business Class, but I still cannot help getting excited when I hear the magic words ‘you have been upgraded to First Class‘. While many people look upon a flight as simply a way to get from point A to point B, I feel the whole travel experience should be something to enjoy rather than endured.
Tip: A recent flight had been heavily overbooked and while my BA Gold card status helped bump me up the line for an upgrade it also greatly helped that I checked in early and was friendly with the overworked BA agents.
The whole experience of flying First Class really begins with the check in process. As a Gold Card member I already get the privilege of checking in at the dedicated First Class area at Heathrow (or any airports BA First Class desk). It seems that just a little extra bit of TLC is usually added at the First Class counter.
The Fastpass area through the security checkpoint adjacent to this area at Heathrow has somewhat of a misleading name (as lines on my recent trip were extremely busy) but at least the agents are generally quite friendly which makes this necessity as good as it is probably ever going to get.
Next up is the lounge experience. I have to say that I actually prefer the BA Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow to the Concorde Lounge, but it is certainly nice to have a change of scenery every once in a while and try something new. Plus the entrance to the Concorde Lounge is just as you leave the security point so there is no need to run the gauntlet of weaving your way around Heathrow’s always-busy Terminal 5.
My most recent lounge visit was for breakfast when we had such a lovely cheerful server who made us feel like complete VIP’s with his extremely attentive service. The Concorde Lounge offers quite a few seating options but my preferred area is the ‘outside’ section as it is usually a little cooler (temperature wise not as in hip and trendy) plus a little quieter surprisingly.
No announcements regarding boarding are made in the business lounges so you need to keep an eye on the large electronic screens for flight updates. Remember to leave yourself plenty of time to transfer to your flight if you are leaving from B or C gates. There is no real advantage of holding a First Class ticket when the boarding process begins as following the processing of any special needs travellers they open it up to all First, Business, One World, and Executive Club member etc – as you can imagine this encompasses many flyers. However, once you reach the entrance to the plane and show your ticket a dedicated air steward will always greet you, usually by name, and personally escort you to your seat, which is very nice and a sign of things to come.
Tip: Download the BA travel app to your smartphone to receive updates about your flight including when the gate is announced and checkin counters are open. Any changes to your travel plans will feed through to the app.
The 777 First Class area has 14 seats – four window seats either side, and a row of 3 double seats in the center of the cabin (although they are divided by a partition for added privacy). The main advantage of this configuration over the Business Class BA setup is that you never need to climb over anyone to get out of your seat (my pet peeve). The seats along the window give more space and privacy but if you are travelling with someone, as I often do, it’s nice to be able to chat without leaving your seat. The blue mood lighting in this section gives a sophisticated, almost nightclub like feeling.
There is plenty of overhead bin space available for so few people, plus each seat has a cupboard where you can hang your clothes. I love that the stewards seem so much more relaxed and allow me to keep my purse or a few belongings around my seat for take off rather than insisting that every last item be placed in the overhead bins. I don’t know why but the words of Billy Idol from the movie the Wedding Singer always come to mind “since we let our first class passengers do pretty much whatever they want…”
There always seems to be an abundance of air stewards to fuss over your every need in First Class. As soon as I was seated friendly stewards came and introduced themselves always addressing me by name (such a nice personal touch) and asked what I would like to drink – champagne of course! With my drink I was given an amenity kit and a set of pajamas in case I wanted to change into something comfortable. I love the soft blue PJ’s with the little First embroidered on the top and my daughters love getting these when I return home. There are two types of amenity kits, male and female versions with all the essentials such as a hairbrush, toothbrush and paste, and a variety of lotions and potions. I always slip on the comfy socks and in First Class you will also receive a pair of slippers as an added bonus. The nightshades are certainly an upgrade on the Business Class version but I still prefer my Bucky 40 Blinks Mask as they do not spoil my makeup as they do not touch the eyelids.
On my seat when I arrived I found a soft blanket, a set of headphones, a pillow, and an extra cushion. I’m surprised that BA have not done a deal with the likes of Boise to upgrade their headphones so I usually use my own. I was also offered various newspapers and there were plenty of magazines dotted around the cabin should I need something else to read. Should I want my chair turned into a bed the cabin crew were quick to offer a ‘turn-down’ service that included fitting a comfy quilt.
The entertainment system onboard is packed full of offerings to keep everyone happy and a large television screen that has various movies, TV shows including HBO and numerous BBC Channels on offer pulls out from the seat wall. If you bring your own entertainment in the form of kindle or iPod etc then the plug socket comes in very handy to keep your electronics fully charged throughout the flight.
When you are ‘stuck’ on a plane for many hours food becomes quite a welcome distraction and BA does this very well in First Class. Soon after take off another drinks service is offered and comes complete with a dish of warm nuts (cliché anyone?). I do prefer being given the option to have my main meal when I would like it rather than with the entire cabin (as in Business Class) and the lack of a trolley dancing up the aisle is a welcome addition as all food orders are delivered individually and set out beautifully on the large pull out table.
The staff onboard are very attentive and take the time to notice when you are awake by stopping by frequently to ask if you would like anything. I love the pot of tea and biscuits that I can have delivered at any point during the flight. A lovely surprise was the box of chocolates that I was given to select from to add something sweet with my tea. So many food options I could write a book so instead I will just share a few photos from recent trips to wet your appetite.
Another element that adds that extra touch is when it comes time to get off the plane – the stewards ensure that the passengers in the First Class cabin are allowed to disembark first before the mad rush. This process might sound quite trivial but I must admit that it really does add that extra special care.
Until moving to India in 2013 I had not flown with British Airways that much. Over the last three years I have come to really appreciate that British touch of class that this airline offers and would encourage you to give them a try for your next trip. Although they have dropped their slogan ‘the worlds favorite airline” I do like their most recent offering ‘upgrade to British Airways’ and can only hope that I hear those words ‘you have been upgraded‘ on many more of my upcoming flights.
Hi I'm Sue - welcome to my blog. If you love to travel, find great hotels, resorts, and restaurants, and importantly do it all as luxuriously as possible, then you are in the right place. I invite you to travel along with me.