After my flight from Abu Dhabi, I connected to British Airways at Heathrow so I could fly the 747 in first class back to the US to Dallas. Flying the queen is always a joy since it has a special place in my heart and I was curious to fly BA to see their first class product.
British Airways has a dense first class product with 14 seats. The hard product is really nothing to write home about and although it’s decent, it falls woefully short of modern first class product. However, having an amazing and experienced crew made up for the shortcomings of the hard product.
I have to say, one of the things I really hate about airports and train stations in Europe is how little time they announce gates before departure. It seems to me like they should know what gate is going to be used especially since the plane is more than likely just sitting at the gate. They announced the gate about an hour before departure and obviously that’s more than enough time to get to the gate but it’s just annoying since you constantly have to look at the departures board to see if the gate has been announced. I was sitting in the Concord room and I guess it’s just nice to be able to time everything and know when to head over to the gate on my own timetable. Anyways, that’s my rant…
As soon as the gate was announced, there was (understandably) a rush to the gate by all the passengers. Considering boarding was scheduled to start an hour before departure, I still don’t understand why they only announced the gate an hour before departure but hey, there you have it.
Once boarding commenced about 20 mins later, it actually went really smoothly. I was greeted at the door and immediately escorted to my seat. The crew were super friendly and professional and really made the flight first class. I always hope to have an older crew when flying British Airways because they tend to be much better than younger crews (in my experience). When I boarded, I was happy to see the crew was older and I guess that immediately put me at ease knowing I’d be in good hands.
Cabin and Seat
The cabin has 14 seats in 5 rows. I think there were 9 of us total in the cabin so it wasn’t full but since the cabin is dense, it didn’t feel very private. I was seated in 2K which is probably the most private of the seats since it has the greatest amount of space between the seats without a middle aisle.
I thought the seat was something you’d find in most business class cabins. It had a very shallow “closet” that was just large enough to hang one article of clothing and a mesh pocket to put your passport, phone, tablet, etc. To the right of the seat was the magazine holder and USB outlet along with the remote and a dial that dimmed the lights. There was also the pop out tv screen and the footrest that doubled as a seat if you want to share a meal with someone.
What I didn’t like about the seat was that the armrests automatically went down as the seat transitioned from upright to flat. I like to recline and rest a lot of the time more than I like to sleep fully flat and I like to have armrests when I sit so unfortunately I found that to be a bit uncomfortable. I also don’t sleep too well on planes so I like being able to recline with some arm rests and work on my laptop and the fact that the armrests lowered didn’t help (not that it mattered on this flight).
I really can’t say enough about the cabin crew here. They were so friendly and helpful, I can’t explain it. I asked one of the flight crew what she would recommend for dessert and she said “all of them” and gave me a HUGE smile. Unfortunately I had eaten at the Concord Room before my flight and I had a pretty bad headache so I just wanted to rest and get past it.
I only ate the appetizer and the main since I just wanted to sleep through my headache but that didn’t stop the cabin crew from asking if I needed or wanted anything whenever I got up to use the restroom. I just thought it was so refreshing to meet and interact with cabin crew who seemed happy and joyous to be there. I know a lot of airlines like to have a stiff and professional interaction with customers but I (maybe it’s cuz I’m an American) liked the laid back/personal touch. You can have a great meal in jeans and a t-shirt and the food won’t taste any differently if you’re wearing a suit. It’s just the atmosphere and I like the low key atmosphere.
Awaiting at my seat was an amenity kit and a blanket. I was provided PJs shortly after I boarded. I like to switch into the PJs mainly because they’re more comfortable but also because if they’re horrible, I can just get them messy, not get my regular clothes gross, and just leave them behind. I thought the PJs were comfy and oddly, my mom really likes them (obviously they’re way too large for her but she makes them work somehow).
The amenity kit was Temperley branded and had the usual products like socks, eye mask, toothbrush, etc.
I wasn’t “wowed” by the cabin, seat, or anything related to the hard product. The fact that there are 14 seats in first when so many airlines have 8 or fewer seats is pretty disappointing. It’s just a very dense configuration and you really don’t want to be in a position where you lack privacy when you’re in a premium cabin (which I felt this did).
I have to say the cabin crew was fantastic. I mean mind-blowing fantastic. If it weren’t for my awful headache, I definitely would have taken advantage of their hospitality more. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t physically able to really notice since I was just trying to sleep through it. But if the meal service was any indication, the rest of the flight would most definitely have been 10 stars.