Review: British Airways 777 First Class

Filed Under: British Airways

While I’ve flown British Airways first class many times before, there were a couple of things that would make my flight from London to Boston unique:

Redeeming miles on British Airways

I managed to book award tickets on the following itinerary:

BA651 Mykonos to London departing 1:45PM arriving 3:45PM [Business]
BA239 London to Boston departing 7:55PM arriving 10:20PM [First]

We booked this using British Airways Avios — the cost was 100,000 Avios per person, plus $341 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges.

While British Airways is known for their steep surcharges, they vary greatly depending on where you originate, and these were among the lowest transatlantic fuel surcharges I have ever seen for travel in British Airways first class.

While 100,000 Avios is a lot, in reality I transferred over Avios from Amex last year with a 40% bonus, so I was really paying 72,000 Amex points per person, which I didn’t think was too bad.

See this post for all the best credit cards for earning British Airways Avios.

Our London Heathrow transit

Originally our layover at Heathrow was supposed to be over four hours, but with the delay it ended up being about two hours instead. That’s still plenty of time, and I’m happy we didn’t plan a shorter layover.

We were arriving and departing from Terminal 5, so the transit process was easy. The security line wasn’t bad, and we were airside once again within about 20 minutes, which is very fast by Heathrow standards.

We headed to the British Airways Concorde Room for just under an hour. I’ve reviewed this lounge extensively, so won’t do so again, other than to point out two things that stood out to me:

  • The lack of power outlets in this lounge is infuriating. I just came off a four hour flight with no power outlets and needed to briefly work and charge, and I literally couldn’t find anywhere comfortable to sit that also had a charger. I ended up having to sit literally next to a stranger on a two person couch in order to be able to sit somewhere that I could charge.
  • I don’t know why British Airways bothers with having a spa. For virtually any other lounge that has a spa you can get an appointment within a couple of hours (even in business class), while with British Airways I called the day before to make an appointment, and they didn’t have anything available. I just don’t get it.

Anyway, boarding was scheduled to start at 6:55PM at gate B45, so we headed over there around 6:40PM. This required taking the train to the “B” concourse.

British Airways 777 London Heathrow

I had “SSSS” on my boarding pass, so I had to undergo additional screening. The way this works at Heathrow, they actually let you past the boarding gate, and then you’re asked to take a seat. Then once boarding starts they search your belongings. So while I always try to be first onboard to get pictures, I wasn’t able to do so this time around, since I was being searched.

Boarding started around 7:10PM.

British Airways departure gate Heathrow

British Airways 777 first class review

After having my belongings searched, I headed down the jet bridge.

British Airways 239
London (LHR) – Boston (BOS)
Thursday, August 15
Depart: 7:55PM
Arrive: 10:20PM
Duration: 7hr25min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 2E (First Class)

I boarded through the second door on the left, where I was greeted by the customer service manager, and escorted by another flight attendant into the first class cabin. This was my first time flying British Airways’ 777 first class, and I was surprised by how much I liked the cabin.

There were a total of 14 first class seats — there were four seats on each side along the windows, and then three pairs of seats in the center section. The cabin feels spacious and I like how it takes up the entire space between doors one and two, so it feels like it has a good bit of privacy.

British Airways first class cabin 777-200

British Airways 777-200 first class cabin

To compare this to British Airways’ other planes:

  • On the 747 there’s something nice about being in the nose, though the cabin is also the tightest in the fleet
  • The A380 has an even more spacious cabin, but for some reason I actually preferred the 777 cabin (maybe it’s that I have lower expectations of first class on a 777 than on an A380?)
  • The 787 has the benefit of only having two rows, so that cabin does feel a bit more exclusive

I had assigned us the two center seats in the second row. These are by no means cutting edge first class seats, though there is something nice about being able to sit with your travel companion and easily communicate. This is especially true after we flew ANA first class a few months ago, where the center seats are designed in such a way that you basically can’t communicate with one another.

British Airways 777 first class seats

British Airways 777 first class cabin

If you’re traveling alone then you’ll of course want to select one of the single seats, which face the windows. British Airways has blinds that can automatically be lowered by the push of a button, which is a nice touch. While the seats aren’t cutting edge, British Airways has done a good job with mood lighting and ambiance.

As you can see, though, British Airways’ first class seats are essentially just glorified reverse herringbone seats.

British Airways 777 first class seats

British Airways first class seats 777

At my seat was an ottoman, which could double as a buddy seat, should you want to dine with someone face-to-face. The personal television folded out from the center section, and had to be stored for takeoff and landing (meaning you can’t watch anything during those phases of flight).

British Airways 777 first class seats

British Airways first class seats 777

I find the placement of the outlet at the seat to be quite annoying, because you can’t access it while sitting down. Rather it’s to the side of the ottoman, so you basically have to get on your knees to plug anything in. While taking a picture of this I also noticed just how bad British Airways’ aircraft cleaning is.

British Airways first class power outlet

While I appreciated the privacy blinds between seats, the below picture shows the extent to which these can be retracted. That’s to say that you can have full privacy, but there’s no way to actually put them all the way back, so that the space between seats is totally open. I’m not sure why they don’t have that.

British Airways first class privacy partition

The glossy tray table folded out from the right side of the seat. It’s massive when fully extended, though you can also just fold it over in half.

British Airways first class tray table

The seat controls are really easy to use, as they’re just to the right of the seat. There’s a knob you can use to recline your seat or put it back up, which I quite like (when the lighting around it is green then you’re good to go for takeoff and landing). You can also control the lighting from here.

British Airways first class seat controls

You could tell just how old school this 777-200 was based on the entertainment controller, located at the back right of the seat. This is also where the USB outlets were.

British Airways first class entertainment controls

Lastly, along the outside of the seat was a small closet where you could hang a coat, or something similar.

British Airways first class closet

While these seats don’t have great privacy, I would note that at least the seats are staggered a bit, so you’re never seated directly next to someone across the aisle.

British Airways first class 777

Waiting at my seat upon boarding was some bedding, including two pillows and a day blanket. While I wouldn’t call this bedding cutting edge, it was much better than the flat-as-a-pancake pillow that British Airways previously had at every seat during boarding.

British Airways first class bedding

Then there were a pair of rather disappointing headphones.

British Airways first class headphones

A few minutes after settling in, the flight attendant taking care of me came by to introduce himself. This flight was operated be one of British Airways’ mixed fleet crews, which are their lower paid flight attendants. There’s a ton of turnover with these flight attendants, though they are generally enthusiastic and well intentioned. That was the case here as well.

First I was asked if I wanted something to drink. I ordered a glass of champagne (British Airways serves Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle, which I quite like).

British Airways greatly improved their glasses, cutlery, and food, and I immediately noticed that. I love their new champagne flutes, and also like that they now serve warm towels on little trays, rather than handing them directly to you.

British Airways first class champagne & nuts

While minor, I’d note:

  • Despite finishing my first glass of champagne well before boarding was done, my glass was just taken when I was finished, rather than being asked if I wanted another one
  • The champagne was brought to me poured, rather than it being poured at my seat, which is how it’s usually done, in my experience

Next I was offered pajamas. British Airways switched up their pajamas recently. British Airways now has pajamas from British fashion brand Temperley London. I thought the pajamas were pretty good, though frankly I also liked British Airways’ old pajamas.

British Airways first class pajamas

Next I was offered a very well stocked amenity kit, with products from Elemis. While Elemis isn’t my favorite brand out there, I thought it was an excellent kit nonetheless.

British Airways first class amenity kit

Interestingly slippers only seem to be available on demand (or at least that was the case on this flight). British Airways’ new slippers are great as well — they’re durable and comfortable.

British Airways first class slippers

About 20 minutes after boarding I was offered the menu for the flight to Boston.

British Airways first class menu

At 7:45PM it was announced that boarding was complete, at which point the first officer came on the PA to add his welcome aboard, and inform us of our flight time of 6hr50min to Boston. He told us we’d be cruising at 36,000 feet, and should be on time.

A few minutes later the door closed (with 13 of the 14 first class seats taken), at which point the customer service manager made his welcome aboard announcement.

At 7:55PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened. British Airways’ safety video is pretty funny the first or second time you see it, but after that it’s a bit… much.

At 8:05PM we started our taxi, which was pretty quick. By 8:25PM we were cleared for takeoff.

As we climbed out I went through British Airways’ entertainment selection. This flight had British Airways’ oldest entertainment system. While the selection was alright, I found the screen to be low quality. British Airways has updated screens on quite a few planes, though not on this one, I guess.

British Airways first class entertainment selection

The selection itself was fairly decent — not industry-leading, but you won’t be bored either.

British Airways first class entertainment selection

British Airways first class entertainment selection

I also checked out the airshow for our flight to Boston.

British Airways map enroute to Boston

British Airways map enroute to Boston

British Airways offers Wi-Fi on a majority of their long haul aircraft now, including this one. They have two speed options, and three packages for each.

For the “Browse” package (described as being for basic web browsing), pricing is as follows:

  • 1 hour: $6
  • 4 hours: $13
  • Full flight: $18

British Airways Wi-Fi pricing

Then for the “Stream” package (described as being for high-speed web browsing and video streaming), pricing is as follows:

  • 1 hour: $10
  • 4 hours: $23
  • Full flight: $30

British Airways Wi-Fi pricing

I ended up buying the “Stream” package for the whole flight. While not cheap, the speeds were excellent, and it’s nice to have no data caps.

The seatbelt sign was turned off just five minutes after takeoff. A few minutes after that the customer service manager came through the cabin to welcome each passenger onboard. The service started fairly quickly after that. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

Two thoughts:

  • I guess they just use generic menus for all their flights to the US, but the main meal on a 7:55PM flight shouldn’t be “lunch”
  • “Even though greatest care has been taken due to the nature of the product there is a small risk of shot pellets in the product” — hah

Just 20 minutes after takeoff I was offered my first drink along with the canapés. I love when airlines get you your first drink so quickly after takeoff. British Airways has completely redesigned their first class meal service, and I’m very impressed.

I love the new glasses (as mentioned above), and also love the way canapés are displayed. I had another glass of champagne, and then the canapés consisted of:

  • Devonshire crab with Oscietra caviar and pumpernickel
  • Duck confit with caramelised hazelnut and orange ginger compote
  • Feta cheese with lovage pesto and smoked tomato

British Airways first class dinner — champagne & canapés

Ford had the “classic mule” to drink, which he enjoyed.

British Airways first class dinner — classic mule

Once we were served drinks our dinner orders were taken. I was delighted that for once they hadn’t run out of anything, which is a novel experience for me in British Airways first class, so yay for that.

After the first round of drinks it was a while before the meal service began. About 65 minutes after takeoff my table was set.

British Airways first class dinner — table setting

A few minutes later I was brought the starter. For this I ordered the Loch Fyne smoked salmon tartare, with smoked mayonnaise, seeded cracker, and quail egg. It was excellent, in terms of taste and presentation.

British Airways first class dinner — starter

Ford had the wild boar tortellini with arrabbiata sauce, which he enjoyed. Again, the presentation was excellent.

British Airways first class dinner — starter

Next up I had the cream of asparagus soup with summer truffle, poached Burford Browns’ egg. I was impressed that I was brought the bowl with the egg and truffle, and then the liquid part of the soup was poured into the bowl at my seat. Is this really British Airways?!?

British Airways first class dinner — soup

For my main course I had the fillet of halibut with roasted cucumber, girolle mushrooms, and salad cream. The dish was excellent — the fish itself was great, as were the accompaniments.

British Airways first class dinner — main course

You can order from a selection of sides, and I had the cauliflower florets, served in a separate bowl.

British Airways first class dinner — side

Ford had the seared fillet of aged Herefordshire beef with Cafe de Paris butter and red wine jus, which he enjoyed.

British Airways first class dinner — main course

Lastly, for dessert I ordered the milk chocolate and amaretto tart with salted caramel. Yum!

British Airways first class dinner — dessert

The meal was done about 2hr20min into the flight, and I was impressed. I love their new presentation, and the food quality was excellent as well. I didn’t tell Ford that British Airways made any improvements, but he independently pointed out to me that he was so impressed by the meal.

So just as British Airways has made huge improvements to their business class catering, I’m happy to see they’ve made similar changes in first class.

As far as the service goes, the crew was friendly and reasonably attentive. They weren’t quite as polished as some of the more “senior” flight attendants British Airways has in their “worldwide” fleet (though they’re also a mixed bag — some are awesome, some are pretty bad). But overall I was pleased with the service.

At the conclusion of the meal I was asked if I wanted my bed made, which I agreed to. I headed to the front of the cabin to use the lavatory while that was being taken care of. There were two lavatories at the front of the cabin for first class, though both were pretty bare-bones.

British Airways 777 first class lavatory

British Airways 777 first class lavatory amenities

British Airways’ new bedding does seem to be a step up from their old bedding. My one complaint is that the duvet isn’t terribly wide. I like to wrap myself in a duvet like a burrito, while that’s not possible here.

British Airways first class bed

British Airways first class bed

When I went to sleep there were about 4hr30min remaining. I fell asleep almost immediately, given that it had been a long day.

Map enroute to Boston

I woke up about 90 minutes before arrival. This is probably a good time to mention that I think this was my latest ever departure from the UK to the US, and I sort of loved leaving so late at night. I got a solid three hours of sleep.

You’d think that would get in the way of sleeping at night, though when I got to my hotel I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. However, I got to bed by 1AM and woke up at 6AM, so I basically got a full night of sleep and had no jetlag.

Map enroute to Boston

As I woke up they were just starting the “afternoon tea” service (though in reality at this point it was either 2AM or 9PM, depending on the timezone you prefer). The menu read as follows:

I selected the sandwiches and scones. British Airways’ new afternoon tea setup is beautiful. I had:

  • A plain scone
  • Sandwiches, including cucumber with cream cheese, dill and chives on white bread, prawn Marie Rose on a bridge roll, roast beef with horseradish on malt bread
  • Pastries, including Victoria sandwich, Dundee fruit wedge, chocolate raspberry cremeux
  • Chamomile tea

British Airways first class afternoon tea

At 9:35PM Boston time the first officer announced that we’d be descending shortly, and that we’d be landing at 10:15PM. A few minutes later we began our descent, at which point the crew collected pillows and blankets (British Airways has a rule where you can’t use pillows or blankets during takeoff or landing).

Sure enough we landed in Boston at 10:15PM, and from there had a 15 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we arrived at 10:30PM.

British Airways first class mood lighting

It’s a nice touch that on British Airways the pilot always makes an announcement once you get to the gate. We quickly made it through immigration, and then headed to the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, where we were spending the night before returning to Florida the next morning (which I’ll review in the next installment).

British Airways 777 first class bottom line

British Airways is investing in their premium product, and it’s noticeable. Based on this experience I’d say British Airways has made a significant improvement to their first class soft product. Their glassware and china was beautiful, and the food excellent.

Furthermore, I quite liked the 777 first class cabin, and appreciate that British Airways is increasingly offering Wi-Fi on their long haul planes.

All that being said, British Airways doesn’t offer a cutting edge first class product, and it will likely never rank anywhere close to being a top product. However:

  • British Airways first class is the only first class transatlantic product that you can consistently book with miles at the saver level in advance, including with partner miles
  • In this case the carrier imposed surcharges were reasonable, which made me feel all the better about the experience; our surcharges on the one-way ticket from Mykonos to Boston were $228, while the surcharges on a one-way Miami to London ticket would have been $800 (they’re much cheaper leaving Europe, and in particular when leaving from select destinations in Europe)

If you’ve experienced British Airways’ new first class soft product, what was your experience like?

  1. I much prefer to walk from T5A to T5B or T5C as opposed to taking the train. Would recommend. It doesn’t take very long at all and it’s never crowded.

    I think I prefer F on the BA 777, not as special as the 747 but feels far more spacious.

  2. Great review Ben. Based on my last 2 flights in first on BA, I believe what you were served before take-off was the sparkling English and not the “good stuff”.

  3. As a First class expert, travelling on a weekly basis in First cabin (paid ticket only), I must say that BA premium offer is very underwhelming. Granted they are investing in improving their cabin but they remain miles away from Japan Airlines or Cathay or Air France. Just spent 3 hours in transit at the fantastic La Premiere salon last Thursday.

  4. The catering revamp has been hugely beneficial. Do&Co are taking over more and more routes, though even on non-Do&Co routes the F&B is vastly – almost immeasurably – better than it was before. For the past few flights they haven’t run out of anything I’ve ordered, and I usually sit in the very last row (so I get direct aisle access in J) – they even had kedgeree available for breakfast.

    There’s no getting away from it: the hard product is old and tired. But F is still adequate, and the new J also looks solid.

    The lounges… none of them at LHR are frankly very nice. The sheer volumes of people going through them probably makes that impossible. For departures from B gates, there’s a lounge in that satellite which I prefer to the F set-up in the main terminal. It’s quieter, calmer, and if I’m flying out of B it takes away one more stressful pre-flight element with that stupid toy-train shuttle.

  5. Oh — that safety video is so, so tiresome after repeated viewing.

    It’s also irritatingly out of date: National Treasure Olivia Colman now has *four* BAFTAs AND an Oscar! Watch out for her taking the lead role in season 3 of The Crown, this summer. 😉

  6. Done this flight many times back to Boston ! Doing it again in May! Done all BA first plane types LHR to Bos and I like the 777 best !

  7. @Endre, have you ever explained what you do with all the miles that you must accumulate by flying paid international first class every week? Not to mention the credit card points you must earn from paying for all those tickets. You make very clear that you never redeem them for free tickets, because that might suggest to someone that you aren’t as rich as you want us all to know that you are. So do you have frequent flier accounts with tens of millions of miles in them? (If so, I’m sure someone here would be glad to make use of them for you, so they don’t go to waste). Anyway, you must be the airlines’ favorite customer. Unlimited money to burn and refusing to make full use of the benefits that come from buying tickets (which is what frequent flier miles are). Truly the practices of an exceptionally savvy businessman.

  8. Nice review. It’s good to see BA improving their product. I like taking advantage of the BA F sales, and then collecting 250% Alaska MP elite status miles, and 300% MP redeemable miles.

  9. For what it’s worth, the privacy partitions normally go the whole way back. You must have had a faulty one. If you look at your photo, you can see on the right where it’s supposed to latch into place

  10. Implemented just in time for the coming global recession (which will be worse in the UK owing to Brexit) . . .

  11. BA First is, in pricing and quality, a “business plus,” product, from before Malaysia started marketing in those terms. On that level, it’s a good product. BTW, I’ve seen Rami Malek on my past two late night weekend flights from JFK, he talks to the staff like they’re all friends, guess he flies them a lot. Or maybe he’s just Rami Malek and that’s what it’s like.

  12. Nice review thanks. Over Thanksgiving on RTW19 3.0 I’ll fly the route after 2 Emirates A380 & 2 Etihad A380 or 4 Showers in a row. This flight plus the AA flight home to DCA wil hopefully give me a smooth downgrade to just being at home 🙂

  13. Whilst yes there are not that many plugs in the CCR they do have a number of battery packs they can loan you (in exchange for your BP) to charge up your phone etc.

    Just need to ask one of the staff.

  14. @Lucky, first of all thanks for introducing me to the miles ‘game’. Only started collecting/buying miles & points about 2yrs and just 3 days ago flew BA first for the first time.

    I flew MUC-LHR-MEX on the 787. While the MUC-LHR was nothing to talk about the LHR-MEX was excellent. Booked with Iberia avios 109k+ €369 in charges.

    Before take off i probably had 4 glasses of champagne poured directly on my seat, they constantly made sure my glass wasn’t empty. The cabin crew was definitely legacy (or senior) and not the Mixed-fleet. Very friendly and attentive, adressing me by name. We had a delay as a car had rammed into a post right next to the aircraft.

    The pilot even had a chat with me – i was in 2A and the car had crashed right outside below my window. The food was excellent. I had the cheese plate for dessert and the flight attendant had a chat with me explaning all the cheese types there. We talked about the wine too.
    As i don’t sleep well during flights ( i think i only napped for about an hour or so) i watched movies and had wine. They crew permanently checked on me to see if i needed anything. Proactively bringing me water etc., apologising the water was not sparkling enough.

    The blankets and pillows weren’t collected before landing. I turned my seat into sitting position less than 20mins before landing.
    After landing the cabin crew handed me a box of chocolate apologising that they forgot to open it during the flight.

    I was so impressed and in awe of BA!

  15. If you’re in first, I believe the you first line can prebook you spa treatments in t5 or t5b, unless it’s changed recently…

  16. Taking this exact flight in June. Excellent review, thanks!
    (As far as miles & surcharges, we booked from Barcelona to Boston for 85k AA miles & $288 pp, not terrible)

  17. David,

    Posters who say stuff like Endre are usually just fantasising. There’s another guy here who does that a lot as well. When you think about what they say, it doesn’t make any sense.

    Also anyone like that would have such an elevated status that they’d get upgraded all the time and would not need to pay top dollar for F all the time. I know someone like that – on the VIP list – and they often pay for Economy and end up in F anyway

  18. Ben

    I had not thought about this before but if you changing at LHR T5, how do you get to the Concorde Room? The trains from the C and B gates are on the “arrivals” side. My first thought was that folks in transit would have to use the Terraces lounge at the B gates.

    I had assumed the only way is to walk through the tunnel but you did not mention that.

  19. “While these seats don’t have great privacy, I would note that at least the seats are staggered a bit, so you’re never seated directly next to someone across the aisle.”

    Thank God…imagine having to make a few seconds of eye contact with a random stranger…the humanity of it all…

    “I selected the sandwiches and scones.”

    And the pastries…

  20. @ Aaron — The pastries weren’t a “choice,” they were offered automatically. The choices were between sandwiches and cold cuts, and between plain and fruit scones.

  21. @ Tom — When you’re connecting you have to go back to the central checkpoint in the main terminal by train, clear security there, and then you can go between the concourses again. At least that’s my understanding.

  22. @ Joe — Indeed I could have booked further in advance, though to be honest I don’t think about a 15 minute back rub weeks in advance. It came to mind that morning, which is why I called. My bigger point was that in virtually any other lounge you can show up and they’ll have availability within a reasonable timeframe, while that’s not the case here.

  23. @ JB — Appreciate the enthusiasm, and worry not, there’s another one coming very shortly!

  24. Regarding lack of outlets for charging, I would think you would travel with at least two super powerful power banks. They will hold their charge for some time, so just charge them fully in advance of your flights and keep them handy.

  25. @ Todd — We booked at the beginning of the year. I find that availability between London and Boston is excellent. Even when we booked there were at least four more award seats on the same flight in first class.

  26. David, I assume that you must be new to the OMAAT community. If you were, I am pretty surprised you fell in for his ‘boasts’ about how he flies ‘First Class’ every weekend and how he flew First around the world.

    Endre, some of us do fly Premium but we are mature enough by not commenting on blogs and annoying the readers. If you want us to read all your ‘First Class’, why don’t you make a blog yourself? 😉

  27. This just looks like a polished version of their business class seats, with very slightly more room. Except when I’m by the window in business class I basically have my own private ‘cabin’ with tons of extra storage. Can’t imagine paying thousands more just for a slightly nicer meal. The wide open sides of their seats doesn’t say ‘first class’ when compared to so many other airline offerings out there.
    They went through all that expense of upgrading their product and really missed the chance to bring it in line with (or exceed!) competitors. Too bad!

  28. @ Ben – re LHR connections – no – there’s a flight connections centre in each of the B and C piers of terminal 5. Also, these days (especially now the e-gates are open to many non-EU citizens) for anyone travelling in F or who is OW Emerald, by far the quickest/most pleasant route is usually to head landslide and then re-clear security via the First Wing. So much better than the Flight Connections Centres, where “priority” means very little indeed.

  29. I find availability between sfo/lax to lhr often just ok and sometimes nonexistent but if you fly to NYC, there’s always at least one if not multiple. The F award seats aren’t always released all at once. Sometimes I look and there are plenty. Then a month later, zero. Then few weeks after, a collection of them pop up for just one month. It’s very random.

    I really dislike the new pj as well as the toiletry bag. I miss Liberty of London bags. They look so much better than the current lumpy ones. Food is now much better than the travesty they used to serve. Sadly fuel surcharge keeps going up. Hope the new refreshed F will start popping up soon. Current one is a bit tired. If they can just do the old Emirates A380 F seats without the bling would be nice.

  30. @ Margo L

    This is the old F hard product. It’s only the soft product that’s been upgraded (so far).

  31. Hi Ben,
    Regarding the “Lunch Menu”: my husband and I flew back this past Thursday in First on the 7:50PM flight to JFK. I asked about the menu and the (fantastic) crew told me that it was just a type-o. Most of the time between JFK and LHR the crews are senior and almost always flawless. Since I’m an airplane nerd and the crew clearly got that, they gave me a tour of the crew rest area, at the back of the 747 and upstairs. It was very cool. We were also invited to the cockpit following the flight but because of weather we were delayed nearly an hour, so we declined.

  32. Probably the worst bathrooms ive come across for a 1st class product … BA’s 777 and A380. They are Y class bathrooms.

  33. I disagree I am afraid. BA first class is not good in general. To redeem miles – maybe but never to pay full price. In my opinion 777 is the worst actually but its personal I guess. The best for me seems to be 787. Food always the same: beef/chicken/fish/pasta. Usually overcooked. Small TV screen. Amenity kit very basic. You have to ask for pyjama. Very often cabin is filthy – seat, table, remote – everything. Only 1 ( tiny ) toilet for first class passengers. Bottom line – avoid if you can.

  34. Great post. Love the #BAshade throughout. 🙂

    PS Just to establish my credentials: I only travel in international first class — even on domestic flights and commuter rail — all of which is fully paid for in gold bullion, or with jewelry set with the purest South African diamonds, and is arranged through my personal brokers in Switzerland, Prussia, and Siam.

  35. That safety video makes me want to claw my eyes out.

    @Lucky did you dry the bruising sparkling wine? What did you think?

  36. Great post Lucky! Planning a family trip to Greece next summer with the wife and 5 y.o. I’ve been thinking of routes and which airlines to consider to and from NYC. I didn’t have BA on my radar and now I do. I’ve been fortunate to copy some of your routes/bookings in the past and appreciate you taking out the ‘guess work’ when it comes to booking trips. Keep up the great work!

  37. Flying BA F 2 months ago we tried to book the spa a fortnight ahead and we too were told it was fully booked, maybe that’s a generic answer given to all award-flyers.

    Agree the Concorde room is peculiarly lacking in business-sense, there’s no power-points at the lounge-seating and no desks. If you want to sit and work you have to share one big boardroom table and you’ll be surrounded by DYKWIA’s on their cellphones.

    As for the lounge food, the less said the better. The Concorde room is looking old, tired and overcrowded – doesn’t hold a candle to La Premiere in Paris or the LH first-class terminal in Frankfurt.

  38. We flew this flight a eek ago.We booked our awards 3 months out after a cruise was cancelled.We had a very good senior FA.The PBD was the genuine champagne not the English sparkling.
    The meals were very nearly F standard with much better presentation than previously-I basically had the same meal as Ben.The red wines were excellent as was the Geisen sticky with desserts.
    Frankly I thought it was good use of AA miles.

  39. When we flew on award tickets several years ago in F on the BA A380- LHR-SIN, there were also no spa treatments available on the day, nor were there any available when I tried to book in advance through Me First, or whatever their concierge is called. The withering cow at the spa deigned to let me use the massage chair, with a battle-worn sigh. I imagined Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous saying to her, “You just work in a shop, you know; you can lose the attitude…”.

    @Harry Hv & @Sam – I also feel that they indeed do not want, and actively discourage, award tickets from using the spa.

  40. Just recently started flying BA on a regular basis and have completed 6 flights with them in F.
    Must agree with you that the 777 F Cabin is nice. I much prefer it to the 747 which is very tight and cramped and seems to lack privacy. Walk back to the Lavatories from say row 1 or 2 and it looks like a Dorm room. The 787 is the best.

    Your comments on the outlet and Entertainment System are spot on. So are your comments on the mixed crew, the pouring of the Bubbly in the galley instead of at your seat and the sparse Lavs.

    The catering out of LHR is such a huge improvement to what it used to be in the past and I can vouch as strongly for the Halibut as you did.

    As a long time HON with LH I am making the switch to BA for a totally diff reason: its a heckuva lot cheaper. One can argue that it is “inferior” to other carriers in terms of hard product, or bling, or lack of limos to the plane etc etc – but when one is paying for these trips one has to make choices and compromises. And with many airlines – including LH – eliminating F Cabins in many sectors one has to compare the BA “F” with what is available in those sectors.

    A comparison of Revenue fares in “A” or “F” to say India or the Far East from NYC demonstrates the sharp discount available on BA.

    As for what does one do with all those miles by flying on Revenue F: dunno about the other person (you guys all seem to “love”) but in my case I use them to get award F tickets for the Mrs. on as many trips as possible when traveling together for pleasure. Its well worth it

    p.s.: my experience with the BA staff (ground, cabin and lounge) is that they are whole lot more pleasant, warm and courteous than many others. Being more pleasant, warm and courteous compared to US Airlines is easy – but compared to other European/Asian/Middle East Airlines…is an accomplishment.

  41. Am I the only one who finds BA’s first underwhelming?

    I fly with Qatar’s Qsuites most times, and it seems those are better for pairs, quads or singles, and cheaper too. Their food is great, service fantastic, and so in the comfort and privacy. Try their Al Safwa 1st class lounge in Doha… that’s on another level!

  42. Booked 28days in advance for the 10min shoulder massage, thats the only way to get a booking. Its really not user friendly for first class passengers…..i too asked for the slippers on my flight LHR-SIN but didnt need to ask the other way.

  43. @KK13 obviously Qatar is better but Qatar nonstop flights from US to UK/ Europe doesn’t exist. Let’s say if I want to go to Paris. Do I want to fly to Doha and then haul ass back to Paris? Not really… especially when I’m tight on time. Obviously not all the readers here live in US but I suspect majority do hence comparing BA F to Qsuite is kinda pointless. Now if you live in Doha and choice is flying BA or Qatar to London, well, I can’t imagine anyone would want to fly BA unless it’s for status reason.

  44. @Ben,

    This Review may or may not be good. I’ve stopped reading it, after the first two oaragraphs, to write this comment.

    Re “…. I literally couldn’t find anywhere comfortable to sit that also had a charger. I ended up having to sit literally next to a stranger ….”: In what way do you believe your inclusion of the word “literally” (twice) improved the piece? And how does one “sit literally”? Hopefully, your posture was less sloppy than your writing style on this occasion.

  45. I find it odd that you loved pretty much every aspect of the flight, but concluded “it will likely never rank anywhere close to being a top product.” ?

  46. Cheap, cheap charging first class for wifi. People paying thousands for full price tickets get nicked another $30 for 6 hours? Petty.

    And the between meal snacks are no better than economy class: potato chips and popcorn.

  47. @ Donald

    Not so: between-meal snacks usually include sandwiches, chocolate, miscellaneous yoghurt-like stuff, plated desserts, and vast quantities of biscuits and chocolates. Plus as much booze, tea or other fluids as you want.

    What it doesn’t generally have is more substantial hot food.

    BA simply does not have a dine-on-demand concept. Given its price point in J, I don’t have a problem with that (though I love it on, say, Qatar).

    For F, it’s probably not good enough — though, even there, and as others have pointed out, BA flies F to numerous places that no-one else does, and at a ticket price which is usually substantially less than whatever comparable competition is out there.

    If you think of BA’s F as being a J+ you’ll probably appreciate it more and be less angry about it. After all, chances are you’ve only paid J+ amounts for your ticket.

  48. @A Consumer – I’m with you, in 95%+ of cases, the word literally is not used properly. It literally drives me up the wall (it actually doesn’t, I don’t have a vehicle that could actually drive up a wall).

  49. I know this blog is about luxury travel – but the gripe about the champagne being brought to you already poured, as opposed to being poured at your seat, is about as first world whiny as it gets. I had no idea that having it poured at your seat as opposed to 15 feet away in the galley makes it taste better…

  50. @Andrew, nothing to do with taste, everything to do with presentation. How else are you going to differentiate first class products if not by paying attention to the smallest details?

  51. BA First – still looks way below Qatar business class with or without the Q-Suites. It’s not something I would choose to spend either money or points on.

  52. Found my experience to be very similar to Lucky’s. Found Concorde room to be British genteel shabby (sorta like some of the old stately homes) and the only outstanding F&B item was their red wine. Hard to find and once was enough as they have a train going from A to B but not the other way around. Its a long walk through bare concrete tunnels to get back to A form B where the Concorde room is. Did I mention signposting is not a strength of the UK?
    It was also one of the hottest days of the year and the A/C proved remarkably ineffective.
    Got some nice pix out of the B concourse windows though.
    My “personal” F/A was delightful and attentive without being intrusive. She kept me well plied with booze and water and once again the St Emilion Grand Cru stole the show.
    The beef was an unmitigated disaster as it was tough and way past well done and I left most of it. Magda, my F/A was quite concerned and offered to bring me something else but there was little else I found appealing so saved space for high tea. High tea was SUPERB! I love clotted cream and strawberry jam.
    The other major disappointment was their single malt, Mortlach, which I had never tried before and certainly won’t go looking for in duty free or my local liquor store.
    Loved the rotary wheel seat control as it gave you a nearly infinite number of seat positions.
    BA surcharge problem is largely thanks to the Brit government’s APD which is eye watering and it increases exponentially from Y to F.

  53. @skedguy
    “Did I mention signposting is not a strength of the UK?”

    I’m guessing you don’t know much about graphic design? Google Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert, see how you get on.

    I know a lot of Americans believe climate change doesn’t exist but, with the record-breaking heatwaves we’re increasingly experiencing, a lot of air-con equipment is going to need an upgrade (as I write, England is having its hottest-ever August public holiday weekend. This public holiday is, traditionally, chilly and wet. Today it’s reached 32 degrees here).

    It could be worse: energy-saving legislation in the Czech Republic prohibits cooling of greater than 10 degrees from the ambient temperature. Which is fine until you find yourself there in freak 37 degree weather.

  54. @Kevin — I was comparing the two classes (BA’s first with Qatar’s business Qs), they both fly 777, either 300 or 200. It’s not about where I am flying from/ flying to, I was comparing the service, comfort, privacy and price in a 8 or 10-hour flight to begin with.

    Qatar Qs has the same quality of service even for a short haul, e.g. the 3.5-hour DOH-BOM. I expected BA first to have similar, if not better, service quality that what they have now (this article).

  55. @skedguy

    U.K. APD is a fixed amount and is a proper government tax. It does not increase exponentially. There are two rates – standard and reduced. Reduced applies to economy and standard to all over cabins, you pay the same in premium economy as you do in club and first.

    It is BA surcharges that are out of control.

    On a forthcoming club flight I am doing they are over twice what APD is. the BA surcharge is £400 and APD 172 (incidental I’m paying over £45 in US government fees and taxes as well)

    All easy to see in a fare breakdown and so no need to exaggerate.

  56. I would venture to guess that based on these critical comments regarding Ben’s wonderful attention to detail when reviewing premium cabins, there is a demand for a Basic Economy travel blog. 😉

  57. Infuriatingly booked BA first a year ago…..I know this is a “new” product…but it still looks like my son said “the best business class” out there…
    Total waste of money!

  58. VSM: Even the best business class (Qatar’s Qsuites) according to Skytrax and others is far better than BA’s F.

  59. @skedguy
    Re “It (APD) increases exponentially from Y to F.”: You cannot make that assertion, with only two data points. You’d need at least three points to justify assuming anything than a linear increase. I guess maths isn’t your subject?

  60. Looks like delicious food was served on your BA flight in F. That salmon appetizer looks amazing! I’ve not flown with BA in years, but might try them again sometime in the future. Thank you for sharing!

  61. @A consumer

    As I have already posted there are only two rates of UK APD. Just two

    A reduced rate for economy and the same, standard, rate for any other cabin so First is the same as PE as Club. It’s the same rate for all direct ex UK departures no matter the airline

    No exponential increase. Just two rates

  62. @ChrisC

    My remark was addressed to ‘skedguy’. It was complementary to your comment to that same person. You pointed out the facts – that there are two rates of UK APD – whilst I challenged the incorrect use of the word “exponential” from a mathematical perpespective. I think that you and I are singing from the same hymn-sheet and in harmony, whilst ‘skedguy’ was off-key.

  63. Wow never thought I’d hear the Thales i5000 system described as “old school”. Plenty of airlines still have this and the equivalent Panansonic (ex2) system in use. Sure the resolution isn’t great, but generally the responsiveness and breadth of content is still acceptable.

    Heck it wasn’t too long ago we were using 4:3 IFE systems like Rockwell Collins TES and Panasonic 3000i. Emirates even still has the latter on some of their 777’s.

  64. @Ben
    Which of the single seats on the side do you think are the best? I’m having to fly the 777 First in the spring.

  65. Flew their 787 first class London to Kuala Lumpur return in 2016. Horrible from start to end. Absolute waste of money. Cabin crew could not be bothered and can’t even match service of a low cost airline like Ryanair. Call to order breakfast was not even answered! No priority boarding and a joke. When I wrote to complaint I received a condescending phone call from a woman who then closed the case. This is one airline I will never use again. They can’t even match service with KLM economy class. I have flown La Première with Air France several times and that is what I call a real first class service. BA does not what first class service means and if it was that bad in their first class then I dread to think how they treat their economy class passengers.

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