On Friday afternoon I flew from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in first class on the British Airways A380. British Airways began A380 service to Los Angeles just two months ago, so these planes are still brand spanking new.
What made this flight especially unique (for me, at least) is that it was operated by one of British Airways’ “mixed fleet” crews. For those of you that have no clue what British Airways mixed fleet is, let me explain. As you may remember a few years back, British Airways flight attendants went on strike because they couldn’t agree with management on contract terms, and British Airways threatened that if they didn’t have more reasonable terms then they’d stop hiring flight attendants under their contracts.
The flight attendants didn’t give in, so what British Airways did is start hiring “mixed fleet” flight attendants, that operate select short-haul and longhaul flights. They’re paid significantly less, typically don’t stay at hotels that are quite as nice, and have shorter turnarounds (typically only one night). However, they’re also much younger and more enthusiastic. Admittedly there’s sometimes a bit of a tradeoff, since they’re not always as polished as their “worldwide fleet” colleagues, that have been working for decades. British Airways’ mixed fleet flight attendants exclusively operate all the Los Angeles services, so I was quite looking forward to that.
So basically British Airways mixed fleet flight attendants make me feel old… which is a problem. Hell, you know that’s the case when several of your crew members aren’t even old enough to drink in the US.
Anyway, on to the actual flight:
British Airways A380 First Class Seat
In the past I’ve declared British Airways first class to be the world’s best business class product. That’s because the first class seats on most of their fleet really aren’t much better the new reverse herringbone business class seats offered by many airlines, like American, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, etc. I mean, they cram 14 first class seats in the nose of a 747, while Cathay Pacific only puts nine seats there. While not the most spacious, British Airways’ first class cabins are damn sleek and sexy, no doubt.
But I have to give British Airways credit for their seats on the A380. They’re considerably more spacious than in the rest of the fleet, I suppose thanks in no small part to the fact that first class is on the lower deck, so it’s a much wider cabin. Now, I do feel like there’s a lot of wasted space in the seat — they could have just as easily made the seat wider rather than adding so much pizazz to both sides of the seat — but it’s much more spacious for sure.
British Airways A380 First Class Food
To be perfectly honest, I remember the champagne service more than the actual meal service. I’ll take Laurent Perrier any day over 2003 Dom, and I did go to town on it. I had roughly two bottles before takeoff, and then I’m not sure exactly how many after takeoff. Regardless, it was FUN!
The amuse bouche consisted of quail’s breast.
Then there was a crabmeat and avocado starter.
Then a butternut squash cream soup.
Then a salad.
Then some pan-fried halibut.
Then key lime pie.
British Airways A380 First Class Service
So the flight attendant working my aisle, Stuart, was phenomenal and probably made the flight for me. He seemed to be the most senior crew member by far (he was in his mid-30s and probably a decade senior to just about everyone else aboard), and worked for another major British carrier that shall remain nameless prior to starting as a mixed fleet flight attendant for British Airways.
Not only was he incredibly professional, but he was hilarious. And he could hold his own when it came to banter. After my fourth pre-departure glass of champagne he said “Sir, this is a delicate champagne.” I responded “I know, or else I wouldn’t be drinking it.” He said “it’s 180 quid a bottle, you know.” I called him out on that, as it’s really “only” about half that, and told him not to pretend that it’s 2002 Dom. He responded “oh, Dom in first class is so cliche.”
I’m not sure why (I guess I blame alcohol), but when placing my dinner order I asked if the halibut was breaded. He responded “Sir, of course not, this isn’t the Red Lobster.” ROFL!
British Airways A380 First Class Amenities
Okay, so I really do love the British Airways amenities. They have a nice new amenity kit.
But most importantly I love their pajamas. I’ve always loved them because they say “First” in big letters on them, but now I love them even more since they say “First A380” on them. How cool is that?!
That being said, this is the most “no frills” A380 I’ve seen. There are no special facilities, the lavatories are small, and there’s no bar, shower, lounge, duty free gallery, or changing room.
The British Airways A380 is a huge improvement over the other aircraft in their fleet thanks to the much more spacious first class cabin. This was my first flight with a British Airways mixed fleet crew, and I was really impressed by how friendly, proactive, and professional they were.
The rest of the British Airways experience is mostly forgettable if you’ve flown other top airlines in first class. They could definitely make some improvements to the ground experience and food, though I do always enjoy their afternoon tea service.
Stay tuned, because I’ll be publishing a full report of my trip starting tomorrow.