OneWorld First Class Lounge Los Angeles
OneWorld Business Class Lounge Los Angeles
New Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles Airport
Air France A380 First Class Los Angeles to Paris
Air France First Class Lounge Paris
Air France Business Class Paris to Frankfurt
Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Frankfurt
British Airways Club Europe Frankfurt to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways A380 First Class London Heathrow to Los Angeles
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
British Airways 269
London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Friday, December 13
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 3A (First Class)
British Airways puts A380 first class on the lower deck. There are pros and cons to having first class on the upper and lower deck. On the plus side the lower deck is wider, so it’s a more spacious cabin. On the downside the upper deck has some extra space in the “nose,” so when first class is on the upper deck airlines usually put special amenities there, like Emirates does with their showers, Thai does with their lounge, Lufthansa does with their massive lavatories, etc.
Anyway, at the door I was greeted by the CSM (customer service manager), Kat, who directed me to my seat, 3A.
The British Airways first class cabin on the A380 consists of 14 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration – there are four seats along each side of the plane, and three sets of two seats in the center section. Here’s the British Airways A380 first class seatmap, via SeatGuru:
I was actually really impressed by the cabin. It was super sexy/sleek, and visually probably one of the most stunning A380 first class products. The seats also felt considerably more spacious than on the 747, where the seats are hardly more spacious than the reverse herringbone seats typically found in business class nowadays.
That being said, the seat did seem to have quite a bit of wasted space. There was a huge gap by the window, and there was a ton of space on each side of the seat, so I feel like they could have made it a bit wider, which would have made sleeping more comfortable.
To the left of the seat was a storage unit, which is also where the power adapters and entertainment controls are located.
Above that were the seat controls, which I find to be super intuitive.
The panel by the side of the seat housed the tray table.
Waiting for me at my seat were headphones and a light blanket.
The windows had “blinds,” so you could dim them by the push of a button.
Each seat also had a coat closet, which was really practical, especially since there was also room in them for shoes.
Anyway, once settled in I was welcomed aboard by Stuart, a super friendly guy in his mid-30s that would be taking care of the left first class aisle.
As I mentioned in my previous post about this flight, one other thing that 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.
Stuart seemed to be the oldest crew member aboard, and had previous experience with another major UK airline (so he didn’t lose his airline virginity with British Airways). 😉
Anyway, Stuart was extremely professional and couldn’t have been more attentive throughout the flight. Once settled in he offered me something to drink, and I of course ordered a glass of Grand-Siecle. He brought out the bottle, presented it to me, and then poured, which I always find to be a nice touch.
Shortly thereafter he presented me with the amenity kit and pajamas for the flight. British Airways recently updated their amenity kit, and to be honest I’m not really a fan of it compared to their previous amenity kit, which had an awesome “case.”
The amenity kit was extremely well stocked, though, with a comb, pen, shaving kit, deodorant, moisturizer, shaving gel, eye gel, and lip balm.
I’ve always loved British Airways pajamas since they say “First” on them in big letters, though they’re even awesomer on the A380, as they say “First A380” on them. How cool is that?! British Airways also has really high quality slippers, for what it’s worth.
I changed into my pajamas as soon as I received them. The lavatory in first on the A380 is extremely small, which was a bit disappointing. I had been given size “M” pajamas, and while the bottoms were the perfect size, the top was too small. Stuart gladly swapped out the top for a bigger one, which was much appreciated.
Once back at my seat I ordered another glass of champagne. I downed it pretty quickly, and then ordered another. And another.
After a few glasses Stuart refilled my glass and said “sir, you do realize 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.”
Around our scheduled pushback time the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 10hr10min, anticipating we’d arrive into Los Angeles ahead of schedule. By the time the door closed nine of the 14 first class seats were taken, with only four passengers on “my” aisle.
Unfortunately we had a bit of a delay on pushback due to traffic on the taxiway, so we pushed back at around 3:30PM.
We began a fairly long taxi to runway 27L, which took about 15 minutes.
Fortunately British Airways makes their entertainment system available on the ground, so I began browsing the selection.
I settled on a couple of sitcoms, and before I knew it we were airborne by 3:45PM.
While there was some chop on the initial climb out, it was a gorgeous evening after we were airborne, given the beautiful sunset views.
About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and service began, starting with hot towels being distributed. Admittedly it’s a very minor detail, but British Airways could use some thicker towels in first class, in my opinion.
At this point Stuart came around to take lunch orders. The lunch menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
As you can see there was both a traditional menu and a tasting menu, and I decided to order from the former. I decided on the halibut and was a bit buzzed at this point so am not sure why I asked the question, but I asked Stuart if the halibut was breaded. He responded “sir, of course not, this isn’t the Red Lobster.”
After takeoff I was served another glass of champagne with some warm nuts — I do love BA’s nut mix!
Shortly thereafter my table was set.
The meal service began with an amuse bouche, which on this flight was quail breast.
For the appetizer I ordered crab and avocado, which was quite good.
That was followed by a delicious butternut squash soup and mediocre salad.
I was then served the pan-fried halibut, which was only okay. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce it was doused in.
Then for dessert I ordered the key lime pie, which was beautifully presented.
To finish off the meal I ordered a cappuccino. I was offered some chocolates to accompany it.
The pace of the meal service was fantastic, as I was done maybe 2.5 hours into the flight. Stuart was a rockstar and couldn’t have done a better job. In terms of the quality of the food, it’s pretty unremarkable, not that I’d expect any more from a British airline. But I tend to think their first class catering is a lot more like really good business class catering than anything else.
After lunch I asked to have my bed made, and briefly walked around the plane while that was being taken care of. Interestingly British Airways has some Club World (business class) seats on the lower deck, making them the only airline to have business class seating on the A380 lower deck.
There’s another business class cabin on the upper deck, with a couple of really spacious lavatories in the front part of the cabin.
By the time I returned to my seat my bed was made. British Airways has good bedding, and I have to say the A380 first class seat is considerably more comfortable than the 747 first class seat for sleeping.
I managed to sleep for about five hours, and woke up just under three hours out of Los Angeles.
I decided to watch “We’re the Millers,” which was a bit dumb though entertaining enough for an airplane movie, in my opinion.
While I didn’t partake in it, the mid-flight snack menu read as follows:
Roughly 90 minutes prior to landing in Los Angeles the afternoon tea service began. The menu for that read as follows:
I ordered an Earl Grey tea, and was quickly served the first course, consisting of a few sandwiches.
One of them even had caviar, which is probably the only time I’ll ever see that in British Airways first class!
Next I was offered a variety of cakes, which were simply beautiful — I really didn’t want to eat them (and I was pretty full at this point so just took a bite of each).
And lastly I was offered scones with jam and clotted cream — delicious!
As far as I’m concerned British Airways should exclusively serve afternoon tea on flights, regardless of the time of day.
About 30 minutes out we began our descent and I changed out of my pajamas. Our descent into Los Angeles was smooth, and we touched down on runway 24R about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and had a fairly quick taxi to the gate from there.
I bid farewell to the amazing crew, and thanks to Global Entry was on the curb just a few minutes after deplaning.
On the whole this was the best British Airways flight I’ve had. The crew was extremely friendly, and I think the “mixed fleet” concept is a winner in terms of the fresh blood it’s bringing into the airline. The A380 first class seat is also noticeably better than the 747 first class seat. That being said, it’s ultimately not one of the best A380 first class hard products out there, and I don’t exactly think British Airways’ food is industry leading.