British Airways 747 First Class New York To London

Last night I flew from New York JFK to London Heathrow, which is in my opinion simultaneously the least and most glamorous route in the world. There’s no denying that there’s something intriguing about the “NYLON” route, but at the same time it’s such a short flight that there’s no way to really arrive well rested, let alone truly enjoy the flight.

I redeemed 62,500 American AAdvantage miles for travel from New York to London to Brussels in British Airways first class. American does impose fuel surcharges on British Airways redemptions, which sucks, though it was the only practical option for me to get to Brussels in time for my Tomorrowland flight tomorrow.

While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I figured I’d make a quick post sharing my initial thoughts on the flight:

British Airways 747 first class seat

As is the case with most British Airways frequencies between New York and London, my flight was operated by a 747.

British Airways crams 14 seats into the nose of the 747. As a point of comparison, Cathay Pacific has nine first class seats in the nose of their 747s, while Lufthansa has eight.

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British Airways 747 first class cabin

As I’ve said before, I find British Airways’ first class hard product to be more like the world’s best business class. I’d say it’s marginally more comfortable than a reverse herringbone seat.

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British Airways 747 first class seat

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British Airways 747 first class seat

That being said, the points British Airways loses for space they largely win back on style. I don’t think there’s a more stylish first class product out there than British Airways’, from the finishes to the window shades to the mood lighting.

It’s also worth noting that this flight was less than half full, and row one stayed empty. So I was in 2K, and the crew made my bed in 1K. Despite the flight being only six hours, I got roughly three hours of sleep, which is the best I’ve done on this route.

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British Airways 747 first class bed

British Airways first class food

There’s no way to “win” on food in the New York to London market. The focus is on maximizing sleep, and with flight times of under six hours, it’s tough to find the right balance between having a “proper” service and keeping the cabin as quiet as possible.

There’s a three course dinner menu, a bistro menu, and a full breakfast service, so if you want you could eat all the way from takeoff to touchdown.

The food was all perfectly edible. I don’t think there was anything on the menu that I wouldn’t expect in Etihad business class (or another leading business class product), but at the end of the day I’m fine with that.

I had an amuse bouche to start.

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British Airways first class amuse bouche

Then an appetizer.

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British Airways first class starter — Alaskan king crab, mushroom and avocado timbale

Then a main course.

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British Airways first class main course — chicken tikka masala with pulao rice, coconut lentils, and spicy asparagus

And dessert.

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British Airways first class dessert — crispy banoffee pie with salted caramel

I should note that British Airways serves Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne both in the air and in their first class lounges, so they get some points for that.

British Airways first class service

My last flight on British Airways was with one of their mixed fleet crews, which are their super young and energetic crews, even if they’re not especially polished.

This wasn’t a mixed fleet crew, and I can’t say I was especially impressed. They were clearly just going through the motions, which I can to some degree appreciate on such a quick flight focused on efficiency, but a smile here or there wouldn’t have hurt.

Only six of the fourteen first class seats were occupied, and despite that service wasn’t very attentive.

British Airways first class amenities

For one, this flight had wifi, which was really exciting.

Beyond that, British Airways does in general have awesome amenities. Their pajamas are my favorite of any airline, and they have a fairly nice amenity kit as well.

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British Airways first class pajamas and amenity kit

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British Airways first class amenity kit contents

The entertainment selection on British Airways isn’t very good, though I brought my own.

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Yes, we clearly had very strong headwinds ;)

British Airways first class bottom line

Is it one of the world’s best first class products? No.

But I do find the cabin to be stylish and fairly comfortable, the food to be edible, and service to generally be acceptable. In the future I’d definitely try to get on a flight with a British Airways mixed fleet crew, as I do prefer that service.

While the fuel surcharges on British Airways suck, the way I look at it, it’s a somewhat fair tradeoff for decent award availability (thought even that isn’t as good as it used to be).

I only booked this ticket a few hours before departure, and as a point of comparison, American’s flight from New York to London was only half full in first class and had no one on the upgrade waitlist, but still didn’t have any saver level award space.

If you’ve flown British Airways first class, what has your experience been?

Comments

  1. Justin says

    How many miles do you have? I am constantly amazed at how often you fly first class!

  2. Tony says

    This Oct, we are flying DUB-LHR-PHX BA FC, thank you AA miles 125K and $1400 in tax’s. But the LHR-PHX is a 11 hr flight, hope to get some sleep on it.

  3. Hotjock says

    You just like the cuties that are Mixed Fleet, although they usually have horse teeth and resemble Tesco clerks.

  4. Peter says

    I sort of agree on their F service on the 747…but we flew their A380 LHR-HKG return in the last two weeks, and really enjoyed the hard product and somewhat more spacious cabin. Plus, everything in the A380’s is still virtually brand new. No, I would not choose BA F over Singapore or Cathay, but I’d absolutely ride in their A380 again very happily (Maybe I should answer this question again next July after I fly SQ Suites for the first time! :)

  5. Steven S says

    “Crams”? I have not flown nearly as many FC flights as you have. I’ve truly enjoyed Cathay First and looking forward to it again in November. But crams is a term I would only use for the Business product which I consider suffocating. The First experience on BA remains wonderful and when we start to complain, we sound like a bunch of over-entitled brats.

    Yes, some airlines have fewer seats. And maybe I’m sentimental since BA was my first First years ago. But they remain a lovely product with excellent comfort and professional, competent and warm crews. I’ll fly them anytime.

  6. Lee says

    I think you could have done better with LM. It’s been great for me for last minute awards. The YQ you paid on BA would have more than paid for a FC ticket. I paid 45k for LH F on LM that’s correct. :)

  7. mohamed says

    I flew BA first last month LHR TO ORD with 747 but as you mentioned is not the top,i like their afternoon tea service with canapes,mini sandwich,scones,i hate the fact middle seat dont have a compartment to range your stuff,in your experience is AA first better???my experience with AA was catastrophic flying business with their 767 crap for transatlantic flight.

  8. mohamed says

    I have s question:why prices are much higher on AA website than BA website for exactly same flight.

  9. lucky says

    @ Lee — Well, except they’re blocking Lufthansa first class now, so it’s a moot point unfortunately. Didn’t see anything on Star Alliance to Brussels yesterday.

  10. lucky says

    @ mohamed — American’s 777-300ERs probably have a better hard product, but other than that the service and food won’t generally be better.

  11. worldtraveller73 says

    I don’t feel the same in regards to the decent reward availability.

    From the west coast of the USA to LHR, you are lucky if you can find a “single” business / first reward seat anywhere between 2 months to 5 months out.

    In close is okay, but not everyone can wait until 48 hours before a flight to book an outbound and a return (separately).

    Either I am looking in the wrong places but the calendar on the BA website does not help.

  12. Michael says

    I flew the reverse route in June. Service was indifferent. Food was meh. Just did not feel first class at all.
    Also I did not get an amenity kit other than a blanket and slippers even though the flight left at 8pm UK time.

  13. Justin says

    “I’d say it’s marginally more comfortable than a reverse herringbone seat.”

    I think that’s a little unfair… there’s a LOT more room from the hips down compared to a cirrus seat, though shoulder room is pretty similar.

    @Lee – loose lips sink ships

  14. says

    Hey Ben,

    Compare from the seat pitch, seat width, tv screen size, are they the same product within Eva Air Royal Laurel Class and this new American First Class? I know the AA first has a turndown services, and probably the meal are better, but when I see quickly, their ottoman almost the same, and other things as well, what do you think?

  15. JustSaying says

    I flew BA FC in May 2013 from SFO and on to Lyon and back via Nice…….your description of the hard product is spot on and I think the soft product also has social security issues………and catering out of SFO has horrid…….and the fuel surcharges were brutal at $900+ per ticket…….but it was a companion pass but it still felt like a tube job……….reading you I am now way ahead ahead banking Starwood and Alaska…I’m not looking back even if I love those PJ’s……….If I am going to pay fuel surcharges it needs to be on LH…..

  16. Francisco c says

    Excellent report! Do the westbound transatlantic flights come with pajamas in FC? Thanks

  17. Francisca C Sutedjo says

    What do you think of their amenity kit, Ben? I heard that they no longer give Anya Hindmarch kits for their F passengers. Such a shame!

  18. Leroy says

    That is MU’s new business class product (and AF’s??). Amazing that BA sells that as a first class!

  19. Jack says

    Recently did A380 & 747 on BA F and while I liked the spaciousness of the A380 the 747 felt quite cozy…more like a family party feel. Overall both flights were better than expected but I would take LH or CX over BA if possible. But from US to Europe, I do agree that BA is the preferred due to its availability. The CCR was very disappointing though…if you like premium drinks it’s ok but the employees there are awful. FCT>Wing>CCR. CCR’s cabana sucks…really really bad – layout, room temperature, amenities…all BAD.

  20. lucky says

    @ Francisca C Sutedjo — I definitely preferred the old one, but compared to what other airlines offer I think it’s still one of the better ones out there.

  21. lucky says

    @ ernest — The seat is very similar to a reverse herringbone seat, though is a bit more spacious all around. Not by all that much, but a bit. The bedding and amenities are also better. But it’s not a *huge* difference, in my opinion.

  22. says

    In this case, I do agree with you on BA F – It is just a prettier version of BA business class. But the style does make me forget I’m on a plane – with the window shades and my little lamp. For me the additional miles for F aren’t worth it as I’m fine in CW (business). BA is our preferred airline and we fly CW generally, F sometimes.
    As for the crews, my last flight out of JFK in June, the crew basically ignored us in CW (I was flying with my 11 yo niece and the FA was awful – didn’t set IFE for child lock, didn’t remove dinner tray, forgot to bring breakfast we pre-ordered, ran out of female toiletry kits so gave us both male kits and didn’t give my niece the child bag with activity book). I much prefer the crews on the PHL flights -my June flight had an all male FA CW/F cabin crew (a first for me!). Everyone just seems a bit more relaxed than the NYC flights.

  23. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    Now I see that Qatar has a pretty old First Class product on their A330s, and though it appears more spacious than BA’s, I don’t know for certain if it’s actually a better hard product. Have you ever tried it, and if so would you choose it over BA?

  24. Vinod says

    We flew in First Class last week, from Atlanta to London Heathrow – the service was impeccable, and the food was very good. While the hard product may not be as good as LH or CX, the crew were extremely friendly, and went above and beyond – these days with BA, experiences tend to be mixed based on the crew you get.

  25. lucky says

    @ Norman — Would probably chose Qatar due to the lack of fuel surcharges in most cases, realistically.

  26. Pat Butcher says

    Some of BAs WW crews are awful. Had a right miserable old hag on my last flight in F. She was so rude and unfriendly it was unreal. People clearly don’t complain enough. How they can get away with it at all let alone first class is beyond me.

  27. Anthony says

    I suggest the morning flight from JFK to london. BA and Virgin offer flights leaving from 7 AM to 8 AM. These flights land in time in London for dinner. You grab breakfast on board, nap for a bit, watch a move, grab tea than alnd.

  28. Scott says

    I’ve been seeing the same thing lately with AA award inventory — it’s abysmal on their own metal, and much worse than it used to be on BA metal. You can look AA’s LAX-LHR depatures within the next 7 days and the seatmap in J is 1/4 – 1/2 emtpy yet they have ZERO saver award seats available. I think AA is thinking that the new 773 is too good to give away at saver levels and they are trying to force AAnytime awards. Which really sucks, because they are flying planes with empty seats and clearly people aren’t paying double miles to ride on them.

    I used to be able to find BA award inventory very easily SFO-LHR and was OK with paying the fuel surcharge if that meant good seat availability. But lately, there is almost no avail at all on BA other than for close-in. I’ve tried booking tickets 330 days out and there’s zero BA or AA award inventory avail. I wonder if AA is holding back award seats now because they are going to raise redemption levels later this year and don’t want to book too many seats at today’s lower prices?

  29. Norman says

    Hi Lucky,

    If not taking taxes&fees into account, which of the two would you say is better?

  30. lucky says

    @ Norman — I’d give maybe a slight edge to the BA A380, otherwise a toss up between the two, for the most part.

  31. Ivan Y says

    +1 to worldtraveller73’s comment. Out of Houston, F award space is good very far in advance but disappears quickly if you are booking closer in. IAHLHR is a very popular business route so J award space is even harder to find.

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