Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles

Introduction
From Airbus To Megabus: A Trip Of Contrasts
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining
Review: Al Maha Bedouin Suite
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Dining
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Activities
Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A380 Doha To London
Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles
Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu
Review: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport LAX
Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Review: American First Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: Hilton Austin Airport


Our flight from Doha to London was delayed by a bit, so we only arrived at around 1:45PM, and our connection to Los Angeles was scheduled to depart at 4:15PM. Unfortunately we had to switch terminals, as we were arriving at Terminal 4 and departing from Terminal 5.

First we had to walk through the maze which is the Terminal 4 arrivals area, until we found ourselves at the transfer center.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 transfers

Once there we had to wait a few minutes for the bus.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 transfers

The bus between terminals took almost 15 minutes, which just shows you how bizarrely spread out Heathrow is (on the plus side, we had the bus to ourselves, so it was sort of like a transfer at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal… only not).

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Heathrow bus from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5

Once at Terminal 5 we had to queue for security, which took quite a while. While there’s a Fast Track lane, a lot of passengers at Heathrow are eligible to use it, so the line still took about 20 minutes. I sure wish British Airways had some improved ground services for their first class passengers, as the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ground experience is significantly better than the British Airways first class experience (and that’s comparing business class to first class).

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London Heathrow Terminal 5

We briefly stopped in the Concorde Room, which I’ve reviewed several times before, so I won’t cover it again. I’ll simply say that I consider it to be the world’s most overrated lounge. The fact that I realized I misplaced my pants on the Qatar Airways flight while in the Concorde Room probably didn’t help. 😉

Our flight to Los Angeles was scheduled to depart from the “C Pier” of Terminal 5, so we had to take the train two stops to get there. I saw our plane as we ascended the escalator, and noticed that the engine cowling was open. Ruh roh, that can’t be good!

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British Airways A380 London Heathrow

We got to the gate at around 3:30PM, which is when boarding was scheduled to begin. About 10 minutes after we got there the gate manager came on the PA, and in the most sheepish way possible announced that there was a problem with the plane. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone make such an incompetent-sounding announcement, let alone someone who claims to be the gate manager. “Ummmm… ummmm… this is your gate manager… we… ummmm… have a… ummm… problem… with the airplane.”

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Departure gate London Heathrow

She basically said the flight was delayed because there was a problem with the engine, and that she didn’t know when we’d board. So she invited people to leave the gate. The only problem was that less than five minutes later she came back on the PA to say we were ready for immediate boarding! Go figure at that point about half the passengers had already left the gate area.

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British Airways A380 London Heathrow

I was excited about this flight, and especially looking forward to comparing it to the British Airways A380 I took from London to Los Angeles in 2013. In general I’m not a huge fan of British Airways first class, though I’ve reviewed them between New York and London, Seattle and London, London and Seattle, etc.

I’ve called British Airways first class the world’s best business class, though after flying their business class recently I also realized just how much better their first class is.

So I was curious to see how this flight measured up!

I should note that prior to the flight I was telling Andrew about how the Los Angeles route is operated by Mixed Fleet crews (Tiffany wrote about them the other day), which are the flight attendants British Airways has been hiring for the past five (or so) years. Basically British Airways was having labor issues with their other crews, and eventually decided to just never hire another flight attendant under that contract, instead springing for more junior crews which they pay significantly less. There are plenty of Mixed Fleet flight attendants who are 18, and they even have some Cabin Service Managers (CSMs) who are 21. It sort of feels like “bring your kid to work day.” But they’re usually very well intentioned.

British Airways 269
London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Saturday, October 10
Depart: 4:15PM
Arrive: 7:20PM
Duration: 11hr5min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2A (First Class)

We boarded through the forward lower deck door, where we were greeted by one of the first class crew, who escorted us to our seats. British Airways’ A380 first class is on the lower deck, and consists of a total of 14 seats, spread across four rows in a 1-2-1 configuration (there are no center seats in the first row, due to the location of the stairs).

The cabin is extremely sleek, especially once the mood lights are turned on.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

I assigned myself seat 2A, while Tiffany was in 1A, and Andrew was across the aisle.

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British Airways A380 first class seat

I find the A380 first class seat to be more spacious than on the 747 and 777, though the seat still feels like it has a lot of “wasted” space. As you can see, the seat itself isn’t actually that wide, but rather there’s a solid two feet between the window and where the seat starts.

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British Airways A380 first class, seat 2A

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British Airways A380 first class, seat 2A

The seat is quite private at least, thanks to the high barriers around the seats. Much like a reverse herringbone business class product, the seats are angled towards the windows and have ottomans. The good thing about this seat is that the space for your feet isn’t restricted (in many reverse herringbone seats the gap for your feet is less than a foot vertically), meaning you won’t ever feel constrained while trying to sleep.

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British Airways A380 first class, seat 2A

To the left of the seat was a large storage compartment, which also housed two USB ports, a 110v power port, and the entertainment controller.

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British Airways first class seat storage

Then to the left of the seat were some of the other seat controls, including for the reading light and seat recline.

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British Airways first class seat controls

Waiting on the ottoman was a light blanket as well as a pair of headphones. For international first class I find the headphones to be cheap and uncomfortable — American has far superior Bose headphones in business class.

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British Airways first class blanket & headphones

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British Airways first class blanket

The plane has automatic window shades in first class, so you can open and close them at the push of the button. That’s actually a handy feature, since the window shades themselves are quite large on the lower deck of the A380 (the windows themselves aren’t that large, though).

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British Airways first class window shades

In addition to the blanket there were two rather flat pillows waiting at my seat.

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British Airways first class pillows

Once I had the chance to settle in, one of the first class flight attendants, Geri, came by to introduce herself. She was extremely lovely (and senior, given my expectation of a Mixed Fleet crew). She was professional but also playful, which I appreciated. As I said above, I was expecting a Mixed Fleet crew on this flight, so was a bit surprised when I saw a crew which looked much more senior.

I joked to Geri and said “this doesn’t look to me like a Mixed Fleet crew… since when does Worldwide fly LA?” She joked “are you calling us old?” I quickly responded “oh no, just more experienced and professional than the kids usually working the route, you know?” Of course it was all in good fun, and we both got a good laugh out of it. She explained that as of three months ago the route was transferred to the Worldwide crews, so it’s no longer Mixed Fleet.

Anyway, Geri offered me an amenity kit, slippers, and a pair of pajamas.

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British Airways first class pajamas & amenity kit

British Airways has among my favorite pajamas, though unfortunately they no longer have special ones for the A380 (I thought it was pretty cool to have pajamas which said both “First” and “A380” on them).

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British Airways first class pajamas

I love British Airways’ slippers, as they’re quite sturdy, more than those offered by any other airline I’ve flown.

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British Airways first class slippers

I was also offered an amenity kit. While the kit itself isn’t quite as stylish as the one British Airways used to offer, it is significantly more practical.

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British Airways first class amenity kit contents

Shortly thereafter I was offered a pre-departure beverage. I ordered a glass of champagne, and within a few moments was poured a glass of Grand Siecle at my seat. Yum! I was also offered the menu for the flight.

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British Airways first class menu and champagne

Geri explained that I could eat what I wanted when I wanted, so I commented “well all I really want is the afternoon tea, that’s half the reason I fly British Airways.” Unfortunately she informed me that British Airways recently eliminated afternoon tea on flights to the west coast, and are instead offering a full meal before landing, due to “customer feedback.”

I was sort of devastated. This led to a further conversation about afternoon tea etiquette, and in particular about whether you put the jam or clotted cream on the scones first. She explained she was from Devonshire, which apparently made her an expert on the topic. 😉

She also snuck us a couple of brownies from the midflight snack selection, when she found out how sad we were about the lack of afternoon tea. I gave mine to Andrew, because he has an even sweeter tooth than I do (who knew that was possible?).

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British Airways brownie snack

The crew was busy during boarding, given that just about every seat seemed to be occupied on the plane, including in first class. Nowadays British Airways allows you to enjoy inflight entertainment on the ground, so I got started with an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, one of my favorite shows.

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Entertainment at the gate on British Airways

Our departure was delayed a bit due to the miscommunication at the gate. When the gate manager announced the delay, a lot of passengers left the gate, and then we had to wait for them. The door to the plane finally closed at 4:40PM, at which point the Customer Service Director (CSD) came on the PA. We’ll call him Stewie, because the way he spoke was identical to the character from Family Guy. It was uncanny.

I know Brits and Americans have different phrases they use, but I really had no clue what the point of this guy’s announcements were. He started off with explaining the delay, saying “it’s all very clever here at Heathrow, and everything is most efficient it can be.” Say what now? There are many words I’d use to describe Heathrow… “clever” isn’t one of them!

After that he explained the advantages of the A380, stating “one advantage of this plane is that it’s quiet, so please keep that in mind when talking to people so you don’t bother others.”

He then continued to explain how to fill out the landing card, including insightful information like “all UK citizens residing in the UK should put the UK as their country of residency.” Oh, is that how that works? I realize he was trying to be helpful, but all of his announcements just came across as so condescending.

We pushed back just after 4:40PM, and began our taxi to the departure runway. As we taxied the safety video played.

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British Airways 777 Heathrow Airport

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British Airways 747 Heathrow Airport

The good news is that we were departing from runway 9R, which was just a short taxi away.

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Aegean A321 Heathrow Airport

Once short of the runway we were number three for takeoff, and less than five minutes later we were cleared to taxi into position on the runway.

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British Airways planes taking off Heathrow Airport

After waiting for a British Airways A320 to depart, it was our turn.

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Taxiing into position on runway

As we began our takeoff roll we passed a gorgeous Air New Zealand 777, and a few moments later we were airborne, at around 5PM.

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Air New Zealand 777 Heathrow Airport

The views on departure were lovely, especially of Terminal 2.

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View after takeoff from Heathrow Airport

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View after takeoff from Heathrow Airport

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View after takeoff from Heathrow Airport

As we climbed out I switched to the airshow.

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Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

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Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

After that I browsed the entertainment selection, which I find fairly lackluster on British Airways. I decided to watch another couple of episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, even though I had seen them before. The show never gets old for me.

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British Airways entertainment options

Shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and apologize for the delay. He explained that our flight time was a shorter than usual 10hr30min, so he anticipated we would still arrive in Los Angeles on “shed-jewel.”

About 20 minutes after takeoff the other first class flight attendant came around to take meal orders.

The lunch menu read as follows, with the choice between a tasting menu and an a la carte menu:

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The beverage list read as follows:

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Service began with hot towels being distributed.

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British Airways hot towel

I find British Airways is usually pretty slow to get the actual meal service started, and this flight was no exception. About 45 minutes after takeoff drinks were offered, along with warm nuts. I ordered a gin & tonic.

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British Airways first class lunch — warm nuts and gin & tonic

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British Airways first class lunch — warm nuts

It was another 30 minutes after the drinks were served before the table was set for lunch.

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British Airways first class lunch table setting

I was offered an amuse bouche, consisting of goat cheese with tomato (at least that’s how it was described to me).

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British Airways first class lunch — amuse bouche

I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket, and selected the focaccia.

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British Airways first class lunch — focaccia

I chose the crab starter, which was quite good.

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British Airways first class lunch — salmon, crab, and poached lobster

For the next course I ordered the salad, which I also enjoyed.

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British Airways first class lunch — fresh seasonal salad

Meanwhile Andrew chose the soup.

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British Airways first class lunch — autumn chicken broth with pearl barley

For the main course I ordered the cod filet, which was flavorful, though also tasted quite “fishy,” but I guess that’s to be expected from cod.

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British Airways first class lunch — cod fillet

Andrew had the beef, which looked, well, well done.

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British Airways first class lunch — angus beef

For dessert I ordered the chocolate and hazelnut bread and butter pudding. It was every bit as delicious as it looks. Nom nom nom. Good thing they dolloped a huge quantity of chocolate on the side, as the dessert wouldn’t have been sweet or unhealthy enough otherwise. 😉

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British Airways first class lunch dessert — chocolate and hazelnut bread and butter pudding

I intended to finish off the meal with a cappuccino, though the machine was broken. So I settled for a coffee with milk instead.

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Coffee in British Airways first class

The meal service was done 75 minutes after it started. I thought the pace of service was fantastic, and the two ladies working first class were really top notch, among the best I’ve had on British Airways.

Once the meal was done they told me to let them know when I wanted my bed made. I took advantage of that right away, as I was quite tired given the early start to my day, and the flights from Dubai to Doha to London.

The turndown service was promptly taken care of, and a bottle of water was also placed at my seat. While the seat itself isn’t that wide, the bedding on British Airways is good. Add in how quiet the A380 is, and I slept like a baby.

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British Airways first class bed

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British Airways first class bed

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Bottled water on British Airways

I slept for about five hours, and woke up with about three hours left to Los Angeles. Upon waking up I ordered another cup of coffee, and decided to get some work done on my laptop.

About two hours before landing the crew came around to offer the pre-arrival meal. The menu read as follows:

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Again, I was quite sad to see that British Airways no longer serves afternoon tea, though apparently they felt it made sense to add a second meal for “competitive reasons,” given the length of the flight.

My table was promptly set, and I was again offered my choice from the breadbasket.

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British Airways first class pre-arrival meal — artichoke, mushroom, and truffle frittata

For the starter I had the artichoke, mushroom, and truffle frittata, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. It was sort of grossly lukewarm, and I didn’t love the texture either.

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British Airways first class pre-arrival meal — artichoke, mushroom, and truffle frittata

For the main course I had the salmon, which was better than the cod served earlier in the flight, in my opinion.

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British Airways first class pre-arrival meal — fillet of salmon

For dessert I was proactively served fresh fruit. Thank goodness, because it’s just about the only healthy thing I had on the flight.

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British Airways first class pre-arrival meal — fresh fruit

We were making good time enroute to Los Angeles, and it looked like we would arrive on time, up until we passed Las Vegas. At this point the captain came on the PA and explained that President Obama was inbound to Los Angeles, which was causing indefinite holding for the time being.

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Airshow approaching Los Angeles

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Airshow approaching Los Angeles

I took the opportunity to enjoy some more of British Airways’ world class entertainment selection.

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Inflight entertainment

We only had to hold for about 20 minutes, at which point we were cleared for our final descent. I changed out of my pajamas, stowed my carry-ons, and was excited to get back to the US.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin before landing in Los Angeles

We finally touched down on runway 24L at LAX at 7:30PM, only about 10 minutes behind schedule. We had a beautifully smooth landing, and from there it was a short five minute taxi to our arrival gate at Tom Bradley International Terminal.

We bid farewell to the crew, and were through immigration in a matter of minutes thanks to Global Entry.

British Airways first class bottom line

This was one of my more impressive flights on British Airways. The A380 offers my favorite British Airways first class product, given that there seems to be a bit more space all around, compared to the 747 and 777. The service on this sector was fantastic, as this was probably the best Worldwide British Airways crew I’ve ever had. They were professional and attentive while still having a sense of humor, which is a perfect combination.

The food was fine, though nothing amazing. As usual, the dessert was excellent, the appetizers were good, and the mains were “meh.”

One amenity I really value is wifi, which British Airways is one of the worst carriers about. The fact that they don’t have wifi on a vast majority of their fleet (I think they just have a few test planes with wifi) sort of deters me from flying with them.

While I think British Airways has an all around slightly better first class product than American, I’d probably choose American on the route due to the availability of wifi.

Am I the only one who is sad to see British Airways eliminate the afternoon tea service on flights to the west coast? Would you choose to fly American or British Airways between London and Los Angeles?

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Comments

  1. I’d just like to know if I’m alone in thinking the shower cubicles at the Concorde Room are some of the worst shower facilities ever. The molded plastic is so hospital-like, not to mention the fact that water gets EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen anyone specifically call this out, but it is a real low point for the Concord Room that, while overrated – yes – is a perfectly fine place to while away a couple of hours.

    But those shower rooms…just awful.

  2. I was really bummed about the tea on my flight from LRH-LAX over the holidays–it’s my favorite part of flying BA! Though I will say that the catering on my flight was surprisingly good. Then again, I don’t have as much experience flying first as you!

  3. I flew with Geri back in August on my LHR-LAX flight(also on this fare). She’s extremely attentive, friendly, and very ‘British’. In fact, all my recent experiences in BA F have been positive

  4. Two thoughts: 1) had to laugh that after being sentenced to fly in BA business @Lucky you’ve suddenly come to appreciate BA first ,and 2) in the many, many BA flights I’ve taken over the past couple of years, the cappuccino machine has always been “broken”. I’m pretty sure that’s one of those unique British phrases that roughly translates to “we’re too lazy to make you one.”

  5. I would still prefer BA over AA, but the afternoon tea service will be missed.

    Oh, and by the way: “cleared to taxi into position on the runway” – it’s just called “line up”, or in this case “line up and wait”.

  6. Just a note about the whole UK deal on the immigration forms.

    This is a CBP requirement, other countries accept BRITISH as country of birth / residence. However, for some reason CBP don’t, and this can add to delays for those who don’t travel often to the USA. It may seem simple to some, but write it wrong on the form and to the back of the line you go!

  7. What is the round nut that has the sweet, spiced glaze on it?

    I’d really like to be able to find them on Amazon or somewhere nearby, but so far, I’ve only ever had them in BA F.

  8. There’s an issue with coffee machines on the A380 it’s a known issue but no one seems to be making any effort to fix it quickly enough. So many other carriers have no issue with this, I mean it can’t be hard to source and install new ones.

    The announcements though, the comment re Heathrow sounds like the CSD is being sarcastic lol i never understand why peeps outisde the uk dont get sarcasm. Then re UK comment, people never know whether they should write UK, GB, England / Wales etc. Saves 200 people asking the crew the same question.

  9. @Ole, “line up” is a phrase in the American ATC communications script. While “taxi onto position and hold” is the standard internationally

  10. How does American’s say schedule? I’m really confused as I can’t work how else you would say it apart from shed-jewel!

  11. Hey Ben

    I’m flying BA First on an A380 with my brother next month. It’s to DC from Heathrow so a day flight. Any advice re seating? Some say 2A+3A, some say middle seats. Any thoughts?

  12. @Andy:

    We say sked-yule or sked-jewel – regionally dictated. More grammatically, we don’t pronounce the “sch” in schedule as an unvoiced post-alveolar fricative sibilant. We pronounce it the same way we do in the word “school”.

  13. “all UK citizens residing in the UK should put the UK as their country of residency.” doesn’t sound any less condescending than “The resort includes full board, meaning you’re given three meals a day. In other words, if you’re staying for two days, you get a total of six meals.”

    Perhaps Stewie was just helping you prepare for your trip report 😉

  14. On the downside, no afternoon tea. On the plus side, it’s an A380, and they are serving both Grand Siecle and Jonnie Walker BLUE. Plus the crew was both pleasant and efficient. So I was just about to say: nothing much to complain about, and I’d definitely take this over AA. Then, oh yeah, I remembered the so called “fuel” surcharges. In which case, I’d take AA, and use the $ I saved on the surcharges to buy my own bottle of JWB…. 🙂

  15. Was it comfortable around the shoulders? On the 777, I found it very confining due to the partition being so close to the seat.

  16. “All UK citizens residing in the UK should put the UK as their country of residency”. Some UK citizens do need reminding. They might put down England, Scotland, Wales or Northen Ireland

  17. Ben – BA’s First amenity kits don’t have Elemis products in (the Club World ones do). The male kit contains products by The Refinery, which is a subset of Aromatherapy Associates. The female kit contains Aromatherapy Associates branded products (as do the First washrooms).

    I second the comments above about “UK”, too. A lot of us Brits feel very strongly about being “English” / “Scottish”. When the crew make that announcement, it’s not uncommon to her people tutting under their breath (in a very British way!) to express their displeasure.

  18. There is no county in England called Devonshire. It is plain old Devon.
    The worldwide fleet in BA are generally outstanding and represent the classic BA service. Midfleet are very keen but less professional.

  19. I believe BA is opening a dedicated fast track security lane at LHR T5 just for First class passengers (and possibly OWE), but not sure if this will be available for transfers as it will run from the F check in area through to the lounge complex entrance.

  20. @Leo @Brian

    I can’t believe that I am actually saying this but this is probably one of the most balanced British Airways reviews, that Mr.Schlappig has ever done.

    Not bad old chap. Not bad at all.

  21. @Ben

    So wait, is this trip report from October when you left your pants behind? If so, I’m impressed, I can barely remember enough of my trip a week afterwards to put together a trip report.

    Glad you had a better time on this BA flight, I really enjoyed my BA IAD-LHR flight on a 747, especially because of the flight crew.

  22. BEN, I’m from England, but have lived in California for over 5 years.

    I’ve flown British airways 4 times in the past month long haul and I can’t help think about your BA posts when the captains make an announcement and say we will be arrive on SHED JEWEL !!!

    I never picked up on it before, but now it cracks me up every time.

  23. Hmm..maybe BA should just put this all across their premium classes and advertise them as the new biz…. nice report… better than I had expected… except for the actual, which looks like it was bought from Walmart…

  24. @Jonathan

    “Line up” or “Line up and wait” is the international standard. “Taxi into position and hold” I’ve never heard at any international airport across the world, ever.

    If you don’t know, why try to correct someone?? Nevermind.

  25. A few thoughts:

    1) I wouldn’t mind a nice-looking 18-year-old female flight attendant; it would sure beat having grandma. OK. Maybe 18 is a little young, but certainly not 21.

    2) The gray blanket and pillows look kind of cheap for international first-class. I also don’t like the fact that the pillows didn’t come in a sealed package.

    3) Was the Shetland salmon good by salmon standards? I’ve been by the salmon farms in the Shetland Islands. The farms are actually in ocean coves and so forth. Pretty cool sight, actually.

  26. The meal they now serve in place of the afternoon tea is too much food. I left most of it a few weeks ago (LHR to SFO) which always makes me feel bad. The afternoon tea was perfect for the time of day these flights arrive on the West Coast. I’m curious what feedback they received to indicate the change.

    If travelling alone, seat 1A is the best IMHO, just like it is on the 747. You cannot see any other passengers and they cannot see you.

  27. “Line up and wait” is ICAO standard phraseology. In the meantime also used in the US,but some years ago “taxi into position and hold” was used in the states frequently (at least for domestic carriers).

  28. I do not miss the afternoon tea service, as you can still request scones but also get a more substantial meal. I usually load up in scones in the lounge before the flight in the early afternoon. The second meal is a nice improvement for the 10+ hour flights.

    Also there’s an infamous, massively long FlyerTalk BA thread about jam or cream first that is hilarious.

    I’ve actually had medium to medium rare steak my last three flights on BA. It requires asking nicely at the time you order it and some luck!

    And I think the comment about Heathrow being clever was pure snark.

  29. I loved the tea service as well. But BA F rocks, we have always had a wonderful experience. Great review as always Lucky!

  30. Lucky,
    Your trip reports are completely amazing and are light years better than everyone else’s in the industry, in fact I think it’s one of the things that separates you from the ever growing pack of people imitating you and trying to make names in the points and miles industry. You are just a tremendous writer and there’s nobody better in the game….however the trip reports by your staff, boyfriends, etc. are really bad and feel completely forced, like you are trying to introduce them as the next great thing. They aren’t though and they come off as being bastardized copycats of things you have written. If you guys keep ramming them thru, it’s going to take away from your site. Nobody cares about Ford’s trips back home or what Tiffany thinks about her main course. They are a couple steps worse than TPG’s writing, which I didn’t think was possible. They are just all really bad writers, you’re a Picasso man, please let your canvas stand alone.

  31. @Jax How nice of you to speak for all of us. 🙁

    Except, you are actually only speaking for yourself. If you read the comments on Tiffany’s posts, you’ll see that many of us greatly appreciate them. But if you don’t, there is a simple solution. Her name is at the top of her posts, and you can simply skip them. I, on the other hand, make a point of reading them. 🙂

  32. “Taxi into position and hold” was the U.S. standard since anyone working ATC can remember. In the early 2010s, the FAA finally moved to the international ICAO standard of “Line up and wait”

    You will still hear the words “traffic holding in position” used in the U.S. to describe an aircraft that has lined up and is waiting, as they only changed the phraseology of the actual control instruction.

    This comes from someone who says the words “line up and wait” over a radio at least 200 times every work day.

  33. @Jax,

    Actually, I find that posts by Ben’s colleagues are more interesting and refreshing. Ben’s posts have become too much of the same…

  34. There are a number of ground handlers who we always use to take our clients and ourselves through Heathrow and other large airports – Frankfurt – de Gaulle etc. I can’t imagine anyone going through the
    bus – terminal change business unless they were destitute. It is only a couple of hundred pounds.

  35. Ben: I share an interest in this question:

    I’m flying BA First on an A380 with my brother next month. It’s to DC from Heathrow so a day flight. Any advice re seating? Some say 2A+3A, some say middle seats. Any thoughts?

    please advise—my wife and I have an upcoming flight from Heathrow to SFO—we presently have 2A and 3A—have heard row 1 is a bit weird because of the unused stairs to the second level…

    also, you’ve previously said the 777 is better than the 747 but do I understand correctly that you think the A380 is the best of all—-

  36. I find it always to be worth clearing customs at LHR T5 when transiting, especially if you have EU passport. Cover your bases…fill out the paperwork as though you want to enter the UK and then if the line is too long when you get the T5 Customs area to transit, take a look whether people are queuing down the escalator from the Transit Security area up on departures in the far corner of the Customs area.

    I’ve generally found it far quicker to clear customs, walk through baggage and elevator back upto L5 Departures and use the normal Fast Tracks as though starting a fresh journey. I may be wrong, but I sense the government metrics for time taken getting through security may not cover transit passengers. I’ve seen several times the Transit passengers only having 1 or 2 lanes available to them in the main Security area on L5, whilst the normal lanes appear far better managed. I last transited in December, so not sure if the layout has changed since then. The long rumoured First Security line on L5… older than some of the mould in The Concord showers.

  37. Ben:

    please advise—my wife and I have an upcoming flight from Heathrow to SFO—we presently have 2A and 3A—have heard row 1 is a bit weird because of the unused stairs to the second level…what are the best 2 F class seats on the BA 380? We both want windows

    also, you’ve previously said the 777 is better than the 747 but do I understand correctly that you think the A380 is the best of all—-

    many thanks

  38. Lucky: please respond to the above inquiries!!!

    How long do you stick w/a thread before you abandon the ones you’ve started?? Wondering…

  39. Other than pyjamas and the bed turn down service, you’ve pretty much described Etihad business class.

  40. After a struggle, got to the point about not having afternoon tea available when I decided I’d had enough and got bored.

    I am interested in where this county of Devonshire is. Can’t seem to find it on my atlas.

  41. I’d rather fly Air New Zealand, partly because I am a kiwi, and partly because of the great food and service. No wifi (Yet).

  42. It looks pretty shitty.

    Did you pay for this flight ? There was no statement at the top of the article saying if it was free or not ?

  43. Have been flying BA First on LHR-LAX and also LHR-BOM routes for several years. The wine list seems to be just ok. Looks like BA is going to serve the Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle for another 20 years, while there are so many other great champagnes, e.g. Krug, Bollinger, Dom Pérignon, Billecart Salmon rosé. In essence, the wine lacks variety and creativity. Food is quite good, if not outstanding. Service is excellent !

  44. Landed in san diego on 747 in F. This was a real dissapointment. A really young crew without basic training in F. Warm champagne to start with, no planning in serving ppl, approx half of the menu was unavailable, lights couldnt be switched off during 11 hr flight, the galley really badly managed – messy and dirty, light meal on landing was basically not served, filthy toilet /only one operational/ , landing cards were not distributed , no bye bye to F class cabin- instead the crew hid in the galley. Good bye First class ! What a waste of time and money !

  45. I just flew BA (first class) from London to Seattle. The service was disgraceful. The cabin was empty apart from ourselves and one other person. The flight attendants seemed miffed to have to serve at all. No hot towel was offered pre-lunch and my husband was never offered a menu and was told that he would have to get the meal from the business section as they had run out of food in first class (which how can that happen with only 4 people in first class??). He was not offered a choice of wines, nor any courses. I had to ask for water 3 times before I finally walked up and got it myself. Each time I asked, the flight attendant said, “yeh, sure” and then never returned. No turn down service and the bathroom was dirty, with feces in the toilet (after two visits, they were still there) and no amenities in the bathroom. I had to use the business class bathroom when the first was unavailable and the amenities there were much better. The flight attendants never came to check on us and I had to flag one down to get more hot water after an hour of waiting. Basically, the flight attendants did the bare minimum and nothing more. One of the flight attendants even cursed (using the “s” word) when she could not get the tv to its resting position. Not language I want to hear after a long flight. In addition, the TV never worked properly and I had to use my laptop to watch my own saved shows. I will never ever fly BA again for first. My advice is fly other carriers – other airlines business cabins are way better than the service we received on BA. We fly only international business and first and as everyone knows, the asian carriers offer superior service. However, some of the american carriers are really trying to get their business cabins into a good product and in the end, yes it is the seat comfort, etc, but it is also most certainly the service that makes or breaks the experience. In this situation, the attendants, by their utter lack of professionalism made this flight a stressful and poor experience for us. Perhaps it was because we were flying on miles that we are mistreated, but that should not make a difference.

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