Airline Review: British Airways new First Class on the A380 to Los Angeles, inaugural flight
Last week I had a flight with the new Boeing 787 of British Airways on the way to Toronto (if you’re looking for a nice place to be in Toronto, the Ritz is amazing), today I had the first flight to Los Angeles. British Airways has currently only two of the new A380 and uses those for flights to Los Angeles. In October the next track will be Hong Kong, then Johannesburg. I already wrote about the equipment in my last post about the BA Launch Event, in which you can also find pictures of the other classes.
Check-In and Concorde Room
Checking in was uncomplicated, above all since there was no luggage to be checked in and I already chose my seat online. Security control (coming back from T3) went fast and smoove, so I immediately went to the Concorde Room. Differently than walking to business or first class lounge the way is quite short, as you can enter through a side entrance. I decided to use a “Cabana” due to longer waiting times, which are little “rooms” in which you can stay as first class passenger. They are equipped with an own bathroom, shower and come with a “room service” from the lounge. You can just order food or beverages and get them immediately.
The Cabanas should be booked in advance, which can be done via the British Airways hotline, gold customer service or the special first class hotline. IF you don’t book in advance you can do it onsite with at service of course.
I prefer the terrace of the Concorde Room, so I went there after getting some sleep and a shower. Only first class passengers or clients with a CR-Card can use the Concorde Room, differently than the first class lounge, which can be used by status clients, too. There is a separate restaurant area with a la carte ordering and seating and relaxation possibilities, plus spa of course.
On to the gate and get in
Take-off didn’t take place at the same gate as the flight with the 787 to Toronto today, but instead at C57. I used the train to get from Terminal A to C. Arriving there I saw the BBC crew, which accompanied us on this flight. British Airways informed passengers (of the first class?) beforehand and even offered rebooking, if you felt disturbed by the film crew. Of course it didn’t bother me, however I wanted exactly this flight.
Boarding was uncomplicated and very routine, though it was the first flight. After children and invalids entered, first and business class travelers followed. We entered through several doors, so that the maximum 14 first class passengers could enter through the front door. This made the cabin comfortably silent.
The A380 has a maximum of 14 seats for first class, arranged in a 1-21- seating. Seat 1A and 1K have no seat aside, because the middle seats are set back one row. Here is the area of the stairs that lead to the upper deck, but it’s not used during the flight to not disturb passengers.
The whole cabin is separated by curtains that isolate from noises from the galley and the rest of the cabin. For travelers in the front row they have two toilets, in each case directly behind the curtains on the right and left. The color scheme seems high-class, covering and warm seeming colors make the cabin homelike. The windows can be dimmed by two different blinders. The first one creates a dimmed atmosphere, while the second completely darkens the cabin. Different than in the 787 where dimming works electronically and does not completely darken the cabin, in the A380 it works just fine.
Seats in the new first class correlate only minimally to the new product in the 747 respectively 777 and have been upgraded a little in the A380. They provide more space now, but more to that later. Other than at Thai, Qatar or Emirates, the suites are not closable by a door, but half open. Comparable to the seats at Lufthansa, you can leave and enter without having to open a door. Which of the types is better or worse is a matter of taste. I personally like the half open ones a little more, because you can be served better. On the other side you can sleep better in completely closed cabins.
To begin with I noticed the almost huge wardrobe, which comes with every seat. Not only space for jacket and bag, even my big bag from Rimowa fits inside. You find hangers and separate shelves, too, which is quite comfortable: no bag lifting, just put it inside the wardrobe and you’re done. I didn’t even need the shelves on top during the flight.
It continues with more shelves at the seat: there is a big one that can be closed with a clack, in which you find remote control and sockets for power, two USB sockets and much more space. During the flight I didn’t only put the amenity kit and pajamas inside, but also more little stuff. Also positively is the space on the little table on which you can put some stuff or drinks. On the right, respectively left, depending on the seat you have, there is some more space for magazines and newspapers, if not put in the magazine box.
Already before take-off the blanket and two more pillows are on the seat, later on you also receive bedding. The table provides more than enough space expanded or not, so you can make yourself comfortable with notebook or papers. Especially when working this combination of big and small table creates a nice atmosphere and so provides more than enough opportunities to work for business and private travelers. Meanwhile most airlines carry expandable tables, luckily. If you like to dine in pairs there is enough space on the ottoman to sit comfortably.
From a quality point of view cushioning, pillows and sheets make a good impression and are comfortable. Finished off work and eating? Get into bed! Therefore you can simply transform the seat at the push of a button in fully functional bed.
Von der Auswahl der Polsterung, des Stoffes und der bereitliegenden Kissen und Decken macht der Sitz
The friendly stewardesses help you out with warm and fluffy bed blankets and more pillows. I slept like a log and didn’t even need ear plugs, due to the silent cabin. All together British Airways creates a really nice and high-quality seat.
So far the food in business and first class was always good, but one has to admit that other airlines did fairly better. This has changed with the introduction of the new tasting-menus. Already when handing out the menu I was made aware of the new concept. Now there are not only the four main courses, classical British dishes, four starters and several desserts plus cheese of course, but there is an interesting 5 course menu now. Coming with it are wines for every course, but you can stay with other beverages or Champaign for sure. The menu was created in partnership with Europe’s first Grand Hotel, the “Langham London”, and convinces with creativity and an intense taste experience.
Of course I chose the menu, starting with a greeting from the kitchen, followed by lobster with melon and an interesting dressing. Then I got something I never had onboard: the “chicken tea”, a kind of chicken soup with small berries and ginger, which was indescribably good. Then it switched from land to sea. The next course consisted of muscles with a kind of pea mash, asparagus and truffle sauce. So far all dishes were really tasty and convincing, which wasn’t change by the next one. As “main course” we got braised swine paunch and cheek with some vegetables, lemongrass and lime sauce. I travel a lot, but have never seen something like what British Airways created here. Finishing the menu we got some kind of pastry, which reminded me a little of puff paste and was filled with a delicious sauce and garnished with chocolate sauce. What a finisher! I had it with a cup of tea. Unfortunately I was so filled, I couldn’t eat any cheese.
If you become hungry during the meals, British Airways created some small dishes: a selection of pastry and cake, different chocolates, fruit, sandwiches and potato chips.
the amenity kit and more
British Airways also improved the amenity kit and made one for men and one for women. Both the blue one for men as well as the rose-brown like for women carry the “to fly to serve” logo on the front. The extensive selection of cosmetics comes from “Aromatherapie Associates” in London. Men get the common stuff like crème, eye gel or lip balm, shaver and shaving crème, plus tooth brush and paste, comb, socks, eye mask and ear plugs. Women get cleaning gel, lotion, deodorant and much more. The comb comes with a little mirror and tooth brush and paste are identical with the ones for men. I personally prefer the new kits. The old ones were novel and nice, but the fixed form made it a little unpractical. You can also use the small bags for something else.
The pajamas are not blue anymore, but come in a decent grey with the British Airways logo “A380”. They are comfortable, soft, fluffy and nothing criticize about.
Even on long flights it does not become boring. If you’re not busy eating, working or reading, you have the inflight entertainment (IFE). You can watch movies, repots, play games and stuff from your own devices. But it’s like usual: besides the nicely done flight map I use nothing but a movie during dinner. How do you handle it? Do you care about entertainment? The screen size is more than sufficient and can be controlled via touch or remote.
Service and conclusion
Not only because it’s new, but also all together British Airways has made a big step with the new food concept. They made a good product first-class from my point of view and have become an interesting partner when transferring in London Heathrow.
The service was simply great, starting in the lounge, going over to greeting at the gate, being talked to by name and during the flight. You realize the motto “to fly to serve” is not just a slogan, but is seriously lived by.
Not only passengers but also the personnel had serious fun during the flight, which was finished in Los Angeles by the usual fire fighter shower. Unfortunately it was over after 11 hours. In three days I go by the second plane back to London and then Hamburg.
Here are some picture from the tasting-menu on the way back, as it differs from the outward flight. We had red beets, some kind of delicious tomato soup, fish course followed by tasty “Omaha Beef” and a crowning lemon cake in the end. Even after waking up 20 minutes prior to landing in London, I received a small breakfast, which can of course only work out in first class.
All together: thank you very much British Airways for this interesting flights in the last seven days: two times the new 787 and two times the beautiful new A380. Almost 40.000 kilometers, about 38 hours flight time and no minute of regression.