Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Trip Report: British Airways First Class London Heathrow to New York Kennedy LHR-JFK

This trip was JFK – LHR in business and then LHR – JFK in First. This itinerary cost us 65,000 Avios + $1150 per person, round trip. I used our last Travel Together certificate to halve the number of miles from 130,000. (How I did it)

I'm glad BA hasn't retired their 747s just yet. I love the overnight flight in the 747's upstairs Business Class where it's calm and private. For me, it's only really worth it to fly First on a daytime flight when you can actually enjoy the nicer service.

I took this leg in First back in 2014 and my full trip report is over here. The 747 cabin, the Concorde Room lounge, and overall experience haven't changed much since then, so I'll just make a few notes... 

The Good


The staff
in First are still friendly, personable, and go out of their way to help you when you have a special request. 

The espresso machine was working. (I say this because I've noticed that onboard espresso machines are often "broken", but I think that's more likely when you order something complicated. I usually say "could I get a double espresso" to cut that worry off at the start).
and an espresso to help me power through until East Coast bedtime


Great pajamas. As my 2014 flight was my first modern international First Class flight, I completely took these pajamas for granted. I've since flown Korean Air in First and I look like a hospital patient in theirs. JAL only gives you the top half of the pajamas. ANA's are decent but I still prefer these. Yes I know these are #FirstWorldProblems but I'm keeping these and using them again!
My favorite sky pajamas


Access to the Concorde room. I love the quasi-outdoor viewing area and general calm nature of the Concorde Room. All food and bev must be ordered from a staff member and they're still pretty slow both on taking your order and bringing it to you. Our very late connecting flight from Edinburgh meant we got to spend all of 20 minutes here.
Love the planespotting from the Concorde Room


Dining table. As I raved about in my previous review, the staff offer to set your seats up so you can dine together. This time around we did it just for the dessert course since our window seats didn't leave a ton of room for our big shoulders. We'd booked the two center seats months ago but unfortunately Kelly's passport expired in the interim and that somehow kicked him out of his seat. We didn't notice this until it was too late.
Table for two…

Free seat booking. BA makes you pay to pick your seat in Business Class – even full fare Business Class. That's right, you pay $4000 and you don't get to pick for free until 24 hours before departure. But in First you can pick your own seat. So generous!


The Bad

With Low Cost Carriers competing with them on both short- and long-haul routes, they've started penny pinching with food and beverage.

Amuse bouche is gone from the First Class meal.

No more Bollinger. Honestly the sparkling Rosé they're serving instead is lovely. It's just my ridiculous love of AbFab that makes me feel vastly more glamorous when I'm having "Bolli, sweetie". But they do seem to have gone a full shelf lower in the airplane wine shop. I mean, I love Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, but that's a $20 bottle of red being served in First.

no more Bolli… and those nuts are your amuse bouche now. 

BA still does a poor job of properly announcing the boarding process so mass confusion reigned when our departure got delayed. There's a digital sign showing the status, but it's not visible to half of the people waiting.

Tips

Book the center seats if you're flying as a couple. You can't see out your windows anyway, so why not dine together or at least be able to chat through the center partition? The BA (desktop) website is a bit confusing in that you have to click up top and select the passenger first BEFORE you click on the seat assignment. (For like 5 minutes I thought they had some Flash or Javascript bug...)

Allow plenty of time to get from the Concorde Room to the gate. "Terminal 5" is actually 3 terminals connected by a train, so it can take 15 minutes to go from one end to the other. 

While they discourage it, you can actually order drinks at the Concorde Room bar. Grab a gin and tonic, find a seat, and then wait for the server to eventually show up. 

Heathrow Express has a mobile app now with discounted tickets available to new customers (you have to create a login to get the discount). There's also a slower, cheaper Heathrow Connect as well as the London Underground, just know that it can be a bit tricky coming to or from Terminal 5. 


Wine list (click to enlarge)
Menu (click to enlarge)

controls, plugs and cute reading light

all the legroom and an innovative window mechanism

Entertainment screen


Appetizer

Herefordshire beef

Dr. K joined me at my seat for the cheese course

...but he opted for the pudding

FA made up my bed for a little rest after dinner


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Mood-lit cabin

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