From the lazy bubbles slowly rising through the glass of Grand Siècle to the tranquil, mood-lit cabin, every element of British Airways First Class oozes elegance with subtle hints of quintessential Britishness. It’s easy to forget you’re soaring through the skies at 30,000ft when you are enclosed in your own luxurious cocoon, where anything is just a button-press away.
I’ve travelled British Airways First Class a few times now, but I’ve always wanted to travel First in a Boeing 747, the queen of the skies. Even though British Airways has the largest fleet of 747s, their retirement is imminent. Within the next 5 years the whole fleet will be retired and replaced with more economical twin-jets such as the 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. One of my goals was to fly British Airways First Class on a 747 before they were retired. So I booked a trip to New York, travelling out in First on a 747, and returning on the iconic British Airways Club World London City service.
British Airways First Class to New York JFK
New First Wing in Terminal 5
It had been a while since I last departed from Heathrow T5 in British Airways First Class, so this was my first opportunity to sample the new British Airways First Wing. Upon arrival I was welcomed by a new, refreshed First Class check-in area with a fantastic brand new feature, a private security channel which takes you directly into the First Class lounge. This means that you no longer need to enter the Concorde room through the millionaires’ door, however you can still depart the Concorde room through millionaires’ door when it is time to board your flight.
When I arrived at the First check-in area there was hardly anyone around so I didn’t have to queue at all for security, I was straight through and I was in the First Galleries Lounge within minutes. From there, I passed through the lounge complex and into the Concorde Room. The reason the new security channel takes you into the Galleries First lounge instead of the Concorde Room is because Gold Executive Club members can also use the First Wing and also have access to the First lounge. Only Concorde Room Card holders and passengers travelling in First can use the Concorde Room.
A New Look for the Concorde Room
It has been a couple of years since my last visit to Heathrow’s prestigious Concorde Room and since my last visit the Concorde Room has also had a makeover. Even though the makeover mainly consists of soft furnishings, they have managed to make great use of the space and create some fantastic new areas to relax.
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
The terrace had been completely transformed, and now includes a mix of semi-private seating areas in the style of beach cabanas which have a mix of lounge chairs and sofas, with fabric drapes separating them from the rest of the terrace. The terrace also has a row of day beds where you can lay back, put your feet up and look out to the terminal below, or out over the airport through the panoramic floor to ceiling windows which surround Terminal 5.
The indoor seating areas have also been refreshed with some high tables between the bar and the formal dining area, with lounge chairs filling the remainder of the space for relaxation. The formal dining room has remained untouched. In my opinion this was a bonus as it was one element of the lounge which works really well and I love the stylish dining booths.
There are still private rest rooms which include a private bathroom (Cabanas as British Airways call them) and which are perfect if you have a longer stop over. There was one change that had left me slightly upset, this was the removal of the actual Concorde seats from the business centre. I always thought this was a nice touch and I’m not sure what the rationale was to remove them?
For anyone wanting to take advantage of the Elemis Spa in Terminal 5 I would suggest contacting the spa through ‘You First’ as soon as possible to book a treatment. I did contact them, but obviously not soon enough as there were no appointments available to pre-book. I took a chance and asked upon arrival and did manage to get a massage appointment about 90 minutes before my flight.
British Airways First Class To New York
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
When time came to board the flight I decided not to rush to the gate and opted to stay in the Concorde Room a bit longer. I headed down to the gate about 30 minutes before departure, and when I arrived at the gate boarding was well underway, so I just joined the priority lane and boarded shortly after. When I approached the cabin door, I was greeted by name and shown to my seat and offered some champagne. Despite having many drinks in the Concorde room I didn’t refuse another glass of Grand Siècle.
As my departure time was 6pm I opted to have dinner soon after take off, because even though I ate in the Concorde Dining Room upon arrival, by this time I was quite hungry again. I enjoyed a delicious five course meal consisting of:
- Beef slice with apple cream and pickled vegetables
- Seared fresh tuna tatami on dressed wakame salad with jalapeño, ginger and coriander
- Grilled fillet of beef, homemade potato gnocchi with parmesan cream and sautéed wild mushrooms
- Warm almond and white chocolate soufflé with caramel sauce
- Cheese selection comprising of Chevington, Shropshire Blue and Applewood Cheddar
All washed down with generous amount of wine, champagne and port. After I had finished my meal I had around 5 hours until landing, so I decided to watch a film, however I don’t think I got 15 minutes into the film before falling asleep. I woke up with just 40 minutes to go before landing at JFK.
Arrival into New York’s JFK Airport
Upon arrival at JFK we disembarked through door two. There was a small Club World cabin located directly behind the First cabin which disembarked before the First passengers while everyone behind the door was held until the First class cabin had disembarked. Despite horror stories of New York’s immigration it was a complete breeze and I was through to baggage reclaim almost straight away. My luggage however did take a quite while to come through. There were many bags already on the belt when I arrived, but the majority were not Club World or First Priority tagged which is something I am finding time and time again. Does any airport actually prioritise the priority baggage?
Despite sleeping for around half of the flight, I still had an amazing experience and I’m pleased to say that I have have now managed to fly British Airways First class in a Boeing 747 before its retirement. Who knows, I may get to enjoy this experience again before they are all gone!