Trip Report: British Airways First Class Airbus A380 London to San Francisco

[Please click above if you prefer to watch a video report.]

This is a trip report of British Airways First Class from London Heathrow to San Francisco on their Airbus A380 on flight BA287

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London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

This report starts in London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. After going through security, it was a quick walk to the British Airways (BA) Concorde Room Lounge. The lounge itself is a good size and features a private dining area with made to order menu items, a full service bar, showers and private cabanas. Access to the Concorde Room is only for passengers flying British Airways First Class. Oneworld Emerald members and Business Class passengers only have access to the First Class lounge across the hall and the Business Class Lounge upstairs respectively.

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The Concorde Room

After a short check-in at the reception desk, the Concorde Dining area was our first stop as we were hungry.  The tables are setup like booths with high partitions, making them feel like your own private dining room.  First we ordered some champagne to start the meal, then ordered the crab cake, and Mozzarella soup for starters, both of which were superb. Then for the mains, we ordered the rib-eye steak and the pan-seared seabass. The steak was cooked medium and came with some steak fries (chips). The meat was tender and flavorful. The seabass was also perfectly cooked, and moist. We skipped on the dessert.

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Mozzarella Soup
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Rib-eye Steak with Fries (chips)
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Crab Cake
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Pan-seared Seabass

We walked around the lounge after the meal and checked out the “outdoor” area which has some very nice views of the tarmac. It was a little too warm outside, so we went back into the lounge and visited the bar. It is a full service bar with top shelf champagne and wines. I ordered the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle (LPGS) champagne (~$120/bottle) which British Airways serves in First Class.

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The outdoor area
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The outdoor area with sweeping views of the tarmac
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The Concorde Room Bar

After a few drinks, we went and asked the desk for a cabana. Sadly, there were no cabanas available during the time we were in the lounge. Instead, we went to the Elemis Travel Spa which is just outside the Concorde Room. The Spa offers complimentary 15 minute spa treatments for all Business Class and First Class passengers. We had pre-booked our treatments beforehand and chose the Men’s aviator Facial. The treatment itself was very nice. They put you on a massage chair during the facial treatment, and “steam” your face with hot and cold steam. It was very relaxing and it cleared my pores…score!

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The Elemis Travel Spa Shaving Chairs
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Elemis Travel Spa

After the treatment, it was almost time to board. We made our way to the C Gates which took about 15 minutes from the lounge. Boarding had already started by the time we arrived at the gate. There was a priority lane for First and Business Class passengers, so we didn’t have to wait long to get through.

Once onboard, we were greeted by the Cabin Service Director, Becca. Then, Evelyn the other flight attendant working First Class, walked us to our seats. The British Airways First Class cabin on the Airbus A380  is on the main deck towards the front of the aircraft. It consists of 14 semi private suites with Lie-Flat Seats. The suites are in a 1-2-1 configuration. The center pair of seats are ideal for couples traveling together. We were seated in seats 2K and 3K, both of which are window seats on the starboard side of the plane. One thing I loved about being on the main deck is that the overhead bins are bigger. My carry on usually does not fit wheels first in the upper deck bins, but fits well with extra room downstairs. I also felt that the ceilings were higher on the main deck.

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Window seats
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Center Seats and huge overhead bins
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The seat, pajamas, amenity kit, and pre-departure beverage

We stowed our belongings and got settled. Waiting at my seat was a Men’s First Class amenity kit, noise cancelling headphones, and a light blanket. Soon David, the flight attendant serving our aisle came by and offered us some pre-departure drinks. I opted for another glass of the Grand Siècle champagne which David brought to my seat shortly. Evelyn also came by and offered us Pajamas. After a few more re-fills, boarding was complete. Becca came by to welcome us onboard. She greeted and thanked each First Class passenger for flying British Airways.

I covered the contents of the British Airways First Class amenity kit in a previous post: Trip Report: British Airways First Class Boeing 747-400 San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR)

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The flight time was scheduled for 10 hours. Pushback soon commenced and the safety video started playing. The taxi to the runway took about 10 minutes. Then we had a quick and powerful takeoff. It never ceases to amaze me how quiet the A380 engines are, even at full power. It was a smooth ascent, as it was a clear day in London.The seatbelt signs were switched off about 8 minutes after takeoff.

Evelyn came by with a hot towel and took my drink order. I continued with the LPGS champagne which she brought with a ramekin of mixed nuts.

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More LPGS champagne and mixed nuts

I then decided to check out the menu. There were 2 meals available available on the flight. The first was the Tasting Menu which is only available on A380 flights. It is a 5 course meal along with wine pairing for each dish. The other meal was the a la carte menu. My companion wanted the Tasting menu, while  I opted for the latter. Soon David came by to take my order. I went with the Cream of wild mushroom Soup for starters. The chicken breast for my entrée, and the Madagascan vanilla ice cream for dessert.

After a few minutes, David was back to set my table. He also brought a Feta Cream Cheese cone Amuse Bouche which was delicious. He asked if I wanted anything else to drink with the meal, which I ordered the Jacquart rosé champagne. He came back a minute later with the drink, and the bread basket.

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Amuse Bouche and Bread

Then he brought the Cream of wild mushroom Soup, which was OK. To be honest, it kind of tasted like canned soup. My soup bowl was soon cleared, before I knew it David was back with my entrée. I know chicken dishes tend to be on the dry side when served in-flight, but this was an exception. It was moist, and the dish was surprisingly delicious. The meal finished with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream and some Baileys. David also came back with a box of chocolate pralines, which I passed on.

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Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
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Chicken Breast with crackling, pickled rhubarb, wilted chard, buttered Jersey royal potatoes, and chicken jus
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Madagascan Vanilla Ice Cream

As I mentioned, my companion went with the Tasting Menu which were brought out in small plates along with their recommended wine pairs. Presentation-wise, the meal was beautiful. And he was also able to taste 4 different types of wines. Unfortunately, my companion mentioned that the taste of the food left much to be desired. <insert sad face>

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The Tasting Menu Course 1: Galantine of corn-fed chicken with beetroot, girolles, gingerbread, and golden raisin puree
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Tasting Course 2: Lobster Consomme with garlic pearls
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Course 3: Roasted lemon infused Halibut, with crab tortellini, and burnt butter emulsion
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Course 4: Fillet of British Lamb in filo roll with pulled lamb stuffed potato fondant, piquillo peppers, courgette, and tomato jus
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Dessert: Chocolate Hazelnut Cylinder

After the meal, I decided to visit the lavatory to freshen up and change into my pajamas. The 2 First Class lavatories are on the front of the First Class cabin (by the stairs). They are on the smaller side compared to the 2 huge lavatories in the front of the upper deck in Club World (Business Class). They featured Aromatherapy and Associates toiletries, cloth hand towels, and a changing bench.

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Stairs up to the upper deck

Upon returning to my seat, I placed my clothes in the wardrobe closet at the side of my suite.Then, I sat down fiddled with the different features of the seat for a bit. The High Life Entertainment IFE system in First Class consists of a 15.4 swing out touchscreen monitor, and a wired remote. The system was responsive and offered very good selection of new and classic movies, as well as TV shows, and various games. Not to mention, I loved the moving map application as you can zoom in and out and change the views. To the right of my seat is a storage compartment which also houses 2 USB ports and an AC Power Outlet. Right next to the compartment, is the panel to control the seat and electronic window shades. I really do not like that they used a knob to control the seat recline. I would have been happier with separate buttons to control the recline, foot rest, etc. The electronic window shades were fun to operate, although I thought the shades on BA’s First Class cabin on the 747 were more stylish had more “wow” factor. There is a reading lamp that has a dimmer that you can adjust. The foot rest has a seatbelt and it can be used as a guest seat. Its height can also be adjusted.

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Wardrobe Closet
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Storage Compartment
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IFE Monitor
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Motorized Window Shades

I was getting tired, so I asked David to make my bed, which he obliged. The bed was very comfortable, and I slept for about 5 hours.

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Turndown Service

About 1.5 hours before arrival, the second meal service started. I ordered some fruits to start, then the Poached Brown Egg, with Asparagus and Truffle Sauce, then lastly a chicken sandwich for my main meal. David quickly set my table and I ordered some orange juice and water. My companion ordered the same, except he wanted the salad with Scallops for his main.

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Poached Egg with Asparagus
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Mixed Fruits

David brought out the mixed fruits first, which were delicious. Then the poached egg appetizer was brought. I was a little disappointed with this dish as I expected the yolk to be soft and runny. The dish arrived cold and the yolk was dry and chalky. My plate was then cleared, and soon David came back with the hot chicken sandwich. The dish was OK, but certainly not what you would expect in First Class.

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Salad with Scallops

Soon enough, it was almost time to land. David came by to thank me for flying British Airways. Landing was smooth and uneventful. Taxi to the gate took less than 5 minutes and soon we were disembarking. Thanks to Global Entry, we were outside in less than 5 minutes.

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The A380 that brought us home

An overall pleasant flight on British Airways. The Concorde Room at London Heathrow Airport was a nice change to the usual British Airways Galleries First Class lounge that we are familiar with. The private dining experience was excellent and the food, delicious. The bar was nothing to write home about, except for the top shelf alcohol that they serve. As for the flight, I thought the First Class Seats on the A380 were comfortable. It was probably the highlight of the flight. That being said, I still prefer the seats on Cathay Pacific First Class on their 777-300ER. Service was friendly, fast, and efficient. Although, I had to ask David to make my bed, unlike Cathay Pacific’s First Class service where they are proactive enough to anticipate your needs. The food was good, but I found it to be a few notches below Asian and Middle Eastern carriers in terms of presentation and taste. I would give this flight a good 8 out of 10.

 

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