Luxury Travel: Flying First Class on British Airways

This is going to be a bit of a departure (pun intended) from my usual posts on the blog, but recently on a flight back from the US, we splurged and decided to give First Class on a British Airways long haul flight a try. I wasn’t even aware until my partner booked it, but he’s always looking at prices, and apparently he found the cheapest price (although not that cheap) for a First Class leg than he had seen on any other flights we’ve taken (and we take about one a year as it’s nice to visit our American friends and family when we can). It seemed like such a once in a lifetime experience (as who knows if we’ll ever do it again) that I decided to throw it up on the blog for everyone to try to get a bit of a luxury experience in the First Class section (on a Boeing 747).

Flying First Class starts out by getting priority check-in with your bags being tagged with priority retrieval on the other end. What does that mean? It means that when you arrive, the first bags on the carousel are the crew bags, followed by the priority bags. If you can get quickly through immigration (we did, hardly any lines!) then you get your bags and out in an insanely fast amount of time. So fast that we beat the car we hired (we usually get the train, but apparently since we went First, a car was necessary).

Then it’s heading to the lounge. In Seattle, the first class lounge is a small room of about twenty seats with a selection of snacks and drinks. They do have table service and a menu, so you can decide what you want. We had Champagne, because, well nothing says luxury more than that. The selection of snacks in Seattle were about four sandwiches, crudite (because that sounds way better than veggies, right?), cheese (and way better than the standard lounge), biscuits, nuts and fruits. It’s a pretty good spread, but you want to be careful about eating too much because there’s a good amount of food on board as well.

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Lounge snacks!

Once you get on board, you are walked to your seat. How classy is that? The seats are pretty over the top with a pretty good sized seat and a great foot rest available at the end. And it’s adjustable. Oh and the food rest doubles as a visitor seat in case you want someone hanging out with you in your seat. In case you need to play some sort of board game on the plane of course. (I mean who would actually do that? It’s not like I travel with a few in my backpack or anything.) There’s also a massive shelf next to you where you can charge your phone, place a book or kindle, or a bottle of water. Or whatever you want really. They also offer you a drink when you get on board, and I had even more Champagne (which they kept topping up) and some water. If you’re in the center, there’s also a nice window available so you can see your flying partner (if you have one).

We had a bit of a delay taking off, so we were kept well hydrated by many, many pours of Champagne. Nothing wrong with that really. The flight attendants are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and they really do make you feel like you’re in some sort of fine dining restaurant. They ask you what you want to drink when you get into the air, and there is a plethora of wine and harder alcohol to choose from (I opted for the Rose Champagne). They also give you a goodie bag full of all sorts of travel stuff! The toothbrush and toothpaste came in handy before sleeping, but there’s also lots of lotions, a hair brush, deodorant, sleep mask, earplugs and other things you may need to use while flying. If they have them in your size, they’ll also given you a set of pajamas to sleep in. There’s also a dial adjuster to adjust your seat, so you can choose whatever level you think you need. (We may have overadjusted and ended up leaning too far forward. FUN with seats!)

After takeoff, I was brought the Rose Champagne I asked for plus a dish of warm nuts. WARM FREAKING NUTS! It’s like they know me. I flipped through the movie selection, and I decided to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. (I must interject here that I’m of the mindset that the only movies to be watched on a plane are light-hearted ridiculous films. Rom-coms are usually a top pick for me as they are no-brainers and worth watching on a very tiny screen). It was also time to choose my meal, and I have to say that everything sounded amazing. I kind of went a bit off things I would normally order and went for the corn veloute, the chicken and the cherry crisp. Followed by cheese of course.

When the food is ready, they come out and make your table for you. It’s a pretty massive table actually (small board game appropriate). They’ll also keep filling you up with wine the whole time, and they don’t seem to care if you change your mind on what you want (there are about three reds, three whites, three Champagnes and two dessert wines, so you have a huge selection in front of you). I only had one white and red, but my partner decided he needed to try them all, as he’s a massive wine fan. How was the food? I mean it’s way better than most airplane food, quite similar to being in business class, but on some level it’s still airplane food. The veloute was pretty tasty, but needed a bit of salt. The chicken was a bit dry, but the sauce had a nice flavor. The crisp was okay, but there was a nice selection of cheese. I mean, I’m being a bit nitpicky, because you can’t really expect much from airplane food, can you?

My husband went with maybe what would have been standard choices for me at a restaurant, and I tried bits of his meal, and I think he made better choices. He went with the crab, the beef and the chocolate and orange tart.

After dinner, they will make up your seat into a bed for you. My partner went to sleep quite quickly, but I decided to watch the rest of my film. They also gave me a chocolate or two at the end of the meal (there was a selection, but it looked like the salted caramel was the most popular, but both the lemon and the passionfruit chocolates I had were great).

I have to say that I slept very well on the plane. It’s nice to be able to do that on the overnight flights from the United States as the jet lag isn’t nearly as bad as it is when you don’t. However, you do miss out on five+ hours of great service and wine, so it’s definitely a bit of a dilemma between sleeping and staying awake. Sleep definitely won out in the end. When you awake, you’ve got a great breakfast selection available to you including a full English if that’s your thing. I went for the banana pancakes because I was still quite stuff from the night before but I did have a nibble of the frittata. The pancakes were pretty good actually. I got to enjoy them while watching the first episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (which is now added to my Netflix queue because it’s amazing).

When we landed, we got off the plane first! YAY! Although the walkway broke down so they had to unload the plane by stair, so that was going to make the rest of unboarding fun. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with that. We also made it so quickly to the trams back to the main terminal that they were practically empty. I don’t think I’ve ever been on an empty tram. Immigration wasn’t too bad either, although I couldn’t get the automatic gates to work for me this time. Whoops. Then quick bags as mentioned before, and it was off home.

So was it worth it? It’s hard to say. It was an amazing experience with great wine and pretty decent food. My partner says he also slept better than any other time on an airplane. It is very expensive for a flight though, so it’s hard to say if it’s worth justifying the price. But it was definitely worth doing for the experience, and I’m glad I can say I’ve done it, even if it’s the first and last time I do. Thanks to British Airways for a great and memorable experience!

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