British Airways 108
Dubai (DXB) – London-Heathrow (LHR)
23 August 2015
I was really excited to fly British Airways First Class, so much that I could barely sleep the night before the flight. At just 40k American Airlines miles and ~$250 USD in taxes/fees and fuel surcharges, I think that this is an amazing mileage redemption.. especially for a seven hour flight in BA First Class. I mean if I wanted to fly from the UK to the East Coast in the U.S. in BA First Class (about seven hours), it would cost 62.5k AA miles.. so this redemption was definitely a steal. Have I mentioned that I love miles, yet?
I used to fly British Airways a lot back in the day (meaning when I was 12, since I’m 20 now), however since I’ve switched to the Star Alliance, I haven’t flown them in ages and I really wanted to fly BA again, so this was another great opportunity. I’m actually thinking of flying more with oneworld and perhaps attaining elite status with (most likely) BA.
Boarding was called about thirty minutes before departure starting with First, Club World, and Executive Club Gold members. British Airways has 14 open suites in their First Class on most long-haul aircraft they fly, there are four window suites on each side and then three rows of two seats each in the centre. Each suite provides a very good level of privacy and comfort.
When I looked at the seat map the day before the flight, there were just two other people in addition to me that had booked First Class (as shown in the picture). I was in 3A and the other two people in the centre seats in row 2. However just before departure, a mum and two daughters were ‘upgraded’ and they took seats in row 1. The cabin was still private and perhaps I had the greatest level of privacy since I was near the back where no one else was, it was just odd to see that last minute upgrade since the seat map was showing 3 seats occupied until literally five minutes before departure.
Initially all of the window shades were closed during boarding (since it was super hot outside) and that made the cabin a bit dark. The whole First Class cabin feels a bit like a (bigger) private jet due to the privacy of each suite and the fact that the window shades are automated (each suite has two windows). The cabin is a bit tight since there are 14 seats and besides the seats, there isn’t anything else ‘special’ to the First Class cabin (like a bar or some sort of First Class indication/flower). The dividers between the suites are very high up and therefore privacy is excellent.
If you are travelling together in the centre seats, you can easily open the divider.
Like I said, the window shades are super cool and have the ‘private jet’ look.
Each suite is very spacious and while there isn’t any place to store bags for take-off and landing at the seat, the overhead bins are very large and I was able to fit my carry-on bag and laptop bag just fine. The suites are quite spacious and two people can actually dine together in one suite since there is a second seatbelt on the footrest. There is plenty of space to stow smaller belongings during the flight, I was able to place and charge my laptop and additional items near to footrest. The IFE screen is a ‘pop-out’ and therefore the FAs open it for the safety video and then stow if for take-off.
After taking a lot of photos, the lead First Class FA asked what I would like to drink before we leave Dubai, I ordered some Champagne. British Airways serves a few champagnes in First Class, but their main one is Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle which retails for ~$150 USD per bottle, it was excellent.
The second First Class FA brought me an amenity kit, pyjamas, and slippers. She also later offered me some Arabic coffee and dates, both of which were very tasty. I knew it was going to be an awesome flight, both of the FAs were super attentive, professional, and most importantly, very friendly!
The seat controls are located under the light, the large dial is used for adjusting the seat position and the other buttons adjust individual areas on the seat. The top buttons are for the lights.
Above the seat controls, is the IFE remote control.
And next to that is the window shade control and headphone port.
After I drank the champagne and coffee, the captain made an announcement saying that they were just closing the last cargo door and we should be on our way shortly; he also told us we would arrive ahead of schedule (“she-jewl”) in London. About five minutes later, we pushed back and taxied to the runway and were number three for take-off. Weather in Dubai was excellent and therefore we were presented with some beautiful views of Dubai on the left side.
Once we were above the clouds, I decided to explore around my seat a bit. Some of the catalogues included in First Class are the high life magazine, shop on board, First Life, the safety card, and an information card about the First Class seat and how to use all of the controls.
Each suite features a closet with a hanger and space to store your shoes.
Once the seatbelt sign was turned off, I quickly changed into my pyjamas before the meal service began.
The amenity kit contained literally everything you could want for a flight in First Class, it was stocked with a hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eye mask, a pen, earplugs, shaving razor, lotions, and creams. The amenity kit was named the Ultimate Travel Collection.
The First Class lavatory was nothing special, it contained a single flower and nothing else to make it stand out.. definitely not the best First Class lavatory!
After I was comfortably seated in my pyjamas, the main FA asked me what I would like to drink and if I would like to have lunch. To start, I asked for some tea and champagne. The champagne was poured at my seat and provided with some nuts. The tea was brought to me with some milk, sugar, and biscuits. The mixed nuts were excellent and even included the sweet nuts (I don’t know the name).
Ever since this flight, I have been adding some milk into my tea… it just tastes SO much better than your average tea, so thank you BA for enhancing my tea standards! A menu was distributed to each first class passenger while we were still on the ground, though I didn’t have a chance to look at it yet due to the excitement of flying a new (for me) First Class product.
After a few minutes, the FA asked me what I would like from each category on the menu. She informed me I could try two starters, a main course, and then dessert. I told her what I’d like to try and she thanked me and said “Well, we’ll get cooking then!” She was awesome and talked quite a bit with me throughout the flight.
I decided to turn on the airshow so that I could look at the map as I was eating. After some moments, the other FA appeared and set my table. She presented me with butter, bread, water, salt/pepper, and an amuse bouche which was tuna.
The tuna amuse bouche was simple yet delicious.
The lunch menu began with starters, which was two choices from the following:
- Lamb with orange fennel salad and harissa
- Traditional Arabic meze with marinated artichoke, grilled asparagus tips, spring onions, semi-dried tomatoes and tahini sauce
- Butternut squash soup with crème fraîche and chives
- Fresh salad leaves with your choice of sumac olive oil dressing or horseradish cream dressing
I decided to try the soup and salad, both of which were mouthwatering; I had the salad with the olive oil dressing, which made it extra tasty. Finally a simple-worded menu with items that I can understand what they are! (yes I’m looking at you, Lufthansa).
As I was eating my starters, the captain came by the cabin and shook my hand and asked if I was on holiday in Dubai. I chatted with him a bit and told him I was, he told me he was happy to have me on the flight and wished me a pleasant one. He was very friendly and genuinely cared about the passengers.
Lunch was done at an awesome pace – the soup was presented to me and shortly after, the salad, however there was a pause between the starters and the main course, I really liked this as I could ‘prepare’ for the main meal. The choice of main courses was:
- Grilled tenderloin of beef with horseradish butter, sautéed courgette, baby carrots and potatoes au gratin
- Baked Nile perch sayadieh with loubieh bil zeit and roasted pine seeds
- Apricot butter-filled breast of chicken with jus, sautéed broccoli rabe, vine cherry tomatoes and Parmesan polenta
- Arabic meze of mutabbal, hummus, aubergine bil zeit, labneh, warm cheese sambousik, kibbeh al rahib and pita bread
I hadn’t eaten chicken in a long time and therefore thought that would be an excellent choice. The chicken was simply delicious and filled with apricot butter, the potatoes and vegetables that came with it were equally tasty.
I finished the main course in about fifteen minutes and decided to relax a bit before consuming my dessert. There was a bistro selection, after the main course, that consisted of:
- Cheese tortellini with creamy morel mushroom sauce, sautéed chanterelles and Parmesan
- Beef brisket with grain mustard and gherkins on warm sourdough bread
- A selection of biscuits
- A selection of cheese and fruit
At this point I was already feeling quite full after the lunch and so I skipped the bistro selection and went directly for the dessert, which was a choice from two items:
- A selection of French pastries including raspberry chiffon, mango mousse and strawberry tart
- Warm chocolate tart with raspberry sorbet
The chocolate tart and sorbet were both delicious and an excellent ending to the meal. Overall, I’m impressed with the food in BA First, all of it was delicious and freshly prepared.
There was a cheese plate after dessert that I skipped since I was already feeling very full and I wouldn’t be able to consume more. Once my table was cleared, I asked the FA for the turndown service and she happily made my bed for me and wished me a pleasant rest. She firstly placed a comfortable mattress on the seat and later a large pillow with a thick blanket.
We were about two hours into the flight and I was feeling a bit tired since I woke up early. I was able to sleep for about four hours and woke up about 90 minutes before landing, feeling hungry.
After waking up, I decided I wanted to have British Airways’ Afternoon Tea, which is their pre-arrival snack. I went to the forward galley and found the FA and pilot chatting and asked if there was any snack prior to landing and she happily informed me she would serve me Afternoon Tea. While I used the lavatory, she set up my table and presented me with more tea and four sandwiches.
The choices of tea were:
- The Full English – English Breakfast
- Thoroughly Minted – Peppermint Infusion
- Pure Camomile Infusion
- Elderflower and Blossom Darjeeling
- Apple and Elderflower Green Tea
- Superfruity – Red Fruit Infusion
Elderflower tea? I’m surprised Lufthansa doesn’t have that since they love serving everything with Elderflower! I went with the English breakfast tea, which was excellent. The four sandwiches were:
- Cream cheese and cucumber
- Prawn salad
- Chicken tikka
- Chicken and egg
All sandwiches were delicious, the bread of the sandwiches wasn’t the best, but the ‘insides’ made up for that.
After the sandwiches were consumed, the FA presented me with some scones and desserts (and more tea!)
- Mixed berry tart
- Green tea chocolate cake
- Chocolate éclair
- Plain or lemon scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves
The scones and dessert items were tasty and created an excellent finish to my British Airways First Class meal experience. To finish everything off, I ordered some apple juice since I was already tired of all of the tea.
Shortly after I had consumed everything, the pilot informed us we began our initial descend into London and thanked us for travelling with British Airways. I played around with the IFE as we were descending but from what I could see, the IFE selection wasn’t the best.
About ten minutes before landing we were informed to stow our screens as were now in the final descend phase of the flight.
We were on the ground ahead of schedule and I had three hours before my connecting flight to Kraków. I thanked the captain for a safe flight as I left the cabin, I also thanked the FAs for the amazing service in First Class and they were very happy that I enjoyed every aspect of the service.
To sum it up, it was an awesome flight in British Airways First Class. Flying First Class for the first time on different airlines is always a special feeling as you’ll always remember the flight as either very memorable or horrible. The service, food, flight, everything was great and I’m glad I got to redeem miles for another great flight. Everything was beyond my expectations and I’m really looking forward to flying British Airways in the future!