Flight: British Airways BA117
Departure airport: London Heathrow (LHR)
Arrival airport: New York JFK (JFK)
Date: 24th December 2016
I have not flown Boeing 747s in ages and it was nice that my flight to New York was on this Queen of The Sky. I was looking forward to it since the day I bought the ticket in November. British Airways ran a Black Friday Sale in late November and I snapped up the ticket plus accommodation in Hyatt Grand Central for about £1600 return. Normal price for First Class ticket for that time of the year over Christmas (the last time I checked) was nearly £11 000! I thought that was a bargain considering the flight was from Jersey (via LGW/LHR) and included accommodations for 2 nights in central Manhattan and 1 night in Sofitel LHR Terminal 5. Most importantly, the trip gave me 500 Tier Points with British Airways and nearly 35 000 Avios points!
Check In: I arrived at the First Class check-in desk at about 7am after checking out from Sofitel Hotel Terminal 5 (I will review this later). The check-in was straight forward and the lady behind the desk was really pleasant and asked me if I was familiar with the Concorde Lounge at Terminal 5. I made my way through security and the process took me about 5 mins in total. I turned left after the security into the Concorde Lounge.
Boarding: After spending about an hour at the lounge, I made my way to the gate at Satellite Terminal 5C. I took the Airtrain from the Main Terminal 5 to the Terminal 5C and the journey was very smooth. The staff at the gate checked my documents and I made my way to the aircraft. At this point, I was full of excitement since the last time I was in a 747 was nearly 2 years ago. The stewardess at the door of the aircraft greeted me with a smile and addressed me by name. She showed me to my seat, which was in 4K and asked if I want her to hang my coat. I duly complied and make myself comfortable in my seat. she offered me a glass of OJ and also provided me with a pair of pyjamas & a bag of amenity kit.
Seat: The seats in BA 747 First Class are in the nose section of the aircraft. There are 14 seats cramped into the First Class section. Although my seat (4K) was comfortable enough, it was not the best first class seat I have seen on the market in terms of size and dimensions. Some people might say it could be ‘business class seats disguised as first’. The Middle Eastern 3 airlines have the most competitive products in the business. Having said that, BA First Class seats just ooze with ‘Britishness’ and ‘Class’ with an impeccable service to match. I love the blinds and the quilted seats. The seat control panel was really stylish and the side lamp looked so tasteful yet so practical. Everything you see (and feel) around the seat is so elegant and that what makes British Airways First Class so special.
The Flight: The journey from LHR to JFK was about 8 hours. The stewardess took my food order as soon as we were at cruising altitude. I was still full from breakfast at the Concorde Lounge, so I decided to have a Beef Steak Ciabatta with a pot of tea. I watched a couple of movies and managed to catch 40 winks. I woke up few hours later and the stewardess asked me if I want an afternoon tea. Obviously, I can’t say no to that and I was looking forward to have an afternoon tea on BA First. The afternoon tea consisted of a selection of finger sandwiches, a selection of mini cakes, scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream. You can’t go wrong with an afternoon tea on British Airways. The rest of the flight journey was unremarkable.
Arrival: I arrived at JFK Terminal 7 at around 1120hr. Immigration was such a breeze because we were first in the queue, just before another flight landed from Hong Kong. Since I didn’t have any luggage to wait at the baggage carousel, I went straight out of the terminal and got into the yellow taxi to Manhattan.
Verdict: Don’t get me wrong, I love British Airways First Class products and service. I think they have an excellent level of attentiveness and an exceptional service to match. Everything about BA First Class is about Britishness (and quality), from the design aesthetics to the construction of the menu. But there are a lot of competition our there and BA needs to up their game if they want to be on the top again. I think they should use fully the concept of ‘Britishness’ to their advantage and use this to attract customers especially from the Far East. Anyway, British Airways IS the pinnacle of Britishness and it is, in a way, part of the British institution.