Many people from around the world often write to me or visit my site wondering about the services that British Airways and other first class airlines offer. I have put together a few critiques and comments regarding the experiences I have had. I am not an expert on airlines by any stretch of the imagination, however I have been fortunate to sit at the very front of the aircraft ahead of business class and enjoy life’s finer pleasures. My thoughts below form part of my travel experiences and provide perspective on the glorious age of 21st century travel.
The experience while seated in the nose of a 747 on board British Airways FIRST.
Seat 1A is considered the prestige seat and is often only available for Executive Gold cardholders or A-list celebrities travelling in First Class, however if they are not reserved in advance, these seats can become available a few days before your departure date. You will be seated in the nose section of the 747-400 and the angle of the windows make takeoff interesting, as you can see clearly out of the adjacent windows in seat 1K across from you. I prefer this seat to the others on the 747 as you have the closet beside you and it becomes a great place to put your carryon luggage. No one else on board the flight used the closet except for myself and the person in 1K. Being in the nose of the aircraft and not having anyone in front of you also makes this seat feel very secluded and private. With the window blinds closed, you would be excused for thinking you were on your own private jet.
The service onboard British Airways First Class is outstanding as always. On my flight today I flew Heathrow to Toronto and enjoyed the Concorde Room in Terminal 5 before departure. After boarding a pair of pajamas is provided along with slippers, should you need to change into something more comfortable. A glass of champagne is also offered while you are settling into your seat. Once again BA is providing Laurent Perrier Grande Siècle as the champagne of choice for this cabin. This is a fantastic champagne with subtle notes of biscuit, cream and almonds with a dash of baked brioche on your palate.
The dinner service is “on demand” at any point through the flight, so I chose to dine a little later, after all the other passengers were taken care of. It’s sometimes nice to be the center of attention for a 5-course meal. I ordered a martini after take off and what arrived was an excellent preparation complete with olives, however the glass was huge. I would say they had given me the equivalent of two martinis in one pour. I managed a few sips before taking a break with water, as it is always advisable to be able to walk off the aircraft on the other side. A small dish of warm mixed nuts was also provided after take off, which was a replication of the service on American Airlines First Class. A note on water: I strongly recommend that the finer wines and champagnes are sampled (even in small servings) as they are quite individual and unique. The importance of drinking plenty of water in between your wine sampling cannot be underestimated as cabin pressure and alcohol do not mix well. As this is First Class a little indulgence is of course acceptable, however all good things in life should be approached with moderation.
The amuse bouche was a burst of fresh flavor and the tangy goats cheese put my appetite in full swing.
The soup was a light cream soup of cauliflower infused with Indian spices and coriander. It was served at the perfect temperature and the velvety texture of the cream, followed with the occasional light crunch of a small bit of cauliflower, made this a great dish. The infused Indian spices lingered after each bite and made this soup a wonderful symphony of flavour. I have always found that the soups on board British Airways First Class to be outstanding and recommend that they are tried at least once.
The salad was cool and very crisp as if it had been prepared fresh, in a country kitchen. Several different dressings are offered and this time I elected a French vinaigrette, which was light and simple yet full of flavour. The salad is presented in a small bowl, so it makes having a full five course meal easier to manage.
The main course of steamed sea trout with orange and tarragon butter sauce – mashed potatoes – glazed carrots and asparagus, was a knockout blow of perfection.
I wonder if it is actually steamed fresh onboard, as I could not believe the texture of this dish. Each bite was light and fluffy and I would swear that this little fish was swimming only an hour before it reached my plate. It is that good! The Scottish producer Loch Fyne provides the seafood course on British Airways and I believe they fly the fish into Heathrow every day for preparation. Loch Fyne seafood is only available for flights departing from Heathrow airport to maintain freshness and quality. BA will not serve this product from any other destination. The orange and tarragon butter sauce accompanying the trout was extraordinary in nuance and flavour. The vegetables were crisp and cooked to perfection. I will say that this was the best dish I have ever consumed at 35000 feet and take my hat off to British Airways for their preparation and execution of this item. Seafood at this altitude is not an easy achievement for any airline and BA get 10 out of 10.
The cheeses have not changed since my last experience on board BA, which is something I am pleased with, as the selection is very good. Cheeses such as Reblochon, Blacksticks Blue, Quikes Farmhouse Cheddar and Melusine were presented with a full assortment of crackers as well as grapes.
For dessert I chose the dark chocolate fondant with cherry compote and orange custard. This unfortunately came across dry and overcooked. The interior, which should be a warm liquid chocolate, was firm and congealed. The exterior was slightly dry. Unfortunately this particular dish did not impress and could have been executed better. I will say that the sauce provided was adequately nice.
Overall the meal was extraordinary despite the slight mishap with the dessert, however I am being overly picky in my critique. I believe that BA should be commended for providing a very elegant service that is worthy of the highest classes of British aristocracy in the finest restaurants.
I was not particular hungry before landing considering the large meal I had consumed earlier, however I chose to have a nice cup of tea before wheels down. What followed was a brief English tea service so that I may taste the various items available. The Dorchester hotel in London inspires the tea service on board British Airways First Class. I only sampled the various sandwiches, cakes and scones briefly.
The tea is very good and served in a cute little pot at your table. The various sandwiches are cool and very fresh. The selections of tiny sandwiches were Wiltshire ham with grain mustard, asparagus and radish with cream cheese, ploughman’s cheddar with caramelized red onions and Loch Fyne smoked salmon tartare with wasabi mayonnaise. Scones with clotted cream are provided along with an opera cake, vanilla Madeleine as well as a passion-fruit and raspberry tower.
I had the turn down service during the flight and had all the warm comfortable bedding prepared for my seat. The PJ’s are extremely comfortable and the pillow puts you into a very relaxed state at 35000 feet. Below is a publicity pic provided by British Airways and I am pleased to say that this is actually how my bed looked.
First Class is not something I do all the time and its is used for very special occasions. The experience is one to be savoured and enjoyed moment to moment. You could almost say that the environment and service is so special that you are not flying at all, but simply luxuriating and living amongst the clouds in a state of bliss. When the captain advises you that its 20 mins to landing … you almost want to stay a bit longer and continue enjoying the moment. But like all things in life … what goes up must eventually come down.