British Airways’ 747-400 First Class is a bit of a tight squeeze, but a comfortable product. My midday flight from London to New York flew by. With excellent service and tasty meals, I landed in JFK with a smile on my face.
Just to note, this review is from March 2015. I publish older reviews because they have never been previously published, changes are actually minimal (and noted) between then and now, and because they provide a better context for how I evaluate more recent flights. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this British Airways First Class report published on Flyertalk from last week. Same thing…
If you read my review of the Concorde Room, you might expect a rather critical flight review. Surprisingly, I am not going to bash British Airways. In fact, I’ll state at the the outset that I enjoyed the flight.
Boarding began at 10:45a from Gate B38 in Terminal 5. Reaching the gate required taking a train from the main terminal area to the B gate area.
British Airways 113
London (LHR) – New York (JFK)
Tuesday, March 17
Depart: 11:30 AM
Arrive: 3:25 PM
Duration: 7hr, 55min
Seat: 2A (First Class)
A lovely member of the crew welcomed me onboard and upon checking my boarding pass, escorted me to my seat. A pre-departure beverage was offered (just water for me) and amenity kit and pajamas provided.
I got the sense that this “bankers route” was frequented by many in the cabin. The crew recognized several passengers and welcomed them back onboard. The safety announcements started with, “We know many of you fly this route with us often enough to quote the following safety video from memory, but invite you to put down your reading materials and follow along just for the benefit of those who might not be so familiar with this aircraft.”
British Airways 747 First Class Seat
The seat is incredibly tight for first class, there is no other way to say it. I think this seat and cabin configuration, more than anything else, is why British Airways first class is often called “the best business class in the world”. Even United Airlines squeezes less seats in the nose of its 747-400 than British Airways.
But, and this is a big but, the seat is very comfortable. I am not ashamed to say that after lunch I simply leaned my seat back a bit to work on my laptop and fell asleep until it was time for afternoon tea service just 90 minutes out of New York City.
Here are some cabin pictures:
If you are interesting in the bedding on British Airways, check out my flight review from Los Angeles to London.
British Airways 747 First Class Lunch Service
Meal service on a daytime westbound flight to the U.S. East Coast and consists of lunch after takeoff and tea service prior to landing. Today’s menu:
Drinks and warmed nuts are served after takeoff along with a thin hot towel and water bottle:
The first course of lunch included a pass of the bread basket and a Scottish salmon amuse bouche (well, technically it was a bit large to be an amuse bouche, but it was offered to everyone and did not appear on the menu).
The airplane began to tremble and we entered an extended period of turbulence that lasted nearly an hour. I’ve never had such a rough transatlantic flight. Take a look at my glasses below:
For my appetizer I ordered a meze course that frankly was repugnant. It tasted like that time I ordered Mexican food at a greasy spoon diner in North Dakota. But, at least BA made the effort and it was the only forgettable course of the meal. Warm pita bread may have helped. Notice again the wine and water glass.
I felt like a palate cleanser after the meze and though BA does not formally offer one, the green salad served a similar purpose.
I chose roasted cod for my main course, served in a creamy basil sauce. It turned out very nicely.
A cheese course followed and was even better than the cheese course on the LA to London flight:
Lastly came the highlight of the meal, a decadent warm chocolate brownie with cappuccino:
Aside the from the meze, this was an exceptional meal that rivals the first class competition in terms of quality, quantity, and taste.
British Airways 747 First Class Tea Service
Prior to landing, British Airways offers afternoon tea service. In business class everything comes packaged, but in first it is beautifully presented. What I like about the tea service is that it is just something I would not ever eat at home, thus it becomes a treat in the air. The sandwiches and cakes are just “meh” but the scones and clotted cream are addictively delicious.
I appreciated how proactive the crew was in offering refills during the tea service. My tea cup never dipped below half full, I ended up eating four scones, and I was offered additional sandwiches twice.
British Airways 747 First Class Service
Service excelled on this flight: wonderful service from start to finish with the British polish that was missing from the Mixed Fleet crew on the outbound flight. By that I mean service was much more precise and detail-oriented on this flight. I was always addressed by name and the crew balanced professionalism with warmth perfectly.
And…unlike on IAG sister Iberia…I was encouraged to take pictures.
British Airways 747 First Class Wi-Fi & IFE
I did not use the IFE on this flight, though I noticed the system was much older than on the A380–there still appeared to be at least three dozen films to choose from. Sadly, no Wi-Fi on this flight or any BA 747.
I do like British Airways first class. Although the seat is not competitive with many leading first class products, it is still quite comfortable. Throw in warm service and good food and the only thing missing was wireless internet.
The mezze looked like it was previously frozen. The lentils appeared fresh out of a can. The fish sauce shows separation between cream and butter. The dessert stolen from Outback’s menu. Glad to read the service was aiming to make you feel welcomed.
Get your quote right. BA F is the “world’s best business class,”
That food looks absulutly gahstley.
The second service is the same that is served in CW just plated rather than presented in the packaging. British Airways is a joke in all classes.
At least your cutlery was placed properly on your table. That other review is backwards and a mess.
Shame they can’t figure a way to keep the table linen wrinkle & crease free though. It really spoils the overall look.
Enjoyed the review.
I happen to like British Airways First Class. And, hey, the pre-appetiser is now back! (yay!) Being ex-LHR I can fly almost anywhere nonstop, and the First Wing at T5 is a fabulous departure experience. It’s definitely NOT a world class First Class. But, it’s “cheap.” Discounted F can be as low as £200o’ish (roundtrip), easy to upgrade from discounted Club using Avios… awards are relatively easy to procure (albeit with high taxes, and NOT on certain routes like LAX… but, the high-taxes/fees are the same for J and F). After spending 3+ years ex-AMS and being mostly limited (I like nonstop flights) to Delta One and KLM World Business Class, it’s really a step up. The lounges, T5 (ex-LHR, great when not connecting). I have few complaints. Best Business Class in the world? Absolutely. 🙂
The pillow cases and head rest are not always fresh. Just made to look like it. The pillows are disgustingly under the pillow cases. Gross. Not the cleanest airlines.
I’d honestly fly AA’s business on the 77W and save myself some money.
J on the AA 77W is indeed more spacious.
Matthew- doesn’t the business class have more space?
First class on their 787-9 in 2016 was a complete joke and waste of money. Service was diabolical and cabin crew just could not be bothered. My complaint was followed by a silly phone call pretending that this was not the service they wanted to provide and nothing more. No gestures. Nothing. They clearly did not give a damn. To put things in perspective I had no outrageous expectations. I only wanted what I paid for. Furthermore I use Ryanair often for short haul flights in Europe and their cabin crew are far better in dealing with passengers than what British Airways’ cabin crew provided in first class.
Balanced review there Matthew. So to the commentators, which US airline offers a better first TATL first class product?
Great review very fair. I know people like to bag on BA first, but what I like about it is accessiblity.
They seem to offer more routes with first than other airlines and there is always a lot of award availability. Also upgrading to first is pretty reasonable.