Trip Report: British Airways First Class London to San Diego

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Introduction
Airspace Lounge San Diego
British Airways Business Class San Diego to London
British Airways Galleries Business Class Lounge London
American Airlines Admirals Club London
British Airways Business Class London to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airines Economy Class Vienna to Munich
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Munich
Austrian Airlines Economy Class Munich to Vienna
Hotel Aldstadt Vienna
JET Lounge Vienna
British Airways Business Class Vienna to London
British Airways Concorde Room London
British Airways Galleries First Class Lounge London
British Airways First Class London to San Diego

We headed downstairs from the Concorde Room and made our way down to the subterranean depths of the Heathrow connector train. Our flight was departing from the T5 satellite terminal, so we took the train to the end of the line, got off, and made our way up to the departure gates.

When we got there, despite the fact that boarding was supposed to start at 2:45, it hadn’t yet begun when we got there (which always seems to be what happens whenever I fly BA). However, boarding begun soon enough and we made our way down an escalator, through the long jetway, and onto our 747.

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British Airways Flight 273
London to San Diego
Seat 4A, First Class
Boeing 747-400

When we entered through boarding door 1L, and were welcomed aboard by the two flight attendants working first class. In my experience, BA flight attendants are always friendly, though not in the forced way you might find on other airlines (Singapore tells their FA’s to think of their flights as performances). The flight attendants I have encountered on my various BA flights have always been super genuine and interested in making you feel at home, and, while it isn’t Cathay Pacific, you certainly feel that the FA’s care about making your flight as pleasant as possible.

British Airways has 14 seats in first class on the 747, with the last 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration and the remaining three in a 1-1 configuration with a large aisle space between the A and K seats. Since first is located in the nose of the 747, the cabin curves inward.

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1A and 1K are the most desirable seats in the whole first cabin, in my opinion. These two seats are located at the very front of the cabin, so, even though they are both window seats, they are nearly next to each other. When seated in one of the 1A or K seats, you can actually see slightly ahead of the plane out of your window, which is pretty cool. However, these seats are very often reserved for BA elites, so they are hard to come by for most everyone else. Despite this, one of the seats did become available, and we snagged it for my dad.

While some think that the BA first class cabin feels cramped, I think that it actually feels quite spacious. While the 14 seats BA has in its 747 first class cabin is slightly higher than what other airlines have, there really isn’t a material difference in seat space between this seat and say, United’s, which has 12 seats in the front of the 747 (and which, shameless plug alert, I reviewed here). All in all, BA’s 747 seat isn’t the best out there, but it is certainly my favorite first class product (that I have flown) and is, IMHO, really great.

When I took my seat, a light blanket and headphones were waiting on the ottoman. BA’s headphones are of decent quality, but the blanket was paper thin, as I later found out. However, you can request turndown service later in the flight, and your bed will be made up with a duvet, extra pillows, and a thicker blanket.

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Beside the seat, there are fairly easy-to-use seat controls, which help to set the position of the seat, as well as the electronic blinds which BA uses in first instead of window shades. There are a set of buttons with “go-to” positions for the seat, which you can adjust with a knob. There is also a button to raise the electronic blinds and a button to lower them.

There is a decent amount of storage at the seat. There is a large wardrobe, with space to hang clothes. There is also a cubby for shoe storage down by your feet. Lastly, above the seat controls, is another small cubby, where you can store headphones or other small objects. While not for personal storage, there is also a small pouch containing a guide to the BA first class seat and magazines (including the somewhat pretentious First Life, a affluenza-ified version of the normal British Airways inflight magazine, High Life, the former of which features mostly articles about French chalets and expensive watches).

Lastly, there is a 15-inch TV screen which swings out of the seat wall. This means that you can’t watch anything on the entertainment system during taxi, takeoff, or landing, though it isn’t a big deal.

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Since we have discussed the seat itself, let’s move on to the actual flight!

Boarding didn’t take long, and we ended up leaving on time, despite the fact that boarding had started late. Soon enough, the jetbridge was retracted and we began our taxi. We made it to the runway after about ten minutes, and got in line behind a Lufthansa A320. Soon enough, we lined up on the runway, after which our 747 accelerated down the runway and we lifted off for San Diego.

Lining up!

Lining up!

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We had a slightly choppy climb out, though the ride got smoother as we headed out over England and then over the ocean. Soon after we reached cruising altitude, the FA’s came around distributing hot towels and menus. I figured that having the fish would be a good idea, as it was either that or steak, and I was in the mood for something lighter. I ordered scallops for my appetizer, and went over to my sister’s seat for dinner.

For those of you interested, the menu read as follows:

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One of the cool features of BA first class is the fact that the ottoman in the suite also functions as a small seat for anybody who wants to sit there and, maybe, have dinner there. This is totally legit: there’s even a seatbelt on the ottoman if you hit turbulence while seated there.

The service started out with bread. I selected the garlic bread.

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After a short while, my scallops came out. They were perfectly good, if not a little bland.

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The appetizer was followed, about ten minutes later, by the main course. The fish was of good quality, though kind of tasteless (though studies have shown that your tastebuds don’t function as well at altitude, so I don’t blame BA for this one). In a somewhat un-first-classy move, I asked for some ketchup, and the fish was instantly made much better. Nice to see FA’s understanding my unsophisticated pallet!

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After I finished my dinner, I headed back to my seat, where I ordered some ice cream for desert…

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…which was followed by a little piece of chocolate. In case you forgot what you were eating, BA kindly labled it: :)

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After my desert, I decided to play around with the entertainment system. The selection was pretty decent, with a good amount of new-ish movies. I selected “The Big Short,” and enjoyed it thoroughly.

While I was watching my movie, I was repeatedly disturbed by the lady sitting across the aisle from me. She was watching a movie, and seemed to be exploding into cackling, witch-like laughter every two minutes. Judging by the number of empty champagne glasses I saw the FA’s pick up from her seat, I am pretty sure I knew the cause of her behavior…

After I finished the movie, I tried to plug in my laptop in the seat plug to charge. Nothing happened. I tried unplugging it and plugging it back in. Again, nothing happened. It was as if I wasn’t charging the laptop at all! Wanting to see if it was just my laptop, I borrowed my dad’s and tried to plug it in. Again, it didn’t work. I was getting tired at that point, and I didn’t feel like causing trouble, so I didn’t bother asking the FA about the fact that my plug was broken.

I enjoyed the views out the window for a while, as we passed over Greenland.

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When I was visiting my dad over at his seat, we spotted something off to our right. Using the zoom on my camera, we figured it out to be a Virgin Atlantic 787, flying alongside us. It’s not every day you can take pictures of other planes out the window of your own!

Virgin 787 somewhere over Greenland.

Virgin 787 somewhere over Greenland.

I’m not sure why I didn’t ask for the full BA turndown service, where you can get your bed made with comfy blankets and a mattress pad. Instead, I just used the light blanket which had been left at my seat. It was small, thin, and kind of scatchy, but I guess it’s on me for not asking for the full turndown service.

Despite the light blanket, I slept for about four hours, right up until we began our descent into San Diego. We approached SAN just as the sun set, and it was beautiful.

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We touched down on time, at about half past six in the evening. Our 747 docked at our gate in Terminal 2 East, and we deplaned quickly.

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The BA "Speedbird" logo on the way out.

The BA “Speedbird” logo on the way out.

We headed through the same, long, glass-lined corridor we had come through on our way in, which afforded us some awesome views of our aircraft:

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We headed down to SAN’s tiny customs and immigration checkpoint, located on the ground floor of the terminal. It took a while for all our bags to come out, but we were through in about 15 minutes. When we exited the customs area, a large number of people were gathered outside (including a marriachi band). I’m not sure why, but they would cheer whenever someone came out of the room. I assume they were there to welcome someone home, but it was nice that they gave a very nice welcome to everyone!

In my opinion, British Airways first class is a super great product. The crew on this flight was friendly, as has always been my experience on BA. I have never had a distinctly unfriendly crew on a British Airways flight, and the food, bedding (judging my past experiences, as the bedding was something I didn’t take advantage of on this flight), and inflight entertainment are all really great. The seat itself is private, comfortable, and stylishly designed. This flight was another great BA first experience, and I hope to have more in the future!

 

 

 

About the Author

Alex
I'm Alex, and I am an enthusiast in all things travel: miles and points, airplanes, airline products, and more. On this blog, you can read my take on recent travel/ commercial aviation news, trip reports, ramblings, rants, and opinions, and I'll even share some of my aviation photography from time to time. Hope you enjoy reading, and happy travels!

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