Trip Reports & Reviews

British Airways First Class Review: Boeing 747-400

Noel

Noel Philips

I flew British Airways First Class onboard a Boeing 747-400 on their flight from Chicago to London Heathrow. It was my first time flying long haul First Class with British Airways and I was really looking forward to seeing what they had to offer.

We arrived at O’Hare’s International Terminal after battling the horrendous traffic of Chicago on a Friday afternoon. We headed straight for the British Airways First Class check in area.

After check in we headed through fast track security to check out the lounges. British Airways operate two lounges at Chicago, the Terraces Lounge and the First Class lounge which are situated across the concourse from one another.

British Airways offer a full first class dining experience before the flight. This takes place in the business class Terraces Lounge, from where you have to head across to the First Class lounge.

The food on offer in the pre flight dining is incredible, and of a very high standard.

I took the sweeetcorn soup as a starter, followed by the Pan Seared Stripped Bass for the main course. Both were incredible.

After dinner, we crossed the concourse to the British Airways First Lounge. This lounge was very busy today due to both flights being delayed, meaning there were both a 747 and an A380 load of first class passengers in the lounge.

The British Airways First Class Lounge at Chicago has some great views across the apron where we were able to view the aircraft movements.

After some time in the tranquility of the lounge we headed into the busy concourse and down to gate M10, where our flight was waiting with a delay of over three hours.

As we waited to board, the later, Airbus A380 arrival from London pulled onto stand.

It was soon time to board and we headed down the jetbridge to the waiting Boeing 747.

Our aircraft today was painted in British Airways’ special ‘BOAC’ livery, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of British Airways founding airlines.

We boarded and headed left towards the holy grail of aviation – the nose of the Boeing 747!

The cabin is decorated with lovely calm mood lighting, and stylish yet smart furnishings. The British Airways First Class cabin feels very warm and homely, much like a living room. Little touches like the lamps above the seat make it feel very homely.

We soon pushed back and were treated to the funny British Airways Comic Relief safety video.

Pretty soon we were at the runway and powered up for our departure across the Atlantic to London. The 747 is incredibly quiet in the nose – with the engines barely audible. The landing gear however, is incredibly noisy both when it extends/retracts, and from the wind noise while it’s down. Once it’s up, the cabin becomes almost silent by comparison.

After takeoff it was time to sample the British Airways First Class dining menu.

The menu consists of some lovely meals. I opted for the Salmon Tartare to start, with the veal chop as my main course.

The wine list is equally extensive. The top bottle, the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle champagne, retails for over £100 a bottle. Personally, it tasted no different from a £20 bottle of champagne from Asda, but that’s probably why I’m not a wine connoisseur!

Starter: Salmon Tartare
Main course: Veal Chop
Dessert: Lemon Merinque

During dinner, the inflight entertainment system rebooted. After it came up again we were missing a lot of options on the screen – as well as the ability to turn off the overhead reading lights, which were now stuck in the ‘on’ position.

Fortunately, the cabin crew came up with a makeshift fix for this, involving the use of a napkin and some sticky tape. It held for the rest of the flight and I was able to get a great nights’ sleep on the comfortable flat bed.

I woke up after around five hours sleep as we crossed the south coast of Ireland. It was a beautiful day outside.

Breakfast was being served, and I took the full English breakfast, delicious as always.

I love the window arrangement in the British Airways First Class cabin. It’s very classy, although it does restrict somewhat the ability to take photos out of the window.

At the front of the first class suite is a useful hanging wardrobe.

The TV screen is a nice size and folds neatly away when not in use.

The headphones provided in British Airways First Class are Meridian branded, and very high quality.

The foot end of the bed folds down into a footrest, or becomes the bottom of the bed. The bed has ample room for me at 6’4 tall.

There’s a 3-pin plug under the bed for charging laptops, as well as some storage.

The lamp at the side of the seat is very classy and gives a lovely homely feel to the seat.

The remote control for the TV is neatly tucked away in a little cupboard.

The window blinds are operated electrically by using the button at the side of the seat.

The seat reclines and sits up using this dial at the side of the seat. It’s a really cool way of moving the seat around, and the dial illuminates green when the seat’s in the correct position for takeoff and landing so the cabin crew can easily see the status of the seat.

The table is huge and again a lovely design.

We were given a special BA 100 amenity kit.

The amenity kits are of the Temperley London brand and are in a wonderful commemorative BA 100 bag.

BA have two first class amenity kits – a blue one for the guys, and a red one for the ladies.

The blue one has mens’ toiletries and a hair brush, whilst the ladies’ has ladies’ skincare products and a mirror. Both sets come with this lovely BA 100 pen.

All of the toiletries are of the Elemis brand and the kit is incredible quality – I’ve been told all in all they are worth over £100 each.

The inflight entertainment didn’t have many options since the reset of the IFE. Just a handful of movies and TV, and a few audio programmes were available. There was no moving map or games.

Pretty soon we were on approach to London Heathrow’s runway 9L where we made a smooth touchdown, just over 3 and a half hours behind schedule.

Overall, what can I say to BA first class but just one word – wow.

Lets start with the cabin crew, who were absolutely second to none. They treated us like family, and really looked after all of us. The seat and cabin were lovely. There wasn’t a single air of snobbishness either – it felt just like being at home. I could just have easily been sat on the sofa at home than onboard a Boeing 747, and it’s things like this that BA do really well.

For my first ever long haul first class flight I was incredibly impressed – BA pulled it out of the bag once again.