If you’re going to travel anywhere, you may as well travel there in style. Which is why British Airways First Class is often worth the money – especially when you find those quasi-miraculous deals where First only costs a little bit more than Business. Don’t ever think you can’t afford First – as if you can afford Business, there will definitely be occasions when you can afford First.
Too good to be true? It’s happened to me twice already this year: British Airways long-haul First Class fares that are only a couple of hundred pounds more than Business. I’ve even seen First Class fares that are less than Business (as well as premium economy fares that cost more than Business). There’s no particular logic or secret to finding them: it’s just a question of looking regularly on the BA website. And eventually, you will hit bulls eye.
So, what do you get as part of your British Airways First experience? Before you even leave the ground at Heathrow, there’s a dedicated check in area that’s hidden behind discreet wooden screens in Terminal 5 – just in case you happen to be pursued by paparazzi.
Then, best of all, you get the Concorde Room as your pre-departure lounge. Anyone who is fascinated by the legend of Concorde will love the place before even setting foot in it – especially with a display of some of British Airway’s historic aircraft as you walk in. It goes without saying that you get plush sofas and drinks served to your table, and the best place to consume them is the glass and chrome gallery that overlooks the apron. From the start, it feels like something special.
Once you’re on board, the luxury continues. The hard product on British Airways isn’t quite as opulent as some other airlines: there are no suites or showers or on-board masseurs here. What you do get however is impeccable service that is second to none. It’s fair to say that whatever you want – within vague limits – is never really a problem.
Teetotallers are definitely missing out, as one of the biggest attractions is the non-stop flow of quality drinks, from your ice cold Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle on boarding, to measures of Otard cognac after dinner that would look more at home in a pint glass. Also sampled, just in the name of thorough research, was the Aviation Gin, 2021 Pouilly Fumé, and 2014 St Emilion Grand Cru. All of which was excellent.
Then there’s the food. I chose a tartare of Loch Fyne salmon for lunch and then the turbot with lobster sauce. The starter was better than the main course on this occasion, but the two highlights were perhaps the simplest dishes: a plate of English cheeses (Cornish Yarg, Rutland Red, Yorkshire Blue and Blanche Goat’s cheese) and then – several hours later – a glorious afternoon tea, bringing a taste of the Savoy to the skies over South Carolina.
Keeping you entertained throughout is a good-sized TV, with an almost limitless array of films and TV box sets to watch: one of your biggest challenges will be working out what to watch. The controller is a bit fiddly to operate at the beginning, but that’s very much a first world – or first class – problem.
The seat itself is comfortable enough, without being palatial, and once you’ve worked out how to regulate it, you can relax in style – wrapped up in your own souvenir pyjamas if you like. Perhaps the best aspect of the seat is the myriad of cubby holes and storage options around it, ensuring that there’s a place for everything and nothing gets lost: a common preoccupation with less spacious onboard accommodation.
As well as your pyjamas, you can take away a rather nice suede amenity kit stocked with Elemis products as a souvenir, not to mention a decent haul of tier points to help make the whole experience happen again as soon as possible.
It was Air Canada that first came up with the slogan ‘Flights so good, you won’t want to get off’ but British Airways First makes it a reality. The 10 or so hours to America quite literally flew by. And believe it or not, all this could be yours for less than you think. The only drawback is that Business Class will never seem quite the same again…
Anthony Peacock works as a journalist and is the owner of an international communications agency, all of which has helped take him to more than 80 countries across the world.