When I left off a week ago, I reviewed the British Airways Concorde Room at JFK and had — I think — mostly positive things to say about it. (Let’s face it: I’ve been suffering from early-onset grumpiness disorder since I was 12, so everything I say needs to be taken with a grain of salt.) Check-in was difficult to find, my steak was not cooked well, and I was disappointed that the Elemis spa was closed. Otherwise service was very good, the atmosphere was suitable for a first class experience, and the other courses in our meal were delicious.
Trip Report Index:
- Two Weeks in Spain
- Is the British Airways Travel Together Ticket a Good Deal?
- British Airways Concorde Room – New York
- British Airways First Class – JFK to LHR
- Transferring at London Heathrow
- Le Meridien Barcelona
- Vueling Airlines – Barcelona to Granada
- AC Palacio de Santa Paula Granada
- Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville
- AVE Preferente Class Seville to Madrid
- Day trip to Cordoba
- Westin Palace Hotel Madrid
- British Airways Concorde Room – London
Boarding the Boeing 777-200 was swift and convenient. An announcement was made in the lounge when the gate opened, and it was just a short walk from the lounge. Boarding of other cabins was paused while we made our way to the plane, where we were greeted by the cabin crew.
The seat itself was big enough to be comfortable even though I’ve experienced larger ones — this is essentially a smaller version of Cathay Pacific’s first class. The 14 seats are configured in a 1-2-1 arrangement compared to Cathay’s 1-1-1, making everything more narrow. I was barely able to put a change of clothes into my closet next to the television. Despite all this, there was a huge gap in the last row. Seat 4K appeared to be missing.
Privacy could also be a concern. Couples may sit next to each other in the center if they wish. (A privacy curtain exists between them.) I wanted a window seat, so Megan sat across the aisle from me. There was no way to escape her disappointment.
But I do enjoy that British Airways includes a few unique touches to its aircraft, such as electronic blinds that you can control from your seat instead of the usual plastic shades. They add a definite sense of cool. The big blue dial is also a convenient way to adjust the seat. Instead of fumbling with a half dozen switches that control different axes, I could just turn it one way to recline and another to sit upright for landing. Some of those other switches were available. I never had to bother with them.
But best of all was the adjustable ottoman. Lowering the ottoman made it more comfortable for me to put my feet up without having to recline all the way back. I generally prefer to stay upright when flying.
Amenities and Pajamas
Megan and I were each provided a gender-specific amenity kit and a set of pajamas for our flight. I thought the pajamas were pretty comfortable, although they were not quite as nice as those from Cathay Pacific (which I regularly wear at home). Megan found them unflattering, saying they were “designed for men.” To her credit, there was nothing special about the top, which is essentially an oversized T-shirt.
My complaint focused more on the slippers, which were far too small for my feet. And while I find most airline pajamas are true-to-size, these were only slightly too small. I got a large on the return flight and was more comfortable.
Others have criticized the headphones, claiming they aren’t sufficiently high quality. But while it’s true some carriers splurge on Bose headphones, I’ve never found them to be a necessity. These ones got the job done.
Those amenity kits were chock full of everything we might need. I would say they came in very nice reusable bags with leather trim, too, except the pull tab ripped off of my zipper when I tried to open it (and it was still sealed shut despite the effort). I was more gentle with the one I got on the return trip and will see how it holds up on future trips. For the last several years I’ve been using a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit from Singapore Airlines, which is perfect except for being a bit small.
Contents included a toothbrush, standard travel-sized toothpaste, Refinery-brand toiletries (eye gel, shave gel, moisturizer, and lip balm), ballpoint pen, folding comb/brush, eye mask, socks, and razor. It was all quality stuff, some of which we saved for use during the rest of our trip.
I’ll crack open Megan’s kit and review the women’s amenities when I discuss the return flight.
I like that British Airways publishes its menus for first class — in the lounges and onboard — as little books that you can easily read and flip through. I don’t want huge, glossy brochures. Rather than show you pictures of every page, here’s what was on offer for beverages:
Champagnes and Sparkling Wine
- Kir Royale
- Lauren-Perrier Grand Siècle
- Champagne Marion-Bosser Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV
- Duval-Leroy Rosé Prestige Premier Cru NV
- Ciroc Vodka
- Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whisky
- Woodford Reserve Kentucky Whisky
- Tanqueray No. 10 Gin
- Bacardi Carta Blanca
- Glinlivet 18-year-old Single Malt Whisky
- Drambuie 15-year-old Speyside Malt Liqueur
- Otard XO Cognac
- Fuller’s London Pride
- Lagers including Heineken, Tiger, or Amstel Light
- Various juices
- Mersault Les Clous 2012, Bouchard Père et Fils, Burgundy
- Bolney Estate Pinot Gris 2014, West Sussex
- Virtu Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon 2012, St. Supéry Vineyards, Napa Valley
- Château Faugères 2006, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux
- Walt La Brisa Pinot Noir 2012, Sonoma Coast
- Catena Alta Malbec 2011, Mendoza
- Château Ste. Michelle Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2006, Washington
- Warre’s 2000 Colheita Tawny Port
Of course I should have slept, as most other people did, but Megan and I didn’t have work in the morning. Why not enjoy a second dinner in the sky? I started with Laurent-Perrier when I boarded and continued with another glass after takeoff. It typically retails for $130-150 a bottle and is, I think, quite good. But I would still prefer Krug if given the choice.
One of the great things about British Airways’ first class seats is that you can join a companion for meals. Again, they are not nearly as spacious as those used by Cathay Pacific, which is the best comparison because it has similar but fewer seats in their cabins. But I thought that along the window at least the ottoman had enough room. If you were to try sharing a table in one of the center seats, the ottoman had very narrow walls that I found uncomfortable. Guess who got the big seat?
Service started with an amouse bouche of salmon and what I believe was cream cheese. I switched at that point to the Sauvignon Blanc while Megan went with the Pinot Noir. It’s hard to pull us away from California wines.
Here’s what else was on the menu for dinner:
- Crab meat and avocado roll on Bloody Mary jelly with wasabi creme fraiche and chive oil
- Oxtail consomme with homemade oxtail ravioli
- Fresh seasonal salad with your choice of Caesar dressing or olive oil and lemon
- Braised Australian lamb shank on herbed barley risotto with oven-roasted Mediterranean vegetables
- Breast of corn-fed chicken with artisan truffle gnocchi, summer vegetables, and herb jus
- Pappardelle pasta with creamy lobster sauce, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese
- Main course salad of grilled Mediterranean vegetables, seafood brochette, and a lemon olive oil vinaigrette
Megan ordered consomme, and I was feeling more adventurous with the avocado roll. We both liked our dishes, though mine was a little too creamy. It could have easily been made half as large.
For dinner, I had the pasta, hoping for something a little lighter during my second dinner of the night. (I’m not sure why I thought creamy lobster sauce would be the answer. Did I mention I’d had several drinks in the past three hours?) Megan went with the lamb.
The pappardelle was delicious, and I wished I had passed on trying to eat the poorly cooked steak in the lounge. Megan didn’t care for the lamb (it was falling apart, and the risotto was mushy) but had lucked out earlier with the fish she had for her first dinner. I guess things evened out. No one else was up eating, preferring instead to maximize their sleep. We agreed that it was probably better to skip dessert.
I went back to my seat and decided to watch a movie while my stomach settled down a bit. The selection was a little weak and heavy on recent movies, something I generally dislike because it means I can only pick from things I’ve already seen or things I don’t want to see. Some of the best inflight entertainment systems have a large selection of classic movies and television shows that stretch back 20 or 40 years.
I only made it halfway through Chappie before I turned it off. South African gangsters teaching a robot to be a bad ass is not exactly riveting stuff. The flight attendant made up a bed for me, which was comfortable, but the pajamas were plenty warm without a blanket. I’m a light sleeper but enjoyed a good three hours before I was rustled awake by the beginning of breakfast service.
If I had still found room to eat more, there were some options for a mid-flight snack or a dessert.
- Hot chocolate with warm artisan cranberry Macadamia nut cookies
- A selection of biscuits
- A selection of cheese and fruit
- Classic summerberry pudding with clotted cream and anglaise sauce
- Kilchurn Krystal Cheddar
- Stilton Blue
- Moonlight Chaource
- Fresh Fruit
But even though I could pass on dessert, I couldn’t pass on breakfast. Its my favorite meal! I tried to keep it as light as possible, skipping the starters.
- Chilled fruit juice
- Fresh strawberry and mango smoothie
- A selection of yoghurts
- Fresh seasonal fruit appetizer
- Sweet curd with raspberry and vanilla
- A wide selection of breakfast pastries and rolls
- Traditional British breakfast of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, back bacon, mushrooms, rösti potatoes, and grilled tomato
- Spinach and goat’s cheese tortilla with rösti potatoes and tomato and onion chutney
- Warm homemade vanilla waffle with chocolate hazelnut sauce
- Toasted panini with prosciutto, mozzarella, and pesto sauce
- Twinings Teas: The Full English, Thoroughly Minted, Pure Camomile Infusion, Elderflower and Blossom Darjeeling, Apple and Elderflower Green Tea, and Superfruity Red Fruit Infusion
- Coffee: Freshly roasted and ground, decaffeinated espresso, or cappuccino
Those who choose to skip dinner and maximize their sleep may also be interested in the optional Continental breakfast. I passed on the British breakfast, my usual choice, and went with the waffle. It was delicious and covered in Nutella.
Fortunately Megan got the British breakfast and let me taste. (It was also very good.) My cappuccino, sadly, fell flat. Straight espresso was probably the way to go.
We were soon in our final approach to London, and I can say that the cabin crew were very efficient in making sure everyone got the breakfast they wanted, when they wanted it, while avoiding disruption to the other passengers.
I don’t have mixed feelings about our flight to London. It was an overwhelmingly positive trip that was planned with red-eye travelers in mind. The only flaw was I didn’t want to sleep. 😉 Redeeming miles for first class from the East Coast to Europe is still silly in my mind, an opinion has nothing specific to do with British Airways. If I have anything negative to say, it’s about the transfer experience once we landed at Heathrow. We’ll save that for another day.