REVIEW: British Airways First Class
by Dominic Lalk.
This review focuses on the first leg of a Hong Kong - London British Airways First Class flight on the flagship A380. To read about the return in Club World business class, please click here. BA flies twice daily from Hong Kong to London. BA32 departs at 11:30 pm, while BA28 leaves at 11:45 pm. Both flights arrive into Heathrow shortly before 5 am the following morning. BA runs a promotion at times where passengers receive a complimentary upgrade to First when they purchase an eligible business class ticket (subject to availability). Contact us to find out more.
First class customers are directed to the Qantas lounge at HKIA. However, if you have access to Cathay's The Wing first class lounge, I'd highly recommend going to that lounge instead. It is sleek, spacious (never encountered crowds), and offers impeccable service. The lounge is staffed with team members from Hong Kong's prestigious Peninsula Hotel.
Boarding for the 11:30 pm service started at 10:45 pm. When I reached Gate 15, which seems to be the standard departure gate for BA's A380, boarding was already well underway. There were no more lines and I was processed immediately. At the door, the cabin chief was greeting passengers. When she saw my first class boarding card, she instructed a crew member nearby to walk me to my seat, and I was immediately offered a hot towel and a glass of champagne - in this case Laurent-Perrier's Grand Siecle, the 2015 International Wine Challenge gold medal winner - which was absolutely lovely with aromas and flavours of honey, almond and freshly-baked brioche. Strangely enough, however, no one offered to hang my coat, even as it lay there in plain sight on top a panel.
BA's A380 first class is on the lower deck, and consists of a total of 14 seats, spread across four rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seat has a lot of storage space, including its own wardrobe, an IFE compartment where you will find the handset control for the 15.4-inch screen, the PC power socket, the RCA port and two USB ports. The seat converts into a very comfortable bed, with a firm mattress and no unexpected bumps or ridges. The duvets and pillows felt new, and plush. I was offered the men's amenity kit and a BA First-branded pajama.
Once airborne, menu cards were handed out and dinner service began. For those who don't want to over-indulge on late night flights, BA First offers a five-course tasting menu - The Champagne Supper. Lighter meal options and smaller portions mean you can sample everything and still settle down comfortably for a night's sleep afterwards, which is exactly what I did. The tasting menu started with a salmon and cucumber tartar roulade with caper flower, followed by a mushroom consommé with mushroom.
Next up were a seafood stir-fry, and black pepper beef tenderloin with ramen and vegetable medley. For dessert, which I skipped as it was getting late, the menu listed a trio of strawberry panna cotta, raspberry mille-feuille and Sacher praline gateau. Fresh fruit, cheeses and other nibbles were available on request.
I slept for about eight hours straight afterwards, which isn't always a given for me. I had a brief look at the inflight entertainment system before breakfast was served - the selection appeared extensive.
Breakfast was a quick and efficient affair about an hour before arrival into Heathrow. I've had quite a few espresso shots and a lot of fresh fruit. I did order the Full English breakfast.
Pretty amazing. The service, the seat, its amenities and, foremost, the food and beverages offered on-board were of very impressive quality. Even after more than twelve hours in the air, I was almost sad when the captain announced our descent into Heathrow. If you are in the mood to splurge, BA First surely will not disappoint.