British Airways A380 new First class full review

At the end of March British Airways launched a new “soft” First product which consisted of refreshed amenity kits, pyjamas, meals, drinks and tableware. Paul did a quick review for TLFL last week on a short flight to Doha. Now Paul and I have just completed our 12 flight tier point run to Asia and tried out the BA First product on the London to Singapore route to give it a full testing. This is a review of the outbound flight from London to Singapore.

The fare

This fare was ex Milan and included an upgrade from business class to First by using a gold upgrade voucher which you get when you earn 2500 tier points. Our itinerary started with a back to back to Milan and then onto Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta before a separate side trip to Bali. I will shortly be doing an article about positioning flights and back to backs for those new to ex EU flights.

Check-in and lounge

BA First Wing

We checked in at the First wing which is available for Gold cardholders as well as those flying in First. As it was early in the morning, there was quite a queue. I didn’t have to wait long to get to a check-in desk as I only needed to go to the Visa check desk because I was travelling hand baggage only (quite a challenge for six days!).

BA First Wing opens at T5 Heathrow

Looking towards the security entrance for First Wing customers

Once I had my boarding passes all the way through to Jakarta, I headed to the dedicated security at the First Wing which deposits you straight into the First lounge. There was a long queue, but it did at least move quickly – despite the inevitable people who wait until they get to the front of the line to start finding their liquids and laptops having stood there for 10 minutes!

The lounge

Concorde Room bar at Heathrow

The Concorde Room is for First class passengers and GGL card holders. On the first leg to Milan, I would have been only entitled to Galleries First as I am a Gold card holder. Fortunately, Deputy Editor Paul is a GGL and Concorde Room card holder so he guested me in that morning. I had a quick bacon roll which was served with hash browns and was very average. Later on, when we were back from Milan and before the Singapore flight, we had a late lunch. Here is the menu:

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I thought I would try the rib eye steak:

Ribeye steak

I liked the way it was presented, and the plates also looked smart. The steak had a great chargrilled flavour although it was a little tough in places and a bit thin. I asked for it to be medium and it was cooked exactly so. I particularly enjoyed the pepper sauce with it and overall thought this was a tasty dish.

I managed to get an appointment at the Elemis spa on the day as I had not managed to secure one in advance. You can book treatments from 28 days before the flight, and if you don’t do it at precisely 28 days, you will often find there is nothing left. However, it is always worth asking on the day. I had the power back massage. The therapist was lovely, and it was a relaxing treatment with a few free samples given afterwards. You can find the full list of treatments for Club and First here. 

BA Concorde room lounge review T5 heathrow British Airways refurbished

Concorde Room at Terminal 5

You can read more about the Concorde room in this article. 

Boarding

Boarding was reasonably orderly with a separate queue for group 1. First class is on the Lower deck for which there is a separate entrance. If you are in First, you will be shown to your seat by one of the crew providing there are two people on the door when you arrive.

Pre-departure drinks

Once at the seat, there were already headphones and bedding at the seat. I was soon offered a pre-departure drink and the cabin crew member looking after me introduced himself. Naturally, I chose the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne. While, in my opinion, it is no Krug, it is still an elegant champagne that retails at around £130 a bottle. The pre-departure drinks are now served with Speedbird insignia coasters and napkins, warm nuts and a hot towel on a stand. This does add a feeling of luxury to the procedures and sets BA apart from the competition.

Women’s PJs

Next, I was offered the new pyjamas (no choice of size was offered – they were just handed to me) and an amenity kit. I really liked the new PJs for women. It had a lovely satin v neck feature which felt good quality and comfortable. I was less convinced about the men’s ones which seemed to have a strange low cut style around the neck with a satin v on it.

Paul with the PJs and new headphones (you will see why he looks a bit annoyed later….)

The amenity kit contains some very high-quality Ultra Smart Pro Collagen Elemis products – these are from the new range which is something akin to Creme de la Mer price wise. The design is by Alice Temperley.

Women’s amenity kit

Female amenity bags contain:

  • Cleansing micellar facial wipe
  • Soothing apricot facial wipe
  • Pro-collagen rose mist
  • Ultra smart pro-collagen matrix moisturiser
  • Ultra smart pro-collagen eye cream
  • Hydra-nourish lip balm
  • Sea lavender and samphire hand cream
  • Fortitude deodorant

Male amenity bags contain:

  • Ultra smart pro-collagen eye cream
  • Ultra smart pro-collagen matrix moisturiser
  • Cleansing micellar facial wipe
  • Skin soothe shave gel
  • Fortitude deodorant
  • Hydra-nourish lip balm

I have used the products since and was impressed with them. Although the bag is not my personal taste, it feels substantial and good quality. There were two things I wasn’t keen on – the socks that felt very cheap and synthetic and the eye mask. The eye mask felt like a downgrade from the previous one. The reason I say this is that I usually take my own eye mask as I find that airline ones push down on your eyelids too much. The previous BA ones had small pads to stop this from happening, but they have now gone. Overall the washbags are an improvement though.

The seat and cabinBA A380 Club World review upper deck

The first cabin has 14 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Despite booking a long time in advance, we ended up on opposite sides of the cabin to both get a window seat. I had 3A while Paul had 3K. If you are in a couple, you may prefer the middle seats, but there is always buddy dining with a place for your companion to join you for meals or a drink. I would avoid seat 1K which I had on my last First flight. It is next to the crew wardrobe, so you are constantly disturbed by the crew opening and closing the door.

A380 First cabin

The seats feel very spacious on the A380 and are like a suite but without a door. Mine was pretty private anyway as I couldn’t really see anyone from my seat.

View from 3A

In terms of storage, there was oodles of it. There was a sizeable personal wardrobe, although the new bedding does take up a bit of room. It was big enough to fit a small carry on which is useful.

Personal wardrobe

There is also a side bin which contains the handheld remote and the sockets which is a bit odd.

Side bin

The seat is controlled with a single dial which while is very easy to use, doesn’t make the position very customisable. I prefer a separate leg rest that you can raise independently.

Seat control dial and side bin

The seat is generally comfortable for sleeping and working although I don’t like the metal catch on the buddy seat/footrest which is used to adjust it.

Sleeping

The new bedding is a significant improvement. You get quite an assortment of items, all of which are provided, unlike the previous day blanket which was on request. There is a day pillow and day blanket in a funny, slightly coarse, woolly material which I wasn’t a massive fan of but they did the job. Roving Reporter will not be happy as he was a big fan of the super soft grey day blankets they had before!

Ready for bed

The crew were very proactive on this flight in terms of offering to make the bed up, although often I just do it myself as it’s not that hard. The pillow, mattress topper and duvet were much better than before. The mattress topper was thicker and made a big difference although it would have been nice to have a memory foam pad like Emirates! The pillow was probably one of the best I have experienced in First class, large, thick and soft but with enough support. The bedding has a 400 thread count, and I could definitely feel that the pillow slip and duvet cover were softer than before.

Unfortunately, on this flight, the temperature was far too hot, and both Paul and I struggled to get much sleep because of it. He did ask the crew to turn it down, but it didn’t seem to make much difference despite both being exhausted after a long day. On the way back the temperature was much better, and we both slept really well for about 8 hours.

Food and drink

If you are flying from London, you can reserve your main course in Club or First from 30 days before. I usually choose to do this so that I can get my first choice and had pre-ordered mine. Paul did not bother with his.

The service starts with a drink and canapes. We had decided to try the buddy dining which is only the second time I have done this. On the B747 it felt very cramped whereas I found the buddy seat very comfortable on the A380 with plenty of space. This was just as well….

A Gin Zing cocktail and the canapes

There is now a selection of cocktails as well as the usual wines, beer and spirits. I tried a Gin Zing and was not a fan at all! It tasted very sour and unbalanced to me.

Here is the bar menu:

We liked the way the canapes were served in the individual dishes with a lovely canape fork and branded napkins. The canapes were tasty but not very sophisticated. The blue cheese one was my least favourite as it was such a big lump of cheese with not much else.

Here is the full food menu:

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The table was then laid up with both olive oil and butter put out. A basket of warm bread was offered. I had a crusty roll which OK but nothing special.

I started with the beef bresaola which was a play on veal tonnato with the  sauce and capers. It actually worked pretty well, and I enjoyed my starter. I did enjoy the new glasses and plates which I thought looked worthy of a Michelin star restaurant.

Paul went for the scallops:

The whole meal service was very prolonged. We had been delayed taking off for quite a while too, so we were both getting extremely tired and fed up by the time the main course appeared. The service is very new, and for most crew this was probably the first time they had seen it. Hopefully, things will speed up as they get used to it. The crew serving us were very friendly and attentive though and kept us well supplied with drinks. By the time we reached the main courses, we were almost asleep!

The main courses now come with a choice of side dishes. If you don’t specify one they will bring you a selection of all of them. I went for the halibut which was sadly not a successful main course at all. The halibut was not too overcooked, but the dish was overwhelmingly salty, and generally, I like things on the salty side. Pairing an over salted crab bisque with very salty samphire too was not the best combination. It was so bad I actually left half of it. The side dishes were tasty though, particularly the potatoes.

Paul went for the shredded pork which he thought was OK but very average.

Since the crew were accommodating we decided to try and have a taste of most of the wines. It was a completely full flight so hopefully, they wouldn’t go to waste if we didn’t drink them. I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed with most of them.

Wine flight – love the new glasses

Here is the wine list:

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I started with the Chassagne Montrachet which is normally one of my favourite wine regions. I was already slightly suspicious as no vineyard was listed which is very unusual. I was correct to be suspicious as this was a poor example of a Chassagne Montrachet. It had little depth and lacked most of the characteristics of a good Burgundy Chardonnay. We also tried the Gruner Veltliner which I normally a fan of and again found it disappointing.

The reds were better. They listed two Bordeaux reds but as I expected only had one on board. I really enjoyed this wine, and it was the most expensive one on the list retailing at around £25-30. The Spy Valley Pinot Noir was also a wine I had tasted before, but it drank well in the air with the cherry and red fruit flavours coming through nicely.

Neither of us wanted dessert at this point, so we decided to finish with the dessert wines. I quite enjoyed my Chaume dessert wine from the Loire. The sweetness and the honey-like flavour were well balanced with an acidic citrus finish. Paul asked for a large port, but they took that a bit too literally and gave him about half a bottle. You think that would have knocked him out if nothing else….

Pint of port for sir?

Chocolates were not offered, and I had to ask for them on the way back too. This seems to be the way nearly all the recent times I have flown BA First.

Entertainment and connectivity

The TV screens are not as good as First on the B787 but they are a good size, and the definition is reasonable. Despite the considerable amount of flying I had done in the last month, there was a good choice of films and TV programs that were recent, and I wanted to watch. I didn’t really get round to watching anything as I was sitting with Paul and then sleeping, but I watched a couple of TV episodes at the end of the flight.

Remote control

The TV can be controlled with touch or the slightly old fashioned handheld remote. It all worked well though unlike some of the more modern touchscreen remotes that lag.

The new headphones are by Meridian Audio exclusively made for BA and look slightly old fashioned. I am not much of an expert, and they sounded fine to me. They were also reasonably comfortable although I did find them a little heavy compared my Bose QC35s. Paul thought they were better than the old ones but still nowhere near as good as something like Bose.

For charging there was a multi-country socket and a USB. There was no Wi-Fi on the aircraft which was a shame, but BA is due to have most aircraft fitted with it by the end of the year.

Conclusion

I generally enjoy BA First when I get a good crew. It is nowhere near the level of Emirates, but you can pick it up reasonably cheaply or use vouchers or Avios to upgrade. The improvements were definitely noticeable and gave a much more luxurious and elegant feel to the service. The new glasses, napkins and plates were worthy of a fine dining restaurant and so much better than before. I really liked the women’s pyjamas, and I reckon you could even wear the top as a normal top. The amenity kits were well thought out with all the essentials, and it was nice to see an ultra-premium cream in there.  The bedding with its high thread count was a real treat – much like you would get in a good hotel. I still would have liked a memory foam topper though, but it is much better than the old one.

The main let down was the food and speed of service. My main course was poor, and Paul’s was pretty average. It was annoying that they have removed the main course salad but appear not to offer anything more than very basic snacks on night flights. A proper return of the bistro menu would have been better for me. It seems odd to have better snacks in Club than you do in First. You do have dine on demand in First, but this is rarely proactively offered by the crew. If you do wish to do this, you still need to order it at the start of the flight to make sure you get it later.

The crew were lovely – very friendly and helpful, but the service was very slow and a little haphazard at times.

Overall this is a welcome improvement to First, and hopefully, the service will speed up as the crew get used to it.

21 Comments on "British Airways A380 new First class full review"

  1. BA380 – First is on the LOWER deck not upper – typo.
    I find that the companion dining on the A380 is more cramped than the 747 or 777. Also I was sitting at an angle to the table when joining my wife in 1A for lunch on the 380……..

  2. Thanks Michelle, great review!
    I’d love to see the details on your 12 flight tier point run to Asia… Will you be sharing these anytime soon?

    • Paul will be reviewing our CX A350 flight that was part of it so I will get him to include more details since he designed the TP run.

  3. Thenk you!

  4. Well you had a better flight on the same route as we did on the 26th March! Terrible service from start to finish. The flight was delayed by 2hrs with very little pre-flight notification (tricky to suss out your travel arrangements when you have to drive 2.5hrs to get to LHR in the first place). When we boarded the crew were not welcoming, in fact they seemed in a complete tizz. When I asked for LPGS I was told that they were rationed to 3 bottles!! The food was mediocre and luke warm, I only managed to get one glass of LPGS on the entire flight and the rest of the champagne was horrible. The entertainment was constantly interrupted by announcements by a CSD who seemed to think he was talking to passengers on a holiday route to Disneyland, not a premier route to SE Asia. One of the crew tried to OpUp a passenger from Club World and seat him where my husband was sat! My husband was missing most of his bedding and was then challenged by the crew as to whether he’d placed it somewhere on boarding.
    Naturally I’ve complained to BA and stated that I would have received better service in their new Club World, but have the most attrocious response and compensation of only 5000 Avios. I flew on Avios with my 2-4-1, but there were pax who paid for that.
    I am still looking forward to our next return flight in F to HKG in December, but it’ll be more out of mild curiosity than any kind of pleasure!

  5. I think the very lengthy 1st meal service is not unique to BA. I was upgraded to 1st with AF a few years back and the service seemed to take forever, including of course the “chariot des fromages”. I concluded that for rest, or time to work C is better than F. To be honest, is food ever that good on a plane?

    • Had we gone for the full meal I would expect that to take a while but given we only had two courses it was much slower than usual in BA F

  6. On a recent BA F round trip to Singapore, they ran out of LPGS before take off. The cabin crew was superb and I was so pleased with the service by the lady looking after my section of the cabin that I awarded her a Golden Ticket on my return.

  7. David Honcoop | 21 April 2019 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    We just flew the new soft product to SEZ on 787-9. The food was better than any meal experienced for many years. We really enjoyed the new soft product but loathe the pyjamas. We also wondered why you can pre-order a main meal, but not an appetiser.

  8. Hi Michele,
    Great review. Can’t wait for our first F flight to HKG in December. We’ve got a connecting domestic flight though before our F flight so only have 2.5hrs in Concorde lounge and trying to plan our time there! With the power back massage, was it with oil, out of interest? Wondering if I need to factor in time for a shower after the massage as I can’t stand the thought of sitting on a flight covered in oil #firstworldproblems 🤣

    • No. All massages are done without removing any clothing and seated. They use a relaxing balm to inhale and round the neck and temples but that’s it.

  9. Nick Perkins | 21 April 2019 at 9:50 pm | Reply

    Hi Michele. Very informative review thanks.. I flew BA11 & BA15 Prg Lhr Syd on Thur 18 Apr so its nice to compare notes. ….not that I took any. I also used a GUF, and booked into 1K and 1A as I dont mind the wardrobe traffic! Like you I was only able to get a spa appointment on arrival at Lhr – a mens facial which was very good (after a few Espresso Martinis – also very good!). I fly this route about 4 times a year using GUFs and always enjoy the experience. Never had poor service or an empty LPGS bottle. Agree that the crockery and bedding etc is very nice, headphones a bit clunky, and the food and wine pretty average at times (also disappointed by the Chassagne Montrachet). As a side note for those trying to decide between BA11 & BA15 in F on this route the A380 BA11 cabin /F experience is way better than that the rather tired cabin on the B777 BA15 IMO.

  10. I find it unbelievable that BA can run out of Champagne or not load a particular wine in First. Surely on a ticket that has a cash cost that is usually over £5,000, they can allocate £200 to ensure that there is a bottle of champagne and decent wine per passanger.

    First should be so special that it drives business class passengers to use your airline in the hope of getting enough miles to get a First class ticket. Instead BA just relies on its Heathrow slots to offer barely good enough products

  11. Richard Gordon | 22 April 2019 at 3:36 pm | Reply

    We flew back from Tokyo Narita on the cusp of the new products being introduced, so experienced the new bedding, which I thought was an improvement too. New slippers as well? We seemed to think the black ones were new. I agree with you about cabin temperature. It should be like a fridge. Outbound on a 787-dreamliner in First it was FAR too hot, and with a full cabin led to no sleep at all. Inbound it was much cooler and my better half managed a few hours. I will look forward to experiencing the full F products outbound to JFK in May.

    • Yes there are new slippers too but only got offered them one way! I went for the large which was a mistake. I looked like I had clown feet!

  12. Brian Paddick | 23 April 2019 at 1:39 am | Reply

    We flew LHR-JFK last week with the new First service. I ordered the steak, which was so dry it sucked the moisture out of my mouth. The vegetables had been crucified. I ordered ice cream which was so frozen, even after waiting 20 minutes, you could not force a spoon into it, let alone eat it. Interestingly, before departure on the return leg, we ate in the Concorde Room. Their kitchen was still closed after 2 months, which meant the food had to be pre-cooked and brought up to the lounge, by which time it was cold and over-cooked (steak again). The manager said she would get me some short ribs instead. When it arrived it too was cold and the server commented “oh your got the Club food.” Even more interesting was the fact that Pommery was served even though in London and on board Grand Siecle is served in First. We then noticed a bottle of GS being carried by staff. We were told that is was available but only on request. It was also served in champagne flutes considerably smaller than what the Pommery was served in! You are no longer escorted to the front of the security queue, which used to be automatic if you were in First. Overall, you wonder whether it was worth the First fare.

  13. Not a fan of the new pyjamas. I miss them having the ‘First’ logo on them. They are just generic now 🙁

  14. Frederic Colsoul | 6 August 2019 at 7:00 pm | Reply

    I flew BA LHR to ORD on 8th of July, First Class (A380). I would not consider this First Class. The Boarding was chaotic, delay by over 30 minutes standing in overcrowded area. The so called new cushion looked more like (and felt as comfortable as) a mop. Food was far from being First Class standard (claimed there would be caviar on one of the canape, there was none, beef was overcooked). Only positive point was Imogen, the flight attendant trying her best to make this experience a little better. Arrived two hours late, missed AA connection. Although CSD had tried to get me re-booked on a later flight on UA, nobody thought it was necessary to issue ticket after booking a seat for me. Had to spend the night in Chicago, insulting compensation (5,000 Avios). Flying BA in First Class is a total waste of money.

  15. I’ve just got back from second trip this year ba first, a380 which was amazing and 747 which was good but what’s terrible is the level of service you get with ba first customer support team before and after the trip. Absolutely useless and for this I’ll not be flying again with ba.

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