British Airways new First – take two A380 Heathrow to Hong Kong review

Shortly after BA launched their new First service, Deputy Editor Paul and I flew to Singapore in First (review here). There were a few teething issues with the service so I thought it would be good to do another review to see how things were after nearly 2 months since the launch.

Check-in

BA First Wing

We were on an Amsterdam to Bangkok fare business class fare which had cost us approximately £1350 including a stopover. We used a Gold upgrade voucher (earned after 2500 Tier points) to upgrade to First. Our check-in at Heathrow was, therefore, the day before when we positioned out to Amsterdam. You can do a back to back in Amsterdam very easily although you can’t check your luggage in for both legs as it would not be check back to London. You can see more about back to backs in this article.

We checked in at the First Wing which Gold Card holders and First class passengers can use. This is one of the best things that BA has introduced in recent years. I can easily go from landside to a glass of fizz in hand in around 6-7 minutes. In the First Wing cold drinks and towels are provided which is a nice touch, although I have never seen anyone use them! The main thing is that it has its own security channel and deposits you straight into the First lounge.

British Airways B747 First class review to New York JFK first wing

The following day we returned from Amsterdam and went through flight connections rather than exiting to arrivals and going back through the First Wing. There is little difference in it – Paul and I raced each other on the last trip and he only just beat me going landside as I had a short wait at security. This time it was very quick.

Concorde Room lounge and Spa

We were in the Concorde Room with a glass of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne pretty quickly. We had tried to book spa treatments but even at around 24 days in advance we struggled to get anything more than a massage chair for Roving Reporter. I wasn’t too bothered as I had work to do. The spa all changed the day afterwards so if you want to learn more about the new spa treatments then have a read of my review here. 

New spa treatment room

Roving Reporter enjoyed his massage chair experience and managed to get a few Elemis samples as usual.

Massage chairs

We decided not to bother going into the restaurant area at the Concorde room and had a snack at the bar instead since we were planning to eat on board. I also got the barman to knock up a new version of the BA175 – which used to be one of my favourite cocktails in there.

Sadly I can’t have grapefruit now but they made one with orange juice which was nearly as good. Be warned though – they are very strong!

I had the asparagus with poached egg and pancetta to keep me going until dinner and it was excellent. The asparagus was perfectly cooked and nicely seasoned. RR had the club sandwich which was pretty substantial. We can also recommend the spicy Bloody Marys!

They have two menus in the Concorde Room, one more for snacks (also available in the First lounge) and then a full restaurant menu with starters mains and desserts/cheese.

British Airways refurbished Concorde room Heathrow T5 review BA CCR access

My favourite lamps in the Concorde Room

Boarding

As usual, we boarded from the C gates for an A380 and we boarded first with Group 1. It seemed to work OK on this occasion and I was shown to my seat in First.

As I always say, you can normally tell from the start if the crew are going to be good, and I knew straight away it was going to be a great flight. David was quick to pour me a large glass of Grand Siecle with the promise of a top up shortly. I think he may have been trying to get me tipsy! Read on to see if he succeeded….This was served with warm nuts in a ceramic dish and a Speedmarque cocktail napkin and linen coaster which felt very premium.

A rather large glass of LPGS

I was also given a sleepsuit for Ladies, slippers and an amenity bag.

Women’s PJs

Here are the Ladies amenity bag contents:

BA F amenity kit

Although you may think of Elemis as a little middle market now (it has gone downhill since they sold out to Steiner if you ask me) the contents are very premium. The kit contains Elemis’ latest high tech product range, Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen, and the contents are worth around £100 on the per ml price of the contents.

And the men’s kit (courtesy of @alelexis79)

True to his word David, the cabin crew member, topped my glass up with another large glass before take-off. This was going to be a good flight!

 

The seat and cabin

I won’t go into this too much as I reviewed it in thoroughly in the initial new First review linked above. This time I was seated on the right side, which I prefer, in 2K. There was already a day pillow and large sleeping pillow on the seat. I generally find the seat comfortable apart from the metal on the footrest and the lack of separate leg rest. For a change, I tried putting the footstool in the lower position for a change and found that quite comfortable for sitting. You just pull on the metal tab on the stool and it lowers to half-mast position.

Here was the view from my seat – I found it very private:

 

Food and drink

Here is the menu and wine list:

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We had both pre-ordered the lamb as a main course which you can do on flights departing Heathrow up to 30 days in advance. RR joined me for buddy dining sitting on the footstool. I find the A380 is great for this compared to the rather more cramped space on the B747.

The service started with canapes:

They looked a bit of a mess but were very tasty. Much better than the previous flight. RR decided to have a flight of all the 3 types of fizz! If you are eagle-eyed you will see that David had written the names of each fizz on the coasters – now that is good service!

The starter was the crab was gazpacho. This was quite a triumph – not only did it look like it came from a fine dining restaurant, it was absolutely delicious! I was tempted to lick the plate clean….

Starter

We were also offered from a wide selection of warm bread.

Sadly these looked a lot better than they tasted and my roll was very heavy and flavourless. I do like that you get olive oil in a dish for dipping though, as well as some good quality butter. We both had the Chablis with the starter and thought it was excellent.

The main course was not as good in terms of presentation and the lamb was decidedly overcooked. However, the flavour was good and the lamb was still tender, so we enjoyed it overall. The dauphinoise potatoes were really yummy and unctuous so I could have eaten a lot more of those! I had a glass of the Chateau Chavin Bordeaux red wine with it which was delicious and full-bodied but with plenty of fruit.

Finally, I had the ice cream with a glass of the Tokai dessert wine. This was also presented up to restaurant standard and although only a simple dish was very tasty indeed!

I have to say at this point my recollection is a little hazy as David had kept us so well topped up with drinks I may have been slightly tipsy! Hic!

 

Sleeping

The bedding in First has been vastly improved and there are a lovely thick mattress topper, high thread count duvet and pillow. These are probably the best bedding I have had in First with the exception of Emirates First memory foam mattress topper. I found the A380 very spacious for sleeping and managed a good 7 or 8 hours, only waking up around 40 minutes before landing. Though some of that may be due to the amount of wine!!

 

Entertainment

I won’t go into the entertainment much as I didn’t watch anything as Roving Reporter had joined me for the buddy dining. Suffice to say that RR tried out the new headphones and liked them as did I. The TV screen is a good size and has a reasonable definition. There was plenty of choice of new films plus a few classics and TV programs and box sets. I recommend A Matter of Sex and Bohemian Rhapsody from my recent viewing.

 

Conclusion

This was a much better flight in terms of the food and service than the previous flight I reviewed. If every First flight was up to this standard in terms of food, wine and service, then it would be excellent. The lamb cooking times definitely need some adjustment as in my book it is sacrilege to overcook a beautiful lamb cutlet, but everything else we ate was restaurant quality.

The service by David was BA at its best. He had judged that we were on holiday and wanted to enjoy the onboard service and boy, did he deliver it by the very large glassful! I never had an empty glass for the entire flight. He had the right level of politeness versus a bit of banter which you rarely get outside BA.

11 Comments on "British Airways new First – take two A380 Heathrow to Hong Kong review"

  1. I’m assuming your positioning flight was not on a First Class ticket… but you were allowed to use First check in and the Concorde Room?

    • I am a Gold card holder so can use First and the CCR visit was when we returned to T5 from Amsterdam

  2. Note sure this makes sense!?!
    “The main course was not as good in terms of presentation and the lamb was decidedly overcooked. However, the flavour was good and the lamb was still tender, so we enjoyed it overall.”
    ????

    • I think it does. I prefer my lamb pink and this was definitely cooked too much for me. But it wasn’t tough so it didn’t detract from the fish as it was still tasty.

  3. A couple of points to correct in your report:

    The napkins/coasters feature the Speedmarque, not the Speedbird motif – the latter not being in use since it was replaced by the Speedwing in 1984 and then the Speedmarque in 1997.

    Elemis is not part of Estée Lauder Companies – it is owned by Steiner Leisure Ltd.

    But a great and detailed report – new First really does look a step up, despite no new seat.

  4. I searched expertflyer for F availability, shows 3 x seats available.
    Searched under awards – none, searched under cash paid- none available?
    Is it possible that passengers in these 3 x seats have not confirmed their seat selection so still shows availability?

  5. Thanks for the insightful review Michele. I’m curious to know if there was sufficient LPGS on the return sector, if you flew it. Have a trip coming up on BA F to SIN and I would hate to be deprived of it after the pre-flight serving on the return leg!

    Reading about other travellers’ experiences on various blogs, I have got to learn to complain to BA if they run out of LPGS. Especially when I have to pay for my flights.

    • My return trip there was some LPGS but allegedly it was a bit low but I don’t know if they ran out. They ran out ladies wash bags and PJs though.

  6. Mike Hindson-Evans | 4 June 2019 at 12:00 am | Reply

    As avowed Club World users (already booked for our next two USA returns and about to book for next May) we might just try First for the first time since 2008. The A380 is beginning to replace yhe 747 in our favours, but upstairs on a 744 is still a lovely experience. We shall miss it when BA finally retire them.

    • Yes the 747 upstairs in Club is a great experience. First on the B787 is also very good.

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