Flying British Airways First Class

Flying British Airways First Class

Flying British Airways First Class 1280 720 Chris West

I had a job to do in Dubai for a client, so I booked a trip there in April 2023. My initial booking was with British Airways, direct from Heathrow to Dubai travelling out in Premium Economy and back in Business Class. The outbound flight was a daytime flight, but the Return was leaving at 1:00 AM so was most definitely a night flight, therefore I wanted the option of a bed if I could get it. The flights were all booked and everything set up, but unfortunately my client had a change of plans. To cut a long story short they moved the dates, coincidentally to a time when I had another job in Dubai for a different client, for around 500 pounds I managed to move my flights over to late May, but in the same configuration as before.

Outbound flight

The outbound flight was nothing particularly special, using my silver status with British Airways I headed to the Business Class check-in area, checked in my bag and headed through to security. Using an amazing app that a friend of mine recommended, I knew the gate was going to be a C gate long before it was announced. Therefore I headed over to the B gates lounge to enjoy some late breakfast or early lunch, I think I indulged in a bit of both. Later I double checked the customer service desk and confirmed that my app had in fact predicted the correct gate and I was going over to C gates afterwards. I took the opportunity to finish off my walk from my last trip through the tunnels and I walked over to C gates. My flight to Dubai was unremarkable, I notice you still don’t get sparkling wine in Premium Economy as a pre-flight drink, but in the news recently BA are apparently returning that service. I watched quite a few films and arrived in Dubai at about 11:00 PM. After passing immigration I took a taxi to my hotel and settled in for my two weeks of work in Dubai.

Finding the deal

I always keep an eye on my flights, checking the app, looking out for deals as they come up. And an offer did come up, upgrade to First Class for my return journey home for just over £500. I deliberated about this for a while and thought against it, in wasting that time the offer disappeared so I gave up. I checked again every day and the upgrade cost was very high for quite a while. Then the offer reappeared and I thought sod it, my business is going well, why not try it? So I paid the upgrade fare and put myself into First Class. This will be the first time I have travelled in a proper First Class seat for any length of time. I did fly First Class once on Korean Air, but it was only a short trip from Korea to China, but it was only about £50 more for the upgrade so I thought why not. But that doesn’t count as it was only a short hop.

So I’m fully upgraded to First Class on British Airways for the first time and eager to experience what this means.

Travelling in First on a long haul flight with British Airways does allow you certain privileges that even Executive Club Gold members don’t get. For example the lounges, if the airport has a Concorde room or lounge that is reserved exclusively for people travelling in actual First Class. So despite the flight only being six hours and departing at 1:00 AM I was quite excited to see what would happen.

Return flight

My client treated me to a last night dinner after work and I headed to the airport in plenty of time for my flight so I could enjoy the lounge and wait for the departure. Dubai has a dedicated British Airways lounge in which the main area is accessible to everyone travelling Business Class or having Silver or Gold status. At the back of the lounge was a separate area that used to be called the Concorde bar but is now called “The Dubai room, a relaxed space for our First Class customers”. When I arrived I was escorted into the room by the staff at the entrance. I wasn’t honestly blown away by this room but it was a slightly more exclusive feeling area away from the main lounge. There was a waiter who was offering table service but you could help yourself to drinks and snacks if you wanted to. For any proper food you had to order it and they’d bring it to you. Since I’ve had a full dinner already I decided not to eat, just had a couple of drinks and some snacks while I sat in a comfortable chair waiting for my flight. As boarding time approached I headed to the gate and we were segregated by seat colour in the waiting area, something I’d not seen before. For groups 1 and 2 you sat in the red seats nearest the door, and everyone else in the blue seats furthest from the door. They didn’t do a very good job of controlling the boarding process, calling groups 1 and 2 at the same time but it didn’t matter too much. I boarded and started to explore the first class seat on this Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

British Airways First Class Seat

First Class experience

My biggest concern was that I’ve flown on the new club suite several times and I wasn’t entirely sure whether the First Class seat was going to be significantly better or not? It was slightly bigger and did have a lot of cubby holes and places to store things in. I did go for a good explore and found all sorts of places you can put things in if you need to and it was well equipped with a very big screen. I suspect the main difference of the First Class is the level of service. The crew are very attentive and always checking on your needs and what you want. Having done similar night flights like this before in Business Class there’s normally not a major meal offering as it’s mostly a sleeper flight. In first you get the full menu and option to eat whatever you want to eat. Again, as I did eat earlier, I decided not to go for any major food. Instead I picked a cocktail that looked interesting and asked for some popcorn, so I could watch a bit of TV until I was feeling sleepy. I was asked about my morning and whether I wanted to be woken early for full breakfast or whether I wanted to be let sleep in. I said I’d really like an orange juice and maybe just a pastry to nibble on just before landing, so she very kindly offered to wake me as close to landing as possible, to give me a chance to wake up and have an orange juice. I was then presented with my British Airways pyjamas, it might seem a bit sad but this was possibly the most exciting bit for me. Although there was time before take off, I decided to wait until after takeoff before I went and got changed. The pyjamas were good size and very comfortable. I had a nice cubby hole next to my bed where I was able to store my clothes ready for the morning. The crew made it very clear to me that when I was ready to sleep they would come over and make my bed up for me. That happened when I went to the toilet. First Class obviously comes with a significantly better amenity kit, which I was very pleased with. But one thing I thought, slightly oddly, was significantly better was the quality of the ear plugs. I don’t know why, I don’t even know if they really are different or not, but they did seem to be very good and were very good at blocking the sound. The bedding was definitely bigger and fluffier, with a bigger pillow and I settled down and definitely got myself a good few hours of sleep. In the morning I was woken with orange juice and a pastry and I got changed while the crew put my bed away ready for landing.

On the ground experience

After landing it was all fairly normal, we headed back to the main terminal building and through passport control, but I had one final treat awaiting me, the arrivals lounge. This lounge is only available in the mornings for long haul flights, you need to be in Business or First Class, as well as Executive Club Gold members. I headed there, dropped my bags off and went for a shower. The difference this time is that for First Class customers there is within the arrivals lounge a separate Concorde room where you can go and have breakfast. Naturally I wanted to try this out. The room is very nicely appointed, like a small fancy restaurant and you get a menu which definitely has more items on it than is available at the buffet outside. Of course there is table service so I ordered some pancakes and some bacon to start my day off. The Concorde room in the lounge was very very quiet, with only one person in it. They probably need to play some music or something because it felt a bit too quiet for my liking. Still if the arrivals lounge is busy it would be a nice place to escape for that little bit of extra luxury before you head home.

Bottom line

I enjoyed my First Class experience on British Airways, the service is excellent and the extra lounge access at both ends was a nice little perk. Was it worth the extra 500 pounds, maybe not for this kind of flight, maybe a longer flight would have been more worth it. It depends how you value those extra perks and the service offered. I suspect travelling in Business would have been almost as pleasant. But the bed was definitely bigger with more comfy pillows and blankets, a better amenity kit and of course the pyjamas. Would I do it again? Probably but that’s because I love flying and love trying different things. In fact I’ve already booked a flight from London to Chicago in November in First Class, so I can try out the full Concorde Room experience at Heathrow, look out for that report later in the year.

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