Review: British Airways First Class A380, London Heathrow – Vancouver
On select routes, British Airways continues to maintain an international First Class cabin in four class aircraft consisting of World Traveller (economy), World Traveller Plus (premium economy), Club World (business class) and First Class. The only way to make a British Airways First Class event even more special is to experience it on their Airbus 380 offering on select routes. We were able to gain access to this First Class offering on the seasonal Airbus 380 service to Vancouver. How would British Airways International First Class compare?
This post is one chapter on our trip to Iceland, the United Kingdom and Morocco. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Iceland, Spain and Morocco via Iceland Air Saga Class & British Airways First Class
- Plaza Premium Lounge: Transborder Vancouver
- Alaska Airlines: Vancouver – Seattle
- American Express Centurion Lounge, Seattle Tacoma, USA
- Icelandair Saga Class: Seattle – Keflavik
- Hotel 101, A Member of Design Hotels, Reykjavik, Iceland
- City Visit: Reykjavik, Iceland – Part I
- City Visit: Reykjavik, Iceland – Part II
- The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
- The Golden Circle, Iceland
- Ion Adventure Hotel, A Member of Design Hotels, Nesjavillir, Iceland
- Nesjavillir to Dyrhólaey, Iceland
- Nesjavillir, Iceland
- Icelandair Saga Business Lounge, Keflavik, Iceland
- Icelandair Saga Class: Keflavik – Madrid
- The Westin Madrid, Madrid, Spain
- Renfe AVE: Madrid Puerta Atocha – Sevilla Santa Justa
- The Hotel Alphonso XIII, A Luxury Collection Resort, Seville, Spain
- City Visit: Seville, Spain – Part I
- City Visit: Seville, Spain – Part II
- Renfe AVE: Sevilla Santa Justa – Madrid Puerta Atocha
- AC Carlton by Marriott, Madrid, Spain
- Iberia Velazquez Premium Business Lounge, Madrid Barajas Terminal 4S, Madrid, Spain
- Iberia Business Class: Madrid – Marrakech
- The Pearl Lounge, Arrivals Hall, Marrakech Airport, Morocco
- Anayela (Riad), a Member of Design Hotels, Marrakech, Morocco
- City Visit: Marrakech, Morocco – Part I
- City Visit: Marrakech, Morocco – Part II
- Activity: Lunch at Aman Yella, Marrakech, Morrocco
- Activity: Overland Travel from Marrakech to Mhamid, Morocco
- Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco – Part I
- Erg Chigaga Luxury Tented Camp, Mhamid, Morocco – Part II
- Activity: Overland Travel from Mhamid to Marrakech, Morocco
- Le Meridien N’Fis, Marrakech, Morocco
- The Pearl Lounge, Departures Hall, Marrakech Airport, Morocco
- British Airways Club Europe: Marrakech – London Gatwick
- Le Meridien Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom
- City Visit: London, United Kingdom
- Qantas Business Lounge, London Heathrow T3, United Kingdom
- Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, London Heathrow T3, United Kingdom
- British Airways First Class: London – Vancouver
Review: British Airways First Class, Airbus 380, London Terminal 3 – Vancouver
“British Airways First Class on their flagship Airbus 380 is the best that it gets on British Airways.
While the food and beverage quality has improved, the second meal service was particularly lacking for a nine hour international long haul first class product”
At about forty five minutes before departure, we departed the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal Three. We headed for Gate 1, which happened to be the short row where all the Airbus A380 gates are situated. We passed by the Emirates Lounge on the way and a large A380 from Emirates parked at Gate 7.
We headed along the travellators through a well staffed document check with an army of three people checking documents on the concourse itself. We were then directed to the left where there was a proper and well marked shorter queue First Class and Priority Boarding Lane.
We approached the gate where the call for First Class and One World Emerald had just been announced. We timed it well and walked straight on board. There were lots of people around but the gate was spacious enough that there were lots of space to navigate through the group without gate crowding.
BA 85 – First Class (Z)
LHR – YVR (London Heathrow T3 – Vancouver International)
Sept 18, 2018
5:20 PM – 6:55 PM
Booked: Airbus 380-800
Flown: Airbus 380-800
We had a proper dedicated jet bridge for boarding First Class today. MrsWT73 was happy to be travelling up front.
On Board British Airways First Class:
We were welcomed on board through L1 and we were asked by crew to find our way to our seats ourselves.
The British Airways First Class A380 is located on the lower deck of the A380 and is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration. Although it’s had it’s complaints and criticisms for being very high density as compared to other First Class products, I didn’t notice the density as much on the British Airways A380 configuration.
The density configuration is much better on the British Airways A380 than the tighter Boeing 747 that used to make up the majority of the British Airways long haul fleet. The configuration has 14 seats compared to Emirates 12 seats (A380). Although there are no doors to the suites, they are very private.
The suite itself offered a private monitor, along with a deep compartment suitable for passports and wallets.
The seat lights and controls were adjusted using a fairly convenient touch pad, with rotary dials for the angles.
The entertainment system was controlled by a wired remote.
We settled in and push back from the gate at London Heathrow was on time.
Pre – Departure Services:
A Pre-Departure beverage was offered. I went with the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle champagne. Top ups were offered with the bottle brought round to the seat but I didn’t partake in any as I was still feeling not so healthy in the latter part of my trip.
The Amenity Kits: “Liberty of London’s”
The flight Amenity Kits were brought around. The Amenity Kits are stocked by Liberty’s of London with Refinery products. There were actually quite a view items in there, some of it actually useful unlike the bag which is too small to practically store anything.
British Airways Sleep Suits:
A sleep suits was also brought on the tray. I took a large and as a 6ft 2inch tall person it was a little short in the sleeves. The pyjamas were unbranded, save the BA First logo on the crest.
Food and Beverage:
The senior purser came around to introduce his staff and to welcome us on board. FA Kevin would be serving us throughout today’s flight and did an excellent job with great polish to his presentation. The menus were also dropped off. The menus read as follows…
The main menu had an interesting selection of foods; most that looked interesting and appealing. The afternoon tea offering for the second service had sandwiches that sounded much more exciting than they actually were. The Second Service turned out to be quite tiny as you will see shortly.
The drink and wine list was reasonable. I think this is one area that British Airways actually does reasonably well, save the occasional low rent touch.
We had an announcement by the captain that the flight would be approximately nine hrs to Vancouver with no major bumps or turbulence to be expected. We had push back next to an Emirates Airbus 380 from Gate A7..
We had an on time take off out of Heathrow. As always, it was the smoothest take off in the world as was expected on the A380. The take off sensation on an Airbus A380 is so gradual and elegant that there are a few aircraft experiences that compare.
The First Service: “Lunch”
Shortly after take off, a dinner order was taken. While the crew were preparing dinner, a pre supper appetizer of mixed nuts and Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle was offered. The temperature of the Grand Siècle was proper and it had actually been properly chilled. MrsWT73 joined me in the jump seat for some pre supper chats. There is a small jump seat that is available for such a purpose.
At about ninety minutes into the flight, dinner service started. The first plating was the antipasti plate featuring Cumbirna air dried ham, Cumberland salami, berkswell cheese, olives and sun dried tomato. It was nice, but overall a bit flat tasting.
The second course was the seared hand dived scalloped with sweet corn purée, smoked paprika and char filled ciabatta, paired with Montrangy 1er Cru 2015, Bouchard Père et Fils, Burgundy, France. The wine was a bit strong for me but the scallop pairing with the intermingled flavours was really nice.
The main show was the seared fillet of Heredforshire beef and salt beef croquette, with dauphinoise potato, cep aioli and caper beurre noisette, paired with Ch teau Prieuré 2011, Cru Classé, Marguaux Bordeaux. Unfortunately, as with usual beef offerings on aircraft, it was totally overcooked but a tasty slice of beef.
With the first dessert course, I had the Vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2016, Vin Doux Naturel, Domaine de la Pigeade, France. I was still feeling terrible as evidenced by the fact that there was a lot of wine left behind.
I closed with the cheese plate. The plate offered Cave Aged Wookey Hole Cheddar & Tomme de Savoie. The presentation was pretty elementary school, with crackers and a few grapes piled onto it.
The dinner service was done at 9 PM or about three and a half hours after take off. I might add that I was a slow eater. Most of the cabin turned down for sleep. As such, I asked to have my bed made up and it was done.
British Airways First Class bedding:
British Airways First Class offers a bedding suite for its suites. The bedding is a top of a fully flat bed that offers plenty of room.
After the dinner service, I attempted some sleep. I didn’t drink too much and as a result, didn’t fall to sleep right away. I took a few hours of gentle tossing and turning.
I ended up waking up at about 1:15 AM (London Time) to cabin noise and light; about ninety minutes before the end of flight. In total, I was able to get about four hours of sleep.
The Second Service: “Afternoon Tea”
I ended up having the second service of British Airways Afternoon Tea. This was described as an individual selection of sandwiches featuring, chicken breast with light curried mayonnaise, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach, free-range egg mayonnaise with fresh salad cress and smoked Scottish salmon with creamy soft cheese, lemon dressing and cracked black pepper. This was served with a patisserie of Raspberry and orange Battenberg, Victoria Sandwich and a Chocolate salted caramel cup with Buttermilk scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. It was served with a miserably light tasting Camomile Tea.
While it sounded deluxe, the sandwiches were terribly small. I devoured all these small portions. The food quality was tasty. I could have used a slightly larger tea pot but this was more of a style over quality issue.
Although it captured the essence of afternoon tea, it was among the first times I got off of an International First Class and was actually hungry by the time I arrived to my destination.
In Flight Entertainment System:
The flight entertainment system, which I hardly used, had a few movies but nothing too noteworthy to write home about.
As we approached Vancouver in the final minutes of our flight, I took a stretch before landing while the bed was packed away and checked out the British Airways staircase at the front of the cabin.
We had a smooth as expected landing at Vancouver International Airport. On arrival, we pulled up next to an Air Transat Airbus A330.
The aircraft was up to gate and we were off the aircraft promptly. It seems as though that the disembarking process means that the upper door for business class is always attached first to the jet bridge. This means that First Class on the bottom deck of the A380 is only permitted to off load after the top deck’s door is attached. This means that First Class won’t likely ever be first to customs on this particular BA Cabin configuration.
For a first time ever, our checked bags were on the carousel after a quick pass through Nexus. This was the first time ever for me in Vancouver International Airport.
The Bottom Line: British Airways Airbus 380 First Class
Overall, our British Airways First Class flight from London Heathrow to Vancouver was a very pleasant flight with British Airways. The First Class configuration on the Airbus A380 was reasonably spacious; more so that the comparable British Airways Boeing 747 configuration.
The food was reasonable, although the serving size for the second serving was pretty pathetic. The quality of food and beverage went a long way in making the flight more memorable. The service was professional and pleasant. It was also a great relief to be arriving directly into Vancouver and not having to take another flight to get to my final destination. This experience was easily one of my better British Airways First Class flights.
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