Flying on an Airbus A380 is fun, but doing it in British Airways First Class is really cool. I had a wonderful transatlantic flight back in 2016, experiencing the tasting menu and some superb service. My only wish is that I didn’t eat so much in the lounge beforehand!
BA216 – Washington Dulles to London Heathrow (IAD-LHR)
26 January 2016
Airbus A380 – G-XLEA
Seat: First 2A
Departure 18:15 Arrival 06:25
After four nights spent mainly holed up in my friends apartment due to the storm of the century blizzard that hit Washington DC the day I arrived, it was time to head back to London. You can read about my flight from London to Washington in First on a Boeing 777 here.
I was quite happy the airport was open and that I’d be travelling as scheduled. Bidding farewell to my friends, I took the free shuttle from the Hyatt Regency Reston to Dulles. On arrival, I had to wait a few minutes for the check-in agent to be free, but soon enough I was the happy owner of another First boarding pass with BA.
As I had never departed from Dulles before, I did a walk along the concourse to drink it all in. The building was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who was also responsible for the majestic TWA Flight Center building at JFK. While not as beautiful as that building, Dulles has its own particular charm. Besides, I always feel like I’m in one of the Airport movies whenever I am there! This is the view of the terminal from the Concorde Dining Room.
After my little tour of the building, I went downstairs to security screening which took a bit of time, then it was onto the train to the B Concourse. Once you get off the train, the British Airways lounge is basically the first thing you see. Check out the complete review from this day of the Concorde Dining Room for First Class passengers here.
Is This British Airways’ Airport?
I took a notion to get myself a book for my overnight in Prague after London, so I left the lounge and went terminal wandering. Along the way I passed our gate, and it was festooned with all sorts of British Airways stuff. It seemed there were dedicated boarding lanes for just about everyone!
There were loads more than that, trust me. In addition, some specific A380 material.
Outside, of course, was our chariot herself – fresh from bumping the jetway in Miami a few days before and with a new engine cowling firmly in place!
I did attempt to buy a book, but due to the measly selection, I decided to get a one in London so back to the lounge it was for me. I tried to go back into the Concorde Dining Room as I wanted to sit and have a drink, but the attendant was having none of it. “The room is for eating only!” – so I went without a drink, which didn’t bother me at all. Boarding was announced in the lounge and the exodus to the gate began.
British Airways First Class Cabin On The Airbus A380
As a generally quick walker, I ended up being first in line and the first person in First to board, which meant I could take photos without ruining anyone’s day. The cabin is slick, slick, slick!
The windows have electric blinds and you can use the little green do-dads under the windows to lower and raise them. The blinds are not a patch on the lovely blue ones on the 777 unfortunately. I don’t know why they went with something different, but it’s thumbs down from me.
My amenity kit and Sleeper Suit had been delivered (by tray mind you, by a very friendly and personable member of the crew!), so I popped into the loo to get changed while boarding was going on. Here’s the modern looking A380 version of the throne.
The closet on the A380 is in the side of the seat rather than in front of you on the 777. I was able to fit my carry on in there, plus there was a convenient shelf where I put my clothes. Very good!
The PTV screen is very large, and this was my movie choice for the flight – Emporer in August. There was a decent selection of foreign movies on the inflight entertainment which I always enjoy.
Of course, there are noise cancelling headphones so you can hear the movie properly, though that’s less of an issue on the A380 as it’s so quiet inside anyway. The flipside of that quiet cabin is that you can hear every noise from other passengers – nobody likes a snorer!
Time To Fly
Boarding finished surprisingly quickly, which I later learned was because the load was quite light probably due to the blizzard. First was virtually full though! On the way to the runway, we had the safety demonstration.
We were informed that the flight was going to be a quick 6 hours and 30 minutes or something similar, and my only thought was of how much food I was going to have to eat in such a short space of time! Soon enough we were in the air, and it was hot towel time.
You can see the cover of the menu in the previous photo as well – it’s quite nice!
British Airways First Class Menu
Speaking of the menu, here are the selections. The drinks were identical to my outbound flight, so you can see those in the previous report. Note the name of the Head Chef is different travelling in this direction!
I was asked what I wanted to drink so I asked to try the Marion-Bosser instead of the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle that I had been drinking before. Delivered to me was the rose champagne, the Duval-Leroy, which I was slightly miffed about, but it was not something to moan about since it was also quite good. That being said, the mistake should not be made in First class.
The Cabin Crew member serving me dinner took my order – the Tasting Menu – and soon my tray was set up and ready. We had a bit of banter back and forth – it was her final flight for BA after 3 years in the role and she was off to do something far more lucrative.
Time To Experience The Tasting Menu
Despite it being her final flight, the service was flawless (overlooking the one clanger with the Champagne).
So, it was time for the much vaunted tasting menu! First off was the amuse bouche, which was quite a large size. I only remembered to get a picture when I was finished, alas. It was goats cheese and I believe mango, arranged as alternating squares. I thought it a little heavy to be having as an amuse bouche.
I made the error of having the movie on while I was having dinner. This was a bad move because I would have to stop it to interact with the crew at every course, so the movie never did get finished. Char siu duck was the first of the five tasting courses.
It was okay – I’m not a massive duck fan, but no complaints. Next up was the Carrot and ginger soup which looked very lonely on the tray. It’s pretty much a thimble of soup.
That was also okay, tasty, as I expected. Moments after finishing it, the next course came,
The Tasting Continues!
Seared lobster tail! This was spectacular to the point that I told the crew member serving me that she should try it. I wasn’t expecting the delightful mix of flavours and just sheer deliciousness of that, so I was very happy! (The crew member on her last flight did try it and she didn’t think it was all that, so that is an example of how personal taste differs between individuals!)
Braised pork belly was next on the list. Quite tasty all round really, but I was very stuffed at this point. You will note that each dish apart from the soup comes with its own specially chosen wine.
I was thankful the crew were only pouring me half glasses – I wouldn’t have had room for more! Once again, seconds after I was done, the plate was taken and the final course was presented. Caramelised pear and white chocolate mousse!
This was very good, and I was very happy the meal was complete. I thought the service was a little on the fast side as it was literally non-stop, but I guess that was partly due to the short flight time. On my aisle, only 3 people were eating I heard, so perhaps most ate in the lounge. The cabin lights were down by this point and I’d given up watching my movie as I had seen about 35 minutes of it in 2 hours due to the stopping and starting.
Exploring The British Airways Airbus A380!
I relaxed for a bit, then went exploring! The stairs at the front to the upper deck were roped off to prevent people going up them. I hear this is because the foot steps are audible in First class below the staircase. This looking up the stairs.
Of course, no rope was going to stop me, so over the rope it was and softly up to the top of the stairs to Club World. My mission? The gigantic forward Club World toilets! But first, a close up of the Speedmarque.
On other carriers, there are lounge areas, showers or private apartments in the spaces at the front of the upper deck, but on British Airways you get two extremely large bathrooms. I had seen it on the seat maps beforehand, and I even overheard one of the crew telling the guy in 1A about them!
Those Giant Business Class Toilets!
First, some amenities.
Now to the inside of the toilet/room/bathroom. From the door looking to the back. Any ideas what the hatch looking thing is?
Seriously, it would be the best place for the mile high club! Any position would be possible, you could have 4 or 6 people in there and there’d still be space! Meanwhile, the floor looks like this.
After a few minutes taking photos, it was back down the front stairs for me, with a parting shot of the stairs and a quick snap of one of the doors.
After a little snooze, it was time for breakfast and my poor stomach had to have more food!
British Airways First Class Breakfast
I had a fruit smoothie and chose the French Toast as it seemed the lightest thing on the breakfast menu.
I also wanted to try the hot chocolate, billed as “Liquid Chocolat: This is not hot chocolate as you know it…”
Well, I’m afraid to say that it tasted like any generic hot chocolate to me. It was quite a disappointment after reading the blurb about this supposedly orgasmic life changing chocolate drink.
After breakfast, I took a few more views around my seat to complete the picture of my surroundings.
A Few More Seat Details
You can see the view directly in front when seated, showing the position of the entertainment screen when stowed.
Seat width, noting that I am not a particularly wide person. I’m not sure if British Airways first class passengers are generally small or large, but there is plenty of room.
Literature pocket and directly below that is the console where you can store things. The console opens up and inside are all the charging ports. You can close the console and there’s a space for the cords to come out for your devices. It’s quite nifty!
We descended into London and landed early. As I was heading to Prague, I had to change from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 and as an arriving First Class passenger I was entitled to use the First Class lounge in Terminal 3.
So, what are my final thoughts? Overall I thought this flight was much better than my flight over from London. The crew were really spectacular on this flight, extremely friendly and good for a bit of banter which makes big difference to me. On board, the A380 product is superior to the 777 (window blinds notwithstanding) from the more refined layout of the seat to the different location of the coat closet.
Now the tasting menu was everything I expected it to be – I imagine it comes into its own on a 12 hour flight. Oh, and before I forget to mention – the leather on the arm rests of the seats! So soft! It’s something you just want to keep touching… impressive! I’m looking forward to flying First again, that’s for sure!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the report and I look forward to your comments.
And that is how I ended the report, originally written in 2016. Since then, British Airways no longer offer a tasting menu on their Airbus A380 flights. It was specific to that aircraft type, but removed later on in the year. I’m very pleased I got to try it as it was a hell of a lot of fun!
Have you flown British Airways First Class on the Airbus A380? What do you think of it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Mohd Imran A. G. via Wikimedia Commons.