How often have you dreamed of going left, instead of right when getting onto an aeroplane? When we went from London to Washington DC we were lucky enough to do just that, and have to say that flying first-class is pretty much as good as you might have imagined….
Let’s start at the beginning. We are not hugely rich, nor were we fortunate enough to be upgraded. Instead we became avid Avios collectors, culminating in enough points (and two for one vouchers) to fly across the Atlantic in style with British Airways.
The experience begins at check-in. When you fly first class, there’s no need to stand in a long queue. Instead you have your own dedicated check-in desks.
Following this, you can go through a quicker security check – although we were disappointed to find that ours was full of other people flying in club or first class (who are these people?!). The check-in desk is right next to this fast-track security and it didn’t really take very long at all, so we can’t complain.
Before we knew it, we had headed through an innocent looking white door into the Concorde Lounge. This is a treat for those flying from Terminal 5 at Heathrow and it already brings back great memories!
The Concorde Lounge is for first-class passengers only (those in club have their own lounge) and is a lovely place to relax before your flight. You can have a drink at the bar, read a paper, have a shower or even have a massage or facial (you can turn up and ask for this on the day at the Elemis spa). We didn’t try these out, but we did have some breakfast (free of course), consisting of poached eggs, toast, pastries, juice and more, in a private booth. All the staff were extremely friendly.
We went from the lounge to our flight and, because the plane was huge (it was an A380) we actually went on to the place through a dedicated entrance. This made us feel extremely important.
You can book first class seats way in advance, so we knew where we were sitting (near the back). We had also booked food for Robert in advance (he has food allergies), but have to say that they had mucked this up unfortunately as I had specifically asked if the vegan food contained soya (which he can’t eat) and was told it was all soya free. He was then given a dish with tofu – which is…soya!
Anyway, that was actually a minor thing which he was not too concerned about, especially when there was so much more to be excited about, including unlimited soft drinks. Plus, all the staff were incredibly sweet with him (and kept telling us how sweet he was!)
Once we were on board there was no rush to put luggage away in overhead lockers before others jostled around you for space: in first class you all get a little cupboard for your belongings and it even includes a hook for your coat or jacket. You also get an extremely comfortable chair plus instructions on how to use it, from increasing your lumbar support to making it recline. If you want to go to sleep, the staff will show you just how to go about turning it into a bed and give you a duvet (no scrappy thin blankets here) to keep you warm.
The screen and headphones in first class are excellent – as you would expect. The whole experience is also extremely comfortable and relaxing and almost feels as if you’re not flying (I am not sure how I will ever go back to economy, but go back I will…).
We were offered a drink pretty much as soon as we arrived and these were on offer throughout the flight, along with snacks (crisps, sweets etc). We were also given a delicious lunch and later tea (with scones and jam no less). I chose from the a la carte menu which had meat, fish and veggie options, plus wine, although you can also have a set five course tasting menu.
My choice was fish with a delicious cauliflower puree, followed by chocolate bread and butter pudding and I loved the fact that, when you are given a meal, your table is covered with a mini tablecloth and you are given silver cutlery. There is also no trolley service – everything is given to you from a tray.
Each passenger is also given a washbag, with different ones for men and women. Both contained the ubiquitous socks, eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and paste, while mine also had a mini hairbrush and mirror, mini deodorant stick, hand lotion, eye serum, rose moisturiser, lipbalm and cleanser courtesy of Aromatherapy Associates . Robert and Brian’s extras were some shaving gel from the Refinery, lipbalm, a pen, comb, moisturiser and mini deodorant. Even better, we were given a pair of black pyjamas, emblazoned with the words “first class” so we could feel important at home too…
One of the joys of first-class is the space. You can lie back and not feel someone else’s presence anywhere near you. But if you do want to chat to a neighbour, you can push down your window and do so – as Brian and I did.
The flight went quickly and smoothly and set us up perfectly for our holiday. It was a real treat to be able to set off on our trip not just with no hassles, but to actually be spoilt. Now we need to start saving up those air miles again…..