Luxury: flying first-class on British Airways from London to Washington DC

posted in: Blog, London, North America | 69
Robert is spoken to by a member of cabin crew in first class on British Airways
Robert gets some attention on board!

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 dedicated first class check in desk at Heathrow
The dedicated first class check in desk at Heathrow

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!

Enjoying breakfast in the Concorde Lounge at Heathrow
Enjoying breakfast in the Concorde Lounge

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!)

Enjoying First Class from Heathrow to Washington DC
Robert had a lot of soft drinks!

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.

Eating in first class on British Airways
I enjoyed my lunch – note the silver cutlery and white tablecloth!

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…..


Read how British Airways describe first class


69 Responses

  1. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    This sounds absolutely blissful – I’ve never travelled first although I have managed business class a few times with work (and one extremely lucky upgrade) and it was fantastic. I really need to make more effort with airmiles!

  2. Mums do travel

    This sounds like a wonderful flight. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to Business Class on a flight to NYC 7 or 8 years ago, and the children still talk about it! It will be hard to fly economy again now that you’ve experienced this!

  3. Rhian Westbury

    I’ve wanted to fly first class for ages so I might have to work out how I can earn points and things like you. Looks like you got amazing service! x

  4. Mike Smith

    Wow – how did you get all those Avios points ? You must have been collecting for ages

  5. Christine

    Oh wow, I am seriously jealous, that’s amazing. I had an upgrade to Club Class with BA many years ago which was great too (ahem, I still have the salt and pepper pots as souvenirs!). I was lucky enough to book a flight to India which was being flown by the husband of the travel agent I booked through. I even got to sit in the cockpit for takeoff and landing (pre 9/11 of course).

  6. Orli

    Oh wow. Flying first class is definitely something I would like to try. I just never really believed you can actually accumulate enough points and air miles to get to do this… It sounds like the perfect way to fly, especially for people who don’t really like flying (like me). A lot less stressful. Should start working on those Avios 😉

  7. Rachel

    What an absolutely amazing experience and how green with envy I am, it does look so much better than cattle class ha x

  8. Foz

    Oh would love to travel first class! 8 hours in economy isn’t much fun (we go every couple of years)

  9. Derek

    I’m treating myself to First Class on the exact same route in 3 weeks time. The Taster Menu is exclusive to A380 First Class only, so am probably going to have that…. Just because I can!

    So excited, even more so now I’ve read your report.

  10. hannah

    Now heres someone who loves to travel in style. I’ve flown with BA quite a few times in their Club World. I went with them in Club to Florida last month. I think its fab and being able to go flat is definitely heaven, especially on a night flight. I’ve never flown First, but wouldn’t mind to, it looks awesome. You would have a really hard job getting me off that flight in either club or first. They are both definitely the only way to fly x

  11. oana79

    I have never flown first class, thank you for giving us an insight at how it all looks like behind the curtains!xx

  12. Becky

    Well, I would’ve said yes to the free spa treatment in the lounge 🙂

    Looks like a really great way to make the flight part of the adventure. I’ve flown business class before (but never first) and for me, the biggest upside is arriving without that overwhelming feeling of jetlag and exhaustion. Amazing how a little pampering and good rest can change things!

    • Sarah Ebner

      Yes, you’re absolutely right – it makes such a difference to how you feel when you arrive, especially after a long flight. (and I would have liked a spa treatment, but I was with the family!)

  13. Karilyn

    I travelled first class once from India to San Francisco – with my newborn son. It was heaven on earth! Well besides all the dirty looks people gave me when they saw I had a child! (who by the way didn’t make one peep the entire 24 hr flight!). It definitely spoiled me. Now traveling as a family we are almost guaranteed to never get upgrades, so I will have to remember that time fondly 🙂

  14. Shobha

    My kids really want to go in first class! somehow it has become a dream (not that business class wasn’t nice when we got upgraded?? #firstworldproblems). We too are saving up Avios points but didn’t occur to me to use them for a first class seat … maybe that’s the way to go so I don’t feel guilty about the cost of the seats. Your peek into first class looks amazing!! I may have to grudgingly agree with them that it is significantly better than business.

  15. Miranda (Myrabev)

    I travelled in business first last month and I experienced the exact same thing, though it was for business in the states I do not think I want to go back to economy anymore. I want to keep flying business first lol.

  16. Carly

    One day, hopefully also through points collection, I will fly first class. I want to experience a flight where, just once, I’m not cramped, freezing cold and expected to shell out $7 everytime I want a drink lol. Glad you guys enjoyed it!

  17. Julie McCool

    Oh how you’ve made me long to fly first class again. I used to score first class updates on business trips long ago and it was always amazing. Now that economy is more cramped and over-crowded than ever, I covet those those big, private first class seats. Time to go buy something and earn some more air points.

  18. Lori Bosworth

    Wow, that experience looks amazing! I have traveled first class only once from Canada to Italy and I absolutely loved it! They served us champagne and orange juice as soon as we were seated and of course, you have so much more space in first class.

  19. Erica Price

    It does look lovely. We once flew to the states (this was the last family holiday I went on with my parents) via Amsterdam with KLM. I think KLM messed up a bit on the transfer and there were no seats in economy so we had to go first class (me, mum, dad, my sister and 2 brothers). It was great. Sadly we didn’t get upgraded on the way back.

  20. Stephen

    Wow what an amazing experience, I bet it was absolute bliss, I have never travelled in First Class and would obviously love too.

  21. kita

    This looks amazing. I need to fly first anywhere then I will up my bucket list to first class. any class will do I just need to get my but up in the air.

  22. Dogvills

    Wow! I’ve never flown first class and I have always dreamed of going left instead of going right when boarding the aircraft. I have tried the Business Class, though. You guys looked like you had so much fun.

  23. shere

    I’m still dreaming of flying first class one day. I’m colecting also a lot of avios, but the changes in the avios program, I might have enough points for a first class when I’m retired 😛

  24. Ashley

    What a wonderful way to travel! I’ve never flown first class but this reminds me exactly why I’ve always wanted to. It’ll probably be a some day thing that hopefully gets crossed off my bucket list!

  25. samiya selim

    I always dream of being able to travel first class, maybe someday we will….just to have all that space would be so amazing! looks like you guys had a wonderful flight 🙂

  26. Yona Williams

    I had one chance to fly first class before, but declined because it would mean that my sweetie and I would have been separated. It looks like the first-class experience had a lot of room. Also, I would have loved the food perks.

  27. Jen

    What a treat! I’ve traveled first class a few times and it really never gets old, does it? Lucky you.

  28. Mary

    What a treat! I absolutely hate flying, I mean I love traveling but the act of actually flying I find miserable. But if I could fly like that all the time I think I could stand it quite a bit more. Hmm, maybe it is worth all that extra cost!

  29. Monica

    Flying first class must be really reall comfortable – I always suffer so much in the economy dreaming one day it’ll change 😉

  30. Meg Jerrard

    So jealous!! So happy that you got to experience this, that’s such an amazing treat – I’m dying to fly lol though my problem is I always have the points but see the possibility of two individual flights/trips there instead of one upgraded class 😀 So I guess it’s my own fault I haven’t flown first … prioritization of points!!

  31. Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers

    Sounds like a very comfortable and relaxed way to travel. Not for me though unfortunately, I save my budget for all those amazing experiences once I get to the destination and look for discount flights whenever I can, best I’ve managed are a few upgrades to business.

  32. Charly Dove

    Oh wow, it sounds absolutely amazing and just look at your happy faces! What a treat. I’d love to fly first class one day, all too often we’re in cattle class!

  33. Reiseblog

    Oh my god – I’ve always dreamed of having so much space and such a great service! Like I can see you’ve really enjoyed it. 🙂

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