Introduction
OneWorld First Class Lounge Los Angeles
OneWorld Business Class Lounge Los Angeles
New Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles Airport
Air France A380 First Class Los Angeles to Paris
Air France First Class Lounge Paris
Air France Business Class Paris to Frankfurt
Hilton Frankfurt
Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Frankfurt
British Airways Club Europe Frankfurt to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways A380 First Class London Heathrow to Los Angeles
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort


British Airways 269
London (LHR) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Friday, December 13
Depart: 3:00PM
Arrive: 6:05PM
Duration: 11hr5min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 3A (First Class)

British Airways puts A380 first class on the lower deck. There are pros and cons to having first class on the upper and lower deck. On the plus side the lower deck is wider, so it’s a more spacious cabin. On the downside the upper deck has some extra space in the “nose,” so when first class is on the upper deck airlines usually put special amenities there, like Emirates does with their showers, Thai does with their lounge, Lufthansa does with their massive lavatories, etc.

Anyway, at the door I was greeted by the CSM (customer service manager), Kat, who directed me to my seat, 3A.

The British Airways first class cabin on the A380 consists of 14 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration – there are four seats along each side of the plane, and three sets of two seats in the center section. Here’s the British Airways A380 first class seatmap, via SeatGuru:

British-Airways-Seatguru

I was actually really impressed by the cabin. It was super sexy/sleek, and visually probably one of the most stunning A380 first class products. The seats also felt considerably more spacious than on the 747, where the seats are hardly more spacious than the reverse herringbone seats typically found in business class nowadays.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

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British Airways A380 first class cabin

That being said, the seat did seem to have quite a bit of wasted space. There was a huge gap by the window, and there was a ton of space on each side of the seat, so I feel like they could have made it a bit wider, which would have made sleeping more comfortable.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

To the left of the seat was a storage unit, which is also where the power adapters and entertainment controls are located.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

Above that were the seat controls, which I find to be super intuitive.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

The panel by the side of the seat housed the tray table.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A

Waiting for me at my seat were headphones and a light blanket.

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British Airways first class headphones and blanket

The windows had “blinds,” so you could dim them by the push of a button.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A windows

Each seat also had a coat closet, which was really practical, especially since there was also room in them for shoes.

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British Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 3A view

Anyway, once settled in I was welcomed aboard by Stuart, a super friendly guy in his mid-30s that would be taking care of the left first class aisle.

As I mentioned in my previous post about this flight, one other thing that made this flight especially unique (for me, at least) is that it was operated by one of British Airways’ “mixed fleet” crews. For those of you that have no clue what British Airways mixed fleet is, let me explain. As you may remember a few years back, British Airways flight attendants went on strike because they couldn’t agree with management on contract terms, and British Airways threatened that if they didn’t have more reasonable terms then they’d stop hiring flight attendants under their contracts.

The flight attendants didn’t give in, so what British Airways did is start hiring “mixed fleet” flight attendants, that operate select shorthaul and longhaul flights. They’re paid significantly less, typically don’t stay at hotels that are quite as nice, and have shorter turnarounds (typically only one night). However, they’re also much younger and more enthusiastic. Admittedly there’s sometimes a bit of a tradeoff, since they’re not always as polished as their “worldwide fleet” colleagues, that have been working for decades. British Airways’ mixed fleet flight attendants exclusively operate all the Los Angeles services, so I was quite looking forward to that.

So basically British Airways mixed fleet flight attendants make me feel old… which is a problem. Hell, you know that’s the case when several of your crew members aren’t even old enough to drink in the US.

Stuart seemed to be the oldest crew member aboard, and had previous experience with another major UK airline (so he didn’t lose his airline virginity with British Airways). ;)

Anyway, Stuart was extremely professional and couldn’t have been more attentive throughout the flight. Once settled in he offered me something to drink, and I of course ordered a glass of Grand-Siecle. He brought out the bottle, presented it to me, and then poured, which I always find to be a nice touch.

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British Airways first class Grand Siecle champagne

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British Airways first class Grand Siecle champagne

Shortly thereafter he presented me with the amenity kit and pajamas for the flight. British Airways recently updated their amenity kit, and to be honest I’m not really a fan of it compared to their previous amenity kit, which had an awesome “case.”

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British Airways first class amenity kit, pajamas, and champagne

The amenity kit was extremely well stocked, though, with a comb, pen, shaving kit, deodorant, moisturizer, shaving gel, eye gel, and lip balm.

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British Airways first class amenity kit contents

I’ve always loved British Airways pajamas since they say “First” on them in big letters, though they’re even awesomer on the A380, as they say “First A380″ on them. How cool is that?! British Airways also has really high quality slippers, for what it’s worth.

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British Airways A380 first class pajamas

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British Airways A380 first class pajamas

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British Airways A380 first class pajamas

I changed into my pajamas as soon as I received them. The lavatory in first on the A380 is extremely small, which was a bit disappointing. I had been given size “M” pajamas, and while the bottoms were the perfect size, the top was too small. Stuart gladly swapped out the top for a bigger one, which was much appreciated.

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British Airways A380 first class lavatory

Once back at my seat I ordered another glass of champagne. I downed it pretty quickly, and then ordered another. And another.

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British Airways first class menu

After a few glasses Stuart refilled my glass and said “sir, you do realize this is a delicate champagne.” I responded “I know, or else I wouldn’t be drinking it.” He said “it’s 180 quid a bottle, you know.” I called him out on that, as it’s really “only” about half that, and told him not to pretend that it’s 2002 Dom. He responded “oh, Dom in first class is so cliche.”

Around our scheduled pushback time the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 10hr10min, anticipating we’d arrive into Los Angeles ahead of schedule. By the time the door closed nine of the 14 first class seats were taken, with only four passengers on “my” aisle.

Unfortunately we had a bit of a delay on pushback due to traffic on the taxiway, so we pushed back at around 3:30PM.

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View on pushback

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View on pushback

We began a fairly long taxi to runway 27L, which took about 15 minutes.

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View on taxi

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View on taxi

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View on taxi

Fortunately British Airways makes their entertainment system available on the ground, so I began browsing the selection.

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British Airways first class entertainment system

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British Airways first class entertainment system

I settled on a couple of sitcoms, and before I knew it we were airborne by 3:45PM.

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British Airways first class entertainment system

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Taxiing into position

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British Airways airshow

While there was some chop on the initial climb out, it was a gorgeous evening after we were airborne, given the beautiful sunset views.

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View after takeoff

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and service began, starting with hot towels being distributed. Admittedly it’s a very minor detail, but British Airways could use some thicker towels in first class, in my opinion.

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British Airways first class hot towel

At this point Stuart came around to take lunch orders. The lunch menu read as follows:

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British-Airways-A380-First-Class-42

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British-Airways-A380-First-Class-44

And the wine list read as follows:

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British-Airways-A380-First-Class-46

British-Airways-A380-First-Class-47

As you can see there was both a traditional menu and a tasting menu, and I decided to order from the former. I decided on the halibut and was a bit buzzed at this point so am not sure why I asked the question, but I asked Stuart if the halibut was breaded. He responded “sir, of course not, this isn’t the Red Lobster.”

After takeoff I was served another glass of champagne with some warm nuts — I do love BA’s nut mix!

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British Airways first class champagne and nuts

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British Airways first class nuts

Shortly thereafter my table was set.

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British Airways first class table setting

The meal service began with an amuse bouche, which on this flight was quail breast.

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British Airways first class amuse bouche

For the appetizer I ordered crab and avocado, which was quite good.

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British Airways first class crab and avocado starter

That was followed by a delicious butternut squash soup and mediocre salad.

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British Airways first class butternut squash cream soup

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British Airways first class salad

I was then served the pan-fried halibut, which was only okay. I wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce it was doused in.

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British Airways first class pan-fried halibut main course

Then for dessert I ordered the key lime pie, which was beautifully presented.

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British Airways first class key lime pie dessert

To finish off the meal I ordered a cappuccino. I was offered some chocolates to accompany it.

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British Airways first class cappuccino

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British Airways first class chocolates

The pace of the meal service was fantastic, as I was done maybe 2.5 hours into the flight. Stuart was a rockstar and couldn’t have done a better job. In terms of the quality of the food, it’s pretty unremarkable, not that I’d expect any more from a British airline. But I tend to think their first class catering is a lot more like really good business class catering than anything else.

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British Airways airshow upon completion of meal

After lunch I asked to have my bed made, and briefly walked around the plane while that was being taken care of. Interestingly British Airways has some Club World (business class) seats on the lower deck, making them the only airline to have business class seating on the A380 lower deck.

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British Airways A380 Club World cabin

There’s another business class cabin on the upper deck, with a couple of really spacious lavatories in the front part of the cabin.

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British Airways A380 stairs to upper deck

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British Airways A380 Club World upper deck lavatory

By the time I returned to my seat my bed was made. British Airways has good bedding, and I have to say the A380 first class seat is considerably more comfortable than the 747 first class seat for sleeping.

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British Airways A380 first class turndown service

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British Airways A380 first class turndown service

I managed to sleep for about five hours, and woke up just under three hours out of Los Angeles.

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British Airways airshow upon waking up

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British Airways airshow upon waking up

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British Airways airshow upon waking up

I decided to watch “We’re the Millers,” which was a bit dumb though entertaining enough for an airplane movie, in my opinion.

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British Airways first class entertainment system

While I didn’t partake in it, the mid-flight snack menu read as follows:

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Roughly 90 minutes prior to landing in Los Angeles the afternoon tea service began. The menu for that read as follows:

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I ordered an Earl Grey tea, and was quickly served the first course, consisting of a few sandwiches.

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

One of them even had caviar, which is probably the only time I’ll ever see that in British Airways first class!

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

Next I was offered a variety of cakes, which were simply beautiful — I really didn’t want to eat them (and I was pretty full at this point so just took a bite of each).

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

And lastly I was offered scones with jam and clotted cream — delicious!

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

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British Airways first class afternoon tea

As far as I’m concerned British Airways should exclusively serve afternoon tea on flights, regardless of the time of day.

About 30 minutes out we began our descent and I changed out of my pajamas. Our descent into Los Angeles was smooth, and we touched down on runway 24R about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and had a fairly quick taxi to the gate from there.

I bid farewell to the amazing crew, and thanks to Global Entry was on the curb just a few minutes after deplaning.

On the whole this was the best British Airways flight I’ve had. The crew was extremely friendly, and I think the “mixed fleet” concept is a winner in terms of the fresh blood it’s bringing into the airline. The A380 first class seat is also noticeably better than the 747 first class seat. That being said, it’s ultimately not one of the best A380 first class hard products out there, and I don’t exactly think British Airways’ food is industry leading.

  1. December 30th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    steve said,

    Did you have the halibut or the lobster (see caption below the halibut picture)?

  2. December 30th, 2013 at 7:45 am

    lucky said,

    @ steve — Whoops, meant halibut. Updated the caption. Thanks.

  3. December 30th, 2013 at 8:04 am

    hkairlinenews said,

    Everybody makes mistakes sometimes – breaded halibut shouldn’t taste so bad!

    Great, great trip report, as always. Why are the Club World lavatories so much bigger than the First Class ones?

  4. December 30th, 2013 at 8:07 am

    lucky said,

    @ hkairlinenews — There’s a limited amount of room between doors one and two on the A380 lower deck, so there’s not much extra room for a large lavatory. On the upper deck there’s a lot of extra space that would be wasted otherwise.

  5. December 30th, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Mike said,

    Is Biz Class really 8 across? They’ve got to be kidding. As I recall EK is 4 wide on the Upper Deck. Yet another reason why BA will not see any J class revenue $ from me any time soon. (They did the same thing with the 787 – where they went 7 wide in J.)

  6. December 30th, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Miro said,

    Lucky, do also LHR-SFO flights (I am taking BA 747 F in a few days) have mixed crews?

  7. December 30th, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Dax said,

    I wonder how mixed crews are supposed to retire on their much lower salary. Maybe retirement itself is an outdated concept at this point.

  8. December 30th, 2013 at 9:27 am

    hkairlinenews said,

    @ lucky – Thanks so much! No wonder so many airlines put first class on the upper deck.

  9. December 30th, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Joey said,

    You are right that the Brits are not known for their food. In the butternut squash soup photo, what was that on the left? Was it your bread? It doesn’t look edible..
    Also, since the title of this set of reports is “Air France vs British Airways A380″ — between the two, which one won? I’m guessing AF?

  10. December 30th, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Nybanker said,

    Re J seats 8 abreast, that is on the lower level. Upstairs is 7.

    Until you’ve flown them, you would assume that is narrow. In fact, the way the armrests are staggered due to the ying/yang design, the seats are reasonably wide for J seats.

    These remain my second favorite J seats (KE and QF are better), due to the fact that you don’t have to put your feet in a small cubbyhole…as you do on EK’s (any many other carriers’) staggered J.

    BA was the first to go all flat in J.

  11. December 30th, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Tony said,

    It’s strange how on the menu for the crab starter it mentions a chance of crab shell being in there. I think they could have gotten rid of the crab shells or passenger will be a bit frightened.

  12. December 30th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Ozaer N. said,

    Ben…did you redeem miles for this flight? this is pretty amazing! I’d love to fly this someday!

  13. December 30th, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Susan said,

    Wait, they actually serve chicken tikka masala in BA First, that same stuff they dish out in BA Y? It was bad enough to encounter it on Open Skies (PremPlus). Imagine the industrial sized vats of that pink slop–frightening to see it in F.

    Considering how much champagne you had, your pictures came out really well. Those windows look narrow, but they make a nice framing device, especially the shot with the three BA tails.

  14. December 30th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Sean said,

    You seem to be writing more in your TRs lately!

    I’m very critical of BA first, primarily because 14 seats doesn’t really constitute an F cabin in my book.

  15. December 30th, 2013 at 10:37 am

    beachfan said,

    Thanks Lucky. Good to know about the seat width, I found new F on a 777 to be unimpressive (hard product). My shoulders felt cramped, I don’t want my shoulders to be up against the edge of the shell. (same issue on new 77W in J by American when sitting).

    To put a finer point on your review, is it just wider, or sufficiently wider so that you don’t rub against the shell.

  16. December 30th, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Mike said,

    @Nybanker,

    I haven’t flown on the BA A380 in J – so I can’t comment specifically – I have however flown on the BA 777 and the 787 in J. I personally find the seat ridiculous in J. You are correct – some footwells in J can be challenging(to be fair I’m 5’10″ and they work for me) – although I don’t put EK (or CX for that matter) in the same category as LX, OS or DL.

    That said – for what it’s worth – to me – the BA seat is one of the worst flats flying today. After having recently given BA a ‘second chance’ and checking out the 787 – they are on my avoid list in J.

    The issues:
    *Having to look at your ‘seatmate’ during take off and landing
    *A narrow seat with little storage space
    *A narrower lower torso area
    *Climbing over your neighbor (or vice versa)

    For NYC-LON I would rank (hard) products as follows:
    AA; VS; BA(LCY); DL; UA; BA(LHR)

    My feeling is BA want to fit as many people as humanly possible in one space and collect as much revenue as they can doing it. As the FT BA board shows – there are many BA loyalists who will continue to carry the flag for BA. As I suggested earlier – they will not see additional revenue from me until their hard product improves.

  17. December 30th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Dave D said,

    180 quid a bottle. Hardly. You can buy it here for ~110. Krug is usually ~150.

  18. December 30th, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Dan said,

    I think a pic of Stuart would have added greatly to the trip report…

  19. December 30th, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Mike — Yep, on the lower deck it is unfortunately eight across, while on the upper deck it’s seven across. Very tight!

  20. December 30th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Miro — Nope, that flight is operated by British Airways’ WW (worldwide fleet), which is different than their mixed fleet crews.

  21. December 30th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Joey — Next to the soup is a focaccia bread, which was surprisingly tasty.

    I’ll have a comparison of all A380 products I’ve flown soon, but I’d say on the whole the Air France experience won. Exclusively factoring in the onboard experience it would be a pretty close call.

  22. December 30th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Ozaer N. — I sure did. You can find a cost breakdown in the introduction post:
    http://boardingarea.com/onemileatatime/2013/12/17/air-france-vs-british-airways-a380-introduction/

  23. December 30th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Susan — Hah, thanks. I think I actually take better pictures when a bit buzzed. ;)

  24. December 30th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    lucky said,

    @ beachfan — I felt it was more spacious and like I wasn’t squished against the sides like I feel on the 747.

  25. December 30th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    sjs said,

    @Sean – guess you shouldn’t fly EK, then. Though, that said, I actually did think the EK A380 cabin was embarrassingly big and really took away from the quality of the service/exclusivity. Very Vegas-esque.

  26. December 30th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    The Global Traveller said,

    @Nybanker – as someone big I know the BA J seat is one of the tightest there is, particularly in the shoulder area. As others have noted, the in seat storage is also fairly limited and awkwardly located.

    On A380, for some reason the outer overhead bins on BA are much smaller than on other airlines. Meaning 3 or 4 pax fighting for the use of the inner overhead bins.

  27. December 30th, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Shannon said,

    Ben, do you think Stewart was trying to be funny or he had to reserve that 180 quid bottle champagne to other passengers?

  28. December 30th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Guillaume said,

    Maybe you should spice up your next post with a picture that you could send to the Airplane Penis Club. http://airplanepenisclub.tumblr.com/

  29. December 30th, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Bill said,

    After flying SQ suites class, if a first class seat does not have a door to it, I’m not interested . . .

  30. December 30th, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Jorge said,

    Are some of those J seats facing the tail of the plane? (if true) That is so disgusting and uncomfortable. Only airline I can think of is WN. I would have serious stomach issues and nausea, and that is the reason I stopped flying WN in the 90s.

    Now the first class seat feels claustrophobic to me. I still have over 160k BA miles left, guess I will be using them on AA until done.

  31. December 31st, 2013 at 1:29 am

    lucky said,

    @ Shannon — He was definitely trying to be funny. They still had champagne left at the end of the flight, for what it’s worth.

  32. December 31st, 2013 at 1:29 am

    lucky said,

    @ Jorge — Yep, indeed, some of the Club World seats are rear facing.

  33. December 31st, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Peter said,

    @ Lucky– Now that you’re familiar with various first class champagnes, which do you recommend for tonight’s toast? ;-)

    Happy new year!

  34. January 1st, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Jeremy said,

    “As far as I’m concerned British Airways should exclusively serve afternoon tea on flights, regardless of the time of day.”

    I completely agree with this. Love those scones and was disappointed as my last BA flight was an overnight so didn’t get to experience them.

    I do think that their food is better than LH’s which tries too hard IMO. Cabin on 380 looks great but shame those bathrooms are so tiny.

  35. January 11th, 2014 at 4:09 am

    Anita said,

    I just booked my first class ticket on777 it’s my very first british air flight I am so pissed they decided to change the amenity kit!! Why????? It looks like they cheapened out and got a generic no name brand kit. Ugh this sucks
    I was hoping for an awesome first class experience but this report tells me there’s not much in terms of luxury or big seats to be had
    FML!
    I had to scrimp and save for these avios the hard way. So I was hoping for a nice payoff

  36. January 11th, 2014 at 4:38 am

    Chilangoflyer said,

    Regarding BA J (as well as the new LH J), you should not rate it, if you haven’t flown it. I am 6.4 and I do not have any problems with the seat, taking the last row, you even have your private exit without stepping over anyone. Having my neighbor slightly in front during takeoff doesn’t bother me much, as I will have my most private suite during the rest of the flight with the devider up. And flying “backwards”, honestly, I don’t see or feel any difference. BA still is my favorite seat over any European J seat including new LH, LX, OS, TR…

  37. February 7th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Heather @ pass the dressing said,

    This is my 3rd or 4th time rereading this article but I just have to ask. Was Stuart being funny or kinda a jerk about the champagne. Did you get the feeling that he wanted you to slow down or just be playful?

  38. February 7th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Heather — He was 100% being playful.

  39. March 21st, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    John Daugh said,

    I am a frequent flyer on emirates A380 first and business class. It is good to see that i also made a good choice by not flying BA 380s, the BA first class product (well described above), does not even match emirates business class products!
    emirates are around 15% more expensive, but certainly worth the money.

  40. April 4th, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Ed said,

    I’m obviously a grumpy bast**d but I think it’s a massive disappointment. BA was the first to create an amazing first 20 years ago. Their new product is frankly not up to it. Seats are very small vs best in class (Singapore, emirates and even jet – if you fly to India check it out cheaper than BA business and miles better than BA first). Food is average, Concorde lounge actually is awful once you have got over the fact you got though special door and wines are average. The whole point about first is to impress and make you feel special. Well maybe it does but not if you have flown to Asia in business. Come on BA I know you are run by accountants but please…. 12k return and you give me shitty wine. Charge me another 500 quid and blow me away. That’s the point isn’t it. Oh and make the seats turn into beds 7ft long and 4 ft wide. You got the space when u strip out upgrades and free loaders.

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