airlineanorak From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2007, 85 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 21411 times:
This is the 3rd part of my recent trip LHR - SFO - JFK - LHR on UA / BA in First Class. This report concludes my journey and covers the last sector on the day flight back to London. If you're interested, the first 2 parts can be found here:
The first part of the TR explains the background to the trip, how many miles I used to book etc, so I won't repeat it here.
CHECK IN AND SECURITY
I choose to fly on the day flight home from NYC after spending almost a week there meeting up with friends. I much prefer the day flights back from the East Cost of the US since I find the 6 hours or so is not enough to enjoy a decent enough sleep on the overnight flights. Also, I still love flying and want to enjoy the flight. So wherever possible, I take the day flights back.
The BA day flight from JFK departs at 08:00. I booked a car from my Manhattan hotel for 05:30 since I suspected it would take somewhere between 30 and 45 mins to reach JFK. The car turned up on time and due to a bit of traffic close to JFK, it took around 40 mins. BA check in for Club and First passengers is round to the left behind the economy check in (it's actually not that well sign posted). Club check in is first and then First check in is at the end on the right hand side.
First Check In:
Both the First and Club check in desks were empty and I was soon on my way. As per the way out, we had selected 5E and 5F. Also, the good news is that we knew this was going to be New First since it was a High J config (all High Js have been fitted with the New First).
The check in agent pointed us to the fast track security (just opposite the First check in desks) and told us to make ourselves comfortable in the Concorde Room. Now this was a surprise to me that it was opened for the day flight, since the BA web site said it was closed, as did the 'You First' concierge when we contacted them. The check in agent said it was open from 06:00am every morning. I will write to BA and ask them to reflect this on their web site and to inform You First.
There were only 2 people in front of us at security and we were soon up the ramp, with the Concorde Room (CCR) on the left hand side.
THE LOUNGE - JFK CONCORDE ROOM
We were the first people in the CCR this morning, so I got snapping with my iPhone and took quite a few pictures - I still feel a bit embarrassed when there are other people around when I take pictures!
I must say that I actually preferred the JFK CCR to the LHR one! Perhaps since it's newer (it was completely refurbished in 2011) or because it was smaller and more 'homely'? It was just a more pleasant place to spend some time in.
I didn't take any photos of the breakfast offering, but it was a cold buffet selection of pastries, breads, fruit, yoghurts, smoked salmon and a few other bit and pieces. I am assuming the CCR closes after the day flight departs, since there are no other BA or T7 One World flights till the evening?
I had some toast, with smoked salmon and cream cheese. There was a bar where a full drinks service was available. However, even for a Scotsman, 06:30 felt a tad too early for alcohol, so I had a coffee.
I popped out to Duty Free to buy some things and came back to the lounge. By this time, there were around 10 people in the Lounge. At around 07:15 I decided to head to the gate, since boarding was just about to start. As we approached the gate, boarding started and we were soon on board.
I was pleased to see for sure that it was definitely New First! I have flown both the old and the new before, but never so closely together. It's only when it was 10 days apart that I saw just how much better new First really is. I think it's because I clung on to the nostalgia of the old First (a product I knew so well) that I was perhaps blinkered. But BA have made a great job of NF.
There were 10 passengers in First on today's day flight back to London (14 seats).
Here were our seats 5E and 5F:
We were warmly greeted by the crew and drinks were offered. Since I had now completed breakfast and had a coffee, I thought it was acceptable to have a glass of Champagne!
It was soon after this that we encountered some technical problems. The whole aircraft was plunged into darkness and all power failed (even to the emergency lights which briefly came on). Within a few minutes, power was restored but an alarm immediately sounded in the First galley at door 1.
I won't bore you with the ins and outs, but we ended up being on the ground for 3 full hours while they fixed the problem. Something had clearly 'tripped' when they encountered the power failure and the alarm was indicating there was smoke in the First Class toilet. This is obviously something they can't take off with since they'd never know if there was a real fire mid-flight.
At one stage they thought they were going to cancel the flight, but after the engineers had a conference call with Boeing and London Engineering, the fault was resolved sometime after 10:00. What was interesting is that to access the electrical room on the jumbo, the engineers had to lift the carpet in First Class and descend below us! I took a quick snap:
The crew were delightful throughout all of this and I had build up a great rapport with them. The continued with drinks service throughout the delay and I think I must have had 4 glasses of Champagne!
We were soon in the air (about 3 hours late). Menu cards, sleeper suits, slippers and pashminas were handed out (some of these items were given out before take off)
Wine list (same one as the LHR - SFO flight 10 days earlier)
Food menu (again, an of these items are available at any time during the flight)
Given that I had already consumed 4 glasses of Champagne before take-off, I thought it wise to have a pot of tea with my breakfast! I went to for the fruit salad and the full English.
My fruit salad
My full Engligh
Shortly after this, I switched to Tanqueray & tonic and watched 2 movies. About half way across the Atlantic, I was feeling peckish and the crew made me 2 bacon rolls. I then switched to my favourite whisky - JW Blue Label. About an hour before landing I was also served the afternoon tea of sandwiches, salad and a plate of cakes. Apologies, but again I didn't take photos of the rest of the food! I think I must get too 'relaxed' - or perhaps it's the JW Blue that does it!
I did however, take some random cabin pictures:
I love that you can split the screen and watch the entertainment whilst still seeing the map!
I had a great flight back. The crew were faultless once again. They really worked as a team and nothing was too much trouble. I used to live between India and the UK and flew BA often between the two countries. I have generally received great service, but there are times where the crew just don't care and everything feels like a hassle (I guess you get these bad eggs on every airline). I'm pleased to say that on either of my BA flights did this ever occur and the service felt very genuine.
In summary about my whole trip, I had a wonderful time! I loved Yosemite which was breath-taking. San Francisco is a great city and I will never tire of it. NYC was a lot of fun and we spent some wonderful days with friends out there.
United PS was my biggest surprise about how pleasant it was. I struggle to fault BA First for anything - the lounges are amazing, their New First is top notch and the Service I received on both of my flights was second to none.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these reports. I have 2 more BA First Trips coming up and potentially a BA Club World. I'll see if any of these journeys are unique enough to write another TR about!
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 2963 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 20910 times:
Nice final part to your trip! The seats/cabin look luxurious, but also a bit too dark for a sunny daytime flight. Did it feel dark? I guess it would suit the mood for a winter overnight flight.
Quoting airlineanorak (Thread starter): I much prefer the day flights back from the East Cost of the US since I find the 6 hours or so is not enough to enjoy a decent enough sleep on the overnight flights. Also, I still love flying and want to enjoy the flight. So wherever possible, I take the day flights back.
When I get round to doing a JFK-LHR flight, I think I'm going to go for this daytime one - plenty of time to enjoy the flight as you say
Quoting airlineanorak (Thread starter): What was interesting is that to access the electrical room on the jumbo, the engineers had to lift the carpet in First Class and descend below us! I took a quick snap:
Very interesting!. Reminds me of the film Flight Plan! Shame it took such a long time to get fixed....still, it meant a longer time in First!
Quoting airlineanorak (Thread starter): About an hour before landing I was also served the afternoon tea of sandwiches, salad and a plate of cakes.
The breakfast loked nice, but I'd expect something hot for a second meal in First...it would be dinner time by now?
airlineanorak From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2007, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 20843 times:
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3): Nice final part to your trip! The seats/cabin look luxurious, but also a bit too dark for a sunny daytime flight. Did it feel dark? I guess it would suit the mood for a winter overnight flight.
Most of the photos were taken when the window blinds were down, hence why it was dark. At points during the flight, some passengers opened their blinds and the cabin was filled with day light. I guess for people sitting next to the window it's easier to watch a movie with the blinds down.
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3): The breakfast loked nice, but I'd expect something hot for a second meal in First...it would be dinner time by now?
You're right. I could have done with a hot meal before landing. I have flown UA twice in First in the last year on the day flight back from IAD and it is more fitting to have a hot meal. From memory, I think the BA flight is scheduled to land at 19:40 local time in London (the flight time is about 6 hours). When you think about it, on the evening flights from JFK they serve you a full 4 course hot meal in First and then a cooked breakfast before you land. They should really load the same catering as they do on the evening flights and just switch the service round? That might work better.
Indeed, the JFK CCR looks a lot nicer than the LHR one. The lower ceiling gives a more cosy ambience it seems, and those couches look much like the ones you would find in somebody's living room. Views of the tarmac appeared to be quite good too.
Quoting airlineanorak (Thread starter): I won't bore you with the ins and outs, but we ended up being on the ground for 3 full hours while they fixed the problem.
So they let you stay onboard the plane for the whole 3 hours, or did they let passengers leave the plane? I suppose being in F those 3 extra hours onboard would've just come as a nice bonus, sampling the product some more. However can't imagine how it must've felt for the passengers in Economy
Must say that as nice as the seat and cabin looks, I still think the seat itself looks much like a slightly enhanced version of the CW seat, but i suppose that's the case when they fit 14 seats into the cabin. But I suppose that may not be the case?
airlineanorak From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2007, 85 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 20376 times:
Quoting shamrock321 (Reply 5): How exciting to read these ''first'' reports! I start my training to work in the ''first'' cabin next week
Good luck! The only advice I can give you is to be present in the cabin a lot and be proactive with offers of top-ups. Especially the JW Blue!
Jonas - congratulations on your Eurovision win last night!
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 6): I find it quite interesting that they have dayflights on eastbound. How does the jetlag affect you when taking those, as opposed to the night flight?
I know this works differently for different people, but I personally find it easier to deal with jetlag on the day flight. On your last night in the US, whether on Business or pleasure, you always end up staying up late. Therefore, getting up at 5am means you're slightly tired, but not too bad. Then you fly for 6 hours (enjoying some drinks) , land at 8pm, home by 9:30pm and by 11pm you're tired and ready for bed at the 'normal' time. On the night flights, I find it takes me a long time to get off to sleep, since at 7pm I'm just not tired. I therefore end up with only 2 hours sleep and feel rubbish when I land in the UK. As I said, it's all a personal choice.
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 6): So they let you stay onboard the plane for the whole 3 hours, or did they let passengers leave the plane?
They didn't let anyone leave. They weren't sure how long it was going to take to resolve and they needed to get away quite quickly (by this time they'd be pushing their arrival slot at LHR). I guess it would have been very difficult to round up 300 passengers from around the terminal when they finally did resolve it, so just kept them on board. The CSD did start the in-flight entertainment on the ground though.
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 6): And no lime again, I suppose? Not even catered from JFK... Oh well, in my next report there might be a few pieces of lime there just for you
No lime, even out of the US (although interestingly, LX put lime on board their flights departing the US but not departing ZRH - how odd!). I did actually have a whole lime in my hand luggage but I though it was a bit much to ask the crew to cut it for me too! I'm sure they would have done it though....
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 6): Must say that as nice as the seat and cabin looks, I still think the seat itself looks much like a slightly enhanced version of the CW seat, but i suppose that's the case when they fit 14 seats into the cabin. But I suppose that may not be the case?
It really doesn't 'feel' like a Club seat when you're sitting in it (I flew Club world to IAD only 2 weeks before thins trip). The First seat is much better ergonomically designed and moulds much more to your body than Club. It also feels a lot bigger (although looking at the photos it doesn't make it look that way!). Perhaps a trick of the mind because you know you're in First?!
GVAJFKflyer From Switzerland, joined Aug 2009, 100 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 9 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 17818 times:
Thanks for your three very interesting reports.
Quoting airlineanorak (Thread starter): I think it's because I clung on to the nostalgia of the old First (a product I knew so well) that I was perhaps blinkered. But BA have made a great job of NF.
I tend to fly LX more these days, but I used to fly BA quite a lot. Most of my flights were in old F, but I have flown new F a few times as well. I do not know why, I still tend to prefer old F (although I must say some seats are showing their age ...). Perhaps it is the effect of good memories. Perhaps it is the colour, or the "plastic" feel, of the new cabin. I really don't know. The seat is nice though, and I agree with you: the service is always very good.