I am one of these selfish anetters I'm afraid, I very much enjoy reading everyone else's TRs, but rarely post my own. In an attempt to fix this, I have a couple of days off work and I am going to publish three TRs for some flights I took recently. All of the photos were taken on my iPhone so some are not great quality.
After working too many hours for too many months, I decided to use my BA 'companion voucher' to take myself and my partner on a holiday to the US. We spent about 2 weeks there taking in San Francisco, Yosemite National Park and New York.
For those of you unfamiliar, the BA companion voucher is issed when you spend over £10,000 per year on the BA AMEX Premium Plus card and is valid for 2 years. You can also have one issued after you spend £15,000 (or is it £20,000?) on a regular BA AMEX and this is valid for 1 year. The voucher entitles you to have a companion to travel with you for no extra miles when you redeem points, you just need to pay that tax and charges. So for 150,000 miles, plus around £1,000 in tax and charges, I booked the two of us on an open jaw ticket LHR - SFO and then returning JFK - LHR on the day flight. The voucher can only be used on BA metal, so I was unable to use it to tag on an AA connection to get me to JFK, so instead, I used my Star Alliance miles to book a United 'Premium Service' First Class between SFO and JFK.
To keep the reports a readable length, and to hopefully keep your attention , I am breaking the report into 3 parts:
- LHR - SFO BA (old) First on a 747
- SFO - JFK UA PS in First Class on a 757
- JFK - LHR BA (new) First on a 747
This TR is going to be on the 1st sector. As ever, any hints, tips or feedback would be most welcome to improve on my future TRs which I will make more of an effort to write up!
CHECK IN / SECURITY
I woke up early before my alarm (due to the excitement!) and decided to go to the airport early. I called a cab about 08:30 and I was in T5 by 09:00. Check in was empty and we were shown striaght to an agent who swiftly took our bags and gave us our boarding cards. We had already selected 5E and 5F for our flight.
We used Fast Track Security which only took 5 minutes.
THE CONCORDE ROOM
When you come out of the Fast Track Security, there is a door to your right which is the rear entrance to the Concorde Room (CCR). Apparently, BA had to pay BAA £1m to have this door since BAA wanted all passengers (especially their First passengers) to go round in a loop past Duty Free. Not sure if this is true or not, but it's a good story! I of course used this door and we were in the CCR.
For those unfamiliar, BA has 3 lounges in the main terminal at LHR:
* Galleries Club (Club passengers and silver card holders)
* Galleries First (Gold card holders)
* Concorde Room (First Class passengers and Premier card holders)
The Galleries First is really nice too and brighter than the CCR. I am a Gold card holder with BA and I can even use this lounge flying on a domestic flight. It's a lovely place to spend an hour or so before a flight and enjoy a glass of Champagne!
It was quite busy when we were there with most seats taken. The CCR is busy between about 08:30 and 11:00. It is then very quite until about 13:00 when it picks up again. I had made use of the You First concierge in advance and had pre-booked my Spa treatment at 11:00am. So I milled around the CCR and had breakfast in the CCR Dining Room (a fruit platter followed by eggs and smoked salmon). Here are some pics of my time in the CCR:
Dining Room - very nice!
On the Terrace in the CCR
The infamous horse - am I the only one that thinks it's awful?!
Seating opposite bar
My seat for an hour or so
At about 11:00 we headed off to the Spa and I had a 'chair massage' and a facial. I must admit, I'm still not sure what my position is on the chair massage. I was expecting it to be gentle, but the seat knocked lumps out of me! The facial was good though.
We headed back into the CCR and ordered some food (burger and chips to share) and Champagne (Bollinger Rose):
Very nice burger!
There was plenty of food to choose from, which could either be served to you at your seat or in the dining room. Here's the full menu:
Our flight was at 14:05 so around 13:00 or so, we made our way to the B Gates, passing the BA sign outside the lounges:
When we arrived at the B Gates, the plane was not ready for boarding, so we popped into the Galleries Club Lounge for a glass of water (it was going to be a long flight!).
We boarded around 13:30 and I knew in advance that it was going to be Old First (you can call up the You First Concierge the day before you travel and they will inform you which product is scheduled to be on the plane you're flying on). At the time of writing this, BA have fitted New First (NF) on all of their 'High-J' 747s (i.e. those with 70 Club World seats). However, they have only fitted NF on 13 of their 26 'Mid-J' jumbos. The rumour is that 12 will never be fitted with the NF until they are retired next year when their new aircraft are due to be delivered. The 747 we flew on was introduced to service more than 20 years ago (April 1992), so I can see why they wouldn't waste money on fitting NF. Still, the old First has a lot of nostalgia for me and still comfortable.
We were greeted by a delightful crew, who I must say, really looked after us the whole time! You couldn't have asked for anymore. Throughout the flight, they were very attentive, always topping up our glass and very visible.
There were 11 passengers in First today (out of 14 seats). A washbag, slippers, sleeper suit and a pashmina were all distributed before take off.
Champagne was soon served, along with a further top up. Before long, we were pushing back and heading to the runway.
Immediately after take off, a drinks order was taken. I ordered Tanqueray (my favourite gin!) and tonic. Now, this is where I was a bit pernickety! I'm, not a fan of lemon slices in my gin, but I love a wedge of lime. I have flown with BA on many occasions and they don't stock lime either in their lounges or on board. I now buy a couple of limes in advance, slice them into wedges and taken them with me in a food bag! I know that is quite sad, but for me, a gin doesn't taste the same without it! The crew thought that it was a great idea and it wasn't an issue whatsoever for them.
G&T - with a wedge of lime!
Menus were also handed out - both wine and food.
In First on BA, you can dine when you like throughout the flight. You also don't need to have the food in the order laid out in the menu. I always find that it works best to just go with the flow though, otherwise it's a lot of work for the crew and the service isn't just as slick.
Before the starter, an amuse bouche was served, which was a leek and chicken terrine. It was very tasty.
For my starter, I had the roast vegetables.
My partner had the scallop
We both had the beef for main course. It was nice, but needed more gravy, which of course was no problem in First and soon a bowl of extra gravy was brought!
We both had the parfait for dessert which I have to say was amazing!
By this time I had also switched from the French red to the Johnnie Walk Blue Label - one of my favourite tipples! I had a few more of these during the flight....
I then watched a couple of movies from their AVOD system. The old First has fairly small screens, but it was fine for watching a couple of movies on. About an hour before landing, afternoon tea was served. Apologies, but I didn't take any pictures of this, nor did I take any cabin pics - I blame the Blue Label! However, there are lots of TRs about the old First and I'm sure you've seen lots of pics of it over the last 10 or so years.
So all in all, it was a wonderful flight! I love the Concorde Room, the crew could not have done any better and the presentation of the food was top restaurant standard.
We spent 3 nights in San Francisco and then 2 nights in Yosemite. From there we flew UA's Premium Service in First Class to JFK. Watch this space over the next couple of days for the next flights!
I really hope that you've enjoyed this TR and please feel free to post any comments on how to improve my next reports. I also hope I've not prattled on too much with the detail! I did try to make sure there were plenty of pictures inserted to break it up!
Thanks for reading and surviving till the end!