Click the video above to see BA’s 747 First Class reviewed on a flight from London to Bangkok.
BA 747 First Class Cabin
This flight saw BA operating a cabin that was over 15 years old (BA have also have a ‘new first class’ on their 747 and 777s, and an ‘even newer first class’ on their A380s) but the seat was clean, worked well and was comfortable – albeit with an old-fashioned décor. There’s no private cabins with doors here, and BA haven’t gone for any first class bling – just a sense of old-fashioned refinement as though you’re relaxing in a classic car or a barrister’s chamber.
BA First Class Check-In Experience
Unlike most of BA’s flights, this one left from Heathrow Terminal 3. This meant we couldn’t experience the flagship Concorde Room lounge, but BA’s website promised us a first class experience regardless. We got to bypass the check-in queues, and use the dedicated first class check-in area (complete with sofa and flowers) that BA shared with Qantas.
Unlike some airlines, the sofa seemed to be a waste of time – you had to go to the regular check-in counter and drop your bags off as normal. We were there a good 20 minutes though, as the staff weren’t great. The check-in agent told us (incorrectly) that we couldn’t check our bags through to another Oneworld airline at Bangkok, and their supervisor agreed with them. Only after a lot of insistence from our side did they get on the phone to confirm BA’s rules, at which point they were able to check the bags through with no issue.
The queue for security at Terminal 3 was totally bonkers – it stretched the whole length of security. Very poor considering each passenger is paying $35 to Heathrow for the use of its airport. Fortunately for us, we were able to bypass the queues and use the Fast Track security – which still took 15 minutes.
The lounge was – sadly – very disappointing. Like its big brother in Terminal 5, there is a spa offering complimentary massages, but it is closed in the evening so we couldn’t use it. There’s also a dedicated dining room for BA’s first class passengers – which featured a hilarious waitress. She was clearly following BA’s training to the letter by quietly and politely enquiring what we wanted to eat – and she then took 2 steps around the corner and shouted the order as loudly as she could to the chef in the kitchen. The two of them had had a bit of history, based on the shouting that went back and forth – it was very entertaining, and clearly their lives were more exciting than our own. Possibly not the complete experience BA’s first class brand managers imagined though!
The lounge food was poor – BA’s regular trick of serving luke-warm food was in force, with oven chips being served that had clearly been chilling for a while. The BA burger on the other hand, was red hot and very overcooked. With some cheap Castelnau champagne being served the whole first class lounge experience was a million miles from Virgin’s Upper Class lounge next door and even the business class lounge run by Qatar Airways at Heathrow would have have been much better.
Onboard BA’s 747 First Class Cabin
After a while waiting in the gate area, we were shown to our first class seats. Everything was clean & tidy, but a bit old-fashioned – the TV screen was about the same size as an iPad mini, and smaller than the TV in business class!
The seat controls were simple and worked well – you could recline the seat as you wished, and a mattress and comforter were available for the crew to convert it in to a fully flat bed.
There wasn’t much privacy in the cabin, and nowhere near as much individual space as on some of BA’s competitors. BA have squeezed in 14 first class seats in to the nose of this 747, as well as a decent sized wardrobe for passengers to share.
Whilst many airlines at London Heathrow compete for the longest / widest / biggest seats, BA seems to have a different approach – they are trying to be just ‘good enough’ for British travellers to pick them by default; indeed, with over half of Heathrow’s limited slots this approach seems to make good business sense for BA.
You’re not going to be wowed by this cabin, but it certainly is good enough for a 12 hour journey involving some decent sleep.
BA’s First Class Food & Drink
BA may not have the best seat, but they’re certainly trying their best when it comes to drink. We were welcomed on board with Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle champagne, and encouraged to try out the rest of wine list after take-off.
The food was great too – every menu choice was available (which isn’t always the case with BA First Class) and was prepared & presented with great care and attention by a wonderful crew. BA’s genuine and empathetic crew are the airline’s best asset, and more than made up for any deficiencies elsewhere. The menu wasn’t too ambitious, which is fine by us – reheating food in a tiny galley is never going to earn you a Michelin star. Indeed, the chocolate fondant dessert with orange custard was the tastiest dessert we’ve ever had on a plane.
Best Seats in BA 747 First Class
Seats 1A and 1K are unique in that they have a window in the curved nose of the plane, so you get a great view from these seats. They’re good for solo travellers, and fine for couples – you can just about hold hands, but BA will only allow gold card holders to reserve them before check-in opens.
Solo travellers should avoid the centre seats as you’re close to your neighbor (with a removable screen between you). Try and avoid the last row, as this gets some noise and light from the galley behind.
BA 747 First Class Conclusions
The 747 First Class cabin on BA is a million miles away from some of their competitor offerings – little privacy, poor storage and a terrible ground experience for example – but it’s a big improvement on British Airways’ business class cabin and is certainly good enough for a pleasant evening and a good night’s sleep. If the price is right, and you get some of BA’s top cabin crew then we can certainly recommend the experience.
Want another BA First Class Review?
For a review of British Airways First Class on the A380, click here.
Want to see a BA 747 business class review?
For a review of British Airways 747 business class cabin, click here.