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Transport : Airlines

On April 10th 2016, I flew First Class On The British Airways Dreamliner B787-9 from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Muscat International Airport (MCT) in Oman. The BA flight from London to Muscat is not a direct one, as the plane makes a short, scheduled stop-over of around one hour in Abu Dhabi where some passengers get off and new ones on. Those with Muscat as final destination don’t need to get off in Abu Dhabi. The cabin crew also remains on the plane during the process (they have their layover in Muscat), while the flight crew changes in Abu Dhabi.

The B787-9 is the latest aircraft type to join British Airways fleet. Seven B787-9 Dreamliners have been delivered to BA so far, in addition to eight B787-8 Dreamliners. BA’s B787-8 has three classes (Economy, Premium Economy, and Business). On the B787-9 there is a First Class cabin at the front. I loved the experience. While the BA Dreamliner First Class product is not as opulent and lavish as compared to that of its Middle East competitors, it offers a more subtile, refined and very British experience. I have also compared British Airways First Class to Etihad, Emirates and Qatar in First.

British Airways Premium Check-in Area At Heathrow
BA has a dedicated check-in area in the Southern end of Terminal 5 for its First Class passengers. I was warmly welcomed and checked-in within a matter of minutes. While other airlines often have a separate security check point for their First Class passengers adjacent to the First Class check-in area, that’s not the case at Heathrow: Business and First Class passengers all use the same fast track security lanes.

Review Of The Concorde Room At Heathrow
Perhaps the holy grail of the airport lounges at Heathrow, this fabulous space is reviewed in more detail in this airport lounge review.

First Class Experience On The British Airways Dreamliner B787-9
Upon entering the plane, I was escorted by one of the flight attendants to the the small but exclusive First Class cabin. First Class on the BA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft feels very private as it only features 8 seats, compared to the usual 14 seats in BA’s other aircraft types (B747, B777, and A380). The 8 seats are spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration, all of them having direct aisle access. The 4 First Class seats on the sides are ideal for solo travelers (with 2 large windows per seat, offering great views), while the 4 seats in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion. But if you are a solo traveler and you end up in one the middle seats, there’s no problem as you can rise a divider for complete privacy. The First Class cabin features a beautiful, contemporary, somewhat minimalistic design (which I liked a lot): it feels luxurious and the dark and light neutral colors create a relaxing ambience of wellbeing and comfort.

Created specifically for the Boeing 787-9, the new First Class suite is an upgraded version of the ‘old’ product that you find on BA’s other longhaul planes and is currently the best that BA has to offer in terms of cabin comfort. Contrary to the enclosed First Class suites with sliding doors that you find on several other airlines these days, the BA B787-9 First Class seat features an open design, although it’s located within its own cocoon and feels totally private (no other passengers can see you, thanks to the herringbone layout and high seat walls).

The seat itself is quiet spacious, with a generous pitch of 73 inches (185 cm) and width of 22 inches (56 cm). It features a dark, leather-stitched upholstery, giving you the feeling of being seated in a luxury car. In front of the seat, there’s a large, 23-inch (58 cm) entertainment screen (more on that later) and the (adjustable) ottoman. Because the entertainment screen is fixed above the ottoman, there’s no possibility to use the ottoman as an extra seat to dine with a buddy within your suite. However, the fixed screen has the advantage that you don’t need to stow the screen during takeoff and landing, so you can continue to watch your movie and enjoy gate to gate entertainment. One side of the seat features a retro chrome pearlite reading lamp and a large, shiny tray table (which can be pulled out from the side wall of the suite). A jog wheel control device regulates each feature within the suite, from the side lamp to seat recline: you press the button of the seat feature that you want to adjust, and then turn the weel either way to manipulate the lights or lumbar support.

In addition to the overhead bins, there are four dedicated spaces within the suite to store all your stuff: a narrow inward facing wardrobe is ideal to hang your coat; a triangular shaped bin to store your shoes and/or bag; a small cabinet is located next to the seat at eye level and features a vanity mirror inside, and a tiny storage spaces below the seat controls and power ports that also holds the remote control is perfect for storing your wallet and mobile.

The seat together with the ottoman can be transformed in a very comfortable fully lie-flat bed. It’s 78 inches (198cm) long and 38 inches (95 cm) wide because the arm rests go down as well when you flatten the seat. The crew provides a soft mattress topper, a thick pillow, and very comfortable blanket, so you will not have a problem at all to fall asleep (and it helps that the plane is so quiet).

What are the best First Class seats on BA’s B787-9?
Solo travelers should go fo the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats.

What are the worst First Class seats on BA’s B787-9?
There are no bad seats in BA’s B787-9 First Class cabin.

What Do You Get In Your Amenity Bag in British Airways First Class?
There is a different BA amenity kit or washbag for men and women. The stylish, grey colored bag features a British Airways leather logo on the front and the word “First” imprinted on the leather zipper pull. The men’s bag – which I received – contains shave gel, revitalizer moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant stick, and eye gel from London based, grooming emporium for men, The Refinery, in addition to essentials such as such as a pen, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, hairbrush and razor.

BA’s First Class passengers also receive pajamas, which is a very nice gesture (for example: Qatar Airways and Emirates – both famous for their onboard luxury and service – do not provide pajamas on medium-haul dayflights). The lightweight, dark green pajama is presented with a ribbon bow, and features the BA First Class logo on the chest.

Review Of The Food In British Airways B787-9 First Class
Upon boarding, I was served a welcome beverage. A refreshing hot towel was served after takeoff, and lunch service started about one hour after being airborne. I choose the following items from the extensive menu:

Starter: Meze plate featuring parsley and chill hummus, aubergine mutabbal, chickpea, cumin and lentil salad with chicken kebab and lamb bilajine.
Soup: Cream of wild mushroom soup.
Main course Seared fillet of North Atlantic cod with a sorrel cream sauce, chervil and lemon couscous, braised fennel and herb oil.
Dessert: Lemon and semolina sponge pudding with lemon sauce
The food was excellent and all dishes were well executed, tasty and visually appealing.

About 90 minutes before landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport, afternoon tea was served. It included a selection of sandwiches, patisserie and scones:

Sandwiches featuring crayfish with mango, roast beef with horseradish cream, egg mayonnaise with rocket, and smoked Applewood cheese with onion.
Patisserie featuring Pistachio and raspberry Opéra, lemon meringue tart, and ginger cake.
Buttermilk and fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves.
During the short flight from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, a drink was offered, as well as some mouth-watering canapés.

Inflight Entertainment On British Airways B787-9 First Class
The inflight entertainment is displayed on the individual giant 23-inch (58 cm) touch-screen that is supported by one hand-held controller. The latter is found in the tiny storage space next to the seat and it really helps as you don’t have to lean forward to touch the screen all the time when you want to change the entertainment. There are tons of movies and tv shows to explore, alongside a range of other content, including a much-enhanced flight map and chat sessions with other passengers (so if you fancy striking up a conversation with someone six rows or even a cabin away, now is your chance).

Other Points Worth Noting
I love the BA cabin crew, and during all my flights with BA, I never encountered any problem with them or with the onboard service, and it was not different on this flight. What I like particularly about the BA crew is their professionalism and routine when it comes to passenger communications. For example, the flight crew always talks over the intercom to the passengers before take-off and 40 minutes before arrival (no matter how short the duration of the flight is), and the cabin crew always addresses the passengers following their flight crew colleagues. Somehow, this predictable routine (often lacking with other airlines) makes me feel a lot more comfortable since I am a nervous flyer. In addition, we encountered some unexpected, moderate turbulence on the way from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, and the pilot immediately communicated to the passengers that this was not something to worry about.

There’s no walk-up bar present on the Dreamliner, but one could order whatever he/she wanted from the menu at any time. There’s just one lavatory for First Class passengers in the front of the cabin (behind the cockpit), which is fairly spacious and well-appointed with toiletries. WiFi is not yet offered by BA.

Normally, the flight path from London to Muscat via Abu Dhabi goes straight over Syria and Iraq, but this British Airways plane detoured around the current ISIS conflict area by flying over eastern Iran.

If you enjoyed this review you may be interested in my other airline reviews and airport lounge reviews. British Airways Club World Vs Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and British Airways features in my top Business Class Airlines.

If you are planning to book a flight, don’t book through the airline’s website direct, our flight experts will quote you cheaper for Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First Class long-haul flights.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert

British Airways