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Transport : Airlines

In this trip report I review my flight on British Airways A380 in First Class from Johannesburg to London Heathrow (LHR) in England.

British Airways currently has 12 A380s in its fleet, deploying them on routes between London and Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami (seasonal), Vancouver (seasonal), Singapore, Boston and Washington DC.

The look of the First Class cabin is very sleek and beautiful, but the experience pales in comparison to that offered by other airlines on their A380 planes, such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Qantas. British Airways does, however, feature in my top 10 best airlines for longhaul Business Class.

I booked this flight as a Business Class ticket during a BA sale for 1450€ from Düsseldorf (via London) to Johannesburg and then used 25,000 of my British Airways Avios frequent flyer miles to upgrade from Business to First Class.

Using Avios to upgrade one class (from Economy to Premium Economy, from Premium Economy to Business, or from Business to First) is one of the best ways to spend them. It usually requires around 25,000 Avios to upgrade a cash booking to the next cabin on a long haul flight. Avios can be used to upgrade yourself on British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines flights.

British Airways have great lounges all over the world. You can read this article for reviews of all the British Airways airport lounges that I have visited. The lounge at O.R. Tambo International airport are located one floor above the main concourse. The First Class lounge or Galleries First lounge is located to the left of the small reception desk, while the Business Class or Galleries Club lounge is located to the right. Both lounges are only open from 3pm to 9pm daily to accommodate BA’s twice daily services – one A380 and one B747 – between Johannesburg and London. You can read my full review of the Galleries First Class lounge at O.R. Tambo International airport separately.

The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft and the upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage. It is also the greenest, with the lowest cost per seat and the lowest emissions per passenger of any large aircraft. The British Airway’s Airbus A380 has 469 seats spread over two decks with four cabins: 14 seats in First, 97 in Club World (Business Class), 55 in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 303 in World Traveller (Economy).

The First Class cabin is located at the front of the main deck, behind the cockpit. The cabin is modern and sophisticated with 14 semi-open suites in a 1-2-1 configuration, all of them having direct aisle access and facing forward. There are 8 window seats (4 on each side) and 6 paired seats in 3 rows in the centre of the cabin. Although they are not fully enclosed, all suites have high seat walls and enjoy total privacy. Nobody is directly looking into the suite across the aisle as none of the rows quite line up and the window suites are angled towards the windows while the middle seats are angled towards the centre line. In addition, dividers can be raised for extra privacy.

I have shared the First Class seat map of the British Airways A380 in this article.

First Class Seat Review On The BA A380?

BA A380 First Class seat features a semi-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 as stated above).

The seat itself is spacious, with a generous pitch of 78 inches (198 cm) and width of 22 inches (56 cm). It features a dark, leather-stitched upholstery. In front of the seat, there’s an adjustable ottoman which can be used as part of the flat-bed or as an extra seat to dine with someone else. The entertainment screen is located above the ottoman and swings out from the suite’s side wall. That same seat wall also holds a cabinet opening to the aisle where you can hang a coat and store your shoes.

There is a reading lamp and small cabinet for storing smaller items. This space also contains the power ports, a USB port, and the inflight entertainment remote. Above this cabinet are some buttons and a jog wheel control device to regulate everything within the suite, from the programmable seat positions and the suite’s lighting, privacy screens and the automatic window shades. This side of the seat has a platform to place a drink on and that stores your tray table.

The seat can be transformed into a fully lie-flat bed of 78 inches (198cm) long. The crew provides a soft mattress topper, a thick pillow, and very comfortable blanket.

Which Is the Best First Class Seat On The BA A380?

Solo travellers should go for the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats. You don’t have to worry though about ending up as a solo traveller in one of the paired, middle seats as there is a divider between these middle seats which can be raised once the flight has commenced.

Which Are The Worst First Class Seats On The BA A380?

I would suggest avoiding the window and middle seats in the last row since proximity to the galley may cause some noise disturbance (nothing too bad though).

British Airways First Class Amenity Kit

Although I do not consider the BA First Class Amenity kit one of the best airline amenity kits in the world; it is very nice nonetheless. There is different content for men and women. The stylish, grey coloured bag features a BA leather logo on the front and the word “First” imprinted on the leather zipper pull. The men’s bag 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 pyjamas with slippers which I have taken a picture of (see scroller above). The lightweight, dark green pyjamas, and feature the BA First Class logo on the chest.

Food Menu In British Airways First Class

Shortly after takeoff, the crew handed out hot towels to the First Class passengers. The food was good but not great. The dinner menu read as follows:

Starter: Duo of citrus-flavoured rock lobster medallion and beetroot and dill back salmon with orange confit and fennel purée
Soup: Cream of lemon and carrot soup with toasted almond sumac
Main course: Grilled beef fillet with ginger, honey and sour cream sauce, potato au gratin and roasted vegetables
Dessert: Lemon cake with fresh strawberry compote and crème fraîche
About 90 minutes prior to landing, the cabin lights were switched on for a delicious breakfast. I was served the following items:

Chilled fruit juice
An energising fruit smoothie of pineapple and ginger
A selection of yoghurts
Bircher muesli with strawbery, apricot and prune
Fresh seasonal fruit
French toast with apple and rhubarb, strawberry coulis and mascarpone cheese

British Airways First Class Entertainment

The inflight entertainment is displayed on the individual giant 23-inch (58 cm) touch-screen that is supported by one hand-held controller. 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.

The British Airways cabin crew ranks among our favourite cabin crews in the world. The BA crew on this flight was very pleasant, super friendly, always eager to please, and extremely professional.

Briitish Airways did not install a fancy bar on their Airbus A380 planes.But it does have a walk-up “Club Kitchen” onboard, where Business and First Class fliers can graze between meals (this has been photographed above in the scroller). Unfortunately, BA has drastically reduced its selection of snacks in Club Kitchen. During the flight, the walk-up bar only featured retro sweets, Cadbury chocolates, and Kettle chips.

First Class cabin passengers can use two, rather small toilets, located directly behind the cockpit and in front of the first row of seats.

WiFi is not offered by BA at the moment. BA passengers will be able to access the internet on transatlantic flights from next year when BA will install what it claims will be the fastest WiFi in the air.

If you enjoyed this review you may be interested in reading all my Premium Economy flight reviews on British Airways, my British Airways Business Class flight reviews as well as my other reviews of British Airways in First.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert.

British Airways.