I have flown with British Airways in First Class and have reviewed my long-haul First Class flights below. British Airways First Class is excellent, although it in no way compares to the First Class offered by the Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. You won’t get showers in the sky or private “apartments” on BA, but you will get excellent service and the chance a good night’s sleep.
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When flying in First you get access to the British Airways iconic Concorde Room. You can only access the Concorde Room if you are travelling in First. If you prefer, you can use the Galleries First At Heathrow if you are travelling out of London Heathrow.
It is also worth noting that if you travel in First from Heathrow Terminal 5, you get to use “The First Wing” with a private check-in area leading directly to two exclusive security lanes and a direct walkway that leads seamlessly into the Galleries First Lounge and then the Concorde Room.
When flying out of Gatwick, there isn’t a Concorde room, so you will need to try out the British Airways First Class Galleries Lounge at Gatwick which is a very nice lounge but not quite up to the Concorde room as you don’t have access to a Spa and the area isn’t quite as snazzy.
The Concorde Room is only available at London’s Heathrow Airport and New York’s JFK Airport (with smaller, less extensive Concorde bars at Dubai Airport and Singapore Airport). This lounge can only be accessed if you’re flying First Class on an airline in the Oneworld alliance (one guest is welcome as well) or if you hold a Concorde Room card, given out for earning 5,000 tier points in a year.
Below you will find my most recent flight reviews on British Airways in First:
My preference when I fly First Class from San Francisco (SFO) to London Heathrow (LHR) is always the A380, however, there was no space available on this plane so I booked my return flight on the 747. Read More.
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… Read More.
In this trip report, we review British Airways A380 in First Class from Johannesburg to London Heathrow (LHR) in England. Read More.
Is traveling in First Class on British Airways much better than flying in the current British Airways Business Class or “Club World”? In this article, we compare the two products and work out which is best and whether you should… Read More.
Fly For Free On British Airways
I usually book my flights for free on air miles and American Express Rewards, which convert directly to Avios (along with other airline miles). The free Amex Gold Card is an incredible deal with a huge free bonus of Membership Rewards and even more if you apply through our referral link. You also get limited free airport lounge access with this free card. You can apply for the UK & US card right here.
How To Get Unlimited Airport Lounge Access
For unlimited airport lounge access, you will need to apply for the Platinum card. With my referral link, you will get more Membership Rewards points.
Review: First Class Cabin
Seats in First Class are bigger, softer, and more private. They also offer significantly more storage on most planes. They all offer aisle access, and the First Class cabin looks utterly stylish. They say, “we’ll turn your seat into a 198cm (6ft 6in) fully flat bed with a luxurious quilted mattress, crisp white cotton duvet, and pillow while you slip into a pair of our wonderfully soft cotton pajamas”. I can’t describe it better myself; British Airways First really is a very good product.
The seat itself is quite spacious, with a generous pitch of 73 inches (185 cm) and a 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 sidewall 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 wheel either way to manipulate the lights or lumbar support.
British Airways has fallen behind other carriers with their Business Class seats. You can read my British Airways Business Class flight reviews for the full low-down. The Business Class seat goes flat, but it is thinner, which means less privacy when you are trying to sleep to the point that you can feel quite vulnerable to passing traffic on these thin seats.
Of course, if you have a non-aisle seat, you will feel less vulnerable, but you do not currently get aisle access from a non-aisle seat, so you have to climb over neighbors to get out. This will change with the new BA Club Class seat design, but for now, this is a poor effort for Business Class and explains why British Airways comes quite low down in my top 10 Business Class Airlines. I am not a deep sleeper and the feeling of being trapped in my seat to avoid climbing over a neighbor during a flight, or even worse, having a neighbor climb over you mid-sleep, means I don’t sleep well in this class.
You get pajamas in First, not in Business Class. The amenity kit is also better. In First, you get a pretty Liberty London amenity kit. They were first introduced on selected flights between London and Los Angeles in January 2017 and have now been rolled out across the rest of the First class network. The stylish washbags have a contemporary look, using prints from Liberty London’s textiles archive. The women’s version features the eye-catching ‘Christelle’ oriental-inspired floral print and comes with a convenient wristlet. The men’s washbag is made of a black embossed textured exterior, with ‘Felix Raison’ paisley motif printed lining. The kits contain a range of well-being products provided by Aromatherapy Associates. You can read about the best Airline Amenity Kits.
British Airways First Class vs. Business Class Food
Neither First of Business Class on BA offers the best food in the sky; you can read my various BA reviews for a detailed run down. IMHO, there is little to choose between the food, at least nothing that would justify the extra expense.
Is it actually worth paying the extra to fly in First? Well, let’s look at the prices. You will probably be paying a third more or even double to fly in First. You are still getting from A to B whether you travel in Business or First. You get a better lounge experience when flying in First, and if you fly out of Heathrow, you get to fast track through The Wing. In Business Class you get fast track through security but still have to navigate through the Heathrow shopping area to get to the entrance of the lounges. You do not get to use the “First Wing” private corridor direct to the lounges.
If you want a comfy bed and seat and to get some sleep during your flight, First Class is a hugely superior product to Business. The bed in First Class is superbly comfortable, offering a comforter and pillow, and it is much wider than the Club World or Business Class seat. Crucially you won’t need to climb over anyone to reach the aisle to go to the toilet or have a stretch. The Business Class seat is narrow with nowhere to put your stuff, plus you are vulnerable to disturbance. In Business, there is no-win. Aisle seats have direct aisle access, but you will be climbed over. Window and non-aisle seats mean that you have to climb over your neighbor to get out. In fact, if you are a light sleeper like me and are booking an overnight flight, the more comfortable and less vulnerable First seats are well worth paying more for.
If you are on a day flight, are a good sleeper, or are on a budget, you will most probably get some sleep in Business, just don’t expect the Ritz!
Onboard the food is marginally better, the service marginally better, and the cabin is marginally more exclusive in First. The major difference is the width of the seats and the aisle access.
The bottom line, flying in First is an elevated experience. You are likely to sleep better. The airport experience is likely to be marginally less stressful. Only you can put a value on a good night’s sleep and a more enjoyable airport experience. The jump from Premium Economy to Business Class is huge. These two classes are a world apart. First is better than Business Class but costs more, so it is a very personal decision on whether First is worth paying the extra money (or miles and points) for.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.