Join Date: Oct 2009
Some Tips on Maximising the BA First Experience
With thanks to krug
for kicking this off originally. The advice below relates specifically to LHR T5 departures; some longhaul (SYD, BKK, SIN) depart LHR T3, so no Concorde Room is available there.
First, this is a useful thread packed full of information. However, some key points:
- Ensure you use the First check in area (at the South End of Terminal 5), ensuring you request First bag tags both for your checked bags and a few spare tags for your hand luggage.
- Head back towards South Security and select the Fast Track security line to expedite your passage through the x-rays.
- After completing security at T5, turn right and speak to the Lounge Dragon at the pedestal guarding the White Door into the Concorde Room; your First boarding pass (or sameday inbound First boarding pass) will grant you access. This will avoid a very long walk!
- After entering the Concorde Room, go immediately to the Elemis Spa and book a treatment. If Elemis T5A is fully booked, and only if your flight is departing from T5B, see if they have any space in that second Elemis Spa; once over at T5B you will not have time to return to T5A before you depart. DO NOT remove your underwear for treatments!
- WiFi is available, and free, but you will need a password, which is usually displayed within the lounge, or ask any of the attendants. The current password is also available on BA's iPhone app.
- You should note you have access to the Quintessentially Concierge Service 14 days either side of a First booking.
- If you have time enjoy a pre-flight Shower, and ensure you ask for any nice freebie Elemis products on offer after your shower/treatment. The gurgling is normal!
- If you have a long wait for a flight, consider calling YouFirst, the BA First dedicated telephone line in advance of your flight and booking one of the three "Cabanas" as somewhere more private to relax before you fly. You can see what this is on youtube - be not afraid, the burping drains are perfectly normal!!
- If you have time, make full use of the 4 available lounges in T5A: Galleries x2/Galleries First Lounge/Concorde Room in T5 – with an F ticket you have carte blanche on access! It is not advised to sample the third Galleries lounge (situated in T5B) unless it is certain your flight is departing from that Concourse, as getting back to T5A through security can be time-consuming.
- If it's breakfast time, enjoy a Bacon Butty in the Lounge. If you are there in the afternoon, try the traditional British Afternoon Tea (instead or as well )!
- The lounge attendants can bring you champagne, or you can sidle up to the bar to be served; there is usually a choice of two or three vintage champagnes, one of which is normally rose. Do not tip. Ever.
- Enjoy table service pre-flight dining at the restaurant all day long, the Burger is particularly recommended, as is the Eggs Benedict.
- Check out the chairs in the Boardroom; these are genuine Concorde chairs upholstered in Connolly leather. And I'm not talking Billy Connolly, for the avoidance of doubt!
- If you are interested in Art, check out the unique BA-commissioned pieces available in T5; it not called "Galleries" for nothing. In the Concorde Room, above the artificial fireplace, is the excellent animated BA Coat of Arms "Pegasus & The Winged Horse" (below left}. It is also worth checking out "All the Time in the World" (below centre) and "The Cloud" (below right) in the Lounge Lobby area; there's even a Damian Hirst in the Galleries First - see if you can locate it! Here is more info on the artwork, including youtube clips in case they are broken (as The Cloud has been for some time now...):
Images: British Airways (flickr terminal5insider)
- If you would like to go shopping, you can drop your bags with the person manning the Concorde Room left luggage area; they will be safe there. Remember your Boarding Pass for ease of re-admission!
- If you have a specific high-end item (e.g. a Rolex) in mind, you can telephone the store direct, in advance and request an item be available. It is against the law to "pre-order" items into a Duty Free area, and shops cannot hold merchandise for a specific customer. But it cannot hurt to let them know what you are planning on purchasing. Staff can sometimes bring a range of options to the Concorde Room from which to choose. Don't forget your BAA Worldpoints loyalty card and BAA discount vouchers if making large purchases!
- Get to the Gate reasonably early and use Priority Boarding. This is usually indicated by a sign at T5, but if there's no priority apparent, just head to the queue and have your boarding pass prominently displayed; having the First tags on your hand luggage helps here too.
- You will be escorted to your seat by a crewmember. Rest up in your seat and enjoy the pre-flight drinkies.
- HMRC (Customs) regulations prevent staff offering you anything except drinks on which Duty (tax) has been pre-paid which is why you are normally offered only water, champagne, OJ or a Buck's Fizz/Mimosa. It is against the agreed regulations for cabin crew to open the bar for other alcoholic items (such as G&T) and could get both BA and the cabin crew member into hot water, and lead to a significant (hundreds of pounds) additional tax bill for BA. So if the initial offering isn't to your liking, ask for something else to be delivered immediately after take off to avoid embarrassment.
- Your amenity kit (known as a BAg) will normally be given out before take off, along with slippers and your Pyjamas. The PJs are usually enormous, but do shrink quite a bit if washed! The items are currently provided by REN.
- Make sure you get the PJs even on a day flight - keep room in your carry on bag for the BAg, slippers and PJs; they are bulky!
- Don’t be afraid to (discreetly) tell the crew it’s your first First if it really is – invariably they will spoil you rotten if you get a good crew!
- Assuming you’re on a 747, and you're a chap, do visit the loo for the window-while-peeing experience, though best to wait until airborne to avoid indecent exposure charges (!)
- Consider using your buddy seat to dine opposite each other if travelling as a pair.
- It's "Dine When You Choose" so don't feel you have to eat immediately, especially if you have already had a snack on the ground.
- Keep room for some Pudding Wine; this is only available in F, and is delish!
- If you have an "Old First" aircraft, you will need an Empower adapter to power your laptop; new First has UK/US plug sockets.
- The noise cancelling headphones should be left on board the aircraft!
- If coming in to LHR make sure you make use of the Arrivals Lounge breakfast, shower and Elemis Spa treatments (note the Arrivals lounge closes at 2pm with breakfast disappearing from about midday). You can request an "infinity bath" which the staff will draw for you (it is huge and takes several minutes (10-15) to fill up fully with T5's environmentally focussed plumbing.
- And finally, a little perspective - don't expect too much; it's ‘only’ a seat in an aircraft and cannot deliver the Earth (well, hopefully not ), with the right mindset you should leave very satisfied indeed.
Last edited by Prospero; Apr 21, 12 at 6:18 am
Reason: remove a few dead links