My first trip report albeit a little belated. Hope it’s ok and the pictures have turned our clear enough – never sure how one is meant to write a good trip report
Any comments or suggestions please let me know and if there is anything I’ve missed do ask and I’ll try to answer. Thanks.
The trip came about as a result of me having a 2-4-1 Amex voucher, the good exchange rate and nearly enough miles to go business class both ways to North America.
We had been to NYC in November and as neither of us had been to the west coast of America we quickly decided that was where we would go – also getting more for our miles. It wasn’t too long before we had decided to visit San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles.
I ran a number of dummy bookings to get approximate availability for CW flights to SFO and back from LAX around September/October when we were looking to go. It became apparent that we would there was no availability in J to SFO on the days we were looking for but a range of dates available for J back from LAX.
At this point I ran a search for F and there was available for flying to SFO on a Saturday and returning 2 weeks later fly back from LAX in J. It was the perfect solution and for only 25,000 miles more. It also gave us both the opportunity to experience F for the first time.
Whilst there was availability for the flights and dates we wanted I was still a few miles short of the 125,000 required. It had become a case of waiting until my new Amex statement as I had a barrel load of miles to post which we comfortably take me past the required amount.
To say I was nervous was a little but understated. I had about a week to wait and this consisted of regular checks on the BAEC website to ensure availability and also similar checks on EF to ensure what seats were available of the different flights (F was available on both the 285 and 287).
The day finally came when my Amex miles posted to my account and finally had enough to book our flights to America. A final cheque on the BA and EF websites I was ready to make the call.
I knew I would have to call the BAEC in order to book the flights as we were flying into SFO but back from LAX – something that isn’t possible on the BA website for reward flights.
I phoned and within 5 minutes the flights were booked and confirmed for the sum of 125,000 miles and £240 each for taxes, etc. The email confirmation appeared minutes later and I was promptly on the BAEC website to select my required seats. We had been given 5E and 5F for the outbound leg but these were quickly changed to 2A and 2K (after much reading here) and for the return I changed our seats to 62J and 62K.
LHR – SFO
Saturday 27 September
On the Friday afternoon I checked us both in online and printed out our boarding passes and at 9am on the Saturday morning our car arrived to take us to T5. My travelling partner had been travelling a lot on work and it had taken her up to 2 hours to get back from T5 hence the early start. However, today it was only a 35 minute journey to Heathrow and so we arrived… several hours before our flight.
I got the driver to drop us of at the south end of the terminal and we entered close to the CW check in area. We had bags to drop off so decided to use the F check in to do so – who knows if we’ll ever have an opportunity again to use it.
A plentiful supply of check in desks and we were attended to promptly and on our way to security in a matter of minutes. At 10am in the morning south security was relatively quiet and using the fast track lane there was no queue in front of us.
Through security we made a right turn and having had our BPs checked went through the door and straight into the Concorde Room. The friendly lounge staff again checked our boarding passes and on request exchanged the PYOBP for the normal style.
Given we’d yet to eat we decided to get some breakfast first and take a walk around after. The dinning area was relatively quiet so we didn’t have long to wait before getting a table. Good service all round from the staff, prompt and friendly. An excellent cup of tea and the breakfast was on the par ok but the scrambled eggs were shocking. The breakfast really should a lot better in my opinion.
After breakfast we took a walk around the lounge to see what was what and then had a look out on the terraces over looking the runway and the rest of T5.
Looking over to T5B
Looking over to T5B
Below the lounges
Below the lounges
We wanted some magazines for the flight and spent a bit of time looking around the mass of shops in the terminal before returning to the CR for a refreshing brew.
A good cuppa
We also had the chance to do a bit of plane spotting…
As I’d not been in the First lounge either I took the opportunity and went for a dander across the way. The friendly dragons checked my boarding pass and then suggested that I would be more comfortable in the CR. I smiled and said that I hadn’t been in the First lounge and wanted to take a little look around. She smiled back and hoped I enjoyed my walk.
The lounge is clearly significantly bigger than the CR but whilst the CR was quiet (around noon) the F lounge was very busy. A lot of men in suits with laptops bags showing of their gold cards. A few interesting looks as I walked around. Better views overlooking the runway from the F lounge though.
Our flight was going to depart from Terminal 5B so at around 12.30 we decided to make our way over to the satellite terminal. Packing up our things we took the shuttle train across the tarmac and emerged beside a 747.
We had a little time before boarding began at gate 42 so we paid a quick visit to the Galleries Lounge at T5B. Nice and compact and a handy stop.
As we made our way to the gate boarding had begun although I decided to take a few pictures of our plane as we were in no rush to get on board and there were still many people waiting to board.
The part of the plane we’d be sitting
Saves a little time
After taking some snaps we made our way to the gate and headed via fast-track boarding lane at which there was no queue. Our BPs and passports were inspected and we were soon on our way down the very long air bridge.
As we approached door 2L there was a very small queue with 4 or 5 passengers in front of us. As we stepped inside the plane I handed by boarding pass to the CSD who promptly welcomed me on board by name.
As he addressed me I turned toward my ex and he immediately picked up she was travelling with me, took her BP and welcomed Miss Euan aboard. The CSD said he would show us through to our seats and took the heavier of my ex’s hand luggage bags before leading us through the WT+ cabin.
When we entered the cabin, three seats (1, 4 and 5A) were occupied by businessmen. A further four passengers boarded after us in 4EF (an elderly couple) and 5EF (couple in their 40s).
The CSD showed us to our seats and advised us that the cabin wasn’t full today and we were free to move to other seats once boarding was completed. I advised that whilst that was appreciated, we were happy in 2AK.
First thoughts… I’d never thought I’d ever been in this part of the plane!
I was curious to see what the service would be like having read about other FTers own experiences in BA. As this would probably be a one-off trip in F I was hoping for one of the better services and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
No sooner than the CSD has wished us a pleasant flight having spoken to us for a few minutes the FA’s were there to welcome us on board, take our jackets to be hung up and offer us a drink while boarding completed.
We both went for a nice glass of champagne and my ex’s first comment was how much nicer it was than the J champagne! The amenity kits, PJs and noise cancelling headphones had already been laid out beside our seats with duvets at the end of the seat. Once all nine F passengers were on board the FA’s provided us with the menu and drinks list for the flight.
We pushed back from stand slightly late as the IFE had to be reset for the safety demonstration. Unfortunately it decided against working so the crew had to do it manually. Thankfully the IFE worked faultlessly for the rest of the flight.
A few BA’s
A few more!
Once up in the air the FA’s were up and took a drinks order. My travelling partner went for her first (or several!) red wines whilst I went for a vodka and coke (a very strong one!). Shortly after the first drinks order we were served canapés which were that good there were gone before I remembered to take a picture.
The first of many!
After they had finished the drinks order they came and took the order for dinner. Myself and my travelling partner had both decided on the same started of lobster but we couldn’t choose between the beef and catch of the day which was monkfish. In the end we ordered one of each and agreed to have half of each. They asked us when we would like to eat and if we would like to eat together. We did and after being asked which seat I said I would let my ex remain in 2A and I would move across.
The FA’s came back to chat to us both for quite a period of time. They seemed very interested in us and were very open in that we weren’t their usual customers, were normally businessmen or older couples, and that it was nice to have a breath of fresh air on board. They asked us where we were going and gave us some recommendations for the cities we were visiting.
As it was our first and possibly only time in F I took a few pictures of my surroundings during the 11 hour flight…
My travelling partner's seat – not short of space!
Seat down and legs rested
Drinks and choccies
Looking back from 2A buddie seat
Film, builders tea and a nice and warm!
One of the FA’s noticed my Nikon SLR sitting on the window ledge and offered to go and find out the flight routing from the captain in order to let me know when we were passing good views.
As dinner was nearly ready to be served the FAs came and asked me if I would like wine with my meal and I chose the …. My travelling partner decided to stick with the red wine she was drinking and they then proceeded to prepare the table, including the pot with flowers taken from the end of 4EF, at which point I moved across to the footseat.
Table set for dinner
Superb lobster to start with.
Catch of the Day – Monkfish – very nice!
Vanilla risotto and peaches
We were both in agreement that the food was the best food we had ever experienced in the air. The lobster in particular was fantastic and it was nice to finish it of the two puddings!
I was feeling particularly under the weather and slept well for several hours after dinner whilst trying to watch Iron Man – I eventually saw the film over 4 attempts!
Woke with a few hours remaining to go and watched a few comedies on IFE whilst having a little snack and several cups of tea – nice and refreshing.
As we came into San Francisco the sky was clear and we had some amazing views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a very busy flight with most sections full from what the FA’s told us. We docked at door 1L and all 3 F FAs did a superb job blocking all routes until we had all left eh plan - I could see some in WT+ itching to get past! We were through immigration and with our bags out first in cab in 15 mins.
For me the cabin crew made the flight! They were very attentive, friendly and fun but extremely professional throughout the flight – nothing was too much trouble.
The service was superb and food the best I’ve eaten in the air. Drinks were noticeably better than business.
The seat was very comfy seat with more than enough space and as a bed I’ve no complaints. Compared to CW (Business on BA) it is very noticeable the additional space and privacy. However, I like CW very much and find the seat in CW excellent both as seat and bed.
I like the duvet and real pillows in F and whilst I didn’t use the PJs going out, I did use them returning from LA I CW and they improved my sleep significantly – very comfy and a good fit.
Would I do it again? Of course – I’d love to fly BA First again but I wouldn’t pay for it. I don’t think it’s worth the extra above business, which I would pay for.
Hope you enjoyed the read