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British Airways A380 First Class Johannesburg to London (with Youtube clip)

British Airways A380 First Class Johannesburg to London (with Youtube clip)

Old Feb 24, 17, 2:24 am
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British Airways A380 First Class Johannesburg to London (with Youtube clip)

On January 16 2017, I flew First Class in an Airbus A380 – the world’s largest and heaviest passenger aircraft – of British Airways (BA) from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport (JNB) in South Africa to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK. The ride was enjoyable, but I was not really impressed by the First Class product offered by BA on its A380 flagship aircraft. Although the look of the First Class cabin is very sleek and beautiful, the experience pales in comparison to the one offered by other airlines on their A380 planes, such as Emirates, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. On a positive note: the First Class of BA feels like an excellent Business Class product.

I made a Youtube clip with my impressions during the flight, which you can watch here. I will also upload some photos below.


- Trip: LHR-JNB
- Airline: British Airways
- Aircraft type: Airbus A380
- Aircraft registration number: G-XLEI (delivered in 2015)
- Flight Number: BA56
- Date: January 16, 2017
- On time departure: yes (8.20 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (5.30 am)
- Miles: 5621
- Flight time: 11 hours 10 minutes
- Seat: 3A
- Class: First

1. COST OF MY BA FIRST CLASS TICKET

I bought a round trip Business Class ticket for1450 euro from Düsseldorf (via London) to Johannesburg, and then used 25,000 of my British Airways frequent flyer miles (Avios) to upgrade from Business to First Class .

2. BA LOUNGE AT O.R. TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

One of the things I like about BA is that they have great lounges all over the world featuring an identical and familiar decor. It’s not different at O.R. Tambo International airport. The BA lounge facilities are located one floor above the main concourse: the First Class lounge (dubbed ‘Galleries First’) is located to the left of the small reception desk, while the Business Class lounge (dubbed ‘Galleries Club’) is located to the right and mirrors the layout of its First Class counterpart.

The First Class lounge has a rectangular shape and although not very large, it is adequately sized to accommodate all First Class passengers for BA’s twice daily services – one A380 and one B747 – between Johannesburg and London . From the entrance to rear, there’s a library with magazines, a buffet, a dining area, a large wine display, a bar with self-service cafe, and the main seating area. The buffet spread is not very impressive, although it is ok for some light pre-flight dinner. It features – among others – plenty of cold vegetables (to create your own salad), cold meats, salmon, soup, and a hot curry dish (the food is certainly not comparable to the offering of BA’s First Class lounges in London). What I don’t like about the lounge, is the fact that it had no outside windows (the large floor-to-ceiling windows offer a view of the airport terminal’s interior) and that restrooms are located outside the lounge.

From the lounge, it was a 10 minute walk to the gate.

3. FIRST CLASS CABIN

BA’s Airbus A380 has a total of 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 on the plane’s forward lower deck, immediately behind the cockpit. The cabin has a modern, sophisticated and very sleek look, and is especially nice when the mood lighting is switched on. It features 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 center 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 as the window suites are angled towards the windows while the middle seats are angled towards the center line. In addition, dividers can be raised for extra privacy between middle seats.

4. FIRST CLASS SEAT (& WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)

I had chosen window seat 3A for the flight. All seats were occupied for this flight.

The seat itself is spacious, with a generous pitch of 78 inches (198 cm) and width of 22 inches (56 cm). In front of the seat, there’s an adjustable ottoman that can be used as an extension of the flat-bed or as an extra seat to dine with a buddy within your suite. The entertainment screen is located above the ottoman and swings out from the suite’s side wall (although it has to be stowed away into the wall for safety during take-off and landing). That same seat wall also holds a cabinet opening to the aisle where you can hang a coat and store your shoes.

One side of the seat features a reading lamp and small cabinet, perfect for storing smaller items such as glasses, mobile phone or wallet. This space also contains the power ports, a USB port, and the inflight entertainment remote controller. Above this cabinet are some buttons and a jog wheel control device to regulate everything within the suite, from the seat positions and lighting, to the privacy screens and the automatic window shades. This side of the seat also has a beige colored panel that is perfect to place a drink on and that also holds the large, shiny tray table (which needs to be pulled out).

The seat – together with the ottoman – can be transformed in a fully lie-flat bed of 78 inches (198cm) long.

What are the best First Class seats on the BA A380?
- Solo travelers should go fo the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats. You don’t have to worry though about ending up as a solo traveler 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.

What are the worst First Class seats on the BA A380?
- I would suggest to avoid the window and middle seats in the last row since proximity to the galley may cause some noise disturbance (nothing too bad though).

5. MEALS

Shortly after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off and the crew handed out hot towels to the First Class passengers. I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t really like the texture of the BA towels (they should be thicker).

The food was good but not great (I am never really hungry on a plane anyway because of my fear of flying). Note that British Airways recently introduced some service cuts: as a consequence, an amuse bouche is no longer offered in First Class. 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
theLuxuryTravelExpert is offline  
Old Feb 24, 17, 2:28 am
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Last edited by theLuxuryTravelExpert; Feb 24, 17 at 2:33 am
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Old Feb 24, 17, 3:51 am
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Great post. Honestly the BA A380 First Class looks like a swanky business class seat - nothing more. Their 787 F seat looks better though.

Do you notice a difference in the First Class flight crew?
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Old Feb 24, 17, 6:47 am
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Great report, thanks. I've found the A380 is my favourite of the BA F products, but admittedly I haven't had an opportunity to fly 789 F as yet.

I think we all know that BA F isn't comparable to a lot of carriers but I have always found it perfectly enjoyable when expectations are managed.

Last edited by obduro; Feb 24, 17 at 6:53 am
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Old Feb 24, 17, 6:51 am
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I you want to compare for yourself, this is my review regarding British Airways' First Class onboard the Boeing 787-9

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Old Feb 24, 17, 2:09 pm
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Thanks for the TR. I will be flying JNB/LHR in Oct. My first trip to
SA.
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Old Feb 24, 17, 3:46 pm
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For F the grubb seems very mediocre.
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Old Feb 24, 17, 7:22 pm
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BA F is often described as the most exclusive J class experience in the air... confirmed!
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Old Feb 25, 17, 5:07 am
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
For F the grubb seems very mediocre.
Hmmm, that Lemon Cake looked really upmarket didn't it Must have cost them all of 50 cents.

Actually there was nothing on that dinner menu that would have got me excited.

I've seen better from BA but then they don't have any F competition on direct flights to LHR from South Africa so they probably don't feel the need to pull out all the stops.
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Old Feb 25, 17, 8:19 am
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Originally Posted by Betteronacamel View Post
Hmmm, that Lemon Cake looked really upmarket didn't it Must have cost them all of 50 cents.

Actually there was nothing on that dinner menu that would have got me excited.

I've seen better from BA but then they don't have any F competition on direct flights to LHR from South Africa so they probably don't feel the need to pull out all the stops.
BA stopped pulling out all the stops about 15 years ago.
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Old Feb 25, 17, 12:17 pm
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The "BA F is the best business class out there" thing is rather silly and annoying IMO. While the seat is BAD for a F product, the design, service, beverage selection, and food are absolutely fine for a first class - and so is the CCR.
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Old Feb 27, 17, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by oneworld82 View Post
The "BA F is the best business class out there" thing is rather silly and annoying IMO. While the seat is BAD for a F product, the design, service, beverage selection, and food are absolutely fine for a first class - and so is the CCR.
I don't really agree with this at all. BA F is definitely not on par with the likes of Lufthansa F, Air France F or any of the middle eastern carriers. My BA F experiences have not been superior to Qatar's business product in any way.

The CCR is a great product, though.
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Old Feb 27, 17, 6:28 pm
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If you think BA F is bad you should try AA F.
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Old Feb 28, 17, 12:01 pm
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Interesting report, but...

"I am never really hungry on a plane anyway because of my fear of flying"

feels a bit out of place on this message board :-)
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Old Mar 1, 17, 8:07 am
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I've only ever flown QF F on the A380 - that cabin looks very cramped by comparison.
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