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Winter trip to Vancouver (via LA) in First Class

Winter trip to Vancouver (via LA) in First Class

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Old Dec 9, 18, 1:08 pm
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Winter trip to Vancouver (via LA) in First Class

Hello readers!

I have got into the habit of taking a trip somewhere now in winter as a treat before the inevitable rush at work in December before Christmas. Last year, it was Hawaii - 2 studs do Hawaii (via AMS, DUB, JFK, LAX and CDG for good measure on the way back!). This year, I fancied something different. I had a wad of Avios to use and a BA upgrade voucher burning a hole in my account. One of my good friends lives in Vancouver and I hadn't seen her in close to ten years so that seemed like the obvious choice. However, the Avios availability into Vancouver was not great. Eventually, I found availability in J flying into Los Angeles and availability in J flying out of Vancouver. Both legs were upgraded to F using my upgrade voucher. The Aberdeen to Heathrow legs were booked into Club Europe. It was quite handy flying into LAX actually as I was going to be a few hundred TPs short of another upgrade voucher and, having no plans on the day after arriving into LAX, I could do a short TP run to make sure I would get to the 2500 TP level before my year ended. I also booked an internal AA flight from LAX - PHX - YVR for around £300 in First Class. I had been to New York in January this year and was looking forward to going back to another 'cold' country during winter.

Fast forward a few months and the day of departure had come. The first flight leaves Aberdeen at 6.20am (yawn!) so I was up at 4.30am to grab a shower, get dressed and make my way to the airport. Check in was quiet as I arrived less than an hour before take off. I made my way to the nice (relatively) new lounge at Aberdeen and downed a few coffees before heading down to board.

BA1301, ABZ - LHR, G-MEDM, A321



A nice greeting onboard from an 'experienced' cabin crew member and I settled into 1F. The captain let us know that there was a delay in leaving due to high winds in the London area but that he hoped to make up the time on the way down the UK.

BA cleaning at its best.....



After taking off, the crew came around taking orders for breakfast. There was a choice between a full English or a fritata with peppers and tomatoes. I went for the fritata and it actually tasted quite nice although the cheese sauce was a bit watery.



For the rest of the flight, I napped given the horrendously early start I had that day. We landed only 5 mins later and made our way straight to the gate. I went through flight connections and up to the "magic door" which is one of the entrances to BA's Concorde Room. Some chancer at the door (who obviously had access to either the business class lounge or the first class lounge) wanted to take a short cut through the Concorde Room but was promptly told where to go to get himself there. Yes, it would be a great shortcut given that it's another 5 min walk to the other lounges by going downstairs, through the shopping mall and then back up again but I like that BA keep that entrance solely for passengers who are entitled to use the CCR. I headed out to the terrace and grabbed a seat.





Even though the terrace overlooks the main terminal, it's actually surprisingly quiet. All you can here is some quiet hubbub from downstairs and the faint beeping of boarding passes. The service on the CCR terrace can be hit or miss but it appears that BA actually now have a member of staff situated on the terrace at all times. I was approached within a few seconds of sitting down and my order taken for drinks. Given that I was now on holiday, I thought that I would have a glass of fizz - Laurent Perrier Grande Siecle - it's 5pm somewhere, right?



After a top up, I headed in to the restaurant to have a bite to eat knowing that it would be another few hours before I got something to eat on the flight to LA.

]

Some great soft boiled eggs (although could have done with another bit of toast!).



After breakfast, I headed to the Elemis spa where I had pre-booked a back massage with You First (the service which BA first class passengers can use to pre-book spa treatments 28 days before they travel). The massage was great - just what I needed. After the massage, I was given a glass of water and asked to fill out the evaluation form. I went back into the CCR, charged my phone for a while and then headed across to the B gates where my flight to LA was leaving from.

BA281, LHR - LAX, G-ZBKE, B789

This was to be my first time on a B789 so I was pretty excited. The flight was called for pre-boarding and then F passengers invited to board. Boarding pass scanned, passport looked at and I was off....... to a set of stairs and outside to a bus. Way to go BA! Great "premium" experience for your F class passengers. Add to it the fact that we didn't even get a bus to ourselves but were stuffed on with as many people as they could get on before the doors were shut wasn't exactly a great PR advert for BA.

Yah, KLAZZY!





Thankfully there were some covered stairs as it was raining outside. When I got to the door, I showed my boarding pass and the lovely CSM (I think), Jo, showed me to my seat, 1A. This was to be my space for the next 11 hours.



As I settled in, a lovely young girl came over and introduced herself and said that she would be taking care of me during the flight along with her colleague, a young guy. Being a mixed fleet crew, it's not a surprise when you see crew working in F who are mid-20s if that. Not that it mattered - the two of them were brilliant throughout the flight. I was offered a pre-departure drink (fizz obviously) and some PJs for the flight along with a washbag.



Menus were handed out. I had pre-booked the chicken, leek and ham hock pie as I had zero confidence that BA could do a decent Lobster Thermidor in the air lol.







Overall, I quite liked the seat. I think that it could do with some more privacy at the side to make it more suite like. However, there was enough space for me and I didn't have an issues in sleeping and didn't feel cramped at all. The warbrode is a decent size and fit my jacket and shirt. My shoes and carry on bag went in the overhead locker. I also like the reduced size of the F cabin - 8 seats (compared to 14 or 17 on other BA planes). I also thought the dimming window feature was quite cool and made for some great pics later on in the flight.

Top ups of fizz were offered before we pushed back and made our way to the runway. The reduction in noise on the 789 was noticeable as we took off towards the west and made our way to LAX. Flight time of just under 11 hours.



After take off, I changed into my PJs and orders were taken for pre-departure drinks. Once these were handed out, the other member of crew came around to take the meal orders. I started with a Kir Royale and some mixed nuts.







While watching a film, tables were set for lunch.



Anti pasti amuse bouche was a nice pre-starter to have accompanied with some tasty baguette. The crew also had no issue with me doing a mini wine tasting before deciding what white I wanted to got for with my starter - thumbs up to that!



It was so bright outside that I had to keep the windows dimmed most of the time.



The starter of smoked salmon and crab was brilliant - so tasty and I loved the small pieces of sphered apple on the plate.



One thing I LOVE on BA is the soup. They are constantly good and this butternut squash soup was absolutely no exception. The added chestnuts and pumpkin seeds on top were yummy!



And then the pie. It was good but the pastry was just a bit too heavy. It still tasted nice though.



At this point, we were approaching Greenland and the scenery was spectacular! I tried to get some good pics but the glare from the sun was annoying!











Mr 2A had gone to sleep by this point so as soon as the rest of the cabin saw me taking pics, I had 4 others at my suite asking if they could take pictures out of my window. I joked "Sure, £10 a pic" but all in good fun. I let them take all of their pics as I sat in the buddy seat and we had a decent chat. The two crew appeared and also wanted a look at the view as they said that they never get to see too much during service periods.

I then asked for my bed to be made so that I could cosy up with dessert and a movie.







After a short nap, I woke and decided to get some cheese while I listened to some music. A great selection of tasty cheese and really nice crackers! Another thing BA does consistently well.



I dod not get bored of this wing view once!



Time was passing and I was having a great flight. It was so nice just chilling under the duvet watching a movie or listening to music whilst sipping on a drink. F definitely is the way to fly and I am so glad that I had the miles to burn to take this trip! Before we knew it, we were a few hours out of LA and the lunch service started.

The cheese soufflé was brilliant and the taste was so good.



I didn't fancy scallops so went for the pasta for main and wasn't disappointed.



Another wing shot..... sorrynotsorry!



And some fruit so finish off a brilliant meal service.



Approaching LA just as the sun set made for some more brilliant views!



We landed near enough on time and I had a chat with the crew at the front. Turned out that the young guy at the front who was looking after First was on his first shift in F. I told him that he had done a wonderful job and that he should be proud of himself. He seemed happy with being told that and told me that he was looking forward to going to Disney during his time in LA. Hehe. I was surprised how quick it was to get through immigration and collecting my luggage. My bag was 6th off - something I have never, ever experienced before on BA on a first class flight.

So overall, a really good flight here. I was impressed with the F product on the 789 and I had no real gripes with the food whatsoever. Coupled with an attentive crew made for 11 hours that went by in a shot! Thanks BA!

I hopped on the free bus and made my way to the Hilton at LAX. Standard airport hotel with a fine enough room. After grabbing a shower, I had a beer down in the bar and then headed to bed after the long day I'd had!



Thanks for reading this part! Comments and questions all welcome

Last edited by stu1985; Dec 10, 18 at 11:32 am
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Old Dec 9, 18, 1:22 pm
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So far so good. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your report of my home town. Not sure if this trip has passed or if you are currently here, but yes, it does always rain like this!
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Old Dec 9, 18, 1:59 pm
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Same here, looking forward to the rest. Always fun to read about people coming to our great city, especially in rainy winter. If you were here last week, it was spectacular. Today, not so much.
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Old Dec 9, 18, 6:01 pm
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I thought from the set of stairs at LHR for boarding that you had somehow joined the cleaning crew.

That is about as far from first class as you can get.
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Old Dec 9, 18, 8:36 pm
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Good report so far!
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Old Dec 10, 18, 12:32 am
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Originally Posted by theshaun View Post
So far so good. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to your report of my home town. Not sure if this trip has passed or if you are currently here, but yes, it does always rain like this!
Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
Same here, looking forward to the rest. Always fun to read about people coming to our great city, especially in rainy winter. If you were here last week, it was spectacular. Today, not so much.
Thanks both! What a beautiful city! And I lucked out big time - I was there last weekend and had nothing but clear blue skies - just brilliant!

Originally Posted by mapleg View Post
I thought from the set of stairs at LHR for boarding that you had somehow joined the cleaning crew.

That is about as far from first class as you can get.
Exactly....I mean I used Avios but if I had paid thousands of pounds for my ticket, I wouldn't be too impressed.

Originally Posted by 757 View Post
Good report so far!
Thanks 757!
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Old Dec 10, 18, 12:58 am
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Great start and looking forward to reading your full TR. The pics you posted on Instagram were really good!
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Old Dec 10, 18, 9:25 am
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Great start to your TR (apart from the stairs and bus!); looking forward to Vancouver...
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Old Dec 10, 18, 11:50 pm
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Thanks very much for sharing stu1985 - it looks like we had a similar BA F experience (in a nearby thread I reviewed the 789 to KL). Your food looks better but I’d wager that it was the same (excellent) crew from your description.

Looking forward to reading the rest!
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Old Dec 11, 18, 7:34 am
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Thanks for sharing!! Looking forward to the rest.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:56 am
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Excellent once again Stu, looking forward to the rest of the report. Vancouver is on our bucket list as we want to do an Alaskan cruise at some point, so any information in and around that area would be welcome.
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Old Dec 11, 18, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Great start and looking forward to reading your full TR. The pics you posted on Instagram were really good!
Thanks nequine - glad you liked the Insta pics too!

Originally Posted by Tocsin View Post
Great start to your TR (apart from the stairs and bus!); looking forward to Vancouver...
Ha - thanks Tocsin. That bus was a joke! Vancouver coming up in a few posts!

Originally Posted by HoneymoonFlyer View Post
Thanks very much for sharing stu1985 - it looks like we had a similar BA F experience (in a nearby thread I reviewed the 789 to KL). Your food looks better but I’d wager that it was the same (excellent) crew from your description.

Looking forward to reading the rest!
Thanks HoneymoonFlyer and congrats! Your report is great - looking forward to you finishing it off!

Originally Posted by roadwarrier View Post
Thanks for sharing!! Looking forward to the rest.
Thanks!

Originally Posted by mike&co View Post
Excellent once again Stu, looking forward to the rest of the report. Vancouver is on our bucket list as we want to do an Alaskan cruise at some point, so any information in and around that area would be welcome.
Thanks for reading mike&co. Not sure I can help with the cruise aspect but I can certainly show you some nice pics of Vancouver soon!
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Old Dec 11, 18, 1:36 pm
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The day after was my TP run day which I was quite looking forward to. As a bit of an avgeek, any excuse to step on board a plane is good for me. I was up at 4.30am and didn't have any issues in getting up as my body clock hadn't quite got into LA time yet. After a quick bottle of water and some (disgusting) coffee in my room, I headed downstairs with a shoulder bag for the day and hopped on the bus to the airport. LAX was relatively quiet to be honest which I was surpassed with. I thought the airport would be busy with people taking the first flight out in the morning. Anyway, I printed my boarding passes for the day and headed up to the AA lounge.

The AAngel at the door said that my BA number wasn't on the booking (must have been some error as I definitely connected it) so she put it on for me and reprinted all my boarding passes and ended up looking surprised when 5 popped out of the machine. The lounge was big with a load of spare seats. Unfortunately, at the place I decided to sit, there were a group of Americans who were obviously excited about going to Boston on holiday and didn't seem to have a volume button which turned down..... I moved back closer to the entrance where it was much quieter.





Today's route: LAX - SFO - PHX - LAX - LAS - LAX (depart 6..30am, return 8.30pm).

AA LAX - SFO, N218NN ,E175

I made my way to Gate 52 at around 5.45am and we got on a bus which took us to the part of the airport where the American Eagle Embraers are kept. We went into the small terminal where boarding was being called at Group 7. I headed onto the plane and took my seat in 1A. I do like the E175 single seats in First on American. Loads of leg room and loads of space. There was a nice member of cabin crew who offered pre-departure drinks. I took a water, most others took coffee.

We pushed back on time and the Captain told us to expect quite a bumpy ride coming into San Francisco. Once we were airborne, the cabin crew member cam around offering further drinks and items from the small snack basket. I just took some coffee and orange juice and dozed on and off for most of the flight . Some nice sunrise views during the flight. Everything was plain flying until we started descent. This was one of the most turbulent approaches I have had in a long while. The small E175 was getting thrown around in the air and it didn't even look like we could avoid some of the large clouds outside. The final approach over the water was especially hair raising - I had sweaty palms when we landed and there were a lot of relieved faces when we eventually landed (and I like a good bit of bump in the air now and again!).











I headed into SFO but with a short connection, I didn't have any time to visit the lounge.

AA1868, SFO - PHX, N925UY, A321

We boarded on time but were informed that one of the runways had been closed and that there was a long queue of aircraft waiting to take off. We eventually took off around an hour late but made up 30 mins during the flight. An uneventful flight with some views of the nice countryside of Arizona along the way.





After we landed, it took me a few minutes to make my way to the AAdmirals lounge by D21. It was RAM packed. Basically standing room only. I eventually managed to find a seat and went to grab a drink. I realised that I never got drinks vouchers when I came into the lounge so went to ask about it. Seemingly the drinks vouchers are now contained in your boarding pass so when the server scans it, she can see that you are entitled to two free drinks. Great! I headed to the bar and ordered a Bloody Mary and, by chance, a seat by the window opened up so I grabbed it. I had a 3 hour layover so it was great to get a seat. The Bloody Mary was spicy (just as I asked) and was great!



Some great views from the lounge!





I had a few more Bloody Marys. Once I had the two free ones, I kept getting them free but just with non premium vodka..... fine by me! The food selection was average. There was a tasty chicken noodle soup and some crudités with humus and ranch dressing. Fine for a snack but if you want something more substantial, you'll have to go to the terminal.

AA899, PHX - LAX, N170US, A321

Nice crew on boarding offering all F passengers a pre-departure beverage of choice. Sam Adams for me please!



Some great crew on this flight interacting with the passengers. "Honey, did you order a Bud Lite?"...... "No, a Heineken"..... "Ohhhhh shoot! You don't wanna Bud Lite now I have opened it?!" Haha!

Short flight - refills offered as we made our way to LAX.

On landing, I made my way straight to the Flagship Lounge. I was going to go to the QF Flounge in TBIT but with only 40 mins, I didn't see the point. I grabbed some soup and nibbles in the lounge and before long, it was time to head to the gate again.



AA501, LAX - LAS, N559UW, A321

Another pre-departure drink of choice



Some nice views as we took off from LAX.





G&T on board this time and crew offering everyone doubles. I also took a liking to the cheddar cheese popcorn they offered in the snack basket. I desperately need to try and find some of it in the UK! The crew on this flight were great - totally played the party mood of most passengers right.



And some great, clear views as we made the approach into Vegas.







On arriving, it was a short turn around but there was then a short delay due to landing slot availability in LAX. So instead of hanging around at the gate, I went to the nearby bar and grabbed a beer. It wouldn't be LAS if there weren't gambling machines in the terminal!



AA795, LAS - LAX, N559UW, A321

Boarded to the same crew who did exactly the same service as before - pre-departure drinks and then more drinks / snacks after we took off. This was a short flight with some cool views of LA under the clouds as we came in.









So, a fun day! Met some nice folk in the PHX lounge who I talked to for a while. On landing back in LAX, I jumped on the bus back to the Hilton. After dumping my bag, I went to the bar downstairs and had some dinner. After a long day, I was in bed by 11pm!

The morning after, I was up and out of the hotel by 9.30am.



Some nice views across to LA and the hotel was in a great spot for seeing the arrivals into LAX in the morning - some big 777s, 789s, 350s and 380s.



My flight to PHX was at 12.30pm and I was looking forward to spending some time in the QF Flounge having breakfast. I got the bus to the airport and checked in and was through security in under 10 mins which was great. The QF lounge was relatively busy at this time of the morning - more so than I thought it was going to be. I was welcome in by the nice guy at the entrance and was told that no boarding calls would be made (which was fine with me).

Always like the views walking across to TBIT!









And then it was time for some breakfast - nice menu. I went for fruit and Croque Monsieur - both tasty.



Love the coffee in this lounge!







After a nice breakfast, I grabbed a seat, charged my phone and ordered a spicy Bloody Mary - came with some excellent olives!



AA657, LAX - PHX, N576UW, A321

Another hop to PHX this afternoon with a nice pre-departure drink....... can you see a pattern of behaviour here!?





Bye LAX!



Quite cool taking off with a plane on the parallel runway taking off at the same time. It turned right and we turned off to the left and made our way back in land.









Yay for more cheese popcorn!



Some cool clouds coming into PHX!



And getting ready to make a left into PHX....



After landing, I headed to the same lounge I was in yesterday and got the same server who made me a couple more great BMs before I headed to my next flight. Again, some great views from the lounge, especially just as the sun was starting to set.







Thanks for continuing to read along and comment!
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Old Dec 12, 18, 1:55 am
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Nice report, always love the classy flithy European product. At the F-meal I think it´s funny that a cheese souffle is a light meal
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:03 am
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Surprisingly, I too have found reward availability to and from Vancouver to be very bad. Ironically, it is much easier to get it through Los Angeles; even with the connecting flights.
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