After our round the world flights and Visa points, we had over 500,000 BA avios points, so we decided to splurge. As a once in a lifetime opportunity, we booked First Class tickets on the outbound flight back in April and our return in September.
The outbound flight was on an old B-747 and could best be described as disappointing. We were hoping for better on the new A-380, which operates on the Vancouver route during the summer months.
I’ll review both the flight and LHR T3 Galleries First Lounge.
With substantial baggage, rather than fighting London traffic out to LHR in a cab or limo, we opted to ship our suitcases from the hotel. We used Airportr on arrival, so booked them again to ship our bags out to the airport. What an exceptional service.
BA A-380 – BA website
Pick-up must be at least 7 hours before flight departure, so we signed up for 08:00 to 09:00, with the driver arriving shortly before 08:00. He checked and scanned the boarding passes, tagged each case and secured them individually in a sealed plastic bag. I answered the standard questions on his tablet, while he loaded the cases. The entire process took about 10 mins. Next time we saw our cases was arrival Vancouver.
BA A-380 compared to the A-319 – malcolm nason
After breakfast, we walked to Tower Hill tube station, catching the train out to LHR T3, arriving about Noon. Already checked in and bags already shipped, we headed straight to the Fast Track security, which we breezed through. Clearing security, we turned right, following signs to Zone F and the BA Galleries First Lounge. Hours are 05:00 to the final flight departure.
Entrance to Galleries First Lounge & Elemis Spa – insideflyer
Although not of the same standard as the Terminal 5 Galleries First and Concorde Room, we found the lounge to be comfortable and it offered all the usual services – wifi, business centre, champagne bar, vodka bar, wine bar, liquor bar, buffet, dine-in restaurant, showers, etc.
After clearing the check-in desk, we walked into the lounge, arriving at the champagne bar.
Champagne Bar – inside flyer
Champagne is self-service – inside flyer
At the Champagne Bar the lounge splits to the left and right – to the left is the business centre and to the right the buffet and dine-in restaurant.
Business Centre – travelingformiles
With no food service at this end of the lounge, it was slightly less busy than the other end. Opposite the business centre was a spacious seating area. In addition to the champagne bar, the lounge had an extensive selection of other bars, which were well separated.
Vodka Bar – insideflyer
Don’t drink Vodka, so can’t comment on the quality and selection of vodkas.
Wine Bar – insideflyer
Liquor, Beer & Soft Drinks – travelingformiles
The fridges had the usual selection of mass produced beers, but they also had a very pleasant IPA from a craft brewery. Rumour is that I may have tried a few IPA’s.
Beer & Soft drink fridges – insideflyer
Good selection of whisky – efficientasianman
Although the lounge was busy, it was well laid out, so I never found a queue at any food station or bar during the 4 hours we spent in the lounge.
Tea & Coffee Bar, with biscuits – travelsort
This tea/coffee and biscuits is fairly standard across most BA lounges.
For meals, you had 2 options – self serve buffet or a dine-in restaurant. With a fair bit of carry-on luggage, we opted to skip the dine-in option and enjoyed lunch from the buffet, eating at our seats. A traditional full English breakfast is offered from 05:00 to Noon, with salads and hot entrees from Noon to closing.
I found the buffet offerings very reasonable, with a small selection of fresh salads and 3 or 4 hot entrees. I tried the green curry, which was hot and tasty, although slightly mild. The following photos show some of the buffet offerings.
Lounge seating were reasonably comfortable and we easily found seats with a power chord in close proximity. A number of TV’s were available.
Various seating areas throughout the lounge
We both found the wi-fi very reasonable, both signal strength and bandwidth. Passwords are available from the front desk, or the schedule boards. No announcements are made in the lounge, so you have to check the boards for flight updates. The gate assignment was posted about 1 hr before departure, so shortly after arriving at the gate, First Class boarding was called.
BA A-380 First Class Seating Plan
First Class consists of 14 suites, located at the front of the lower deck. Judi and I had the front 2 seats in the middle.
BA A-380 Seats
Compared to the B-747, the A-380 has the same number of First Class seats, but takes up almost twice the floor space, so it is much more spacious. The seats are also more comfortable and modern than the B-747.
One of the window seats – dailymail
On boarding the flight attendants took our coats, which were hung in our personal lockers and delivered the obligatory glass of champagne. Since we boarded rather early, we were actually provided 2 glasses of champagne.
Another improvement was this flight had exceptional staff, who were all British. On the outbound B-747 flight we had a mixed flight crew. The young lady, on my side was brilliant. Once all pax were aboard she approached all pax in her section, knelt down beside the seat so she was at the same level, while she introduced herself, the service provided and explained the seat options. Exceptional service.
Seat prepared for sleeping
We had already pre-ordered our meal, so all we had to do was advise the staff when we wished to have dinner. They respectfully requested 1/2 hr notice, as that is the time required to heat the meal. For main course I had the Angus Beef Fillet, which was tasty, but unfortunately a little well done.
BA A-380 at YVR – Jet BC
To summarise, an exceptional flight, which compares very favourably, possibly even surpassing our previous A-380 flights with Qatar and Qantas, although those were only Business Class. On our previous flight with BA we noted a reduction in standards, but on this one, we definitely experienced the level of service that BA used to provide.
On arrival Vancouver, we breezed through immigration and customs, being quickly re-united with our daughter and grandson, who we hadn’t seen for 5 months, except for almost weekly Skype chats.
This completes our extended trip to UK, so my next posts will be February 2018, when we are scheduled to spent 7 weeks at Indian Waters RV Park in Indio, CA.