The Queen has her throne. Trump has his Oval Office chair. I have seat 2A in first class on a British Airways A380.
Yes, it feels epic. And so it should be. Namely, this is BA's top offering. The largest and most beautiful suite in its fleet.
Before sitting on a flight from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 to Johannesburg, I thought the golden age of flying was over. But when I sip my welcome glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne, I wonder if it's actually still with us.
It sure looks like you could splash thousands upon a first class ticket with BA on the A380.
Ted flies from & # 39; first class London Heathrow Airport & # 39; s Terminal 5 with British Airways to Johannesburg. Pictured is an official image of a suite identical to the one he has tested
Ted enjoys a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne in first class prior to launch
It's a flying experience like no other.
And taking & # 39; praises in this beautiful monster jet with the British flag carrier in & # 39; The economy on a return leg is not bad either.
But before I get into that, let me tell you the experience of "first class," which is more or less audible from start to finish – although there are some minor shocks along the way.
THE CONTROL AND LUNGE
The experience begins at a dedicated check-in area in T5 that BA & # 39; The First Wing & # 39; mentions.
Here lies a series of check-in cans hidden from a riff-raff behind a gold-colored peeled steel and glass case.
There is a huge amount of floor space, a small lounge area with flowers, armchairs and leather banquets and bright flavors of glass of water and cold towels.
Is this a check-in area or a spa?
I travel with my partner and 19-month-old daughter and we are led to one of & # 39; s offices by a nasty BA host, where & # 39; our luggage is checked by another staff whose bonhomie level & # 39; s even high.
Then it goes through an exclusive security track, where the bonhomie level drops.
No special treatment from the security staff, just staccato instructions.
I don't like it. I find gruff security personnel reassuring.
Next, it's time to move on to BA & # 39; s swanky Concorde Room, past the hoi polloi in the business lounge to a lounge that is exclusive to first-class ticket holders.
One of the bonuses that first-class passengers get is access to the highly swanky T5 Concorde Room (pictured). It's like the inside of a five-star hotel
To be honest, it's more like a five-star lobby, bar and restaurant than an airport lounge.
There are chandeliers, waiting staff sweet, eager to spread Champagne (we adults don't waste time accepting a whistle each) and private dining stalls.
We indulge in one of these and make use of the free delicacies that are offered from the a la carte menu.
I choose sour sea bass on a bed of Provencal vegetables and a glass of white Burgundy (Pernand-Vergelesses Combottes, Domaine Jean Fery, 2015).
So far, so first class-ish.
THE FIRST CLASSROOM
BA's first class seats are the largest in the fleet, with 30 percent more personal space and 60 percent more personal storage than the first suites on 747s and Dreamliners
Next, the big moment. Set foot for the first time on an A380. Right on & # 39; the front.
The first thrill is that rows one to four – that is to say the only 14 passengers in & # 39; the first class cabin on the bottom deck to & # 39; e front – get their very own jet bridge.
I only run it down when two BA crew members stream from the entrance of the aircraft.
I'm tired of excitement.
Upon entering, I actually turn right, not left, as is the tradition for swanky toiletries, to connect the jet bridge to the nose.
The seats are arranged in an inverted Herringbone layout, with five window / aisle seats on each side and four in the center.
Lots of room to maneuver: This photo Ted takes on his mobile phone shows just how big the First Suites are
Initially, the toilets are decorated with a fresh flower
The atmosphere is one of great English elegance. I feel underdressed in my casual wear.
I ordered the aforementioned Laurent-Perrier fizz within seconds.
It's a nice nipple. And so it should be – you'll be lucky to find a bottle of retail for less than £ 100.
BA also offers a Gusbourne Limited Release twenty fifteen glass bubbles – made in Kent, the & # 39; garden of England & # 39; – it does not return for £ 40 a bottle.
So far, so reassuringly expensive.
But there are some shocks in our store to & # 39; a retail price front.
On the front of the menu booklet is a message that says & # 39; our sommeliers have created a signature experience to enjoy & # 39 ;.
But switching to the white and red part of my First Class menu, I find a 2017 Marco Zunino Malbec Reserve from Mendoza. The 2016 vintage is worth £ 10.
That's a shockingly low value for a cabin experience that costs & # 39; s thousands and certainly not terrible & # 39; signature & # 39; despite the fact that this wine has received critical acclaim.
Indeed, a wine-friendly friend of mine who's been in the business 20 years ago tells me later: & # 39; That's nothing very special to first class. & # 39;
(BA works with a master of wine on his list, so I'd like to know what the thinking is here.)
After getting the characters from the site band, I pick out a glass of Ritual Pinot Noir 2015 from & # 39; e Casablanca Valley in Chile, which is nice. And in nice fine style, I showed the bottle and poured a sample so I could check if it was corked.
But again, the value is low – you can pick up a bottle for just £ 13.75.
The rest of the & # 39; list is more expensive (although my friend of & # 39; s wine seller notes that the list in & # 39; overall & # 39; is not so interesting & # 39;).
I also try a fine white, a Meursault 'Les Clous' 2015, Domaine Bouchard Pere & Fils, from Burgundy. It costs between £ 35 and £ 70 a bottle according to wine seekers.
I quit my quaffing on the Meursault stage as an anti-hangover measure, missed the 2010 Chateau Faugeres, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru red (£ 39) and off & # 39; s white list, the Sancerre & # 39; Les Cotes & # 39; 2017, Domaine Roblin, Loire (£ 18), and the & # 39; Charming & # 39; Gruner Veltliner 2015, Laurenz V, Kamptal, from Austria (£ 20- £ 25).
After the wine list on the menu comes the a la carte 'dinner' section – which is a triumph.
Ted chooses roasted Guinea birds with broccoli and cauliflower couscous, fig and pomegranate molasses for his main course
The amuse bouche of Cumbrian air-dried ham, Cumberland salami, Berkswell cheese, olives and sun-dried tomato
Before I place my order, I am told that I can eat whenever I want.
Because it's a night flight, I decide to eat as soon as possible, puffing for smoked sea cucumber mousse with Brixham crab and applesauce; roasted Guinea fowl with broccoli and cauliflower couscous, fig and pomegranate molasses. And for dessert – chocolate chili fondant with chocolate sauce and pistachio and almond mousse ball.
Before it all arrives an antipasti amuse bouche of Cumbrian air-dried ham, Cumberland salami, Berkswell cheese, olives and sun-dried tomato.
Each dish is very well executed – fresh, delicious and beautifully presented. And served on just fine china Wedgwood tableware.
I feel full and decide that it's time to press buttons, turn some dials, inspect the rooms, and marvel at the supremacy of my suite.
(And take some selfies, of course.)
It's a great deal of real estate – bigger than the First Suites on 747 and Dreamliner. The seats are the same size – 22.5in wide, 6.5-7.5ft in length – but on the A380 you get 30 percent more personal space and 60 percent more personal stowage.
Privacy in the suite is excellent. There is no door, but when Ted looks to the right, he can only see his neighbor's legs
I calculate that it is easily large enough for six adults to hang out.
It's also very private – when I look to the right, I can only see my neighbor's TV screen and legs.
To my immediate left is a fifty cubic hole – BA calls it a & # 39; entertainment party & # 39; – with a lid that is very handy for storing mid-flight bits and pieces such as water bottles, books and headphones.
It's also where the controls for the excellent 23-inch TV screen – which folds out of the wall – can be found.
The compartment is also home to a PC connector, USB port and RCA port.
For this is a side table whose & # 39; writing table & # 39; / dining table is located – and left not one but two windows, with jealousy that can be served at a distance.
A view of & # 39; Ted's chair taken from & # 39; a footrest at one end, which forms part of the bed in lie flat mode
At the far end is a smaller chair that I sit on to look out of the windows, to make them too far from & # 39; a chair off to look forward.
Like I said. Great.
On the outside wall is a little personal wardrobe in which to store my jacket and shoes.
The main seat itself is just amazing – very comfortable and luxurious massively.
Conveniently, it is controlled by one jog wheel that glows green when it is in a safe position for takeoff and landing and blue when it is not.
Hold it tight and the chair will lie securely in a 7ft 6in bed.
The control panel on which it sits also includes headlight controls, a daytime running light in a dinky flat lampshade, headrest and lumbar support adjustment and the window blinds.
The amenity kit, meanwhile, is by Liberty London and includes moisturizer, shave gel, lip balm and deodorant by Refinery; a razer; a toothbrush; a came; earplugs; Colgate toothpaste; flight socks and an eye mask.
The amenity kit is from Liberty London and includes moisturizer, shave gel, lip balm and deodorant from Refinery; a razer; a toothbrush; a came; earplugs; Colgate toothpaste; flight socks and an eye mask. Pajamas, slippers and headphones with sound cancellation by Meridian are also delivered to First Floor
The headrest is controlled by one jog wheel that glows green when it is in a safe position for boarding and landing and blue when it is not
Later it will be empty and given to my daughter to store her little wooden eggs with her.
I also provided a pair of cotton pajamas and slippers.
And so after the last part of the tour – the headphones.
On long flights, their quality is extremely important if you don't have one and here's a mishap of BA.
The sound-canceling pair from Meridian that I get has a curved jack. As I point this out, there has been a lot of apologizing and a new pair delivered quickly.
But the new pair does not work well – the sound only comes from one ear.
Well, the familiar American version of me would have called for quite a few more, but I go in & # 39; don't want a brute & # 39; Change British fashion and create just when everything is fine.
I always take my own Sennheiser earphones on flights and whip them out to enjoy a movie.
While my lids start to drip materialize and offer to turn the seat into a bed.
This is one of & # 39; s fun & # 39; e executive trips and the situation of BA First linen is top-notch.
Ted's full English at First is delicious. It includes scrambled eggs, Suffolk sweet-cured bacon, portobello mushroom, Cumberland pork sausage and hash browns. Plus a croissant and a delicious coffee
Ted & # 39; s A380 pictured when he departs in Johannesburg. He would later take a connecting flight to Cape Town
Ted in the A380 plane in Johannesburg. He asks the captain what is most difficult about flying the A380s. The answer? & # 39; Parking it & # 39;
I snuggle up on a thick mattress (well, thick for air travel), and under a comfy duvet, and drift away, able to stretch out easily, though I need to change a bit to avoid the headrest on at an uncomfortable angle. But that's because the stewardess has put it that way and I can't take the energy to unlock myself to call it.
This morning I opt for a full English breakfast with pink eggs, Suffolk sweet smoked bacon, portobello mushroom, Cumberland pork sausage and hash browns.
Once again, it's a delicious gourmet affair.
While leaving 11 hours after leaving London for the port in Johannesburg, I feel as fresh as I ever did after a long flight.
The suite – designed by BA's internal design management team in collaboration with Design Consultancy Forpeople – has been wonderful, providing the service example and the food and drink impressive.
As a nice bonus we can go to the airport to meet the pilots.
I ask the captain what is most difficult about flying the A380. He says: & # 39; Park it. & # 39;
IN THE ECONOMIC CABINET
On the way back, it is a completely different story.
I am in economy with the baby, after my postcard with my partner has changed.
What's more, I'm stuck in a middle (bassinet) chair in a row, so I'll need all the help I can get from stewardesses, like jumping up and down to get things done getting and making requests is going to be extremely hard, especially when the bassinet is set up.
I'm scared, but they come through in great style – constantly checking that we're both okay and wrapping my bags for the extraction of toys and milk and so on without hitting an eyelid.
It's Ted's economy for the return trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. This is an official BA image of & # 39; cabin & # 39; economy A380. However, Ted sits in the & # 39; s middle row
It's all happy for Ted in the economy to start
And when my poor daughter is sick as we make the final descent, the ferocious crew jumps into action, wipes us both off and offers words of confidence.
But what of the actual economy class product?
So, it's the best I've ever experienced. Exactly.
For starters, and this really shocks me, the freebie ear headphones aren't terrible, as is usually the case in economy houses.
Actually, I enjoy two movies without the need to pick up my faithful Sennheisers, who haven't been left in my backpack in an overhead bin.
The entertainment screen, meanwhile, is pretty good. Clear, easy to use and perfectly large enough.
The food also gets an inch. For dinner, it is tomato and cheese paste, with a little salad and a roll. That's just fine.
But it's a double inch for the Montenero Italian merlot I choose. It is really very good indeed – well structured and with a nice finish. In fact, it's so fun, I half wonder if it was accidentally dropped out of a business class home.
For direct comparison to my first class breakfast, I go a few hours before the touchdown for a full English.
The economy bassinet seat offers Ted fairly decent leg room (left). One of the biggest shockers is that the free economy headphones are not fearful (right)
For dinner, it is tomato and cheese paste, with a little salad and a roll. Which is just fine, Ted writes
The entertainment screen in economics is very good. Clear, easy to use and perfectly large enough (left). The Montenero Italian merlot Ted has stonking (right). No, really …
The A380 economy full English looks processed and artificial – but tastes just fine. BA later assures Ted that the sausages served in the economy are meat, not a substitute, and are purchased from Wexford in Ireland, and that the egg is not powder but pasteurized liquid eggs – & # 39; standard in catering for airline worldwide & # 39;
Ted is set in economy by his daughter's bassinet (pictured). Fortunately, the cabin crew's first rate is on hand to help
It's near the same quality – the sausage looks very processed and the pink egg has the same artificial texture.
Later, BA will assure me that the sausages served in the economy are meat, not a substitute, and are sourced from Wexford in Ireland, and that the egg is not powdered but pasteurized liquid eggs – & # 39; standard in airline catering worldwide & # 39; – and & # 39; cooked in-house on a daily basis & # 39 ;.
I conclude that it is quite a decent enough offering for cattle class.
Comfort levels & # 39; s also pretty good.
In fact, this is the best economy site I've ever experienced, thanks in part to the fact that it doesn't have many wings on its headrest that go one way or another to stop the head latches during slush.
It's also a nice size – 18 inches wide compared to the 17.3 inches you get in BA's Dreamliner economy.
With First, the only major issue BA has with the 'wow factor'. Other aviation companies met BA in this regard. Emirates, for example, offers first-class successes on its A380s
BA has gone to great lengths to offer something really special to its First customers and I am thoroughly impressed, despite problems with wine list and headphones.
But those are easy fixes.
With First, the only major issue BA has with the 'wow factor'. Other aviation companies met BA in this regard. Emirates, for example, offers first-class successes on its A380s.
As far as economics is concerned, I think the airline has a real winner with its A380's. And the difference between the two classes is suitably large to keep those who pay the top happy.
Not before flying on the A380? Fix the matter so quickly – because it's a great machine.
The start, for example, is slightly different – there is very little vibration as sound and leaving the ground is surreal. You feel almost detached from your experience.
What's more, you can sit on the upper deck economy (where & # 39; s my seat). Here everything becomes especially musty.
Even boarding the thing is extremely exciting, to add the jet bridges to both decks, and add to the epicness of it all.
A golden age of flying? Probably yes – but what is certain is that BA has a monster hit on & # 39; s hands.
British Airways flies First Class from Heathrow to Johannesburg from £ 4,494 return including taxes / fees / carrier costs and from £ 638 economy. Please book to book ba.com/Johannesburg or call 0844 493 0763.
Note: This review was first published on March 24, 2019. All information was correct at that time. BA is in the process of upgrading its first-class offering.
Rating key: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
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