Last November, I enjoyed a fabulous holiday in Namibia. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Concorde Room at London Heathrow Airport
- Review: British Airways Boeing 777 First Class from London to Johannesburg (today)
- Review: Air Link Embraer E190 Business Class from Johannesburg to Windhoek
- Review: &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
- Review: Zannier Hotels Omaanda
- Review: Zannier Hotels Sonop
- Review: Little Kulala by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Damaraland Camp by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Hoanib Skeleton Coast by Wilderness Safaris
- Review: Onguma The Fort (Etosha National Park)
Today: Review – British Airways B777 First Class from London to Joahnnesburg
My holiday to Namibia started with a First Class flight in a British Airways Boeing 777-300ER from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) in the UK to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport (JNB) in South Africa. It was my first longhaul flight in 18 months, and it felt pretty awesome to be flying in a widebody aircraft again (although the current situation regarding the pandemic and the testing & administration required also caused some stress). The ride was enjoyable, but I was not really impressed by the First Class product offered by British Airways. Although the look of the First Class cabin is sleek, the experience pales in comparison to the First Class product offered by other airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Etihad Airways. On a positive note: British Airways’ First Class feels like one of the best Business Class products in the world (with a First Class price tag though).
Have you ever flown First Class with British Airways? If so, what was your experience?
- Trip: London Heathrow (LHR) to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport (JNB)
- Airline: British Airways
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: G-STBJ (built in 2014)
- On time departure: Yes (8 pm)
- On time arrival: Yes (7.40 am)
- Miles: 5630
- Flight time: 10 hours and 40 minutes
- Seat: 4K
- Class: First Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube video):
- Cost of my ticket
- Lounge (Concorde Room)
- First Class cabin
- First Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid 2250 euros for a mixed class ticket from Brussels to Windhoek (with stop-overs in London and Johannesburg). I booked a seat in First Class for the outbound journey while I booked the inbound journey in Business Class. Remarkably, this mixed First/Business Class ticket was considerably cheaper compared to a round trip Business Class ticket (probably because of high occupancy in the Business Class cabin). In the end, I wished I hadn’t booked with British Airways, since the carrier cancelled my return flight (Windhoek to Brussels) a one day prior to my departure to Namibia, forcing me to book an expensive separate one-way Economy Class ticket with another carrier (Lufthansa owned Eurowings) in order to get home again after my holiday.
British Airways’ First Class passengers have access to the airline’s exclusive Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5, which I reviewed here.
3. FIRST CLASS CABIN
British Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft features a total of 299 seats: 14 suites in First, 56 flat bed seats in Club World (Business Class), 44 recliner seats in World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy), and 185 standard seats in World Traveller (Economy). The First Class cabin is located in the plane’s front section, immediately behind the cockpit. Upon entering the plane, First Class passengers are escorted by a member of the cabin crew to their seat.
The cabin has a modern, sophisticated and sleek look, especially 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. The seats feel private as none of the rows line up, so nobody is directly looking into the suite across the aisle. Privacy is further enhanced by a reverse herringbone layout, in which the window suites are angled towards the windows while the middle seats are angled towards the center line. In addition, dividers can be raised between center seats for complete privacy.
Although the First Class seats feel private enough due to the high walls between the suite and the aisle, they are not fully enclosed. This is a remarkable contrast with the carrier’s newest Business Class product, which features sliding doors at each seat (and thus offers more privacy compared to the older First Class seats). To tackle this problem, British Airways is rolling out a new First Class suite boasting sliding privacy doors on its latest long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets. These suites are an evolution of those which debuted on the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet (which I reviewed here).
4. FIRST CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I choose window seat 4K on this 10 four flight from London to Johannesburg. Only half of the seats in the First Class cabin were occupied.
Contrary to the enclosed First Class suites with sliding doors that you find on several other airlines these days, British Airways’ (old) First Class suite features a semi-open design, although it’s located within its own cocoon and feels totally private (no other passengers can see you, thanks to the reverse herringbone layout and high seat walls as stated above). The seat itself is spacious, with a generous pitch of 78 inches (198 cm) and a width of 22 inches (56 cm). It features a dark, leather-stitched upholstery, somewhat reminiscent of the seats in a luxury sports car.
In front of the seat is an adjustable ottoman (footrest) that can be used as an extension of the flat-bed or as an extra seat for dining with a travel companion within the 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 closet with a hanger & shoebox, which can be used as a wardrobe. The suite’s other side features a reading lamp, the seat & light controls, as well as USB & power ports. This side of the seat also has a beige colored panel which is perfect to place a drink on; it also holds the large, shiny tray table (which needs to be pulled out).
Of course, the seat – together with the ottoman – can be transformed in a fully lie-flat bed of 78 inches (198 cm) long. Turndown service is provided by the crew. A good night’s rest is guaranteed, thanks to luxurious 400 thread count bedding, accompanied by a foam fiber mattress topper.
What are the best First Class seats?
- Solo travelers should go fo a window seat, while travel 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?
- I 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).
For a seat map of the British Airways Boeing 777-300ER, click here.
5. AMENITIES & BEDDING
First Class passengers on one of British Airways’ longhaul flights receive the following amenities:
- A bespoke First Class amenity bags, designed exclusively by luxury British fashion brand, Temperley London. The bag is filled with products from No 1 British Skincare brand, ELEMIS, including products from the highly sought after Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen range. The amenity kit contains the essentials to cleanse, revive and hydrate.
- Super-soft, sophisticated male or female Temperley London pajamas (with matching slippers).
- High performance noise-cancelling headphones crafted by Meridian, the British pioneers of high resolution audio. The headphones need to be returned to the crew after the flight (it would not make sense to take them home anyway as they can only be powered within an aircraft).
During this overnight flight, a four-course dinner was served after takeoff and a sumptuous breakfasts about one hours prior to landing. All meals were served on elegant bone china crockery, designed exclusively for the airline by high-end British tableware designer William Edwards. The tableware was accompanied by contemporary cutlery from Studio William. The food tasted excellent but was a bit underwhelming for a First Class product (it was similar to what you get served in Business Class these days with most airlines).
I choose the following dishes from the dinner menu:
- Canapés: jambon & manchego; baba ghanoush on labneh with cherry tomato and basil; marinated olives with rosemary
- Starter: Loch Fyne smokes salmon with mustard dressing
- Main course: corn-fed roasted chicken breast, served with duck fat-roasted potatoes, bread sauce, autumn vegetables, and chicken gravy
- Dessert: textures of British apples, served with green apple sorbet, vanilla cream, oat crumble
Prior to landing in London, I enjoyed the following breakfast selection:
- First course: orange juice, smoothie, seasonal fruit, Bircher muesli, and warm pastries
The inflight entertainment is displayed on an individual 23-inch (58 cm) screen, that is either controlled by a wired handset or by touching the screen directly. There are 1,000 hours of programs available on the in-flight entertainment channels, including new Hollywood releases and British cinema classics. Award-winning TV box sets are also available, as well as the latest music albums, podcasts, games, and 3D moving maps with multiple perspective views.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
All of British Airways’ Boeing 777s feature onboard WiFi. The WiFi is not ‘gate to gate’ though and only kicks in when the aircraft is at altitude. Once cruising above 10,000 ft (3000 m), you need to enable ‘flight mode’ on your device and select the publicly broadcasted WiFi network called “BAWi-Fi”. First Class passengers on British Airways’ long haul flights currently enjoy streaming-level internet speed for free on the entire flight, with no restrictions.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: I am a huge fan of the carrier’s crew, which ranks among the most experienced in the air. Pilots and cabin crew have an average of 15 years’ experience. That is a reassuring thought for a nervous flyer like myself. The flight attendant in the First Class cabin during this flight – I believe her name was Rose – did a terrific job.
# LAVATORY: there are two lavatories for the six First Class passengers. Located aft of row 4, both lavatories are stocked with Elemis toiletries
10. MY VERDICT
- Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 7/10
- Food (quality): 7/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin design: 7/10
- Overall experience: good: 7.6/10