London to Rio – BA First – experience in the air

So… picking up from the last post!

Sometimes there is a bit of chaos at the gate I’ve found… and this was about the most chaotic ever…  with no announcement to board there was a huge queue of people, half of them at the Fast Track lane.  After a couple of minutes they announced boarding would start, but a huge throng of people started towards the fast track queue…  I slowly managed to edge through the crowds of waiting people who were being told not to queue yet, to find a nice arguement starting on a guy who was in Premium Economy and insisting he should be allowed Fast Track.

It turns out, despite the seeming throngs of people, no one was actually supposed to be in the fast track lane yet…  We were the first in to the First cabin, today with two boarding air bridges, with a dedicated one for First.

The Rio flight is operated by a 777-300.  On all the BA First cabins, there are 14 seats, but some slightly different arrangements.  This is 1-2-1, with an extra two seats on the window sides to the middle.  We were shown to our seats and home for the next 10.5 – 11 hours by Nick, having selected the two center seats.  I’d never travelled in the centre before, always taking the window seat.  Certainly if travelling by yourself this is the better pick.  Travelling together, the centre seats allow conversation, but still a good degree of separation.  Of course each seat does have the hot seat opposite, so you can die together sitting opposite each other.

The BA First seat is a lot more simple than some.  Instead of a control panel with various buttons, there is a single dial you twist.  One way the seat relaxes, eventually turning in to a full flat bed, the other way is more upright.  There’s a button to put it back to landing position, and two to adjust the lumbar support.

There’s two lighting options – a small light in the ‘suite’ which you can turn on and dim, and two overheads, medium and strong light for lack of a better term!

The IFE screen folds back, so no watching during take off or landing.  It is also quite hard to open and close sometimes!  It’s an ok size at 15″, and isn’t too far away from you either.  The controls are in a small handset on the side of the seat (in a small cupboard when by the window), and touchscreen.

The hot seat pulls down (well, part of it) to make a foot rest at a lower hight, which is more comfortable for most positions.

Storage space is not much though.  There is a private closest, which is enough to hang a jacket, shirt and trousers in when changed in to the pyjamas, as well as a pair of shoes at the bottom.  That is it though…  There is an overhead bin for carry on, unlike some other airlines.  But around the seat itself though, there is no storage, other than a small magazine pouch not big enough for a book really, but ok for an iPad or Kindle.

By the window, the small table is raised out the side, which does give some space behind to stow some things.  In the centre it is slightly different, and there is more flat space there, but no where to secure things from sliding forwards.

There are the usual selection of USB port, multi-country mains socket, and a video in if you happen to have composite video out… not met anyone who does yet!

While the plane was boarding another 5 people joined in the First cabin, meaning half the seats were full.  We were served some of the very nice Grand Siècle as we had in the lounge, as well as some hot nuts.  The wash bags and pyjamas were distributed as well.  I do like BA pyjamas – I have eight pairs now, and wear them all the time! The washbag has some ok products (lip balm, moisturiser, eye gel, toothbrush, hairbrush, deodorant), but I do prefer the previous bag to the current one, which feels a bit cheaper and is quite small to be useful as a regular travel bag, unlike the previous one.

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The menu was distributed shortly after take off by the Cabin Service Manager, who also had a brief chat with all the passengers, and of course knows everyone’s name.  You can dine at your leisure in First, and we decided to dine together at around 3pm (we took off at 1).  The highest priority is of course the wine list!

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This gave us an hour and a half or so for a movie, and I watched Big Hero 6.  I’m just a kid at heart!  Loved it!!  And a couple of glasses of the pinot noir.

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I can’t for the life of me remember what the Amuse Bouche was on this flight… but I don’t think I liked it much! My starter was the ham hock and chicken terrine, which was pretty nice.  Normally I have a soup, but there wasn’t an option.  For my main I went away from my usual steak option, and went (Shock horror) for the Twice Baked Gruyere and Parmesan Souffle.  And it was delicious I must say.  Matched with a lovely glass of the bordeaux wine, Chateau Haut-Bergey 2004.

The chocolate fondant for dessert was quite divine, one of the best plane deserts I’ve had in a while.  For this I had a class of the Cabidos dessert wine, which has been on my last couple of flights.  They used to serve a Tokaji    , which I preferred, but it is still very nice.

This was my first time dining together, and it quite an interesting experience being able to sit together like at a real restaurant!  The hot seat isn’t the most comfortable in the world, but it is serviceable for a couple of hours, no worse than a simple chair in a restaurant anyway!

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As luck would have it, as it was coffee time the seatbelt sign came on, which means no hot drinks.  It was only for about 15 miniutes, at which time my espresso arrived, and I returned back to my seat for a bit to finish the movie, and to start another.

As it was a dayflight, I wasn’t particularly tired at this point, alternating between watching, reading and drinking!  I’m one to talk to the cabin crew if they are receptive, and on this flight I probably had a good one hour chat with the steward looking after my side of the First cabin.

At this point I had the bed made up, got changed to the pyjamas and slept most of the rest of the flight.  I didn’t bother with the light lunch, still feeling fairly satisfied after dinner and taking an opportunity to get some rest.

All in all a great flight, one of my better experiences on First… although I did miss the window…  I think the electric blind is fantastic!

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