With loads of Avios to spend, we’ve been keen to fly one of BA’s ultra-long haul routes in First. Before the pandemic struck, we’d booked to fly to Santiago, Chile. Sadly, that was cancelled and the route wasn’t bookable for some time. After much searching, we found Avios availability in first class from London to Mexico City on a British Airways 787. This would be an opportunity for us to really sample BA’s 787 first class seat, which is different to the other long-haul BA aircraft. With 12 hours to experience the seat and the first class cabin service, we were determined not to sleep!
Flight No: BA0456
From/To: London (LHR) to Mexico City (MEX)
Departure time: 12:45 (13:09)
Ticket Class: First
Flight time: 11 hours 29 mins
Status Points: 210
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-900
Number of classes: 4
Number of seats in flying class: 8
Position: At the front on the left hand side of the aircraft
In this review:
- Airport Experience
- Boarding & Welcome
- Onboard Experience
- BG1 Verdict
We checked in at the First Wing inside Terminal 5. It was very quiet at 9am and were immediately guided to a check-in desk. We’d heard school holiday queues had been a problem just a couple of days earlier. After a friendly and efficient check-in, and now free of our bags, we headed to the First Wing security.
Security was equally as quiet and we were through within 5 minutes.
As we were travelling First, we were able to use the Concorde Room. This was the first time we had been able to use the room since the pandemic started. The make-shift Concorde Terrace was a good effort when fun had to be curtailed, but it wasn’t a patch on the original lounge. It was so good to be back.
We had the Eggs Benedict and California Eggs. Although small, both plates tasted excellent – very fresh. We each had a glass of LPGS with breakfast. Service in the dining area was swift, attentive and courteous.
Boarding & Welcome
We boarded from gate A10, which is a bus from an area below the main part of Terminal 5. No train or walk to B or C gates, but the A10 bus can sometime be enough to cancel out that benefit. Despite being packed full, we considered ourselves glad not to be doing the trek over the the B or C terminals on the equally packed train of ‘they’ll go without us’ panic.
Happiness completely evaporated the moment the bus parked next to the staircase of our 787 and the doors opened. Naturally excited to be boarding a British Airways 787 First Class long haul flight, we started taking a few snaps of our journey onto the aircraft.
The dispatcher came flying down the stairs and aggressively asked one of us to stop taking pictures. Innocently, we obliged and apologised, but that wasn’t enough. She went on to exclaim that it was her job to enforce the airport bylaws, that we were committing an offence and that we can be removed from the airport because of it. A tourist taking a picture really didn’t warrant that response. Other passengers stopped to say as much, but still she continued. “I don’t know who they are” was her retort. This seemed a weak argument, given the amount of identity information we’d supplied to pass through the boarding gate. As we’d already stopped the alleged infringement and put our phones away, it was perplexing how the assault continued.
Eventually one of us decide to go to the doors of the aircraft to seek some help – nobody was interested there. At bottom of the stairs she was still carrying on, with passengers continuing to pass, looking aghast and some trying to intervene.
If she wanted to establish whether or not we were a threat to that aircraft, she should’ve been asking questions and listening, rather than ranting and raving like someone who’d lost control. She became an incoherent mess. We’d pointed a mobile phone at the aircraft, not a rocket launcher.
Luckily, one of us makes a living out of communication and negotiation. We were eventually able to calm her down and ended-up with apologies and hugging. Entirely unprofessional, but it seemed like the best way of us avoiding being removed from the flight. Yes, we were that worried.
After finding our seats the crew eventually passed by and offered a welcome drink. The dispatcher then entered the cabin, apologised and asked for another hug for the “misunderstanding”. Having time to reflect, we still think it was an entirely disproportionate response. It felt as if she’d decided that the safety of the aircraft had been immediately compromised and that we were to blame. What actually happened was an emotionally-charged person was put in charge of dispatching a large aircraft from Heathrow. Perhaps through stress, she lost her ability to reason or negotiate and became devoid of sound judgement. We’d argue the situation became more of a risk that day because of her reaction than an innocent aviation enthusiast with an iPhone.
Nobody is shown the Heathrow Airport bylaws at booking or before boarding. If taking a photo with an iPhone is such a major issue, better signage and announcements are needed. Especially so, if airlines, under the direction of airport authorities, must implement such aggressive enforcement behaviours.
We later were told that only the captain and CSM could throw people off flights. The CSM was pretty annoyed with the way we’d been treated on the stairs and gave us a bottle of English Sparkling.
The seat is why you’re here, so let us please you with the facts.
There were just 8 first class seats in the cabin, served by 4 crew. That ratio made us feel pretty special. With only 7 of the 8 seats occupied, service was still very quiet and cabin noise was low.
There was so much more storage around the seat than any other BA seat, including the old first seats. Plenty of ledge and stowage space make it very practical and usable.
The seat control is confusing and a little difficult to get out of landing mode to begin with. Many of the seat’s other controls (especially the lighting) are highly puzzling and need an intro from cabin crew – which isn’t offered.
Once mastered, the seat reclines fully-flat and provides about 6” (183cm) of stretch at its longest point. If you’re 6-foot and prefer to sleep like a starfish then you’ll be disappointed, everyone else should have a fairly comfortable sleep.
Privacy was generally very good. Seats felt cabin-like, even if they lacked the privacy door being installed on the latest version. The seats were slightly angled away from the aisles and largely enclosed. They were also staggered in a way that avoided any accidental eye contact or uncomfortable glares across the cabin.
The seat had 2 standard-sized windows, allowing a lot of light in and good views. The 787 has electronically dimming glass instead of window blinds. This allows the crew to dim everyone’s windows as they lowered the cabin lights for the siesta part of the flight.
What is the best seat on British Airways 787 First class?
If you’re travelling alone, 2A and 2K offer great levels of privacy, while also being furthest away from galleys and toilets – both of which are at the front.
See the seating plan on SeatGuru.
Flying British Airways 787 first class for the first time, we were excited to see how this aircraft compared to the 747 and 777. The crew were personable, obliging and very helpfuI – I asked for pyjamas of a specific size and an amenity kit at unconventional times during service and both were remembered exactly and delivered without fuss/occasion throughout the flight.
There was a single washroom at the front of the cabin, to the left of the door to the cockpit. It was kept clean throughout and was stocked with White Company hand soap and moisturiser – one of our favourites!
With the exception of toilet roll, all paper products ran out about 2 hours before landing and weren’t replenished. We also noticed that the traditional white rose was missing! We didn’t really mind, but perhaps BA should replace it with a fake one so that the holder doesn’t look redundant?
By the end of the flight, everyone in the cabin had covered themselves in the products and the whole place smelt rather delicious!
We were given Temperley amenity kits shortly after boarding. The stylish wash bags were literally filled to the brim with goodies. The bags were available in two different styles that were aimed at male and female passengers. We went for one of each to see how they compared. As you can see, one was a lot more vibrant and eye-catching than the other!
It might seem surprising, but you can be covered in, and inhale, a lot of dust on a flight. By halfway through the 12-hour flight to Mexico City we were covered in about a weeks-worth of domestic dust. Cabin and air filtration appeared to be a bit of a problem on this 787 aircraft.
The cabin temperature felt comfortable throughout the flight. The humidity in the cabin dropped quite low. Worryingly, as with all recent long-haul flights we’ve been monitoring, our blood oxygen dropped to low levels. Both our readings were in the mid-80s for parts of the flight. At all other times our watches record in the 95-100% range.
Food & Drink
Champagne and orange juice was served shortly after boarding. A round of drinks was then served after leaving Heathrow – we tried the Pinot Noir which we were cautioned was a little cold, but was delicious.
We were offered paired wines with our food. There were 3 reds – all were very good. We tried 2 of the 3 whites. The Pouilly-Fumé was excellent.
The Bloody Mary served before the second meal service was very well made. It was also exactly what was needed to allow part two of the wine tasting to happen!
Premium Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle (LPGS) was still available a couple of hours before landing.
The first meal service was lunch. Salmon – beautifully served. Fresh tasting with plenty of citrus and coriander seasoning. Paired with the Pouilly-Fumé.
The main course was Beef. The beef was tough as old boots. Chewy and dry. Veg was overdone and wilted. Gravy was served as if it was a shot of spirits. The accompanying wine (the Pauillac) was the only moisture in the meal. They may have been high-quality ingredients on the plate, but the textures were all wrong and flavours damped. One of us couldn’t finish the plate of food, which says a lot as both of us generally clear plates!
Overall, main was a disaster. The local pub cooks better beef dinners on a 6-nations match day… We regretted not having lunch in the Concorde Room just before we left!!
Dessert was a very delicious Chocolate mousse with vanilla Creme brûlée with cookie crumble and fresh raspberries on top. It almost (but not quite) made up for the main course calamity. In all seriousness, it felt like we were back on track with Do&Co after the main course derailment. The with sweet wine made an excellent pairing.
The second meal service was a light meal before landing in Mexico City. Prosciutto with ricotta cheese and grilled courgette for starter. Paired with LPGS. It was pretty bland at 35,000 ft and could’ve been enhanced with a dash of citrus or vinegar glaze.
The pasta main dish was poorly presented, but tasted OK. It looked like a bowl of comfort food and wouldn’t have been out on a premium economy or business class menu. This was not a first class dish and BA should consider replacing it.
The dessert was a vanilla mousse with strawberries on top. It tasted OK but resembled something our grannies would put on the table when we were kids. There was too much in the dish for most people to finish. Quite a step down from the dessert delivered in the first meal service. Not first class.
The 787 screen was larger than most BA first cabins, however, it wasn’t a touch screen and had to be controlled via the corded remote next to the seat. Browsing titles on such a small device felt odd when there was such a large screen in front. This is something BA can and should get their technology teams to fix. Even if a large touchscreen isn’t possible, displaying a larger version of what’s on the handset should be possible. The screen on the handset felt unresponsive and the software felt slow. The handset would routinely crash and everything would crash-out to the Home Screen. Investment is needed here.
A lot of the content menus lacked a “view all” option, which is easily implemented and helps some passengers.
The screen was also positioned at a slightly different angle to the seat (angled more to the aisle), which makes for a strange viewing angle.
The headphone were noise-cancelling over-ear headsets by high-end Meridian Audio. They were comfortable to wear and did an excellent job at blocking out both the aircraft and internal cabin noise. Volume from the entertainment system was very loud at its highest volume – no need to crank to 100%.
There was plenty of recent movie and TV content to keep us entertained for the 11 hour journey. Even if the content selection process was a bit tedious, the watching experience after pressing play was very good.
- The upgraded first class seat is an improvement on the older 777 class. That said the IFE performance is clunky, even if the screen is bigger.
- Crew were friendlier and more attentive than BA flights in the last couple of years.
- The food quality was too variable and the majority was not first class.
- The main course was really bad. We were told “don’t order beef on a plane” although we’ve tasted a lot better at 35,000 feet. Let’s be honest here, if you can’t serve food in an edible state then take it off the menu! Blaming a customer for ordering it is the sort of thing Gordon Ramsay used to deal with on Restaurant Nightmares.
- The pasta served as the second meal should not have been on the menu in that cabin.
- As we expected, the wine was very well chosen and excellent quality. It was just let down by the food pairing.
- The food product has deteriorated since we last flew First to Vancouver in February 2020. The food on that flight was incredibly good, from start to finish.
- We’d liken BA First to a very good business class product, with an above-average seat.
- All-in-all, the British Airways 787 first class experience was disappointing. We’d book again with points, but would only book revenue fares if they were heavily (and we mean massively) discounted.
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