Review: British Airways First Class 747 (LHR-LAS) – Part 1

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This review forms part a trip I took with Joanna to Las Vegas and San Francisco (introduction and full details of the trip are here).

Other posts in this series include:

I’m going to divide this review into two parts to make it more manageable. In Part 1 I’ll focus on pre-boarding, first impressions and the cabin & the seat while in part 2 (coming later today) I’ll take a look at the amenities, entertainment and food and draw my conclusions on the British Airways 747 First Class product.


One downside to flying British Airways First Class to Las Vegas is that the flight departs from Heathrow Terminal 3 which means that you don’t get to try out the Concorde Room (British Airways’ more exclusive lounge in Terminal 5) – that was a disappointment but also very much a first world problem!

British Airways offers a “You First” service for passengers booked into First Class which is set up to help with any travel issues and to help travelers make Concorde Room and Spa reservations in advance. Spa reservations can be made up to 28 days before departure so I booked Joanna in for a 15 minute treatment ahead of our flight to Las Vegas.

British Airways FC Lounge T3 - 054 - Version 2

Apparently the treatment was pretty good and Joanna was given a small gift bag with Elemis products on here way out – a nice touch.

Boarding & First Impressions

As we left the lounge in Terminal 3 Joanna still didn’t know what our destination was going to be (although I suspect she had narrowed it down considerably now that she had an idea what time we would be departing) and I got to throw her off the scent one last time as I ducked in and out of the boarding line for a BA flight heading for New York that happened to be leaving the gate next to ours – it’s the little things that amuse me most 🙂


Boarding had just started when we arrived and we were on the aircraft pretty quickly….and I got my fist view of the British Airways 747 First Class cabin:

british-airways-first-class-1British Airways 747 First Class Cabin

The 747 First Class cabin is right in the nose of the aircraft so the seating layout varies from the front to the back of the cabin:


I’d selected seats 2A and 2K for us as row 1 was blocked (I believe for British Airways top-tier elites) and row 2 looked like the clear next-best option for privacy, comfort and peace and quiet (having now done the flight I’m pretty sure I’d choose the same seats again).

Joanna and I had different flight attendants but both came around pretty quickly after take off to offer drinks – we both chose the champagne.

british-airways-747-first-class - 051British Airways 747 First Class Cabin

British Airways serves at least three different types of Champagne in their First Class cabin and I forgot to check which one was being served for pre-departure drinks…..but all future glasses (once we were in the air) were Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle which was very nice indeed.

The 747 has long been my favorite aircraft of them all – it’s what I knew as a “Jumbo Jet” when I was a kid and was the aircraft I most often wanted to fly – but the British Airways 747s have definitely seen better days. I quickly got evidence of this when a long strip of plastic came unglued from the overhead bin above my seat and fell to the ground (it had clearly been re-glued a few times)…and then did this a few more times during the flight. Not the best impression to give in any cabin let alone Fist Class!

Still, the flight attendant in my aisle was very friendly (she was reasonably new to BA) and attentive and that improved the first impression considerably.

British Airways 747 First Class Seats & Cabin

As I’ve already mentioned, the cabin goes from a 1-1 layout in the first 3 rows to a 1-2-1 layout as the cabin widens in rows 5 and 6 so there can be up 14 people up front. If you compare this to what Cathay Pacific, for example, has done with its 747 First Class cabin……


….you’ll see that there are 5 less seats…and that’s a lot in what is, essentially, a similar sized space.

The shape of the cabin together with the number of seats that have been squeezed in can make it feel a little confined but, because of its size, it does also offer a certain feel of exclusivity so it’s not all bad 🙂

british-airways-747-first-class - 003British Airways 747 First Class Cabin

british-airways-747-first-class - 043British Airways 747 First Class Cabin

The picture above shows why, in my opinion, row 2 is better than row 3 – the magazine rack in front of the centre seats makes things feel a little more confined in row 3. Row 2 (closest to us in the picture) feet pretty spacious in the otherwise small cabin.

I was seated on the right-hand-side of the aircraft and, straight away, I understood the comparison I’ve heard a lot of people make between this First Class seat and the reverse herringbone Business Class seats that you find on airlines like American and Cathay Pacific. There are quite a few similarities.

british-airways-747-first-class - 103British Airways 747 First Class Seat

british-airways-747-first-class - 054British Airways 747 First Class Seat

british-airways-747-first-class - 041British Airways 747 First Class Seat

While the seat itself is very similar in style to what you can expect to find in American Airlines’ 777-300 Business Class cabin, it did feel a little more spacious and there was definitely more room in the area where  a passenger’s feet go:

british-airways-747-first-class - 017British Airways 747 First Class Seat

This area has been designed to allow a second person to sit opposite you if you feel like dining together (something you definitely cannot do with most Business Class seats) so it comes with its own seat belt…..

british-airways-747-first-class - 053British Airways 747 First Class Seat

…and when the table folds out it becomes the largest table I’ve encountered on an aircraft:

british-airways-747-first-class - 058British Airways 747 First Class Seat

I liked this and I liked the carbon-fibre effect (or is it real carbon fibre?) that has been employed – it gave a modern feel to the seat area.

I also liked the large double windows that I had….although the closest window to me wasn’t that close so there was a lot of leaning forward when I wanted to see what was outside:

British Airways First Class 747British Airways 747 First Class Seat

The blue-lit button-controlled shades were pretty cool too:

british-airways-747-first-class - 064British Airways 747 First Class Seat

Another thing I really liked (an I realise this contradicts my liking of the modern touch seen in the tray table) was the lamp that British Airways has installed:

British Airways First Class 747British Airways 747 First Class Seat

There’s something about it that’s reminiscent of the glory years of travel (air, sea and rail) which seems appropriate in a British Airways First Class cabin.

As I’ve come to expect from British Airways cabins, there wasn’t much practical storage around the seat. Yes, there was a closet for your clothes (which was nice)……

british-airways-747-first-class - 045British Airways 747 First Class Seat Storage

…..but that was narrow and was inaccessible from the seat itself – so not that much use unless you’re happy to keep getting up in the middle of the flight.

There was one further open storage space at floor level…..

british-airways-747-first-class - 091British Airways 747 First Class Seat Storage

…but, again, that wasn’t exactly handy. Unlike the window seats in Club World, these First Class seats didn’t have compartments under the windows and unlike the reverse herringbone seats in American Airlines Business Class there was no mini-locker either.

For take off and landing you had to have most of your items stowed out of your reach and, during the flight, you had to keep what you needed on the shelf by the window – not a massive issue but not as good as it should be.

Lastly, the seat controls are built into the side of the seat and glow a funky green color when the seat in the correct position for take off and landing (they’re blue otherwise):

british-airways-747-first-class - 047British Airways 747 First Class Seat Controls

There are two buttons that you can use to alter the seat position and a third button that you can use to return the seat to the upright position…..but I found that turning the dial was the easiest way to the the seat into the position I wanted.

The same control panel also contains the switches for the lighting around the seat and the switch to the left of the dial in the picture above (the one above the headphone input) is the switch for the window shades.

That concludes my look a the seats and cabin of the British Airways First Class cabin in the 747. In Part 2 (follow this link) I’ll continue the review with a look at the food, the entertainment, the amenities, the service and my overall thoughts on the comfort and experience.


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