British Airways Airbus A380
I suppose it’s rather ironic that on this, the first substantive post on UpperDeckFlyer, for the flight I’m reviewing I was on the lower deck! However, it was in First Class and I hope you’ll forgive me!
I was very pleased about this flight long before I even boarded it. I had managed to snag some tickets in the BA sale from Dublin to Miami via Heathrow. Frequent travellers will be well aware of the many so-called ‘ex-EU’ deals to be had when starting long-haul journeys outside of the UK. In any event, it was a very reasonable £730 round trip for DUB-LHR-MIA in Business Class and I had some BA ‘Gold Upgrade’ (GUF) vouchers to use to upgrade to First. It was a very good deal indeed.
We were travelling on the BA209 departing LHR at 13.50. Unfortunately, MIA-bound flights on BA from LHR depart from Terminal 3 so we didn’t get to sample the delights of the Concorde Lounge in Terminal 5. However, the new Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge had opened in T3 by this stage and it was a very worthy alternative. We had brunch there and a drink to get us in the mood for travelling in the BA First Class Lounge in T3 just before departure. (I won’t review these lounges here, but instead I’ll save that for another post.)
Boarding was a little chaotic given the volume of passengers on the A380, but priority passengers were well looked after and we got past the desk, onto the jetway, onboard, and seated relatively quickly. As is usual with BA at the door of the aircraft, First Class passengers are escorted to their seat. I always find this a little pretentious and to be honest quite unnecessary: it’s as if they think that people in First will have difficulty finding their seats! I generally find it to be quite the opposite!
Anyhow, we got settled in and pre-flight drinks were offered. I never refuse a glass of champagne, day or night! The MIA flights are operated by BA’s Mixed Fleet crews and their enthusiasm and energy was a real credit to the airline this time. Kate, who was serving in my section was super attentive and looked after us from right before take-off. It was also a nice touch for the Cabin Service Manager to stop by shortly after we got airborne to say, ‘Hi!’.
We were seated in Row 2. I like this row when travelling as a group. It’s quiet enough towards the front, is private, and you are one of the first to get served.
BA’s wine selection in First has gradually declined over the years, but the offerings on this flight were palatable enough. I had a more than adequate Meursault and then moved over to the Haut-Médoc when the food got serious.
This turned out to be a great pairing with the food choices. I opted for the Duck rillette to start and the beef for my main. The starter was excellent, but as usual, it’s tough to do beef properly at 35,000 feet.
Nevertheless, I managed to force it down with plenty of that Haut-Médoc!
After the usual disappointment of the beef it was time for dessert and cheese. But not in that order. Much to the typical annoyance of cabin crew, I like to do it the French way: cheese before dessert. (The French say you should always finish your meal with something sweet!) There was lots to choose from.
Anyhow, the very generous cheese portion nearly was the undoing of me. It was huge.
Standard operating procedure for many is to go for the Port with the cheese, but when flying, if there’s a good red onboard I tend to stick with it, which is what I did on this flight. We moved around a little before the desserts came and I had a guest dine with me for the final course: my daughter. I know the ‘buddy seat’ for dining is a much touted feature of some carriers, but it’s a cramped enough space to sit in throughout the whole meal; if you’re a child it’s a little easier, even if it is only for a few minutes! (That’s why you see two desserts on my tray: I wasn’t being greedy!)
With all of the serious eating out of the way, it was time to get some shuteye. We were about three or so hours into the flight by now with about another six to go. I changed into my BA pyjamas and flattened down my seat to get some rest. The cabin crew will make up a bed for you, but I prefer not to do this on daytime flights. Eye mask on, earplugs in, over and out for a good four hours. I think the wine helped.
With just a couple of hours of flying left it was time for… more food. BA’s much-heralded Afternoon Tea is not to be scoffed at, just scoffed. And that’s what we did! This time it was my turn to be the dining buddy and I moved over to sit with my son, who, it must be said, is a great fan of Afternoon Tea. I think he ate most of mine while I made do with a bite and some peppermint tea!
It dawned on me around this stage that it was physically impossible to eat anything more, so I settled back with some water and a movie as we made our way closer to MIA.
The crew on this flight couldn’t have been more helpful and professional, especially with all of the trouble we caused them moving from seat to seat. Overall, it was very enjoyable and relaxing experience. Not all flights are perfect, but this one was pretty close! Oh, and we landed 30 minutes early too!