The traffic on the way out to JFK was awful, as usual, but I made it to terminal 7 with plenty of time to spare. Once into the terminal building, first class passengers stay to the left, and there is a separate check-in area and a separate security screening line for passengers traveling in premium cabins.
As there was no line, I checked my bags, then spent a few minutes with my family before making my way through security. As mentioned, there is a separate security line for business and first class passengers. As such, there was no wait.
Once past security, you can turn right for the business class lounge and gates or left for the Concorde Room. The Concorde Room at JFK is rather small. There are mediocre views over the field which let you see some planes coming and going, but really only give you a good views of nearby gates. Unlike the Concorde Room in Heathrow, there was a set menu, not a number of options for each course. I opted just to take a glass of water. There were also some cold snacks laid out near the bar area. As luck would have it, no one was invested in what was on the lone TV screen so I was able to switch it over to college football. I would note that the wi-fi in the JFK CCR was laughably slow, to the point of being useless. The room also seemed excessively crowded. As a plus, they make an announcement when flights are closing so that everyone knows when it is time to vacate the lounge and get to their planes.
British Airways Flight BA174 JFK-LHR
When boarding wascalled, I made the short trip from the CCR to the gate and found the fine looking 747 shown above. By the time boarding was announced in the CCR, the rest of the plane had already sifted through the boarding queue, so it was a hassle free walk down the jetway and into my seat. I had once again shifted my seat assignment from 2A to 1A at T+24 hour when I saw that 1A was available and that no one had claimed 1K. I was lucky again on this flight. The load in first was only 5/14 and no one was in 1K. The other four passengers were two elderly couples who went to bed pretty much as soon as we came aboard. The purser came by with amenity kits, slippers and PJ’s and immediately started trying to encourage me to drink.
I took a glass of water and a glass of the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle champagne that was on offer for this flight. The purser tried several times to refill me before takeoff, but I declined as I see little point in getting drunk over the Atlantic and waking up at 7am dehydrated and with little sleep.
I like the nuts that BA offers pre-departure. They are a good mix of sweet and savory. Too many airlines will serve just a bowl of peanuts, or cashews.
This was some sort of squash and prawn dish. It was definitely a miss. The sauce added nothing to it, and overall it was rather bland.
The soup was a chicken consomme. I had a bit of a sore throat, so hot chicken soup was a welcome choice. It was a bit salty, but overall a very good soup and probably the best piece of the meal service.
I took the “Trio of salmon including smoked salmon with fingerling potato salad, salmon rillette and balik-style salmon” as my starter. It was not particularly good. The balik did not taste very fresh and the other two preparations were awkward. The other choice was “Fresh salad leaves with your choice of balsamic or creamy Greek dressing.”
For the main course I chose “Seared sea bass with celeraic puree and baby spring vegetables with Italian salsa verde.” The fish was rather well prepared and it was a good dish, but I was very full of this point and couldn’t finish it. The other choices were: “Steak with creamed spinach, roast potatoes and maitre d’hotel butter,” “Cheese manicotti with shimeji mushroom, leek cream sauce and parmesan tuille,” and “Salad of grilled prawns with blood orange vinaigrette.”
I ordered and took a bite of the “Mixed berry chocolate gateau with vanilla anglais and strawberry.” It wasn’t bad, but seemed more like something you would find in a high school cafeteria than on a quality menu. The other choice was a made to order Ice Cream Sundae.
I passed on the cheese plate, the bistro selection and asked not to be woken for breakfast as I would eat at the LHR CCR on arrival.
As I have stated before, I am a great fan of the British Airways new first product. The seat is comfortable, long, has easy to use controls and an excellent IFE screen. Below are some shots of the various aspects of the seat, and shots of the cabin.
Throughout dinner the purser kept trying to push wine and whisky on me. After the meal service wrapped up he made one more push to see if I would bite on some scotch, but I again declined and asked to have my seat made up as a bed. I watched X-Men First Class which was pretty terrible before extinguishing the lights and getting to sleep. In no time it was morning and we were on final into Heathrow.
LHR: Transit, CCR, Elemis Spa
Once off the plane I had to take the shuttle from the B-gates to the main portion of T-5. After a new screening by security, I made my way to the end of the Terminal and again found the Concorde Room.
After arriving in the CCR, I tried to charge my phone since the in-seat charger hadn’t worked on the flight. I assumed it had been an issue with the seat, but it quickly became apparent that fault lay with my charger. I popped out of the CCR, bought a new charger, then returned to make a shower and massage appointment at the Elemis Spa before heading to the dining area for breakfast. Now that I was at my destination (almost), drinking beers with the Englishmen watching the Rugby World Cup at 8 or 9am seemed not such a bad idea, but I restrained myself. Again, the service in the Concorde Room Dining area was atrocious. It seems like no one will bring you a menu unless you go seek them out and demand one. Apparently sitting at a table isn’t clue enough that you might be interested in perusing their options. Oh well. Once the waitress brought the menu, she got everything sorted out rather quickly.
Since we were at Heathrow, it seemed appropriate to have the full english. The wi-fi at the LHR CCR works substantially better than the wifi at JFK and overall the lounge feel much more pleasant and less overcrowded.
The terrace off the end of the lounge provides a nice line of sight over the field and really opens the room up.
While the Concorde Room was a nice way to fill the layover between my JFK-LHR and LHR-ORY segments, I would have to advise anyone passing through to pass on the Elemis Spa. There was a long wait time for showers and for a massage. First of all, it is unacceptable for there to be a wait time for arriving first class passengers to use the shower facility. This is supposed to be BA’s flagship lounge for the entire system. I would expect to wait to get a shower at the LH SEN lounge in Frankfurt or something, but not coming from the Concorde Room in LHR. Beyond the wait, the shower facilities were lousy. They were small, poorly set up, old and not particularly clean. For comparison, the showers that South African offers to business class passengers arriving in Johannesburg are in a different league than what BA offers first class passengers at their top flight lounge. I won’t even bother comparing the facilities to what some other airlines offer first class passengers.
Beyond the lousy shower, the “massages” offered at the spa are 15 minute affairs where most of the work is done by a cheesy massage chair that is more uncomfortable than soothing. I advise you spend your time watching the planes come and go on the terrace and forget Elemis. Some pictures of the spa are below.
Your run of the mill short haul flight. Managed to grab the bulkhead 1F (with no one sitting next to me) on the Airbus A320. Standard Club Europe seats. Beverages and a cold plate were offered on the flight (pictured below). The major advantage of flying into Orly vs. CDG is immigration. CDG often has horrific lines when lots of widebodies land at the same time. Since almost all flights from Orly are intra-France or intra-EU, there wasn’t a soul waiting at immigration when I got there and I was through passport control in a flash.
As usual we were provided with comfortable slippers, Anya Hindmarch amenity kits and PJ top and bottoms embroidered with the BA logo and the word “first” (embroidered top only).
BA continues to provide a very comfortable seat as well as excellent IFE options. The food and wine offerings aren’t on par with the some of the truly elite airlines, but are still very good. The service is attentive but not overbearing and annoying. I very much enjoyed this flight on BA, and look forward to my next Transatlantic with them in November.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS THAT FOR SOME REASON WERE DELETED: