If you know me, you know there are few things I dislike more than waking up early in the morning. Thus, when the un-ignorable and infuriating alarm jingle began to play from my blackberry’s alarm, I was not a happy camper. I was trying to remember why exactly I had scheduled a flight at this ungodly hour. I had of course planned to retire early the previous evening and get some good sleep before my flight. Instead, I had been out with friends until nearly 3 A.M. Another in a long line of good decisions.
The only spot of good luck, was that I had somehow remembered to pack my luggage the previous evening and so all that was left for me to do was change clothes, stumble downstairs and meet my driver in front of the Lanesborough. The car service had implored me to leave by 5:30 A.M. They said that despite the extremely early hour, traffic could still be bad to LHR.
I fell into the car, tugged my sunglasses on, put my iPod earphones in as a signal to the driver that I wanted to sleep, not talk. I tried to drift off, but for the first time in history there was absolutely no traffic on the road out to Heathrow and 20 minutes later I was pulling up to the terminal in the inky blackness, not quite hungover, but by no means well rested. The show must go on.
In the doors, turn right, check in. I have been flying British Airways a good deal over the past few months and after making my way through security, I found the now familiar entrance to the Concorde Room. Once inside, I found a place to pull out my laptop, and endeavored to stay awake until boarding was called for my flight.
British Airways Flight BA 117
The last two or three segments on BA 747’s, I had selected seat 1A. This was due to the fact that A. I like arriving at my destination before everyone else on the plane, pilots included (BA’s first class is in the nose of the 747, so if you are in row 1, the cockpit is actually above and behind your seat) and B., on all of those journeys, seat 1K went out empty, so I had the entire nose cone to myself. However, when I checked the seat selection options for this flight, seat 1K showed occupied. While not uncomfortably close, seats 1A and 1K on BA’s new first product on the 747 are close enough that I wouldn’t want to travel in a fully occupied row 1 unless the person across the aisle from me was an acquaintance. As such, I took 2A, a seat which I’ve previously flown in and enjoyed. I have to say, after this flight I am now a total convert to row 2. As a tall drink of water (6’4” or ~195 to our metric friends), I appreciate every inch of legroom available. I’m not sure if the data will back me up, but in bed mode, seat 2A “felt” a tiny bit longer than seat 1A, and it seemed that there was a bit more space for the feet. The personal closet is also a bit larger, but as I never travel with a great deal of in-cabin hanging gear this isn’t a huge concern, and I like using the main closet in front of 1A for my carry-on bags anyway.
After take off, I perused the menu and decided that I would rather sleep than eat. The IFE options were also not particularly engaging. Just a note here, if you are planning on flying in first class as an occasion, a morning flight is not the best time to do so from a culinary perspective. You don’t get any of the bells and whistles that various airlines will trot out for other meal times…not to mention you might stick out if you start slugging back the bubbles and scotch at 9A.M.
Since I had decided I would sleep for the majority of this flight, it was time to get comfortable. Now, before you mock this next section…I suggest you try it.
Many airlines provide pajamas to first class passengers. You wear them to sleep, then at the end of the flight change back into street clothes and take the PJ’s home with you if you so desire. I always thought people looked a bit ridiculous tramping around the cabin in their airline pajamas and considered it a bit of a pretentious affectation. However…now that I have slept in my airborn bed in pajamas as opposed to a pair of jeans I must say it is much, much more comfortable.
About four hours into the flight I woke up and ordered from the Bistro menu. I took the Bacon Sandwich. It was a slightly stale roll, a piece of bacon or two and some ketchup. Not the best meal of all time, but by no means horrible. After this I flipped around the IFE selection again, realized I really had no interest in any of the movies and told the cabin crew I was going to knock off again for a few more hours. They asked if they could wake me before arrival for the final service and I told them that would be just fine.
Maybe 45 minutes out of JFK I woke up on my own and the cabin began to come back to life as people changed out of their PJ’s, opened window shades and began to prepare themselves for arrival in NY. Once back in my street clothes, I jammed my PJ’s into my carry-on, filled out my landing card for immigration and had some tea sandwiches. Tea sandwiches hold a special place in my heart and I consider it a minor war crime that they aren’t widely available in eateries of all stripes. After the sandwiches, the excellent cabin crew suggested I have a few cookies and I took them up on their offer. The cookies were also very good (surprisingly so), but I neglected to get any shots. On touch down, as with every landing in the 747, I was astonished by how far you still seem to be from the ground when the wheels hit the tarmac. My family met me in the terminal and I was back for Thanksgiving.