A First Class Passage To India – British Airways – (New) First Class – London to Mumbai, India

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British Airways First Class Review

This is a continuation of our recent First Class trip to India, a journey where we had Big Travel with Small Money!

British Airways First Class Review 4

Trip Report Index:

As we entered the plane, the flight attendant looked at our boarding passes and escorted us to our seats.  Emily was in seat 1A and I was behind her in seat 2A.

Seat 1A is the first seat on the left side of the plane (as you walk towards the nose of the plane) and has a larger storage area by the seat which Emily found very useful for her purse, boots, and sweater.

British Airways First Class Review 2

I knew that there was a very high likelihood of experiencing the “New First” seats on our Boeing 777 , but I did not tell Emily about it.

She was very surprised to find that we had a brand new first class cabins.  So new, that you got that “new plane smell” from the leather!

British Airways First Class Review - New Seats

The crew helped us put our bags in the overhead bins.

British Airways First Class Review  - Cabin

My favorite part of the experience was the electronic window shade.  This spanned 2 windows and was illuminated in different shades of blue.  I found this very cool and kept on playing with the electronic shade controls!

British Airways First Class Review  - Electronic Window

The electronic window shade made the journey much more enjoyable, since the cabin felt very luxurious, modern,  and secluded.  It really made you feel that you weren’t flying!

British Airways First Class Review - Electronic Window Shade

As we were getting settled, we started chatting with an English gent about the new first class cabin.  The conversation was veering into technical details about the aircraft, when the gent asked me if I was on FlyerTalk.

I nodded and we got chatting some more.  Most embarrassingly, I can’t remember his FlyerTalk handle.  I want to say his handle was “tees,” but I could be wrong.  Anyway, if you’re reading this, be sure to let us know!

The cabin crew were very friendly and brought us our pajamas and amenity kit.  The pajamas had “First” embroidered on them were neatly wrapped with a bow!

British Airways First Class Review  - Pajamas

The slippers were a little flimsy, but soft and comfortable.

British Airways First Class Review - Slippers

We got noise reducing headphones.

British Airways First Class Review - Headphones

Did I really have to take a picture of the blanket?  Do you really like seeing these types of pictures?

British Airways First Class Review - Blanket

The amenity kit was extremely sophisticated and elegant.  It was a gray leather Gladstone style bag designed by Anya Hindmarch (a famous designer whose name I heard for the first time).

British Airways First Class Review - Amenity Kit

The amenity kit had high quality products and was worthy of a First Class offering, unlike the pathetic offering on American Airlines Flagship Class. The kit contained an eye mask, socks, facial crème and body lotion, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and lip balm.

For a much better review of the British Airways amenity kit than anything I can come up with, check out Frequently Flying’s review together with some awesome pictures!

It was soon time for a drink, and I had a Kir Royale and a glass of water.

British Airways First Class Review - Kir Royale

The flight was delayed, but that was fine by us, since we were being pampered by the terrific cabin crew.

British Airways First Class Review  - Emily

Each seat had a little reading lamp.

British Airways First Class Review  - Lamp

The knob to control the seat recline and lamp was designed in classic British style.  Understated, but got the job done in the most elegant way possible.

British Airways First Class Review - Controls

There was a little storage area in front of my seat and a LCD screen which swiveled out.

British Airways First Class Review 18

Emily’s seat had fresh flowers on top, but mine did not!

British Airways First Class Review  - Flower

The seats were gorgeous 2-toned leather, and brand new.  I was smelling new leather for 8+ hours!

British Airways First Class Review  - Seat

The attention to detail was very evident in the new first class cabin.

British Airways First Class Review  - Seats

There was more leather paneling by the window and soft mood lighting

British Airways First Class Review - More Leather

There was a writing desk as well.

British Airways First Class Review - Desk

The desk could open out to a large table.

British Airways First Class Review 31

We took off and soon it was time for some food!  The wonderful flight attendants laid our table, and I sat on the footstool in front of Emily.

British Airways First Class Review - Dinner

I have a hungry look on my face!

British Airways First Class Review - Where's the food?

We started with “tandoori paneer and pepper kebabs.”  The paneer was okay, but I can’t really blame British Airways for not having a tandoor (clay oven) in the galley.

British Airways First Class Review - Tandoori Paneer

We then moved on to the Butternut squash and sweet potato soup.  The soup was velvety and delicious!

British Airways First Class Review  - Butternut Squash Soup

We got 3 different kinds of bread.

British Airways First Class Review  - Choice of Bread

I had “lamb masala with pine nuts and onion rice served with tarka dal” for my main dish.  The menu described it as “Seasoned lamb with pine nut and onion rice served with lentil curry”

The rice was high quality basmati rice, and the lamb was not chewy.  Very nicely done!

British Airways First Class Review - Lamb masala

Emily had the roast corn-fed chicken with creamy garlic mushroom pie and pureed potatoes.  That was pretty yummy too!

British Airways First Class Review  - Chicken

We had chilled clementine souffle with orange jus and basil and almond tuile for dessert.

British Airways First Class Review - Souffle

We also nibbled on some cheese – Thomas Hoe Red Leicester, Butler’s Secret, Fourme D’Ambert, and Tomino.

British Airways First Class Review - Cheese

More cheese.

British Airways First Class Review - Cheese & Crackers

After the meal, we browsed through Highlife entertainment system which had hundreds of movies, tv shows, and music albums to choose from.

British Airways First Class Review - Entertainment

We decided to sleep for a bit, and our delightful flight attendant Sharon made our beds.

British Airways First Class Review - Bed

We got up close to landing time.

British Airways First Class Review 23

We missed the afternoon tea service, but Sharon got us some delicious sandwiches which included cucumber with cumin cream cheese, ham hock with piccalilli, prawns with dill and lime mayonnaise and roast chicken with mustard mayonnaise.

We were so hungry that we ate the sandwiches without taking any pictures.


We also got served some more treats.

British Airways First Class Review  - More Sweets

It was a smooth landing and we were among the first to leave the plane.

We cleared customs and immigration and on our way out, Emily fell in love with an outfit on display at the airport.  She made me take a picture of it, so that we could find something similar later!

British Airways First Class Review - India

The British Airways flight was memorable, but the next 14 days in India were even more memorable!

Bottom Line:

The British Airways First Class experience was much, much better than the American Airlines First Class experience.  We filled out our comment cards with lots of positive feedback for the folks who took the effort to make this a terrific flight.

The crew was very warm and friendly, and did their best to make us feel welcome.  This was in stark contrast to the American Airline’s crew who made us feel as if we were trespassing on their private aircraft and intruding upon their down-time.

Seriously, if you’ve spent well over a year accumulating miles and want to travel in first class, splurge it on BA First Class instead of on AA’s first class.  Sure you’ll have to pay a little extra in fuel surcharges, but it is well worth it, in my opinion.

What do you think of British Airways’ fuel surcharges?  Worth it for a once-in-a while splurge or not?

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48 responses to “A First Class Passage To India – British Airways – (New) First Class – London to Mumbai, India

  1. Terrific report and you seem like a great couple! I am definitely saving up for the BA first class experience. Already have 200k this year from the Chase BA and the MR 50% bonus, which will more than pay for one ticket, and am about halfway to completing the $30k in spend for the companion award, which is a great deal by the way.

    The remaining miles will go toward the LAN Business Class award to Easter Island with stopovers each way. That’s also a good deal at 80k miles RT.

  2. Would you mind elaborating a little further on fuel surcharges that you paid, which was well worth it, in your opinion. I just want to test myself about how much shock proof I am.

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  4. I’m also interested in the fuel surcharge amounts.

    I like having lots of photos. It helps to convey the experience.

    • @Carl – Thanks for the kind words! I agree with you that the companion pass is a great deal, and I am working my way to one.

      @Shami – The BA surcharges are ~$200 to $300 per leg on BA. I think we paid closer to $200 since we only had a stop over in London and didn’t have to pay the departure tax as well. I feel it is worth it in FIRST class, but not in economy.

      @bluto – I’ll keep that in mind for future trips. I didn’t take a lot of pictures this trip, because I hadn’t started blogging then!

  5. Usually I hate airline review pieces, but I was blown away at how awesome the plane looked. Those are by far the nicest accommodations (aside from private) I’ve ever seen.

    Now I might be overlooking this information from your first posts on your trip, but some of the information that I would love to learn about the trip is how you were able to book it (which seems to more difficult than actually accruing the miles in the first place).

    How many points did it take to book the trip? How far in advance did you have to book it? What tools did you use to find the award availability?

    Those seem to be the most important questions I have, but any other relevant details would be appreciated

  6. Love the post! Until my wife and I can accumulate that many miles, we shall vicariously through you and Emily.

  7. Thank you for sharing those detailed pictures. I am speechless ….

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  9. @JP: Most the info you are looking for is on the first post of the series http://millionmilesecrets.com/2011/06/17/a-first-class-passage-to-india/

    They used 157,500 AA points + $158.60 each.
    You can typically book 330 days in advance and the sooner you start looking the better. It also seems like some seats open up very close to the departure date, but that’s a risky move you might only find attractive if flying by yourself and have a flexible schedule.
    For tools, you can use AA.com’s booking engine to search for award seats and then book it through them or use BA.com. BA’s search engine is a little buggy to say the least, but if you know what you are doing, you can find availability. I hope that helps!


    • @JP – The cabin really was awesome. A private jet may have a bit more space, but the 777 was certainly a more powerful and comfortable bird. Actually booking British Airways flights are surprisingly easy. They fly to a lot of US cities, and perhaps because of the $200 to $300 fuel surcharges per segment, they have terrific availability.

      It took 90,000 miles for the First Class one-way ticket from the US to India. The taxes and fees were about ~$250 to $300. They were lower, but increased once we changed our flight to BA.

      I booked this initially 11 months out on Jet airways, but changed the date about a month before departure to BA. There were still 4 award seats available after I booked our seats! I used the BA.com website and awardnexus.com to find availability. Oh, I got the AA miles courtesy of the Citi AA credit cards.

      @Anthony – It is pretty easy to accumulate AA miles. You can use the 2-browser trick to get 150K AA miles from 2 credit cards and than another 75K after 65 days!

      @Nguyen – It was a really cool experience. That’s why we took so many pictures!

      @Angel – Thanks for helping out! I agree that it is better to start booking earlier than later, though with BA there is a lot of availability. I used BA.com which is buggy and Awardnexus.com to book the flights. We used AA.com to search for the AA segments, but you can’t use AA.com to find BA award flights.

  10. Good call Angel. I knew i must have just missed the details. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

  11. I’m so jealous! Nicely done, fantastic pictures, and thanks for the link!

  12. Thank you so much for the pictures! They say much more than words. I am working on my miles to have this “treat”. I love your articles!

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  19. Thanks for the informative and interesting review, I have flown over 700,000 miles with BA and I agree that the service was fab, and the interior and design of this new First cabin. I fly staff travel – so can’t accumulate ‘miles’ but I can be upgraded to a higher cabin where seat are available.

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  21. I found your review in preparation for my flight this weekend (CPT-LHR). I used miles plus money and it was just a couple thousand more miles for first, and business wasn’t available, so I did took first. Hopefully I will have the new plane. Such a great review. I’ve been on Emirates First, but not BA. How can you see if your flight will have the new first? Is there any way of checking?

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  26. I managed to book a First Class ticket with BA one way through AA Platinum desk for 62.5k miles plus $472.80 taxes and a $25 dollar processing fee. London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare International Airport March 24, 2012.

    The AA website was very restrictive and no 50k business class tickets available in February, March and April.

  27. i want to fly BA first from NYC to TLV how can know wich flight has the New First Class

  28. i was june 2010 on BA first from NYC with free companion tax was about $500 each but i think now is the tax higher , was that the old First Seats ?

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  32. patrick coleman

    I flew BA First Class LHR-ORD March 2012 and what a disaster. Concord Lounge Restaurant what a big let down. Waited 25mins for a coffee and bacon sandwich. Staff over stretched and very stressed between 8:00-10:00am.
    Not once did any waiter/waitress offer to fill up my OJ or Champagne. I had to stop a bypassing waiter after 20mis and ask why it was taking so long for my food & drink. Miserable service at the so called Champagne Bar; another rushed service and unfriendly. I wished I used the First Class Lounge now. I went to board 30mins to the Gate and what a chaotic mess. No fast track that I could take as this was blocked by all passengers. On board the pajamas and amenity kit is embarrassing. The First Class toilet was so small you could not swing a cat in it, never mind change into the horrid pajamas. The so called “Unique Electronic Blind” did not work and had to be manually cranked down to close the Blind which stayed that way throughout the flight. I asked for a Stella Artios and the Stewardess brought me a London Pride, so not sure what training the First Class Cabin Crew undertake. After writing to BA Customer Service they apologised for the terrible service but no compensation. I wrote back asking for some kind of compensation and after they reviewed my complaint they offered me $100 as a good will gesture and to restore my confidence in BA. What an insult!!!

    I am pleased that I had not paid £6,500.00 for this Third Class Service.

    Very happy being an AA Platinum Member.


    Patrick Coleman

  33. Thanks for all the information and posts. My wife and I are flying in May First Class on BA on the 777. What I want to know is should we take the 2 center seats so that we can be next to one another or would you recommend 2 window seats in front of one another?

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  35. Which plane was this. I am going to mumbai in first on ba0199. It is a 777-200 jet. Will I get the new first class like you.

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  37. Just thought you might want to know, lounging around makes you look RETARDED. What are you trying to achieve? Gain furious envy of the 9 individuals further back in the plane cabin who have to share the same space you are wasting? Become Warren Buffet’s new love child? Kiss your friends goodbye (you forgot a closeup picture of the armrest – very important!)?
    All this is going to result, getting stabbed with a plastic knife next time you board a plane.

  38. Fantastic trip report! I was curious about the new first class from BA. I’d flown BA First in 2006 and loved every minute of it. As you had described, the cabin crew were top notch, and compared to flying first class in 2003 with United, I know what you mean when the crew make you feel that you had invaded their private aircraft. I flew from JFK to LHR and then a separate flight from LHR to SYD (and back again) on BA First and all experiences beat out my 2003 Dulles to FRA United run. You’ve convinced me to trade in some miles and take another trip across the pond on the “new” BA First. Great report, you guys seem like a great couple that travels well together, talk about first class!

  39. Hi, any tips on how to use the BA companion pass? I am about to earn one and don’t want it to expire before I use it!

  40. Hi, any tips on how to use the BA companion pass? I am about to earn one and don’t want it to expire before I use it! Any tips appreciated…