What it’s like British Airways First Class in the nose of a 747-400

a blue light in an airplane

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Add this “royal” experience to your bucket list.

Ahhhhh. The Queen of the Skies, flown by an airline whose motherland has its very own Queen.  Do I bow? Is there a dress code? No, silly, the Queen of the skies doesn’t require such frivolity. If you’ve got the cash…or points in this case, all are welcome. So kick back, put some rocks in your glass, and enjoy this single malt review of British Airways First Class 747-400 where we detail exactly what it’s like to fly in the nose! B-YAH!

British Airways First Class 747-400

The Deets:

  • When: December 2017
  • Route: ORD-LHR
  • Cabin: First
  • Seats: 1A
  • Points: 20k Avios to upgrade from Revenue Club World
  • Loyalty: Alaska MVP
  • Flight Time: 7 hours and 50 mins

Backstory:

I took another #weekendwarrior trip with my buddy Dave in November to Asia. We flew Cathay First back from Hong Kong and during the flight I told Dave about my trip back to London in December for a couple of days. He was in. Originally, neither of us were on the 747 flight, and neither of us were in First Class. Space became avail, some magic was worked at check-in, and wham, bam, we were flying in the Queen’s nose. BA is offering upgrades from biz to first for $709 – this was offered on our flight which only had 6 seats occupied when I checked in, but flew a full cabin in the end. You can read how it all came to be here if you’re interested.

Our Ride:

See those windows right under Miles’ ear…they were mine. Dave had the same windows on the opposite side. Notice anything special about them? They’re ahead of where the cockpit is…pretttttttty, pretttttty, dope if you ask me.
British Airways First Class 747-400

The Lounge: British Airways First Class Lounge ORD Terminal 5.

The lounge is super small and uninspired, but there are two things worth noting about the lounge:

  1.  You can board directly from it. A very cool experience and worth utilizing.
  2. If you have access to it, you have access to their private dining area.

The Cabin: 14 Open Suites. Cool Blue lighting.

I’ve flown in the nose of 3 747s: Virgin, Lufthansa, and BA. Of the three, I’d say that this ranks 2nd in how close 1A and 1K are positioned. Depending on whether you’re alone or not, that’s either a good or a bad thing. Since we were flying together, we were keen on sitting near one another. It worked out well and we were able to dine together shortly after take off.

British Airways First Class 747-400

In between 1A and 1K there is a closet. There are a few sacrifices that choosing these seats entails. There is no overhead space, hence the closet, but you’ll more than likely end up sharing this closet with other passengers as they’ll hang their jackets, shirts, etc in it. The seat itself also has limited storage comparably.

The Seat:

Dave’s reaction was perfect: When he sat down he leaned over and said, this is much more like a nice business class than first class. Yep…that is certainly the case, and with this flight juxtaposed within 4 weeks of flying Cathay First it’s even more noticeable. With that said…it’s relatively private, lie flat, reverse herringbone, and is pretty comfortable. The biggest complaint I had was storage.

British Airways First Class 747-400 Chicago to London

As you can see in the pic above, Miles is sitting on what turns into the tray table. This isn’t a storage compartment. You can also see that the window is basically flush with the edge of the table. There isn’t a compartment below the seat to stow your amenity kit, glasses, etc. If you want…click over my BA A380 First Class review and look at the difference in storage. It’s quite noticeable.

British Airways First Class 747-400 Chicago to London

Seat Controls, outlets, and IFE.

Champagne was served immediately. Grand Siecle.

The Amenity kit is provided by Liberty, along with Pajamas.

British Airways First Class 747-400 Chicago to London

Food:

British Airways has upgraded their food options, and it’s noticeable. Is it worth skipping sleep to enjoy? No. Had I been on this flight alone, I would have gone straight to bed, but you can’t fly in the nose of the 747 without enjoying some more champers, sustenance, fine wines, and scotch before sleeping for a few hours and hitting London like a First Class Zombie 🙂

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The biggest challenge in dining together on BA’s 747 is the space. I could hardly sit on the buddy seat ( normally the foot rest ) and needed to shift myself sideways. This isn’t the case on most other International First Class products, but you’re on the 747 in the nose.

Overall:

The service was great, seat was fine, but the experience was outstanding.  This is what points and miles are all about. Creating the opportunity to cross items off your bucket list, and enjoy things you couldn’t otherwise afford. 20k for an upgrade is a steal.  If you can find space on the LHR to ORD route it’ll be longer cause of the jetstream, plus you’ll have much better lounge access leaving London than in Chicago. It’d be my preferred route, but we weren’t flying together on the way back.

Additional notes:

On the 747, the first class cabin itself bends inward because of the shape of the plane, so space is limited the closer you get to the front. This is the main reason I’d surmise that the storage in 1A and 1K is reduced/eliminated…there just isn’t the space to accommodate it. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to fly in the nose, but I’m also a nerd about this stuff. If you want more space, but still fly in the most forward area of the 747…choose the middle seats in rows 3 or 4.

I had a great time, but it’s a short flight to really enjoy the different elements of first class – wheels up to wheels down is under 7 hours. A short night’s sleep anyways.

I think flying in the nose of the Queen of the Skies is a bucket list experience. Doing it on BA is quite attainable. It takes just 68k miles to fly from ORD to LHR and there is often quite a bit of space available. Comparing it to the other 747 nose trips I’ve completed, I’d put this squarely in 2nd. Ahead of Virgin, but behind Lufthansa. If you have the miles, and can lock down the space ( it’s greatest on LHR to EZE), Lufthansa’s 747-8 is one of the best experiences you can have.

 

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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22 Comments

  • […] While I’m not about to accuse AA of deliberately making their engine worse, they certainly haven’t made it better. Trying to sift through inventory with the new system is exhausting, and hopefully this eases things up for you. In fact, this is how I found space to upgrade my upcoming BA flight from business to first class. I’ll be flying the 747 again later this month and am certainly looking forward to it! You can read my prior review here […]

  • Zafrullah Hamzah July 12, 2018

    My experience with BA first class on board their 787-9 was HORRENDOUS. I don’t know how they can call this first class. Boarding in London was like trying to get on a public bus. No priority and the cabana in Heathrow terminal 5 was a pathetic little cubicle where you look straight into the toilet and and shower area with no partition. Absolutely no service there at all. Even massage was full. After having my boarding pass checked to get into the first class lounge another woman asked to check it again. Why? Maybe I don’t look rich enough for their rubbish lounge? Request for fast track in Kuala Lumpur on arrival was met with an abrupt reply ” we don’t do fast track here” by a totally disinterested stewardess. An equally crap experience on my return flight where my call to order breakfast was ignored and I ended watching a full documentary before I called again….a stewardess finally came and when I asked if I could order breakfast she said ” of course but we serve from the other side”. Dining on demand indeed if they had to tell me which side they serve from. What a bloody waste of money. I’ve had better service flying Ryanair and economy class with KLM. That was in 2016. Complaint was followed up by a phone call from a rather condescending woman and absolutely no gesture. I will never fly BA again.

  • […] I still haven’t nailed down the ticket I want, but it’s looking more and more like my girlfriend and I will be enjoying one the best business classes in they sky: British Airways First Class ( probably on a 747 ) […]

  • […] What it’s like British Airways First Class in the nose of a 747-400 […]

  • Kevin March 25, 2018

    Love the post! Those are my favorite seats as well, but unless you are Emerald status you can’t pre-book them. They will open up a day or two before the flight if still open, so always watching to see if I can move there.

  • Zafrullah Hamzah March 23, 2018

    BA was the worst airline I have ever flown and I paid to fly first class on their 787-9 . Cabin crew totally could not be bothered and at one point I called to order breakfast and no one came! In first class with other airlines I’ve flown their cabin crew could anticipate your needs and you don’t even have to ask. I’ve had better service on the bus from Limerick to Dublin than in first class with BA. A TRULY miserable airline. I will always regret being so stupid to have paid so much money to fly BA

  • Christian March 22, 2018

    I’ve been in the BA First Class lounge at ORD a few times while Flying Cathay, but I don’t recall a separate dining area like the one in your picture. Is there an adjacent area? Also, no caviar, I presume?

    • Miles March 22, 2018

      Christin – You have to go across the hall to the business class lounge. Inside, on the left, there is a private dining area with waiter service. Food was ok…no caviar

      • Christian March 22, 2018

        Interesting. How was the dining? On the caviar front, I meant aboard the flight.

        • Miles March 22, 2018

          Dining was “meh” no where near what you’d get from LH or SQ, and aside from very nice staff, I’d prefer AA’s flagship lounge in terminal 3 and served myself. Had I had longer I’d used gateside bus and transferred to 3…and no caviar on board.

  • Angel March 22, 2018

    Unless I’m missing something, ORD-LHR using BA points comes out at 68,000 not 60,000. Am I wrong?
    Thanks!

    • Miles March 22, 2018

      Yes, 68k…was a typo. Thanks of the heads up!

  • Nick J March 22, 2018

    Is it 60K Avios for BA F oneway ORD-LHR? Have yet to try BA F. The avios upgrade from J revenue is a good buy. Points wise I’m looking at AA 80k LHR-JHB on the A380. Want to maximize flight time and fly out of LHR for lounge experience. I certainly wouldn’t pay cash for BA F. Have read also about BA F seat being more of a J product. Looks like it from the space.

  • Evan March 22, 2018

    Just did this seat/cabin last week. I’m not a BA basher but it is really true that BA First is probably just a really good business experience. I don’t personally like Qatar that much but I accept that QR J is in the same neck of the woods as BA First. The 2 F lounges at Heathrow (BA & QR) I would say are also comparable. But yes BA F is easy to find and a return to California cost me about £500 or so plus 175K points.

  • dotti March 22, 2018

    What class of service was on the top of the 747???

    • Miles March 22, 2018

      Top is all biz

    • Miles July 12, 2018

      Hey Dotti – the upstairs is club world ( business )

  • Sam March 22, 2018

    Thanks for posting! I’m doing IAD-LHR in the nose (1A) in two weeks…very excited! There was very good revenue A-class availability via AA back in November for this flight, so I pulled the trigger, and am doing AA coach back via DFW, but was able to apply a SWU at the time of booking. The entire ticket roundtrip cost ~$2,500, which I think is pretty good considering it’s First over and Business back, with double EQM’s on the First Class flight and ~20K redeemable miles for the entire trip.

    • Miles March 22, 2018

      Great get…will be interesting what you think of AA J vs BA F back to back

      • Sam March 22, 2018

        Haha! I did the same trip in January (but the BA First over was on the 787-9 and the return was J on AA via Miami. No comparison. 🙂

        I also have to say that the BA F ground experience at Dulles is quite wonderful (great lounge, Concorde dining, really friendly staff, etc.). Although, F used to have a dedicated boarding lane and boarding door, but now because of the new BA boarding procedures, the lane is now shared with all Golds and Emeralds, and in January for BA292, that was about 25 + people deep. And the 787-9 only used one jet bridge for boarding.

      • Evan March 22, 2018

        Yes BA First much better than AA J – Although AA J much better than BA Club.

    • Miles July 12, 2018

      Sam – how was it?

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