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British Airways announces First Class ‘soft’ cabin improvements, live from 31st March

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British Airways has announced details of the ‘soft refresh’ of First Class.  The good news is that the airline has learned from the year-long roll-out of the new Club World bedding (because it takes a year to swap over your blankets, obviously) and is doing this one in eight days.

The roll-out starts on 31st March and will be completed by 7th April.  You can’t argue with that!

You can see the official details on the ba.com First page here.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New First Class loungewear

British Airways is launching new First loungewear, including slippers, designed by Temperley London:

New amenity bags

The loungewear will be complemented by new amenity bags, featuring Temperley’s ‘Star’ design.  My wife will be gutted as she really, really likes the current Liberty ones ….

New British Airways First Class improvements

New amenity kits

The bags will be filled with Elemis products, including the high-end Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen range.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New menus

A new a la carte menu is being introduced, with a focus on ‘fresh seasonal ingredients of British provenance’:

New British Airways First Class improvements

New crockery and cutlery

Your new-look meal will be served on new-look bone china crockery, featuring an exclusive design by William Edwards.  There will also be contemporary cutlery from Studio William.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New glassware

BA will now be serving “the airline’s fine wines and champagnes” from new Dartington glassware.  It isn’t clear if the non-fine wines, such as the one in First which is sold by Morrisons for £5 per bottle, will also get the same glassware 🙂

There will also be new Dartington tumblers for soft drinks and spirits.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New afternoon tea

BA is introducing a new signature afternoon tea service in First, including sandwiches, pastries and scones served with a variety of teas:

New British Airways First Class improvements

New headphones

High performance headphones from Meridian, a well respected British brand, are being added.

New bedding

BA is replacing the current bedding with new 400 thread count products, along with a foam fibre mattress topper.  Day flights will come with a new day blanket and bolster cushion:

New British Airways First Class improvements

It is only fair to add that First passengers also benefit, at Heathrow Terminal 5, from the new private First Wing for check-in and security control, which deposits you directly in the Galleries First lounge.  If you are a ticketed First Class passenger, of course, you should immediately leave Galleries First and head across the corridor to the Concorde Room!

What do you think?

We need to see if this is genuinely good news. The brands being used by British Airways are suitable high-end and British, and all credit to BA for that.

The bedding is probably a genuine improvement, as are the new headphones.

The glassware is clearly an improvement, given that it now looks adult sized.

The jury is out on the loungewear until we’ve seen it.

Everyone seemed happy with the Liberty toiletry bags so the switch now may be more change for the sake of it than anything else.  Keeping the Liberty bags would still have fitted with the ‘premium British’ theme.

The list of contents in the bag seems similar.  BA is not, for example, introducing small bottles of premium scent as some other airlines do which would have been a genuine step-up.  I’m not sure that Elemis is much more premium that the current items or the Ren products used before that.

The jury is also out on the food.  British Airways is not claiming to be spending any more money on it – nor is it apparently changing the wine list despite the bad press it got from the ‘£5 per bottle in Morrisons’ story last week.

My best guess is that none of these changes are costing the airline more than a nominal sum on top of the current budget.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with that – you can spend the same amount of money and get a better looking or better performing product – but overall it seems like evolution rather than revolution.

The ba.com First page is here.


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Comments (186)

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  • Alex W says:

    Sorry what is lounge wear – is it replacing what BA used to call the “sleep suit” i.e. pyjamas?

    “The brands being used by British Airways are suitable high-end and British, and all credit to BA for that.” No credit due unless the British product is actually superior to the foreign alternative.

    • Matt says:

      You’re being difficult for the sake of it. The vast majority of people want to see British designed products on British Airways.

      • shd says:

        Care to back that claim up?

        Everyone I travel with cares more about actual quality than yet more deceptive marketing. ** DESIGNED IN BRITAIN ** then in tiny font *product of china*” would be right up BA’s street, though.

        Anyway, isn’t IAG actually more of a European department store rather than a British airline? 🙂

        • ChrisC says:

          Only IB is a Department store not the whole of IAG.

          (Though that’s been disputed and found wanting)

      • Alex W says:

        No I didn’t want “top quality British” M&S buy on board food in economy either!

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          That’s why the added the “not an M&S product” tapas box to the BoB menu 🙂

        • Lady London says:

          +1. Going M&S was a real mistake for British Airways as the vaunted M&S quality had dropped so much.

          Pret a Manger is a better representative British value these days. I’m working on a short contract in Paris at the moment. Pret is opening shops everywhere and the French are flocking to them!

    • Mr Dee says:

      Never heard of British made products…

      • Matt says:

        Our British flag carrier has the responsibility to showcase Britain, and a big part of this is using British products wherever possible.

        • ChrisC says:

          There is no such thing as a ‘flag carrier’ these days. It’s an old fashioned notion.

          BA has no responsibility to ‘showcase’ anything at all.

          It will ‘showcase’ the products it can either (a) get for cheap or (b) get paid to put in amenity kits etc with no regard of where they come from.

        • Matt says:

          How is BA not the UKs flag carrier? The one thing BA does very well is promoting Britishness in their marketing and products.

        • Alex W says:

          …and on the world stage it has a reputation for poor product and extortionate fees.

  • mel says:

    noooooo! I’m taking F in November for the first time and really wanted the current sleep suit and amenity kit 🙁

    • Andrew says:

      Plenty for sale on eBay for a tenner.

    • Jonathan says:

      Really? The current PJ’s are rubbish, I use a 4 year old pair of Qatar ones instead! Agree that the current amenity kits look nice but for practical purposes preferred the shape of the previous ones, great for storing phone chargers/USB cables!

      • John2 says:

        How do you fit in a 4 year old pair of PJ’s?

        • Lady London says:

          My QR ones are still going strong despite being nearly that old.
          It feels like nearly that long since QR LH offering was cheap enough for me to fly them in J!

          It will be a sad day if QR is forced to leave Oneworld though. I feel the bashing they’re getting from the other ME countries is more commercially motivated than fair.

  • Kevin says:

    Am I the only person who doesn’t get excited over the contents of a wash bag? Not really fussed about them – other than I do like the pens on BA.

    • Mike says:

      Depends how much you fly J and F. The vast majority of travellers will have never seen a wash bag so would be excited about it.

      • Nick_C says:

        Depends how old they are. I used to like the Virgin washbags. In Economy.

        I also liked the Burberry Cologne that you used to get in the washrooms on ANZ. In Economy!

      • TheSkintTraveller says:

        Not when you don’t receive an Amenity bag in CW as run out by the time they get to you. Great Business service…

    • Ali says:

      +1

  • Alan says:

    Two comments. 1. Food in BA First has in my view been in steady decline, especially on flights back to the UK, so I welcome the improvements planned – if they live up to the press release. 2. Everyone I have given a Liberty amenity bag to loves them, as do I. I miss miss the Liberty bag, but hey I maybe unfair as I have not seen the new bag.

    • Ian M says:

      You’re right about the food. On my most recent flight in first flying back to London they didn’t even have any nuts on board! Apparently they had forgotten to load the Club World nuts on the outbound flight so had used the First class nuts for First and Club, meaning they ran out and there were no nuts available for anyone on the flight back to London. The scrambled eggs at breakfast were the worst I’ve ever had anywhere, just a pile of strange dry yellow crumbs.

      • RussellH says:

        Holiday Inn Express scrambled egg?

        • Genghis says:

          First world problems, I know, but I hate scrambled eggs done in the microwave. Last time in CCR arrivals I asked if the scrambled eggs were done on the hob to which the response was “yes”. On arrival, they had clearly been done in the microwave.

        • Lady London says:

          Microwave is OK provided done is very short bursts and have to keep stirring them. Plus add butter at the end.

      • Alex Sm says:

        Nuts fell out of favour recently – some airlines even made special announcements that they no longer serve nuts onboard due to the concerns of nuts-intolerant community

        • Andy_H says:

          As the parent of an epipen-carrying peanut-allergic child, I can honestly say that our son’s recent flight on Easyjet was made a lot less nerve-wracking for him thanks to the flight crew taking on board my pre-flight heads-up (through the check-in process) of his allergy. The only issue was that they ended up making at least 3 separate announcements about it in the first 15 minutes, which coupled with 2 of the crew loudly and separately discussing it with us did maybe take it a bit too far and make us feel like everyone very much knew who exactly had deprived the whole plane of their peanutty enjoyment……..

        • Anna says:

          I like nuts but could survive even the longest flight without them if it affects someone’s health. I still don’t really understand why but allergies are so much more prevalent now, I’m not aware of anyone suffering in this way in the 70s and 80s when dry roast & salted peanuts graced many a table top.

        • Nick_C says:

          Peanut allergies seem quite common, but peanuts are not nuts.

          No reason why a passenger with a peanut allergy should stop other people enjoying nuts.

          (Leaving aside the issue of whether one person’s allergy trumps the freedom of the other 180 people on board)

        • Andy_H says:

          Agreed that peanuts are not nuts; having moved back to the UK from overseas I must say that general food packaging here is better than a lot of other places – making the clear distinction between nuts and peanuts and making it obvious. A lot of the grey area on this kind of thing comes with “may contain” – we’re OK with “may contain” items being around but he shouldn’t and won’t eat them himself, just in case. This is where Easyjet maybe went a bit overboard, not on purpose of course – they came by at a certain point to tell us that they had told someone off for eating a Twix, as it “may contain” peanuts. By that point it was too late to try to explain that it would have been quite fine or to explain the ins and outs.

          The “one person vs the rest” point is an interesting one – I haven’t heard of an allergy issue forcing a flight deviation or anything like that to be honest, but given how certain allergy sufferers can have issues from, for example peanut, in the air I wonder if it does happen. An onboard ‘stab’ with an epipen should cover it, but I know we would have difficulty getting our son on a plane again for a while if that was to happen…..

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          The thought of someone being reprimanded for eating a twix within 100 yards of you did make me laugh. A good example of the problem usually not being with those with an allergy themselves (generally reasonable and proportionate) but with ridiculous official policies and lack of knowledge. Unfortunately the high profile recent case with sesame in the pret sandwich has only made this worse.

        • Thomas Howard says:

          Can the nut vapour released from opening a bag of nuts really trigger an allergy in a 1,500m3 cylinder of circulated air? Is there anything from any one credible on the subject? All I can find online is This Morning, Sun and Daily Mail articles.

  • Paul says:

    “Lipstick on a pig”….. as it happens I am flying F on the 8th on a redemption but as always my expectations are low. But we shall see. I doubt it will be QR J standard

    I was in the F lounge last Friday with it’s disgusting toilets. The years of austerity and cuts have taken their toll and the recent article about wines demonstrates just how bad things are.

    And before anyone say they are profitable … any clown can make money when your home base is as protected as LHR and commercial agreements give you carte blance with fares and schedules. The can’t and won’t compete head to head with any carrier outside of their protected base.

    So flying F might become a tad more pleasant but the bogs in T5 lounges need fixing as well.

    • Matt says:

      Agree the loos are horrendous. However I enjoy flying BA F more than QR J mainly for the fact it feels more exclusive and special.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Agreed. I fly J fairly frequently, but F not so much, and when I do it’s a special experience even with BA. My last F was SIN-SYD on BA, and it was great, and the Concorde Bar in SIN is fantastic, mostly because there’s nobody in it.

      • TheSkintTraveller says:

        Have you flown QR Q-suites yet, if not then you might change your mind.

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      Rarely travel from T3, but the other week in GF did notice they have an entire men’s cubical dedicate to a row of urinals. They’d probably eliminate the often seen queue at T5 if they converted even 1 or 2 to urinals.

      • Anna says:

        Except if you’re female 🙁

        • Genghis says:

          You need a she wee. My wife’s got one for when we’re out trekking.

        • Anna says:

          I’d be a bit worried about being banned for life from BA lounges and flights if I tried that in T5 Ghengis 😂. Otherwise a great idea!

        • Genghis says:

          🙂 No different to French toilets though with men and women in close proximity

        • Lady London says:

          Does anyone know if those really work? Like, do you gain directional control?

        • Cat says:

          Ah the she wee, that brings back memories of stage fright at Glastonbury!
          Total directional control Lady London, someone had painted flies on one or two of the urinals, for the true experience.

    • Will says:

      BA’s job is easy, send someone over to the Cathay lounge at LHR, take a picture of the toilets then do that in all BA lounges.

      Surely one of the least expensive improvements.

      Out of interest what’s the loo count in the F lounge at T5? I’m not sure I’ve found them all.

  • Anna says:

    We’ve got our first F on my birthday in May so looking forward to this. I love Elemis Pro-collagen products – do you think they would let my husband have a ladies’ kit instead of a men’s one or are they all pre-allocated? He doesn’t get remotely excited about tiny toiletries!

    • Stu_N says:

      No harm in asking, I’ve been given extra stuff before no probs.

    • Andrew says:

      If it’s your birthday and you ask nicely they may give an extra one and so you could have two and your husband can still see whether a first F makes tiny bottles any more exciting…

      • Anna says:

        Good idea, though I still think he’ll be more excited by the headphones and charging facilities!

    • Chechire Pete says:

      I got a bottle of LPGS to take away when it was my Birthday trip last month, we only travelling in J too. Nice touch.

  • Robert says:

    Great to see BA using constructive customer feedback to improve their products and services. It wasn’t too long ago that I requested one of these changes and being F no request was too great and they duly obliged. I mustn’t be the only one!
    Always get a chuckle when others post about F being equivalent to competitors J, they’re entirely missing the point. Also, does anyone else feel claustrophobic and squeezed in to a small space on some airlines closed suites? I much prefer open suites for this reason. To those who snub the amenities kit they make good charitable donations, or gifts to lesser family members.

    • Dan says:

      ‘lesser family members’…..?!

      • Shoestring says:

        all rellies are not created equal 🙂

      • Robert says:

        A poor attempt at humour with a slight dig at those who bash the amenity kits, and thus appear to have lost all contact with the real world, or recognise the true value of such products to the majority of the population, I’ll end my rant there!

  • Amo says:

    I was really looking forward to the Liberty bag for our first experience with F in December. It’s such a shame that they’re being changed.

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