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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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • krys_k says:

    Two years ago I travelled in F on the day that the First Wing opened and looks like my trip in F on 5th April may get the new improvements (and I think them all improvements) – thought the talking point of my trip would be travel in a hard Brexit environment. Await to see how the improvements transpire – I for one much preferred the old PE style kit bags in BA J that I could put shoes into on subsequent trips than the improved tiny amenity bag.

  • Gavin says:

    Bedding – a welcome improvement
    Bag – back to the stupid square design which is useless (go back to soft anya hindmarsh bag with tower bridge/flying boat)
    New a la carte menu – we’ll see… bring back the bistro options!
    Loungeware – anything would be better than those baggy shapeless pj’s of old
    Cutlery/glassware/crockery – who cares
    Personally BA should focus on
    1) not running out of LPGS or not having any (last 4 first flights)
    2) making sure the cabin and seats are clean and working properly
    3) ensuring enough food loaded so first pax get their first choice every time
    4) crew are given the right tools, products and training to live up to the marketing hype

    Didn’t they do an afternoon tea a few years ago as their second meal???
    And isn’t Elemis the club skincare – this doesn’t seem a step up???

    • Nick_C says:

      … and fixing the seats on the 789 so they actually go properly flat!

    • Rob says:

      Back in the days with there was a 2nd meal ….

  • Ian says:

    Earrings on a Pig

  • Liam J says:

    No use having bedding at all when the crew set the temperature so high.

    • Neil says:

      LOL but so flipping true. I thought it was just my flights

    • Lady London says:

      that’s called “the cosh”. aiming to feed you then overheat you so you will fall asleep and not be demanding of service.

      Having said that, flight from Seattle was blissfully cool without being cold.

      • Shoestring says:

        that’s why they are also very happy to serve you as many drinks as you like in the first couple of hours, they aren’t stupid and don’t want you ring bells through a LH journey

        even on SH in the good old days (BA Economy), ordering drinks in 3s or 4s was much easier on the cabin crew than you calling them back to your seat later: ie ‘a couple of G&Ts please, some red wine for the food, a beer in case I get thirsty and a whisky to settle me down after the meal if that’s not too greedy, thanks’ was always fine in my experience.

      • Cat says:

        Yes, the downside of “the cosh” is that, if you’re a woman of a certain age, the external temperature and the internal temperature combine to make a hell furnace that you will never get to sleep in…

    • Alan says:

      Agree – had to ask for cabin temp to be turned down on a few flights – the crew normally say I’m not the first one to ask! Thankfully it did then settle a bit. I really don’t get the logic though, I find it much more difficult to sleep if hot and lets face if if you’re cold it’s far easier to put on a blanket, etc. to warm up!

  • Paul Stevens says:

    >> 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!

    Is this accurate? I’ve only been to the Concorde Room four times but I prefer the first lounge – it’s a lot quicker to get a full can of beer rather than half served in a tiny glass and another 20 minute wait for the rest of it.

    • Rob says:

      I agree to a point. I am not a big Concorde Room fan.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I was about to raise the same point. Why so prescriptive? Why wouldn’t people be able to explore things at their own leisure and pace and see the best of both worlds, especially if they don’t happen to travel through these facilities very often? My partner and I – when we were flying to Singapore in First on 2-4-1 voucher for the first and maybe the last time – went to the Elemis spa which is next to Galleries First, then had a drink at the bar serving BA own brands of spirits, explored Galleries First a bit and only then moved on to Concorde Room for a dinner. Is it not a good way to do that?

      • Lady London says:

        You mean you actually got an appointment at the Elemis Spa?
        If so they you must be the first person I’ve seen on here who ever reported actually being able to get an appointment.

        I’ve lost count of the number of times I tried when I had status or was flying in eligible classes/routes. Never being able to get one of the promised Elemis spa appointments that was never available no matter how early or late I tried, was one of the reasons I was happy to let my British Airways status drop. They just weren’t gearing up in any way to deliver the promised benefits. If you put your head around the door of the spa while you were having breakfast, there was always a maximum of about 1 therapist and 5 treatment stations apparently unmanned…. it was like they didn’t intend to provide the promised service.

        • Daz says:

          My wife had an appointment booked when we last flew First to Japan in the autumn. To say she wasn’t impressed by the crap attitude of the assistant and her pal would be an understatement. My wife was that unimpressed by it she’d rather I give her a massage😬, this is not good.

          So to sum up it’s not worth getting of your chair for, drink more bubbly.

        • Matt says:

          Every time I’ve flown J or F from T5 or JFK, I’ve always had a spa treatment. Never had any luck at T5 arrivals though. The facials are perfectly pleasant and a lovely way to start a trip away.

          So many of you moan moan moan about BA. If you don’t like then don’t fly them!

        • Daz says:

          Matt……I have an opinion and I’m entitled to it if I spend good money on a product as is my statutory rights. So politely mind your own business.

        • Octopus says:

          Both times that I have flown in F from T5 I’ve managed to book a spa treatment, I don’t think I will bother next time though

        • Alan says:

          I’ve managed it 3 times recently when flying in F – had to pre-book though as soon as the diary opened!

        • Alex Sm says:

          Yes, both my partner and I had treatments, he had Deep Clean Aviator Facial for Men and I had Muscle-Ease Power Back Massage.
          Yes, you have to book T-28 as soon as it opens (similar to T-355 rule on most popular Avios routes)

    • Neil says:

      Nailed it in one – It’s over hyped but the Champagne is nice

    • Mzungu says:

      I was going to ask a related question – although we’ve flown F a couple of times (thanks HfP!), next month will be our first time from LHR. I was planning to head straight to the Concorde Room, but I understand that there are alternative routes to get there. Bearing in mind that F is a surprise for Mrs Mzungu (she thinks we’re going J), is there a ‘best’ way to get there? I guess once you’ve checked in at the F wing, it’s obvious to go through security, into Galleries First, and onto the CCR? Is CCR adjoining Galleries First – the article says “across the corridor”?

      The alternatives seem to be starting from the Fast Track security I think?

      Sorry for all the basic questions!

      • bsuije says:

        If you want to keep it a complete surprise until the last possible moment, use J check-in and fast track at normal security lanes. Then head towards J lounge on the same side as F lounge (never can remember if that’s north or south), I.e. up escalators by Fortnum & Masons. And just remember to get off at the right floor (1st?). Concorde room would then be on the right, and F lounge will be to the left.

        Just depends on how busy the airport is and whether you would therefore value the separate First check-in and security…

        • Genghis says:

          If you wanted to do that, surely it’d be better to go through South security and then through the old Million Pound Door to the CCR? I’d just use the F wing, however.

        • Lady London says:

          +1 Defo use the First Wing, if you’ve got access. They’ve done a good job of it. That’s the time to let Mrs. Mzungu into the surprise.

          Would work for me!

        • Cat says:

          Same for me – the First Wing is just a serene delight, compared to the alternative, that would be an excellent place to announce the surprise.
          Book spa treatments at T – 28 days. It’s always worked for me.

      • Mzungu says:

        Just got back to this – thanks everyone for all the replies/suggestions. I agree that using the First Wing makes perfect sense – no point in delaying the surprise by a few minutes, and missing out on the First Wing to do it!

        • Robert says:

          If your using First Wing for the first time then I would agree that is the best place to spring the surprise, BA have done a great job at making the bag drop and security process feel less stressful, and for most times of the day I’ve gone through it’s very quiet. Enjoy the CCR cocktails & champers!

          In response to another comment regarding the Spa treatments, it’s important to note they aren’t fully Spa trained staff, it is basic and in a seated position, I would recommend booking the massaging chair, it’s incredible! Just my opinions of course.

  • sohan says:

    Anyone know what Newark is like for First Class back to LHR on BA? Looks like there’s no premium security but is there a decent lounge or a meal? JFK was great.

    • Anna says:

      We were there about 6 years ago, it was a reasonably quiet and pleasant J lounge with a separate restaurant where you could have a sit down meal if you were on a late flight. As I recall there were 3 or 4 choices for each course and the food was decent but not spectacular.

      • Robert says:

        It has a nice separated dining area for F ticket holders only. Nothing as nice as JFK obviously but if your closer to New Jersey it’s a no brainer. If your flying before end of March you’ll be on the 787-9 with the smallest F cabin, after that they’re pulling those jets off most current routes and first is missing to EWR on the 787-8 worse luck.

        • Jimbob says:

          Do you know which planes they’ll be using after March? I’ve booked to fly to Newark in June 1st Class.

          Flight currently showing as a 787, is this likely to change?

    • Michael C says:

      Hot meal section cordoned off/behind some perspex from club part.

      All a bit limited, dark and small.

      On the other hand, the airport is a breeze for immigration/tranport to & from.

  • David Cumming says:

    Anybody have a copy of the current First Wine List?
    When i traveled first last time, November 17, it was really good. Hate to think that it’s been completely changed….

  • andrew lyons says:

    Whilst the bags look quite nice the First bag for men is currently hopeless. Ok, the lip balm and cream are fine as is the biro and toothbrush. The shaving gel is though, not fit for purpose and if retailed would probaly be rejected under the “Sales of Goods Act”. The same applies to the small deoderant stich which is impossible to use!!!

    • IanMac says:

      +1

    • Lloyd says:

      Agree. I actually prefer the CW toiletries to the Aromatherapy Associates stuff in F. The shaving gel is awful as it doest lather and is more like slime and the deodorant no better. My wife buys a few bits from Elemis so will be delighted with the change.

    • Paul says:

      I quite like the First shaving gel. Agree the deodorant is a waste of space.

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