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  • Saltrams 15 posts

    We thought we would treat ourselves to business on a trip to Japan. We browsed BA during the last sale and found that on a few (random?) days in Feb/Mar 24 there were amazing prices (in a good way) and that the price difference for First was just £300! So, we’re doing BA LHR-HND return in First 29/2-27/3 next year.
    Who knows anything in the way of tips & hints to make the most of this trip please, such as which lounge to choose at TN5 and do we get fast-track security? Anything really; assume we know nothing. Thank you!

    NorthernLass 6,692 posts

    Lovely – yes you will be able to use the First Wing to check in and visit the Concorde Room before your flight. You also have access to the You First phone line (google the number) for any queries about your flights.

    There are a few readers who know the country well and will happily offer tips for your itinerary.

    If you haven’t already selected your seats, you can do this for free from the time of booking in F.

    exploring_george 5 posts

    As flying frist from LHR you get access to the frist wing, which cover check in and fast track security.
    As for lounge you can use the Concord room, which is BA best lounge at Heathrow. And someone would say one of the best lounges world wide.

    As for onboard experiences I can’t really add much more other than enjoy it.

    Saltrams 15 posts

    Thank you @NorthernLass, I’ll research the Concorde Room (how nostalgic for me, my father was an avionics engineer on Concorde).
    All comments about Japan very gratefully received of course but there’s not much public info about the ins&outs of the flight situation. We reserved seats, centre 2 row 2 because the whole first row was blocked off, which the BA agent said was odd. He also said we might have to move if there was a baby in the cabin as we have the bassinet seats. 😱 screaming infant in First?? Please Noooooo!

    Saltrams 15 posts

    ..you can use the Concord room, which is BA best lounge at Heathrow. And someone would say one of the best lounges world wide.

    Wow! 😲

    As for onboard experiences I can’t really add much more other than enjoy it.

    Thank you!

    NorthernLass 6,692 posts

    Row 1 is usually blocked, I think for BA VIPs! It’s such a small, private cabin, though, there aren’t any terrible seats.

    I’m not sure if they’ve reintroduced pre-ordering for the meals, they haven’t in business, though of course some people prefer to choose on the day.

    Saltrams 15 posts

    Row 1 is usually blocked, I think for BA VIPs! It’s such a small, private cabin, though, there aren’t any terrible seats.
    Ah, right, that makes sense. If there are no VIPs is it worth moving up a row?

    I’m not sure if they’ve reintroduced pre-ordering for the meals, they haven’t in business, though of course some people prefer to choose on the day.

    Hmm, hard to know what one wants in advance. I wonder when we find out?

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 1,856 posts

    From 30 days before the flight you can email you first and ask if they can send you the menu.

    But they have more srare meals in F so less chance of not getting your first choice.

    nectar collector 278 posts

    I believe you can call the You First team nearer the time of your flight to ask for a preview of the First menu on your route. There’s also a Flyer Talk thread which covers people’s experience of the latest First menus, but you may be out of luck there if no one’s posted for your route. Or you can just keep it as an on-the-day surprise!

    e14 214 posts

    Row 1 is usually blocked, I think for BA VIPs! It’s such a small, private cabin, though, there aren’t any terrible seats.

    I’m not sure if they’ve reintroduced pre-ordering for the meals, they haven’t in business, though of course some people prefer to choose on the day.

    1A / 1K are blocked for BA GGL/ BA Gold but release at t-72 from memory.

    There is currently no preordering on BA longhaul in any cabin, but has been noted that YouFirst can often provide the menu within 28 days of departure.

    Left hand is more likely to give the potential Mount Fiji view but that’s all YMMV dependent upon the routing and the weather.

    JDB 4,147 posts

    I’m not really sure why BA protects row 1 in F for golds as, in my view, it is by far the least desirable row. 1A is by the bogs, the middle two seats have you looking at a dark wall so losing all the effect of a spacious airy cabin and the whole row is next to the galley that BA crew consistently seem to use as the staff common room with non stop coming and going from other cabins as well as loud hilarity and that’s if they aren’t clattering, another BA specific issue. In the 789, you want row 2 and in the bigger F cabins row 3. It’s not very friendly, but we all only want window seats! Re food, they will have ample choice and won’t run out; unless you have allergies/dietary requirements or are a very picky eater, you might prefer to see what you feel like on the day in the event the restart pre-ordering. The wine is very significantly higher quality than club.

    e14 214 posts

    The wine is very significantly higher quality than club.

    lol, think Tesco finest rather than Premier Grand Cru – yes the wines are better but it’s more like club isn’t great.

    JDB 4,147 posts

    The wine is very significantly higher quality than club.

    lol, think Tesco finest rather than Premier Grand Cru – yes the wines are better but it’s more like club isn’t great.

    I really don’t think that’s fair on BA. On a recent flight they had Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Chablis 1er Cru, Ch. Rieussec as the pudding wine as well as a seriously good pinot noir from a small NZ producer in addition to the usual LPGS and ? Henriot Rosé champagnes. They are all a serious cut above Tesco Finest wines that have suffered price increases and quality decline.

    meta 1,358 posts

    @Saltrams Plenty of info and advice on hotels and itineraries on the forum, so I won’t repeat myself.

    Since you’re going for almost the whole month, I suggest you spend about 2 weeks exploring the usual in Kanto and Kansai regions (first 5 full days in Tokyo, 9 full days Kyoto/Nara/Uji/Osaka).

    I’d then make further south to Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima spend 2-4 days on that. Then move to Kyushu for a week (Fukuoka/Kurokawa Onsen or Beppu, Kagoshima, Nagasaki).

    Instead of Kyushu, you could opt for Okinawa or Hokkaido. Then spend the final two nights in Tokyo and explore off-beat neighbourhoods (Shimokitazawa, Ogikubo) or do day-trip to Nikko (you could also do a long-ish detour there and stay 2 nights (shortening elsewhere).

    I would skip Hakone as you want to do onsen in Kyushu, unless you are skipping Kyushu. Instead of Hakone, you could also do Kinosaki or Wakayama.

    meta 1,358 posts

    If you haven’t book accommodation, book now. Room rates especially for the later half of March will be very high. For such a long trip, I would also avoid western chains and concentrate on Japanese ones or rent apartments (for example in Osaka and then you can explore the whole of Kansai easily). I would treat myself with one or two-nighters in a luxury hotel or ryokan 2-3 times, just to experience the service.

    Also don’t forget to use luggage delivery service! It’s so convenient not having to haul bags between places.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 1,856 posts

    The wine is very significantly higher quality than club.

    lol, think Tesco finest rather than Premier Grand Cru – yes the wines are better but it’s more like club isn’t great.

    I really don’t think that’s fair on BA. On a recent flight they had Ch. Brane-Cantenac, Chablis 1er Cru, Ch. Rieussec as the pudding wine as well as a seriously good pinot noir from a small NZ producer in addition to the usual LPGS and ? Henriot Rosé champagnes. They are all a serious cut above Tesco Finest wines that have suffered price increases and quality decline.

    Surely it’s the taste that matters not the price?

    I remember a few years ago a people on the BA FT board getting their knickers in a twist over a wine that was apparently £5 in Morrisons when they hadn’t even tasted it. The people who had drink it on a plane thought it was delicious.

    And it was £5 for a small bottle not a normal size one.

    Gave some rose to a friend earlier this year. He said it was one of the best he’d tasted until I told him it was £3.99 in Lidl. Then all of a sudden it wasn’t all that good.

    And all those blind tastings by “experts” who rate the cheap wines better than pricier wine but only when they have to taste blind and can’t see the label. Must be embarrassing for them!

    Saltrams 15 posts

    Thank you all so much for taking time to tell me things!

    @e14
    good tip for the possible Mt Fuji view. @JDB we’re travelling as a couple so whilst I love a window seat, it isn’t very friendly as you say. Maybe one will be vacant and we can hop across for views! On the subject of wine, we are very much in the “we like what we like” camp and the NZ Pinot sounds terrific. I’m always conflicted about alcohol on a/c because it’s so tempting but can make me feel wretched (dehydration – not over consumption!)
    Finally, @meta, your advice was heartening about seeing Japan. We haven’t been before and it has been a dream since childhood for me. We made our own itinerary from researching what we like to see & do and it is very similar to what you describe, albeit a different way round. Anyone bored by visit schedules can stop reading now..
    Into Haneda & connect straight to Kumamoto on JAL. 3 nights in Castle Hotel with “eponymous view”. Car rental for trip to Amakusa (thermal spa), Kagoshima, Mt Aso, Yufuin, Kurokawa & Beppu. Shinkansen to Okayama, visit Kurashiki, train to Osaka, eat great food, train to Kyoto (in a Ryokan), Shinkansen again to Tokyo 6 nights. All in a mix of Japanese hotels and serviced apartments. I would have loved to do more but I’m feeling optimistic that we’ll like it enough to go back.
    Thanks again everyone; oh, forgot to mention that after a BA Hols 5 night trip to Marrakech (in Club) and then Japan I’m hoping to make Silver BAEC so maybe a tier point run later in ‘24 could see me to Gold 😉
    👋🏼

    Roker 38 posts

    Well done getting flights to Japan if you’re using a 241 voucher. We’re booked for Feb-March next year and will try to get flights for Jan-Feb 2025 when they become available. But I’m thinking seriously of booking LHR > HK returns and flying from HK to Fukuoka or Tokyo (using Avios and JAL) then because 1) CW availability is MUCH better for HK than TYO and 2) BA has night flights into and out of HK (day flights only into and out of TYO, with many flights arriving at Haneda before 8am..not good for jet-lag sufferers and you won’t be able to check into your hotel before 3pm.

    tokyocheapo.com
    japancheapo.com

    Whatever your budget the above are two of the best introductory websites for travel in Japan. The most important advice for hotel bookings is check the room size (we want at least 25 sqm, but that can be difficult). Room rates at some of the older but better hotels are reasonable now, while the yen is weak. In March we are staying in the Keio Plaza in Tokyo and the Westin Osaka, two good, central hotels offering good prices currently (via Trivago, etc)

    JD_traveller 17 posts

    @Saltrams I can recommend the Ryokan Yachiyo in Kyoto, had a very nice stay there recently with a private onsen bath in the room. Also the IC Osaka is just stunning, great central location, and has a fantastic (and very underused) swimming pool on the 4th Floor!

    Ihar 64 posts

    Row 1 in First is fine, as there are so few people (8?) and the toilet is quite forward from Row 1. But either is fine. The Concorde Room is fabulous, so go through the First Wing for check-in/security (don’t queue as if there is one that’s for Gold card holders) then straight to the CCR. I’d arrive 3 hours beforehand so you can spend a good 1.5-2 hours in the lounge and get some food (cooked to order).

    The wines are pretty good (both in the lounge and on-board), but you can’t beat the LPGS. Their decent reds are around £40-£50 retail from a wine merchant, and LPGS around £200 a bottle. You don’t have to pre-order food unless a special meal, and as said the First phone/email will provide you a menu in advance and sort that out for you.

    (Your Father will enjoy it – they have a Concorde nosecone in the lounge!)

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