Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spending Christmas and New Year in Paradise: Paris to Houston via London


We arrived at the airport much earlier than we’d like to since our missing bags were still not found at this point. The baggage handling agent on Emirates claimed that our missing bags had already been checked in on the flight to London and onto Houston. Sure enough, this turned out not to be true as the British Airways check-in agent could not find any record of our bags. I appreciated that she made a couple of phone calls trying to help us out but made no progress.

We were resolved to simply filing a claim once we got back to the Austin but Lydia smartly realized that Emirates was in the same terminal as British Airways and thankfully Emirates also had a morning flight so their check-in counters were opened. We made some fuss to what appeared to be a supervisor and after realizing that we were first class passengers she promptly looked into it. She confirmed that they still could not find the bags and was shocked that we had no case number filed and quickly got a case opened for us.

Once we got through security, we saw a Laduree shop and bought the biggest box of macaroons they had. We initially had wanted to try these world famous macaroons in Paris itself but ran out of time.

With only 10 minutes to go till boarding, we decided to still head to the Cathay Pacific lounge that British Airways uses in Paris. It would be my first time in a One World lounge and I liked it. It was spacious and well furnished. Since we were short on time, we didn’t get anything to eat but I did sneak a can of Asian soya bean milk (yum!) out of the lounge to be enjoyed later.

Boarding was underway when we got to the gate. There were no hot towels or pre-departure drinks served which made my decision to sneak the can of soya bean milk to enjoy pre-departure on the flight a good one!

The English breakfast served on this short flight was pretty decent. The scrambled eggs were creamy just the way I like it! Overall, just another uneventful flight one would expect on this short hop.

Our flight landed in Terminal 5. It would my first time connecting through Heathrow and I can see why people loathe it. Even bypassing most of the lines as first class passengers, we were stuck in a security line for a good fifteen minutes.

I was excited to try the British Airways first class experience but was left pretty underwhelmed. We had made reservations for a head and neck massage through the YouFirst service. It was one of the worst massages I ever had. We were seated in a massage chair with wasn’t too bad but the masseur simply wasn’t good at all. There was no pressure at all from the massage and was just a waste of time.

The Concorde Room, reserved for British Airways first class passengers, was average for a first class lounge. There wasn’t a “wowness” to it similar to Lufthansa’s first class terminal or Thai’s first class lounge in Bangkok. We were still full from breakfast so we didn’t eat anything but enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne and coffee.

The one thing we both did like were the private Cabana rooms. It comes attached with a shower, working desk, television and a reasonable lounger to sleep in. I wouldn’t mind spending a couple of hour layover in here but I guess in general, I would just avoid Heathrow.

We just had enough time to take a sneak into the first class lounge that other OneWorld first class passengers can use. It was nicely furnished with pretty good food offerings but again, I thought it to be pretty average and I would not come early to the airport just for it.

Our flight was departing from a Terminal 5 gate that required us to trek all the way to take a train over. Come on BA, a drive on the Bentley right up to the plane would be a nice. Boarding was already underway when we got to the gate.

Once we got to our seats, we were warmly welcomed by the flight attendant and pursue. As usual, we went with champagne on the ground. Pajamas and amenity kits or what British Airways calls a wash bag was distributed soon after.

I must have gotten irritated by some dust or something on the plane and started to cough and sneeze. The flight attendant brought me proactively brought me some water hoping it would help and I was sure impressed so far with the service. 

It was our first time flying on British Airways (and in first class nonetheless) and I overall liked the hard product. Even though the seats were slightly cramped for a first class seat, it was comfortable and provided enough privacy without being claustrophobic. I also liked the blueish color scheme used in first class that gave the cabin a modern edge to it.

Soon after take-off, the flight attendant came around with another round of drinks (champagne of course) with the BEST nuts I’ve eaten on a plane before. The candied walnuts are probably not the best for you but it was simply delicious

This would also be our first time on a first class cabin where we would actually sit together for a meal like in a restaurant. It was more romantic than eating together side-by-side with earphones on and watching a movie like we normally do.

Food was above average but nothing really outstanding especially for a first class service. There was fancy no caviar or lobster. 

I was really full and rather tipsy after lunch. Lydia had her bed made and went off to sleep while I wanted to make the most of the flight and tried to stay up and watch a couple of movies. That was at least the plan. Once I reclined my seat into a comfortable position to enjoy my movies, I ended up falling asleep moments later. I ended up falling asleep for the next 6-7 hours and only woke up an hour before landing with a pretty nasty hangover! It definitely did not feel like a 6 hour nap to me. 

By then, most of the other passengers were finishing up their afternoon tea. I ordered some sandwiches and pastries with some tea and even though the food itself was okay, it felt more like a snack other airlines would offer in first class/business class midway through a flight if someone gets hungry rather than a pre-landing meal. 

We arrived on time into Houston and with a reasonable thirty minutes to get through immigration, luggage and customs, we were off on the 3 hour drive back to Austin. Overall, the flight was pleasant but I would not rush back to fly British Airways in first class again. I totally agree with Ben from onemileatatime that British Airways first class is one of the best business class.

1 comment:

  1. So was the luggage traced and recovered for you?