British Airways | Boeing 747-400 | LHR-GRU | First

 photo map.gif

Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Hi there – thanks for checking out another series of mine. This time, I’ll be heading down to South America. The series will be split over six parts, covering the following flights:

LHR-GRU British Airways 747, First
CGH-SDU TAM A319, Economy
GIG-EZE Emirates 777-200LR, Economy
EZE-LIM TACA A320, Business
LIM-BOG TACA A321, Business
BOG-MDE Avianca A320, Business
MDE-MAD Avianca A330, Business
MAD-TLS Air Nostrum CRJ-900, Economy
TLS-LHR British Airways A321, Euro Traveller

 photo map-2.gif

This first part will focus on my flight to Sao Paulo with British Airways.

For most of 2014 I had been hoarding BA Avios. By around November time, I had enough for a one way ticket in their First Class cabin to pretty much anywhere on their network. As such, to get the best value, I wanted to take the longest flight possible. The most obvious choice was SIN/SYD – but having done this last year, it didn’t really appeal all that much. Next up was their longest single flight to Buenos Aires. This wouldn’t work either though as the airline only operates three class aircraft there – so no First Class. Next up was Brazil. I had a choice of either Rio or Sao Paulo. Rio was the preferred destination, however due to the fact the Sao Paulo flight left the UK at 22:00 meant I could fly on the Friday evening after work rather than on the Saturday lunchtime. Also the fact that the flight to GRU was operated by the 747 (as opposed to the 777 that flew to GIG) pretty much sealed the deal. Of course there were the taxes to consider – £361. So a pretty good deal in my book.

 photo BAitin.png

 photo BAPrice.png

A nice £8377 saving I made there

Upon booking, I was glad to see that I had been pre assigned seat 1A – so no need to change anything there.

 photo Seatsfull.jpg

Thirty days prior to departure, I was able to pre select my main meal. I was tempted by the beef but I figured I nearly always ended up having that when I fly – so chose the sausage and mash instead.

 photo menu.jpg

On to the day of departure then. As my usual mode of transport to Heathrow, the National Express coach, had become increasingly unreliable over the previous months (leaving earlier than scheduled, leaving later than scheduled – and don’t mention the time the driver refused to sell me a ticket before driving off…) I decided to take a taxi to the airport instead.

 photo IMG_2481.jpg

 photo IMG_2485.jpg

After battling through the Friday evening traffic on the M25, I first took a brief look at the departures from 09R before I made my way over to the BA First check in area where I was greeted, asked where I was flying to and escorted to a free desk where I was then handed over to the check in agent, where we shared a bit of a laugh over the fancy naming of my onboard meal selection.

 photo IMG_2487.jpg

 photo _MG_9295.jpg

 photo IMG_2492.jpg

Once processed, I headed through the fast track security. Once through, rather than turn left through the shopping centre to make my way around the houses to the lounge complex, I was able to turn immediately right and pass through the so called “Millionaires doorway” into the Concorde room for the first time – and completing the set of BA lounges that I’ve visited at LHR. One thing that I noted almost immediately was that they made boarding announcements here – something they don’t do at the other lounges.

 photo IMG_2493.jpg

 photo IMG_2494.jpg

First stop was the Concorde dining area where I ordered a club sandwich and a very tasty treacle tart for dessert all washed down with some Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle – probably double the price of what they serve in the F lounge but admittedly I didn’t notice all that much difference.

 photo IMG_2496.jpg

 photo IMG_2499.jpg

 photo IMG_2500.jpg

 photo _MG_9298.jpg

 photo _MG_9299.jpg

I couldn’t help but feel that this lounge was a little small. When I first arrived there were no seats to be had inside so had to make do with the pretty tightly packed terrace area. Following that I spent the remainder of my time at the bar. I’m guessing the idea is for F pax to eat in the CCR then head over to the F lounge if they want to relax.

 photo IMG_2507.jpg

 photo _MG_9301.jpg

 photo _MG_9302.jpg

 photo _MG_9303.jpg

Mojito or two at the bar

 photo IMG_2518.jpg

 photo _MG_9304.jpg

Also of note was that none of the drinks were self serve. Everything had to be ordered at the bar – including the crisps and snacks that you can help yourself to in the J/F lounge. The same went for the coffee. Although the plus side of this arrangement was that presentation was improved.

 photo IMG_2520.jpg

Panorama of virtually all of the lounge – entrance from the right, terrace to the left and dining area ahead.

 photo IMG_2524.jpg

At around 20:40, gate B35 was announced. Rather than take the train, which hadn’t turned up yet and looked like it would be a bit busy, I decided to make the walk across – which is now advertised quite well.

 photo IMG_2527.jpg

 photo IMG_2528.jpg

 photo IMG_2529.jpg

Upon reaching the gate, I was pleased to see G-CIVM on stand – my very first OneWorld logo jet.

 photo _MG_9307.jpg

 photo _MG_9308.jpg

 photo IMG_2534.jpg

A few moments later, boarding commenced. Once more the fast track wasn’t policed at all – I noticed the person ahead of me in the queue had no status on her BP and was sat in Word Traveller. I was third on board and was shown to my seat by the purser.

 photo BAlogo.jpg

April 2015
Boeing 747-436 / G-CIVM
Seat: 1A / First
Scheduled: 21:50/05:20
Off Stand: 22:01
On Stand: 05:03

 photo IMG_2538.jpg

 photo _MG_9309.jpg

 photo _MG_9311.jpg

Seat 1A – my home for the next 11 hours or so.

Almost immediately I was met by a very friendly crew member who introduced herself and was offered some champagne and water. As I was “caught” taking a picture, I apologised for getting in the way mentioned that this was my first time – she offered to take my picture in my seat, then said it’s a great experience and went to grab my drinks. The cabin filled up pretty quickly. There were quite a few seats taken but not completely full. A few moments later, my drinks turned up, followed by pyjamas and an amenity kit.

 photo _MG_9313.jpg

 photo _MG_9312.jpg

 photo IMG_2543.jpg

 photo _MG_9316.jpg

Pretty standard kit contents.

 photo IMG_2547.jpg

And a few moments after that, a hot towel – the same rags that are dished out across all the premium cabins, followed by tonights menu (I only snapped the first page, due to being interrupted by the safety briefing and then pushback). I was also asked when I’d like to eat – I wasn’t too bothered so just said I’d eat whenever was easiest for them. Of note was that the crew member stood at the front of the cabin was engaged in chat with the guy in 1K throughout the safety briefing. Fair enough engaging the customer but surely they should be encouraging them to pay attention rather than distract them?

 photo IMG_2554.jpg

 photo IMG_2549.jpg

The captain came over the PA and announced a pretty quick flying time of 10h45 and that we were still waiting for a few more pax to turn up. We eventually pushed back around 10 mins behind schedule.

 photo IMG_2556.jpg

We made a reasonably quick taxi out to 09R and then made a quiet takeoff behind a CX cargo 747-8F.

 photo IMG_2559.jpg

 photo IMG_2561.jpg

Shortly after departure, landing cards were handed out by the purser. He welcomed me by name, checked his iPad and said there was a message from the executive club for me – “oh, nothing too important, just to welcome you on board sir”. Zero points for the delivery there….

 photo IMG_2569.jpg

Shortly after departure, a G&T that I’d ordered on the ground turned up, along with some very tasty warmed nuts.

 photo _MG_9319.jpg

 photo IMG_2574.jpg

 photo _MG_9321.jpg

Settling in for the night ahead.

 photo _MG_9320.jpg

Seat, light and window blind controls.

Around thirty minutes later, one of the two crew members looking after the First cabin appeared again – “would you like me to set your table for you now sir?”

 photo _MG_9323.jpg

And a few moments later, dinner was served. I skipped the starter and went straight for my pre ordered meal. Very good it was too.

 photo _MG_9324.jpg

Followed by dessert.

 photo _MG_9326.jpg

And to finish, chocolates – and I think I must point out, that the whole box wasn’t just for me!

 photo _MG_9328.jpg

Following dinner, it was getting on for midnight UK time, and I had been up for work earlier in the day, so time to settle down for the evening. I ventured off to change into my pyjamas, and have my bed made up.

 photo _MG_9318.jpg

 photo _MG_9329.jpg

I climbed into the very soft sheets and settled down, although it was a good hour or two before I drifted off – it was a little warm on board and the guy in 1K was snoring very loudly. My noise cancelling headphones took care of the worst of it though. Still, not the most comfortable way to sleep.

 photo IMG_2584.jpg

I awoke with around two and a half hours to go. I freshened up and ordered some tea. By this time the rest of the cabin was starting to wake up too.

 photo IMG_2587.jpg

 photo _MG_9331.jpg

Breakfast was served shortly after. There were a good few courses, but I only elected to take the main, washing it down with a cappucino

 photo IMG_2592.jpg

 photo _MG_9332.jpg

 photo IMG_2593.jpg

During which I took a look at the IFE for the first time. Due to the 747’s having an older system there wasn’t a huge amount of choice – so went with a Top Gear special.

 photo _MG_9334.jpg

After this, there wasn’t too much time left until descent. The captain came over the PA and said we had made up time and should be landing at 04:55 local time. I went to the washroom to get changed and my bed was then put back into seat mode.

 photo _MG_9335.jpg

 photo IMG_2594.jpg

 photo IMG_2596.jpg

Mood lighting set to morning mode.

 photo IMG_2598.jpg

Another round of hot towels were handed out a few moments later.

 photo IMG_2600.jpg

Descent began in the darkness – predictably, there wasn’t too much to be seen until the lights of the city became quite close to us and I was able to feel the nose gear being extended.

 photo IMG_2602.jpg

 photo IMG_2605.jpg

 photo IMG_2607.jpg

We touched down at 5 AM and made the taxi over to terminal 3, pulling in alongside a LH 748

 photo IMG_2615.jpg

 photo IMG_2616.jpg

Upon arrival the Club section was held back until everybody in F had left.

 photo IMG_2619.jpg

 photo IMG_2621.jpg

 photo _MG_9337.jpg

I followed the signs to a packed passport control where luckily, most seemed to head for the residents line – meaning I was stamped into Brazil by a very sleepy (and somewhat disinterested) immigration official in around ten minutes or so.

 photo IMG_2625.jpg

 photo IMG_2626.jpg

What a boring passport stamp!

I didn’t have to wait too long for my bag (maybe 5 minutes at the absolute most) and I then ventured out to find a bus to the city through possibly the biggest and most confusing arrivals duty free store I’ve ever encountered.

 photo IMG_2628.jpg

 photo IMG_2629.jpg

 photo IMG_2632.jpg

It turns out I’d just missed one bus, so I ended up having to wait for an hour for the next one. At least there was free wifi to keep myself amused.

 photo IMG_2633.jpg

Luckily, I didn’t have to be anywhere… I made my way out to the coach an hour later for the hours drive into town.

 photo IMG_2635.jpg

 photo IMG_2638.jpg

I arrived at my hotel, the Melia Paulista (where by pure coincidence the BA crew also stay) at around 08:20 and was able to check in early (for half a days rate).

 photo IMG_2641.jpg

 photo _MG_9340.jpg

 photo _MG_9341.jpg

And that’s where I’ll leave this part.

British Airways First wasn’t too bad. I must admit I was probably expecting a little better though. The staff were great but the seat seemed a little small compared to what I’d experienced on CX previously – and the fact that BA cram 14 of them into the nose of the 747 means it’s a little crowded. No doubt it’s a great experience on a day flight, but I personally found it a little uncomfortable for sleeping. I’ve seen it said online before that it’s probably the worlds best business class, and I’m inclined to agree.

Look out for part two of the series which will be posted in a week or two which will feature some pics from my time in São Paulo and my Brazilian domestic flight with TAM over to Rio.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s