British Airways 787-9 First Class.

After the rather underwhelming lounge situation it wasn’t long before it was time to head to the gate to board the Boeing 787-9 that would be taking me back to London.

Over the years, I think I’ve flown in a fair bit of British Airways First Class, from the 747-400, their 12, 14 and 17 seat 777-200 and 300 cabins, as well as the A380.  I never made the 747 Classic or the 767 unfortunately.  However this was actually my first time on the 787-9 with the newest variant of the seat.

British Airways have divided up the front section of the 787-9 between doors 1 and 2, in to two.  The first half contains two rows of first class in a 1-2-1 configuration with the second part of the cabin being two rows of Club World in a 2-3-2 configuration.  Most airlines can get 30 seats of 1-2-1 business class into the same space.

The cabin is definitely smart.

The seat has a lot of storage as well.

Underneath the IFE controls, there’s a cubby for storage.  Behind you to the side, there’s another storage area with a mirror.  Under the ottoman, there’s a further space.  Finally, there’s also a mini wardrobe for hanging coats.

The TV is also huge as well.  The IFE controller is well hidden in the cubby underneath the seat controls, next to the AC power and USB charging ports.

Finally, the lamp has morphed to something on the table, as opposed to being attached to the seat.  The table is released by a button and is around half the size, and there’s also a small reading lamp.

It’s definitely an evolution, rather than revolution to the current products, and feels most like the current A380 product, although seems smaller.

The major change is that due to the positioning and size of the TV screen, plus the small table, means that you’re unable to do “buddy” dining facing each other.  I really like this feature, but I don’t often see it used, so can understand why they made the compromise.

Overall, it does feel very nice, but not substantially different to when I’ve flown American in their 787 in business class, or the Air Canada 787-9 business class.

The service on the other hand was very definitely First Class.  We had exactly the same cabin crew on the way back as we did on the way out.  They remained their excellent-selves with me struggling to find sufficient superlatives to describe them in a second article!

British Airways 787-9 First Class pre-departure champagne

The bubbles before take-off were free flowing and regularly topped up.  The flight time was due to be slightly under eleven hours this evening, which left us with a problem as it had been blocked at over twelve.  The arrival time would have us arriving well before 06.00 and this was not one of the services that was allowed to arrive early between 05.00 as some of the East Coast US and Far East services can.  So we ended up pushing back and sitting at a remote stand for the best part of 30 minutes whilst we waited.

There were a few interesting aircraft to watch coming and going whilst we waited, sipping bubbles.  Finally, we pushed back a second time and after a very short taxi, we were airbourne on the back to London.

A gin and tonic with warmed nuts arrived almost immediately.

For dinner, I again opted for the soup, then the confit of short ribs (which I wasn’t quite sure what to expect).  For my main course I again went for the beef, hoping it would be a little better.

The soup was great again.  The starter was cold, and well, just kind of odd.  It was basically bits of beef in a sort of terrine.  It didn’t taste bad, but just was strange.

The beef was a bit better than the outbound, less over-cooked, but still over-cooked.  The crew managed to twist my arm into having the apple crumble, which was great.

I then retired to sleep, with a large glass of cognac, passing out pretty much solidly for the next eight hours, only being woken by the captain’s announcement of 40 minutes to landing at Heathrow.  However the crew still managed to bring a double espresso in time for landing.

Thoughts

The First Class seat on the Boeing 787-9 is a nice improvement over the other BA First seats flying, but it still doesn’t change the dial on the overall product.  The crew again, did a completely outstanding job and made the journey for me.

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