#935786 by Sealink
06 Jun 2017, 15:03
It was with mixed feelings that I headed to New York for a long weekend.


I’d been there in 2008, in August, and found the city to be noisy, ugly, messy, hot, humid… and wonderful.
But after that trip, I headed to Boston and found the breeze from the sea and actually, the sea itself, to be a much more welcome destination. 



A day trip from Boston to New York in February was a disaster, given the early start required for the four hour train journey there, and despite being in Acela First, it was not a good day. (Travelled back on Regional in Business Class, which I found to be a much more comfortable seat). New York was freezing in February, I made the mistake of booking an open top bus tour (Listen, I know they’re tourist traps but I thought it would be a good way to reacquaint myself with the city…). Buying the ticket, I was surrounded by three ticket sellers all splitting the commission between them and it was really unpleasant. The audio equipment wasn’t working, and we were dropped off well before our destination as the driver needed a break. So I’ll avoid the Open Loop tours in future.

So this was the background of my latest trip to New York. No one can say I haven’t given this city a chance. And I’m so glad I did. New York in May/June was wonderful. The sun shone, rooftop bars were awesome and I even got to see Groundhog Day and Hamilton (again), visited some great bars and restaurants (as well Guy’s American Diner) and had a great time. I'm looking forward to my trip back in October and will hopefully visit again.

And how did BA fair? 

Well, to start my journey, I booked a Blacklane chauffeur to Heathrow - I much prefer them to Uber as there is no surge pricing and it’s always a decent car. This time it was an E-Class Mercedes with WiFi which was very comfortable.
Dropped off at the far end of T5 at the First Wing, which appeared deserted.

There were no staff at the little podium outside but I was welcomed when I popped around the corner and escorted to my check in agent, both staff members were very friendly, and before long I was at First security, where I was stuck behind the slowest person ever. The more you fly, the more intolerant you become towards people who don’t follow simple instructions. Like taking a 1L bottle of water through security, not declaring it, then complaining that they have additional searches. I do question how these people function at life.

However, I was not about to let that ruin my day, and I headed to the Concorde Room. 
It looked quiet, until you noticed that there were people sleeping on the sofas, people had their luggage on seats etc. and I have come to realise that the Concorde Room is a really lack lustre experience, and my previous comments that its like a fairly well run Wetherspoon’s holds true. It is only special by virtue of the access restrictions.

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I have two more BA First flights booked this summer, and they were booked because of convenience, not the lounge experience. Contrast with the Virgin Clubhouse where it is just fun from start to finish and where I make a point of being at the airport extra early! That said, the Concorde Room isn’t the worst place to spend time, and I enjoyed my breakfast just fine.

Our gate was announced - A10 and I delighted in telling my travel companions that we would be bussed to the plane. When I say delighted, I wasn’t gloating, it was more of a realisation that my knowledge of Heathrow T5 was growing.

As we sat crammed on a bus to the plane, I mused on how not very First Class this is. Should First Class passengers have a separate bus? Probably not, but people were crammed in so tight that it felt like my old commute to work.

The plane was about a 10 minute bus ride away, and before long I was up the steps to the trusty if dull, 777. I don’t think these planes have any personality, unlike say the 747 and 787. Workhorses, to be sure.

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I was in Seat 1A, and again with BA, the steward apologised for not escorting me to my seat as he had to stand at the door. Either do this or don’t, BA. I’m perfectly capable of finding my seat, but when you apologise for not showing me the way, it makes me think I am missing out on some enhanced service.

Drinks and warm nuts were served.

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I will not say too much about the person who served me throughout the flight, he/she was so odd. I can’t really explain it. Whether it was his or her first time in First I can’t say but there were aspects of the service what were really poor. For example, my friend came over to talk to me so he/she passed a drink behind my friends back, on a tray which had BA paperwork on it. So very lack lustre.

During the flight, the FSM came around to thank me for choosing BA which was a nice touch.

I love the BA First class seat, I find it really comfortable. Really comfortable. In fact, on overnight flights, BA is the only seat that I have been able to sleep in. And I say that as a huge Virgin Atlantic fanboy.

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Obligatory legroom shot.

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The table was set for lunch.

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I had ordered a special meal, and was delighted to be offered two choices. I have never had this before in the history of ordering special meals and it was a lovely touch. I loved the food today.

An amuse-bouche was served first, with some really lovely olive bread.

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Another nice touch was that the butter was at room temperature, a thumbs up from me.

The main course was presented with a ‘Here’s your [SPECIAL] meal’ at a volume which I am sure economy heard. It was weird.
The main course was a breast of chicken served on a bed of pickled mushrooms with figs. It was excellent, with a nice acidity to contrast with the fairly plain chicken.

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For desert, I was offered an almond tart with custard which, presentation aside, was really tasty. Actually, I’m not sure if this was sugar-free…

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The entertainment on board was great, I ended up watching a few episodes of Family Guy, American Dad, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and I’m Alan Partridge.

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Afternoon Tea soon followed and I was delighted at thoughtfulness of the sweet: sugar-free jelly with some fruit as well as some fruit skewers and some finger sandwiches. The jelly was a lovely touch, usually I am presented with plates of fruit and I love that someone went the extra mile with this. (I really like jelly!)

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The rest of the flight was spent snoozing, looking out the windows, or playing with the seat settings.

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In no time at all, we were approaching New York, with a very smooth landing. JFK immigration was very very quick, (having Global Entry helps) but my pals were through in no time, commenting on the tough attitude of the person they spoke to. I do wish the US would find the line between intimidating visitors and finding out useful information!

However, my friends made it through, our luggage was off pretty quickly, and we were soon in a yellow cab to our hotel, The Hilton Fashion District, which, in the absence of a review so far, kind of restored my faith in Hilton. It was a decent enough hotel.
Last edited by Sealink on 06 Jun 2017, 16:10, edited 1 time in total.
#935792 by hiljil
06 Jun 2017, 15:58
Loved reading your TR, thank you. The photographs ( well except for the jelly !) brought it all back . Hope your return flight was as enjoyable but with no strange member of the cabin crew ( the mind boggles :-O ) .
#935794 by Sealink
06 Jun 2017, 16:09
hiljil wrote:Loved reading your TR, thank you. The photographs ( well except for the jelly !) brought it all back . Hope your return flight was as enjoyable but with no strange member of the cabin crew ( the mind boggles :-O ) .


Because I have put my seat number, date and flight I don't want to say anything that might identify them, but it was odd.
#935804 by Bretty
06 Jun 2017, 18:36
Super TR thanks, abdcwith photos, which I always forget! I've still yet to write mine from BA F in March.

Thanks again
#935829 by buns
07 Jun 2017, 15:49
Sealink
I read this TR after your return journey - my apologies!!

I had previously desired to try BA First, but your description of the Concorde Room does leave me a bit less inclined - no doubt it is full of the DYKWIA types that continue to fill the pages of Flyertalk :-P

I too liked that jelly!

Thanks once again

buns
#935837 by honey lamb
07 Jun 2017, 22:27
Your TR resonates with me in so many ways. I have wanted so much to like BA as an alternative to VS when I am unable to fly the latter but I just can't. Your experiences in the Concorde Room match mine and I think we should take note that some of our VF friends who have morphed over to BA now prefer the First Lounge. OK, I haven't experienced the cabanas but, quite frankly I don't need them - perhaps on a long layover I might. The last time I was there and I was hungry, I was told I was unable to avail of the dining area and the food I ordered was pre-cooked and assembled and cold! I've had a better experience in the No.1 lounge in T3 :-O

Nope! I've had a few flights on BA both in First and CW but they still have to win me over :-(
Virgin Atlantic

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