Intro – Two Premium Flying Experiences On A Second Visit To Africa
Part 1: Getting To Mauritius On My New Favorite Airline
Part 2: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Mauritius
Part 3: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Cape Town
Part 4: Spending Time In Southern Africa – Zambia
Part 5: The Long Luxurious Ride Home
Boarding commenced on time for the 737 going to Johannesburg, the first of four segments that would be my itinerary all the way home to Los Angeles. With the exception of the final segment, all flights were on British Airways. I’m not a huge fan of BA, if for only the ridiculously high fuel surcharges levied on award redemptions. But from Africa, it’s a pretty solid option using AA miles, even with the extra cost.
I had a five hour layover in Johannesburg, so was looking forward to spending some quality time in the BA Galleries First lounge while catching up on some emails.
The lounge is pretty small, but comfortable, with a good food and drink spread.
It didn’t take long for me to get restless, so I headed out to do some wandering around the terminal and to check out a few of the other lounges. Before long I caught my first glimpse of this beauty.
Boarding was delayed slightly, but with another long layover in Heathrow, I wasn’t too worried about missing my connection. Eventually it was time to board.
Two friendly BA flight attendants greeted me and escorted me to seat 3K on the lower deck of the a380. The suites and seats are pretty good, though not as spacious or luxurious as the ones I’d had on my Emirates flight.
Soon first class PJs and amenity kits were being distributed, and pre-departure champagne was being served. I was a bit disappointed that the jammies weren’t the special a380 ones I had read about. When I inquired the FAs informed me they had never seen them, and are probably only available on inaugurals. Boo.
We were soon airborne and menus were distributed. I was plenty full already from the lounge offerings, so went with the five course tasting menu consisting of smaller portions of a la carte items paired with local wines.
After dinner, my bed was made up and I settled in for the eleven hour flight to London. I was rather impressed with the extensive video offerings, though it had been a long day so I did my best to try to sleep.
We had made up all the time from the delayed departure, and landed on schedule at around 5am. I was ready for a shower so I headed to the Concorde room, the BA flagship first class international lounge. Only I ended up in the Galleries First lounge instead, a mistake to which I can only attribute to my zombie like state after a full 24 hours of travel and not much sleep. Whoopsie.
The lounge is pretty mediocre. The shower room I was given looked like it had been constructed circa 1980, and the equally ancient hairdryer was held together with tape.
There was a small area to order food for a sit down meal. Otherwise, the buffet items were similar to those in the business lounge.
The lounge is spacious and bright with a nice terrace area overlooking the tarmac. There is also a nice selection of champagnes in the self serve champagne bar.
A three hour layover at Heathrow goes fast, so after a shower and a bit of lounge time, I was ready to board my 747-400 with service to JFK.
The first class cabin is located on the main floor in the BA 747 fleet, in the nose of the plane. While I enjoy the view the curvature of the plane affords in this part of the plane, BA crams in 14 seats, unlike those on Lufthansa or Cathay Pacific, making it feel a bit cramped.
The cabin is really attractive, with large window and shade treatments custom lamps and lighting throughout. I settled into seat 2A and accepted some pre-departure champagne delivered with more BA first class PJs.
I decided to try to catch some shut eye before partaking in the afternoon high tea service, which I was really looking forward to. Since it was a relatively short daytime flight, I declined the offer of turn down service. A few hours later, the tea was served with finger sandwiches, scones, and various pastries. I was in heaven!
A full English breakfast was served shortly before landing.
Thanks to global entry, I was through JFK immigration and on the train to the American terminal in no time. My onward flight home was on the new A321T three cabin transcon service, in first. Even though I was exhausted, I was really looking forward to it! My original flight was scheduled to depart in four hours, but I happily accepted a seat on an earlier departure leaving 45 minutes later.
The first cabin has a 1-1 seat configuration, and comfortable lie flat seats, pretty sweet for a domestic first class flight. And the flight attendant could not have been more attentive and friendly. A very nice product!
Soon we were landing and I was on my way home, once again ever so grateful for the opportunities this rewarding hobby has afforded me.