Riding on The Red Carpet Route to London

London's Regent Street decked out in US flags and NFL banners amid rumors of a possible London NFL team. (Photo Chris McGinnis)

London’s Regent Street decked out in US flags and NFL banners amid rumors of a possible London NFL team. (Photo Chris McGinnis)

With the sights and sounds of the San Francisco 49ers playing at Wembley Stadium on TV today,  it’s a perfect time for me to write about my latest business trip to London, my favorite city in the world.

First class flight attendants pass pre-flight glasses of  Laurent Perrier Grand Seicle Champagne (Chris McGinnis)

First class flight attendants pass pre-flight glasses of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne (Chris McGinnis)

Last month British Airways invited me to fly from Los Angeles to London aboard its brand new Airbus A380. With typical British pomp, BA is cleverly calling this “The Red Carpet Route,” due to the heavy film industry traffic between the two cities.

LAX-LHR  is the type of route where movie stars and industry moguls actually pay the $19,216 first class (or $7,356 business class) round trip fare. While I saw no big stars aboard my flight, Kate Moss was in the line next to me at customs at Heathrow.

BA’s departure from LAX is late—8:45 pm, which means you can get in a full day’s work, board and eat a quick meal after departure, go to sleep (hopefully) and wake up in time for arrival in London at about 3:00 pm the following day. Those in the Bay Area who would like to give BA’s A380 a try can jump on a cheap flight down to LAX, transfer over to the airport’s shiny new Tom Bradley International Terminal to board BA’s jumbo for the 9.5-hour flight to London.

Most carriers flying the A380 have first and business class on the upper deck, and economy class on the lower or “main” deck. BA has opted to keep premium passengers at “the front of the plane.” This means first class and business class sections are located at the front end of the upper and main deck and economy class is at the back end of both the upper and main deck. Take a video tour of BA’s A380 here.

Below are some notes and 12 photos from my trip. Enjoy!

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View over the A380's enormous wing from main deck business class (Chris McGinnis)

View over the A380′s enormous wing from main deck business class. There’s room for 469 passengers on this big bird: 14 giant first class “suites”, 97 business class seats, 55 premium economy seats and 303 economy seats. First and business class seats are at “the front of the plane” on both the main (lower) and upper decks.  (Chris McGinnis)

 

These are two "suites" at the rear of of the first class section. Window suites have two windows with electronic ally controlled shades. All first class seats have their own closet for coats and shoes. (Chris McGinnis)

These are two “suites” at the rear of of the first class section; configured 1-2-1. Window suites angle outward toward to windows with electronically controlled shades. In full flat recline, the seat is 7 feet long. Nice: each seat has its own valet closet for hanging suits or coats and storing shoes. When it’s time to bed down, flight attendants make up the bed with a feather bed pad that lies on top of the seat, swathed in an all cotton comforter and full sized pillows. (Chris McGinnis)

 

British Airways trademark Yin-Yang seats are both forward and rear facing. To avoid awkward eye contact, a translucent privacy screen rises between seats after take off (Chris McGinnis)

British Airways trademark Yin-Yang business class seats are both forward and rear facing, configured 2-4-2. (Chris McGinnis)

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The translucent privacy screen allow flight attendants to see through when looking down at window seat passenger (Chris McGinnis)

To avoid awkward face-to-face eye contact, a translucent privacy screen rises between seats after take off. This screen allows flight attendants to see through when looking down at window seat passenger (Chris McGinnis)

 

At this angle (looking toward seat mate) view is obscured in BA business class (Chris McGinnis)

At this angle (looking toward seat mate) view is obscured in BA business class (Chris McGinnis)

 

In economy class, seats are configured 3-4-3. Each seat has a large video screen with hundreds of options (Chris McGinnis)

In economy class, seats are configured 3-4-3. Standard economy pitch is 31 inches. In premium economy, pitch it 38 inches. Each seat has a large video screen with hundreds of entertainment options (Chris McGinnis)

 

Similar to Virgin America's Red system, passengers can send text messages between seats on British Airways A380 (Chris McGinnis)

Similar to Virgin America’s seatback Red system, passengers can send text messages between seats via “High Life Chat” on British Airways A380 (Chris McGinnis)

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Wow! Check out the superb presentation of "Herb roasted organic chicken with a morel fava & pancetta ragout" for first class passengers (Chris McGinnis)

Wow! Check out the superb presentation of “herb roasted organic chicken with a morel fava & pancetta ragout” for first class passengers (Chris McGinnis)

 

This is "12 month aged serrano ham with roasted tomato timbale & shallot dressing" in first class (Chris McGinnis)

This is “12 month aged serrano ham with roasted tomato timbale & shallot dressing” in first class (Chris McGinnis)

 

A business class starter: "Oxspring cured ham with spiced black fig & goat's curd salad." (Chris McGinnis)

A business class starter: “Oxspring cured ham with spiced black fig & goat’s curd salad.” (Chris McGinnis)

 

No problem with carry on space on this big bird-- the A380 has some of the largest overhead bins I've ever seen. My briefcase is dwarfed by the space! (Chris McGinnis)

No problem with carry on space on this behemoth– the A380 has some of the largest overhead bins I’ve ever seen. My briefcase is dwarfed by the space! (Chris McGinnis)

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Check out this wall of Global Entry kiosks at the new international terminal at LAX. 13 in all! I was through customs in 3 minutes! (Chris McGinnis)

Check out this wall of Global Entry kiosks at the new international terminal at LAX. 13 in all! I was through customs in 3 minutes! (Chris McGinnis)

Chris McGinnis

(Disclosure: I was a guest of British Airways on this journey)

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And just in case you missed it, here’s what else you need to know about Bay Area Travel over the last month:

>Double Miles on United & Southwest

>$100 hotels in NYC 

>Two posh new lounges coming to SFO 

>Airline cat fight benefitting TravelSkills Readers 

>8 things to like about Delta’s new California Shuttle

>Clock is ticking on latest Fall/Winter nationwide fare sale

>United’s newer, thinner seat

>Delta dumps SFO-Tokyo flight

>Slideshow of the swish new Star Alliance lounge at LAX

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  • Bob

    Did you have to stop and show your documents to CBP after using the kiosk, or were you able to keep walking straight to baggage claim?

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Hey Louis: Lufthansa is in the process of replacing the current angled lie flat seats w true lie flat, but not on the A380s yet….

  • Louis Bonsignore

    Did LH ever fix the business class seats? I was in the 380 last year and it had angled not lie-flat seats.

    I went back to United after that

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Well now… you are very welcome! Thanks! — chris

  • Jack Ryan

    As usual, great report and superb reading.. Thank you

  • Jim Stokes

    I love flying these A380′s. I did a Lufthansa from FRA to SFO and was in business, row 3-4. Takeoff was so smooth and quite I swear it felt like a cruise ship leaving the dock. You didn’t know it happened. Did another flight, same airline, same route, and was in the last row, business class. While still smooth and abit louder on takeoff, definitely a bumpy landing. Regardless, I’d fly this plane business anytime!

  • http://www.travelskills.com/ Chris McGinnis

    Yep…pretty skeletal… but pretty!

  • Cleo

    Love it! Was Kate Moss really thin?

  • Scott

    Great report – thanks for the good info. I want one of those First suites!

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