Trip Report Index:
- Introducing and Strategy
- New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, Etihad First Class
- Park Hyatt Dubai
- Touring the Burj al Arab
- Tea at the Burj al Arab
- Abu Dhabi – Male, Etihad Business Class
- Male – Kaadedhdhoo, Maldivian and Transfer to the Park Hyatt
- Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
- Kooddoo-Male-Abu Dhabi, Maldivian and Etihad Business Class
- Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf – London, Etihad First Class and British Airways Club Europe
- London Heathrow – San Francisco, British Airways New First Class
The transit process – though requiring two buses to make it from a terminal 1 bus gate over to terminal 5 – was pretty straightforward. Once at T5 I had to go through an immigration queue before getting to the security checkpoint. They hadn’t handed out Fast Track cards on the flight from Dusseldorf, but I wasn’t asked for one, my British Airways premium cabin boarding pass was sufficient. There wasn’t any line for immigration, so it was straight through and then up the escalator to security where there was a brief wait.
Once through security I turned right and it’s a direct straight-line walk over to the Concorde Room. They were confused by my Etihad-issued boarding pass at first, but once they realized it was for British Airways first class they let me through.
Once inside I showed my boarding pass again at the inside of the door, and then walked over to the Quintessentially desk as I had pre-booked a Cabana for my time in the lounge.
I had booked these tickets towards the end of 2012, and made the reservation at that time by emailing the folks at YouFirst. The bookings have to be made by hand in the book at the Quintessentially desk, this saved me a phone call but added a potential failure point into the process. So I verified my booking on my previous time through the lounge in January.
I was escorted over to an empty cabana, which is a small room with relaxing chair, television, desk, and shower.
There’s a food menu in the lounge, and they’ll bring you whatever you wish, although of course the food in the Concorde Room isn’t very good (something consistent across all of my visits there) and the internet is gltchy (dropping signals, taking a long time to connect, something unique to my 2013 visits).
Since I was leaving from a remote gate in Terminal 5 I didn’t have all that much time to spend in the Concorde Room – really just enough time for a shower, a snack, and a few minutes fighting with the internet connection. About 45 minutes prior to the flight I departed the lounge to head over to the gate, which meant taking the terminal 5 train over.
Once I got there the lines for boarding the 747 were backed up down the terminal. And that was the ‘fast track’ line, since we had a 747 with over 80 business class seats in addition to first class, and all of the elites not in business or first had access as well, plus turning up as one of the last people at the gate area despite making it to the gate better than 30 minutes to departure.
They weren’t quite ready to board us, either, so we stood around for around 10 minutes, and then the floodgates were opened and pushing and shoving ensued. I thought I was in Italy, and not Britain.
I love the British Airways new first class cabin, which I knew this flight would have once I saw that it was a 747 with the large capacity business class as I understand all of those have been converted. It’s a gorgeous, classy cabin. But I much prefer the feel of their new first class in the 777 for some reason. It’s also important to note that for a couple traveling together, you definitely want the last row in the cabin with two seats together in the center section. The row ahead of it, because of lack of width of the aircraft so close into the nose, doesn’t have any privacy — it’s the same seat but without any structure hiding you on the outside that you use to get in and out — you’d be basically on display to the rest of the cabin, and the seat feels narrower as well.
The row behind is much better, though! And much more like the center seats on the 777s.
Amenity kits were distributed along with pajamas, and I changed into mine prior to takeoff.
The menu for the flight was as follows:
Timbale of lobster with fresh Devon crab in a light currie mayonnaise with mango and cucumber salad
White and green asparagus with a chervil and truffle sauce
A light cream soup of pea and fresh mint
Fresh seasonal salad with your choice of vinaigrette dressing with golden rapeseed oil or creamy herb dressing
Char-grilled fillet of British beef with Madeira and bearnaise sauce, wild mushrooms, broccoli florets and chunky chips
Roasted fillet of sustainably-sourced Severn and Wye code with plum tomato, caper and thyme sauce, cannelini beans and Mediterranean vegetables.
Braised Buckhurst Estate venison with juniper and rosemary sauce, root vegetables and herb dumplings
Moroccan corn-fed chicken on a quinoa, pomegranate and wild rice salad
Macaroni with red pepper pesto, chili and basil cream sauce
Warm salted beef and Swiss cheese Manoucher slice with pickled cucumber
A selection of biscuits
A selection of cheese and fruit
White chocolate and mango cannelloni with layered blackcurrant terrine
Pear and thyme tarte Tatin with caramel sauce and cinnamon custard
Ice Cream Sundae
Custom made to your preference of ice cream, sauces, and toppings. Please ask your cabin crew for today’s choices.
Mull of Kintyre
I was so tired I simply laid down after my desert was cleared and didn’t even wait to have my bed made.
After spending an entire day awake in Abu Dhabi, heading to the airport for a 2am departure, flying to Europe without a nap and then onward to London, I really wasn’t in the best of sorts and my memory of the flight itself is limited except for one crucial detail that made it great: I slept a solid 6 hours, and woke up just before they began serving afternoon tea about an hour and a half out from San Francisco.
An individual selection of sandwiches featuring smoked salmon, salted beef with horseradish and watercress, hummus with carrot and coriander and egg mayonnaise with mustard cress
Mozzarella and sun-dried tomato savoury Danish pastry
Plain or fruit scones served warm with clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Banana chocolate square, blackcurrant cremeux with pistachio jelly and lim and basil macaroon
Once tea service was done I changed out of my pajamas, read for a bit, and started worrying that I had slept too much that I wouldn’t be able to sleep on arrival once I made it to the airport Hyatt Regency. The next day I had the wedding of MegaDO organizer Tommy Danielsen, and I expected that to go late into the night!
But I made it straight through immigration and out to the hotel’s shuttle, into my room quickly enough, and didn’t really have any problem getting to bed. I did wake up around 3am after another six hours but I caught up on work before grabbing a rental car to drive out to Sacramento. I was immediately returned to my normal sleep patterns after that without any delay. For some reason I find it easier to return to the U.S. and adjust to the time than I do to sleep proper hours immediately on arrival in Asia.