One Mile at a Time, who has called British Airways first class ‘the world’s best business class product,’ finally relents a bit and says that BA first class is pretty decent if you set your expectations appropriately.
I’ve pushed back on Lucky when he’s called BA first class a good business product, although in fairness I think he first said it after flying BA’s 747 which I do find to be less good than what they offer in other aircraft. The forward pair of two seats is actually completely open to the cabin and I can hardly call it first class.
BA first isn’t the sort of ‘customized’ service that you get on many airlines. Their food isn’t as high-end or varied. They offer respectable champagne, for sure.
Their amenity kits and pajamas are quality.
And the cabin is just darned good looking.
I do agree with his analysis, though, that the lack of storage space is a drawback and also that the Concorde Room at London Heathrow is quite poor. They offer cabanas which you pretty much need to reserve in advance (and risk their losing your booking) and that lets you have a shower or just close yourself off from the world. You can order food into your cabana, but the food isn’t good so I’m not sure why you’d want to. The experience is nowhere near Cathay Pacific’s cabanas at the Wing in Hong Kong. But it’s something.
Lucky makes one claim, though, that I don’t think is right, that’s probably not well understood, and where clarifying could be useful to some.
He writes about British Airways,
They’re also the only major airline in the world with a first class product for which you can’t redeem miles through any major program without paying fuel surcharges.
I don’t think this is right.
Here’s the less helpful piece. There are certainly other major airlines in the world with a first class product where you cannot redeem miles through any major program, or cannot do so without paying a fuel surcharge.
- Air France first class is only redeemable by their own Flying Blue elites, with fuel surcharges. I do note that the Korean Air award chart has footnotes showing prices for Air France economy/business only in most cases, but they publish a price in first class for Tokyo – Noumea on Air France — but that’s a codeshare flight operated by Aircalin that has no first class cabin.
- Korean Air first class — every Skyteam partner that allows first class redemptions also adds fuel surcharges onto awards where they’re also on paid tickets (Aerolineas Argentinas doesn’t add fuel surcharges to awards, but doesn’t allow first class redemptions). Korean has non-Skyteam partners that do not add fuel surcharges to awards, like Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska. However Alaska and I believe Hawaiian do not permit redemption in first class, business is the top cabin offered.
- No major airline frequent flyer program for Transaero Imperial Class. They were a british midland partner, but bmi used to allow redemptions in business and economy but not first.
That’s merely a technical disagreement, and not useful.
Here’s the one point that may be actionable: you can redeem BA F without fuel surcharges using LAN kilometers.
And Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints transfer to LAN at 1:1.5.
I haven’t done it within the past year, but I’ve booked British Airways awards using LAN’s Lanpass kilometers without fuel surcharges.
You used to be able to price BA awards on the Lanpass website, even, provided it was for travel on a route not served by LAN.
Roundtrip awards are required (no one ways) but a stopover or open jaw is permitted with most partners and the open jaw combined with frustratingly clueless agents can be used to manufacture something close to a one-way.
You measure the distance of each flight segment to determine the price of that flight.
Washington Dulles – London Heathrow is 5917 kilometers one-way. So the price in first class for that segment is 125,000 points. A roundtrip on that route is 250,000 points. But with no fuel surcharges.
This isn’t a great value, but someone Starpoints rich and looking to conserve cash might consider this useful. Still, BA first class isn’t the first product I’d be looking for. And dealing with LAN is a frustrating prospect, for me at least.
LAN charges the same for any segment between 5000 and 10,000 kilometers. So Los Angeles – London would be that same 125,000 points each way, and so would London – Hong Kong (London – Singapore is a smidge too far and bumps up into the next mileage band).
Shorter-distance flights are more reasonable. If you could stick to just 5000 kilometers (~ 3107 miles) each way, you’d pay just 67,000 points each way for 134,000 points roundtrip with no fuel surcharges.
- 73,000 Starwood points, transferred at a 1:1.5 ratio, and with Starwood’s 5000 point bonus for each 20,000 kilometers received, would yield 134,500 LAN kilometers.
No U.S. route works, but shorter BA first class routes would.
I’d love to hear from folks that have done this within the last 12 months, with more recent experience than mine.
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