My epic Australian trip ended with a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is somewhere I have briefly visited before, and I have wanted to return to for quite some time. One of the influential factors in deciding to spend a week in Kuala Lumpur on my return home was to sample something very special on my return flight. Just over a year ago British Airways announced that after many years they would recommence their London to Kuala Lumpur service. It was announced that the service would be operated by their brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, and with an upgraded, more exclusive First Class cabin. As soon as I heard about this I just knew I had to book British Airways First Class from Kuala Lumpur back to London Heathrow.
British Airways First Class from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow
British Airways Check-in
I arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) a couple of hours before departure and to be honest the check-in area was slightly oddly laid out. There were lanes for bag drop, economy and Club World, but First was lacking a lane. Instead there was more of just a sign next to the Club World queue. I waited by the sign, and was promptly called to the counter as soon as the customer already at check-in in had finished. As I approached I did have a couple of disgruntled Club World passengers comment that I was queue jumping and one even confronted me about it, so I guess it was as confusing for them as it was for me. Apart from that, check-in was a breeze. At KLIA First and Business Class passengers also have an express immigration queue which is a bonus.
The Lounge at KLIA
As British Airways only operate a once daily service to and from Kuala Lumpur, there is unfortunately no British Airways lounge. As a One World airline you are invited to use the Malaysia Airlines Business and First Gold Lounges. I used only the First lounge which was very elegantly decorated, quite large, but the seats were very sparsely laid out. There was food, soft drinks and hot drinks available on the buffet, but you had to either request alcohol or visit the bar in the Business Class lounge. If you fancied a hot meal, there was a small dining room with full table service, just as you enter the First lounge. I didn’t use this though as I had only about an hour to wait, and I planned to eat on the flight.
Boarding started around 45 minutes before departure, with the First Class passengers being offered to board first, along with passengers requiring assistance. I was about the third person to board, and on my arrival in the aircraft I was welcomed on board, shown to my seat and promptly supplied with a glass of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle. For the first 10 minutes I was the only person in the First Class cabin, so I took the opportunity to take a few photos of the seats and cabin, as these new semi-closed suites are much different to the older seats found on the 777 and 747.
British Airways First Class Seat
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
The new First suites are much more spacious in the 787-9 than in the 777 and 747 as they have made them into more of a square shape, rather than the standard Herringbone which they have replaced. There is a small side seat which doubles up as a locker for shoes or luggage, but because there is now a fixed 23 inch fixed screen at the end of the seat located right above the foot rest, you can no longer use the footrest as a buddy stool. When it’s time to sleep, the seat stretches out to form a spacious 6ft 6 inch flat bed, and soon after the crew will make your bed and provide you with a luxurious quilted mattress and a crisp white cotton duvet and pillow.
A spacious side table runs along the length of the suite and has a small decorative lamp. This side table also houses the main dining table, and a built in panel for seat and light controls. The entertainment remote and charging sockets can now be found in a small storage cupboard right next to the hand rest, along with a built in magazine rack. There is also a small storage locker for valuables located right next to the seat which has a vanity mirror on the inside of the door. There is a convenient button alongside one of the two windows which electrically controls the dimming of both windows. A divider is in lieu of the windows for passengers seated in the two middle seats. A small reading light is mounted on the exterior wall closest to the seat, and the wall the other side of the suite entrance is a bit chunkier because it houses a small wardrobe for jackets and coats, which conveniently opens up into the suite.
First Class Cabin
Unlike British Airways’ other long haul aircraft, the 787-9 has only 8 First Class suites, instead of 14 seats which the rest of the fleet have. The new suites are much more refined in detail and much more spacious. Because of the smaller cabin it has more of an exclusive feel to it, as it’s not as crowded as British Airways other aircraft. The First cabin has kept the same elegant cream, silver and navy blue colour scheme which really does look the part.
Food and drink
A delicious mix of sumptuous wines and champagnes are on offer, paired with a delicious menu of fine cuisine, served on a beautifully dressed table with fine crockery and stylish glassware. My Flight departed Kuala Lumpur shortly before midnight, so dinner was served not long after take off allowing maximum time for sleep before arriving in London. As one of British Airways recent cost-cutting exercises, the amuse-bouche was removed from the First class service, so I unfortunately missed out on this, but I hear it’s being reintroduced, hopefully before my next First flight later this year.
I enjoyed chicken satay with cashew nut sauce, rice cake and fresh cucumber to start, with a glass of the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle. Followed by grilled fillet of Australian black Angus beef with braised apple and silver onion jus, honey-roasted pumpkin and herb sautéed gnocchi and artichoke for my main course, along with a glass of Chateaux La Confession 2011, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux. For desert I enjoyed a trio of passion-fruit and mascarpone cake, strawberry tart and hazelnut praline and truffle chocolate torte, with another glass of Champagne, then I finished with a selection of cheese paired with a glass of Warre’s 2000 Colheita Tawny Port.
I could not fault a single part of the meal, it was all executed with perfection, in taste and appearance. For breakfast I started with a seasonal fruit salad, followed by a mixed grill of scrambled egg, beef tenderloin, lamb noisette, smoked chicken sausage, fried potatoes and grilled tomato.
On Board Entertainment
I don’t tend to watch much TV while I’m in the air, maybe if the flight is quite long I may watch a film or two, but that’s about it. I much prefer to have a moving map and flight information displayed on the screen. The screens on the 787-9 have had a significant upgrade from 15 to 23 inches which is nice, but I’m not sure if I prefer a bigger screen or a buddy seat which the new screen replaces. For those who do enjoy the onboard entertainment there are endless choices, from films to documentaries, tv shows and music. Audio books and games are also available and there is a USB socket to connect your own devices such as iPads, laptops, phones or digital cameras to the screen.
There is more than enough storage space for each passenger in the first class cabin. As well as the storage which I mentioned in the seat section, the 787-9 also has one whole overhead bin per passenger.
First Class Amenities
British Airways is in the process of rolling out new Liberty London amenity bags for First, however they were not yet available on my flight, so I received the same style bag which I had received on my trip to Miami in First a couple of years ago. Each passenger is also provided with a pair of soft cotton pyjamas.
British Airways First Class Onboard perks
Apart from the new stunningly luxurious and spacious First suites there are unfortunately no additional onboard perks such as onboard bars, luxurious toilets or onboard showers like the ones that are offered by some other carriers.
Disembarking the 787-9
Upon arrival the front door of the aircraft was not used, and because there are a couple of rows of Club World seats in between the First cabin and the 2nd door we had to wait until the Club World passengers in those seats had left before we could disembark.
Arrival at Heathrow Terminal 5
Unlike at Kuala Lumpur airport, at London Heathrow Terminal 5 there is no fast track immigration lanes available for UK/EU passengers, so I had to queue in the regular e-gate lane for passport control. Having to queue for passport control meant that my baggage was already on the collection belt when I arrived to collect it. After I had collected my baggage I proceeded to the British Airways arrival lounge, where, as a First passenger I was invited to enjoy breakfast in the luxurious Concorde breakfast room. I enjoyed a delicious serving of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with a latte before heading home.
My Conclusion of British Airways First Class
I’ve recently flown on Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways Business Class, and their Business Class products are almost as good as British Airways First Class, and miles ahead of Club World. For me, flying British Airways First Class is a real treat, a treat that I enjoy as often as I can. I know that other carriers are light years ahead of British Airways with their offerings, but for me it’s the impeccable service and the quintessential Britishness of flying British Airways First Class.