Review of British Airways flight San Francisco London in Economy

Airline British Airways
Flight BA 286
Class Economy
Seat 83B
Aircraft Airbus A380-800
Flight time 09:05
Take-off 17 Nov 16, 20:35
Arrival at 18 Nov 16, 13:40
BA   #49 out of 128 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 664 reviews
By 4446
Published on 4th January 2017
Happy 2017!

Welcome to a new series that took me on an "around the world" itinerary last Nov. I planned this trip with a combination of free award miles and purchased tickets from airlines across all the three major alliances. My schedule is as follows:

SFO-LHR on BA Y - you are here.
LHR-ARN on BA Y - click here.
ARN-PRG on SK Y - click here.
PRG-CDG on OK Y - click here.
CDG-HND on JL F - click here.
HND-PEK on JL J - clcik here.
PEK-SFO on UA Y - click here.

I arrived by 18:00 at SFO on a Thu. night and the BA counter looked deceptively empty. I was hoping for a flight with a light load, especially without a neighbor but as it turned out no such luck for today's flight which was overbooked.

As a Oneworld Emerald I checked in at the F line and an agent greeted me and issued my boarding passes quickly. She asked if I knew the location of the BA Galleries lounge and I replied that I have visited it before, so she wished me a good flight.

BA counter.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 1photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 2

Next stop BA Terraces and upon entering I presented my credential to the receptionist. After a quick scan of the very crowded F section and the rest of the lounge I decided to leave and head to the CX counterpart. As a matter of fact, I've heard the receptionist refer a passenger to the CX lounge after I was checked due to the fullness of the lounge. It appears that the BA lounge in SFO is not capable of handling the volume of passengers for an A380.

BA Terraces. I did not attempt to take pictures of how crowded the lounge was.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 3 - copy

On my way to the CX lounge.

photo cx lounge  sfo 1photo cx lounge  sfo 2

Does QF have a lounge in SFO? Too bad it was closed but good to know.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 4 - copy

CX lounge.

photo cx lounge  sfo 3

I was checked in by an efficient agent and escorted to the showers right away after making my request. Over at the BA Terraces, I was asked to take a seat when I inquired about a shower because they wanted to make sure that someone was available to have the shower cleaned up and ready to use.


After I finished I returned the key to the receptionist and settled into one of the computer terminals.

There was a "F" section that was closed and off limits, so Oneworld Emerald members used the J section. The lounge never felt crowded.

Buffet area.


I had a bowl of dan dan noodles and a few bites of sandwiches.

photo cx lounge  sfo 32photo cx lounge  sfo 34

I left for the gate at about 45 min. before dept. and when I arrived it was a zoo. Boarding has already started and the gate agents announced that the flight was going to be full.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 5photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 6

I boarded early thanks to my Oneworld elite status and the jetbridge that I used was connected directly to the upper deck where two friendly FA's greeted me upon entering. I purposely chose row 83 which was the last row in the upper deck in hopes of having a better chance of getting an empty seat next to me. Unfortunately that approach proved to be unsuccessful and I had a sour individual as my neighbor. Good thing that I had an aisle seat but this guy made continual visits to the WC throughout the flight which was annoying. Perhaps the poor fellow suffered from prostrate problems, which in that case will make him the recipient of my deepest sympathies.

Speaking of seats, the pair of bulkhead seats in row 80 seem pretty spacious at first, but be warned that there is no overhead bin or window (or a misaligned one at best). Upon boarding I settled quickly in my seat 83B and was able to find space for my bags in the center bins because the ones on the side of the upper deck are not big enough to hold an average rollerbag carry on easily.

My seat.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 7photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 11


An envelope for spare change and earplugs were at each seat. BA no longer provides toothbrush and eye shades. The cost cutting measures are quite aggressive and evident.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 14photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 15

The two FA's assigned to my row were a joy to deal with. They were professional, friendly and smiling. After a quick take off the dinner service began with a choice of two dishes (chicken or pasta). Beverage service was offered first and it was a stand alone affair without any snacks or munchies.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 16

I had the chicken with was delivered with the foil wrap intact.

Black Forest gateaux for dessert.

After the meal service I decided to take a walk downstairs. The door was locked but the FA told me to just unlock it and proceed down if I wanted to. This was so different from AF where the gate was opened all the time.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 29photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 28

Lower deck with WC's in the back.

WC. I noticed that BA no longer provides disinfectant wipes inside their WC's. I guess this is another cost cutting measure.

Back upstairs and to the galley for some snacks. What snacks? The tuckbox with different candies has disappeared completely and only drinks were available. I never thought that I would say this, but even AA or UA would provide some nibbles along with the drinks. How the mighty have fallen.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 39photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 40

I tried to watch something but did not find anything to my liking, so I read and stretched my legs in between. Soon the second service began and this time the breakfast was an improvement for a change. Out of the West Coast, BA has decided to serve a hot meal instead of a continental breakfast. There was a choice between omelette or English breakfast. I opted for the English breakfast which still had eggs, so I wonder how different was the omelette. Anyways I found that my choice was satisfying and hit the spot.

We arrived early at the gate and was thankful for the extra time to clear security and go to the lounge. Upon disembarking I thanked one of the crew in Spanish who I suspected was from Spain and he shook my hand with a smile.

photo ba 286 sfo-lhr 46
See more


British Airways

Cabin crew10.0

Cathay Pacific Lounge


San Francisco - SFO


London - LHR



The BA lounge experience @ SFO was unfortunate and it was a shame that I couldn't enjoy it before my flight because it was insanely full. It's a good thing that they are able to send the overflow to the CX one. I guess the BA Terraces is not able to accommodate all premium passengers on a full A380.

The CX lounge was spacious and relaxing, especially after the renovation that it has gone through. The catering at the buffet was acceptable despite the lack of hot dishes, but at least the noodle station was available for those who wanted a heartier snack.

It was nice to fly another A380 and I just love the spaciousness of the airplane. The crew on this flight was great and that can make a difference on a long flight. Too bad that the plane was completely full. Catering was fine and it was nice to have a hot second meal. However, the cost cutting on BA is evident with the lack of a comfort pack containing eye mask and toothbrush. Also the lack of any snacks in between meals is disappointing.

Information on the route San Francisco (SFO) London (LHR)


  • Comment 380267 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Nice pictures from the CX lounge, I wonder if it is possible to expand the BA lounge?

    Sorry to hear about the situation with your seatmate.

    Meals look good, although the salad from the first meal looks a bit sad.

    Thanks for pointing out all the cost-cutting measures. I guess this is the "future" of air-travel.

    Looking forward to the rest of this series, especially for the ARN flights :).

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 380377 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi RI 777

      I doubt that the BA lounge can be further expanded. There is just not enough room where they are. I think having the option to go to the CX one is a good alternative. I personally think that the CX lounge is more pleasant.

      BA meals in Y is almost at the same level as AA. A salad with lettuce leaves is not a proper appetizer and notice the lack of cheese with crackers. At least AA still gives you that and a bottle of water. BA provides a semi decent dessert which is better than the package of cookies or brownie that one gets with AA, but the gap is closing.

      It's disheartening to see the amount of cutbacks at BA. Wait until you see the next segment from LHR-ARN.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • Comment 380288 by
    KL651 TEAM 4374 Comments

    Thanks for this FR.
    Without anything to nibble on with the first drink service, no snack in between meals and no more comfort pack, it seems BA is even below LH in terms of service.
    I'd be curious to see what the service is on an east coast flight...
    At least the meals remained pretty good. But still, it is outrageous that BA cut costs the year they made their highest profits...

    • Comment 380378 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi Etienne.

      i don't think that I will ever fly BA from the East Coast. I read that they were planning to give a chocolate as a second meal on those flights. Not sure if they are actually doing that it or not but I don't plan to find out.

      It seems ironic that all these drastic cutbacks are happening when BA is at its peak of profitability. I guess BA wants to rely on its name alone and don't feel the need to compete with more "generous" carriers.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  • Comment 380374 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4726 Comments

    Lovely report as always Adan! Good timing with your FR as I'll be on a BA A380 in a few weeks. Too bad about the BA lounge being too full, but I'm sure the CX lounge is much better from the looks of it. Although lounge hopping is always more fun! I think that a lot of BA's outstation lounges just aren't equipped to handle the volume of Premium pax on a full A380. I was at the BA lounge at IAD recently prior to the A380 departure and it was a zoo. I was lucky to find a seat at all. And the lounge was actually renovated and expanded in anticipation of the A380 service so I can imagine how crowded in can get in stations where the lounges weren't renovated.

    Always nice to score a seat on the upper deck on the A380 when flying Y. BA has a much bigger upper deck Y section than most other airlines flying the A380, which gives more opportunity for oneworld Elites to score a seat upstairs when flying Y.

    Too bad about the lack of snacks especially on these longer TATL flights from the West Coast. And yes, the cost cutting is evident--I heard BA got rid of the 2nd meal on TATL to/from the East Coast and replaced with B.O.B. I hope other airlines don't follow this example. Short TATL flights in Y are already rough enough as it is.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 380414 by
    Numero_2 SILVER 8619 Comments

    Thanks Adan and welcome back !

    The BA product is now just average, and I don't speak about the J class...

    Why did you choose the JL flight ex CDG rather than BOS

    • Comment 380424 by
      NGO85 1624 Comments

      "Why did you choose the JL flight ex CDG rather than BOS "
      - BOS-NRT is on a B788 with angle flat seats and no F cabin^^

    • Comment 380514 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Salut Clement.

      The drastic cutbacks in the BA Y product are pretty noticeable. I wonder how far they can go in their cost cutting approach.

      "Why did you choose the JL flight ex CDG rather than BOS "
      - It's simple. I had to go to PRG because I was meeting my family there. I then decided to look for a "F" award using AA miles and this was before AA decided to increase the redemption value of their awards. CDG-HND gave me the perfect excuse to make a stopover in CDG and continue on my way to HND, not to mention that there was availability in F. I didn't blink an eye and booked my award quickly.

      Thank you so much for commenting. Glad you be back in the land of the living. ;)

  • Comment 380429 by
    NGO85 1624 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR, Adan.

    Glad I picked the AA B77W service over the BA A380 service LAX-LHR later this month. The tray looks very sparse for both meals, but the hot breakfast is definitely a nice touch and similar to what Greg had reported on LH (IAH-FRA). The west coast TATLs are almost as long as the shorter TPACs so at least BA is doing the humane thing and serving 2 meals.

    I've only flown BA a handful of times, but their crews have always seemed to be very friendly. Maybe their cost cutting from service is going towards their paychecks ;)

    • Comment 380515 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi Michael.

      "Glad I picked the AA B77W service over the BA A380 service LAX-LHR later this month."
      - What are you doing flying Oneworld? I thought you were a loyal *A pax. ;) Having second thoughts? I think you made the right decision, especially when you take into consideration that connecting in LHR is not a walk in the park.

      "The tray looks very sparse for both meals, but the hot breakfast is definitely a nice touch"
      - It's getting more and more like a U.S. carrier. The decent dessert and hot breakfast on West Coast flights give BA a slight advantage, but the gap is closing.

      Thanks for your visit Michael.

      • Comment 380588 by
        NGO85 1624 Comments

        "What are you doing flying Oneworld? I thought you were a loyal *A pax. ;)"
        - Is it too late to admit that I flew DL to Spain last month to share the love ;) The upcoming AA trips to Europe are just to empty my mileage account before my status expires in February.

  • Comment 380513 by
    757Fan 501 Comments

    Great report, Adan and thanks for sharing! Wow, I didn't realize BA had done as much cost cutting as they have. It's nice that you got two meals, but no snacks with the initial beverage service? No snacks in the galley? Wow. I was thinking about flying BA again as it's been years since I last flew them, but I don't think I will now after seeing your report and reading some of the comments.

    Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

    • Comment 380516 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi Matthew.

      I never thought that I would say this, but at least on AA or UA, you can count on getting some munchies along with drinks after the meal service on a long haul flight. BA is really cutting back aggressively and that is not a good thing.

      Stay tune for more exciting flights. Thanks for passing by.

  • Comment 380615 by
    SMilano 1266 Comments

    Thanks Adan for this nice report as always :)
    Good timing with your FR as I'll be on a BA A380 in a few weeks as well as Kevin ! Personnaly from LAX :)
    I can have a good idea on what I'll have on my flight :)
    Do you know if the upper deck is available for free during the check-in online or you have an extra cost for non high status member ? :)
    I really like flying BA but the actual drastic cost cutting start to change my mind...
    Thanks for sharing ! See you soon

    • Comment 380712 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2295 Comments

      Hi Sebastien.

      I believe the upper deck should be available to anyone for free during online check-in. I saw passengers take their seats in the upper deck up to the moment that they closed the doors and as a matter of fact some of them had trouble finding overhead storage for their bags.

      Bring some snacks if you tend to get hungry after the meal service.

      Thanks for visiting.

  • Comment 381285 by
    Chibcha 425 Comments

    Thanks for sharing!

    I'll continue the prong of BA bashing, indeed is sad to see this airline decay. I recently flew LHR-MIA, BA failed to beat AF on the BOG-CDG and back flights...and I'd probably place it even below AV.

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