I had flown 824 segments on commercial aircraft before this flight, out of which 690 were in economy, 33 in premium economy and 101 in business but zero in first. I finally collected enough Avios as a member of the British Airways Executive Club to be able to book a one-way flight in first class from London-Gatwick to Bermuda. I booked in March 2019 for a flight in January 2020.
Most British Airways long-haul flights leave from Heathrow but many of the leisure / Caribbean services including Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Cancún, Grenada, Kingston, Port of Spain, Providenciales, Punta Cana, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, San José (Costa Rica) and Tobago use Gatwick as a hub. Only five destinations are served by First Class: Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Port of Spain and St Lucia.
BA's First Class is normally considered to be less good than its competitors such as Air France, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Qantas, Singapore or Swiss. It's also usually less expensive. If you take a city pair with no direct flights with first class such as Oslo to New York a return flight will cost 2995€ with British but about 4400€ with Lufthansa or Swiss and 5500€ with Air France.
The flight to Bermuda is unusual because it has no real competition (this is the only direct flight from Europe) and there's a lot of direct traffic (as opposed to connecting passengers) including a lot of high-yield business and first customers. Despite Bermuda having only a population of only 72,000 this flight makes the fourth highest revenue for BA in business class from London for direct flight bookings only (behind the routes to New York JFK, Singapore and Boston) (source: anna.aero).
British Airways uses the South Terminal at Gatwick.
Check-in is at the left end. Waiting time was zero and I was checked in in 30 seconds.
Priority security is of course available and was very quick. To go to the lounge turn left after security. You'll reach the restaurant area on the 4th floor. Go to the other side and go up to the 5th floor.
British Airways has both a business and a first lounge at Gatwick. The first class lounge is to the left.
My first impression was that I thought I had gone the wrong way and I was in the business lounge, not in the first. The lounge didn't look any different from an average business lounge and it was crowded. This was the only part of the lounge where there were no people so I could take a photo.
The best thing about the lounge was the apron (and runway) view.
I arrived to the lounge at about 11.45. The breakfast spread was being removed from the tables. The bar was self-service only - not very first class.
Soft drinks and beer.
The choice of wine and champagne was very limited.
Buffet lunch was offered from noon.
Menu cards were put on the tables. The first difference I could notice compared to a business lounge: I could order food to be brought to my table.
I managed to find a waitress and ordered a burger which was very good.
I had a glass of champagne with it.
The British Airways First Class Lounge at Gatwick was altogether disappointing. The Clubrooms by No1 Lounges available for all passengers for a fee of £38 offer a superior experience.
Boarding was from gate 36. A lot of passengers seemed to know each other, probably Bermudans going home from their end of the year holiday in the UK.
The view of our plane from the boarding area:
I was the first to board. I was welcomed at the door and shown the way to my seat. I could take photos as I was alone in the cabin for a few minutes.
Configuration is 1+2+1 with four rows on the two sides and three rows in the middle, so a total of 14 seats. Load on this flight was 11/14. The aisle seats are of course the best for solo travellers.
The pairs of seats in the middle are ideal for couples but can also be completely separated by a curtain.
A cabin crew member came to my seat, introduced herself and asked if I wanted champagne, orange juice or water. I ordered some champagne which was served with warm nuts.
The seat was very comfortable. While it was not very large it offered very good back and side support. It reminded me more of a luxury sport car seat than an armchair.
A reading lamp at the seat.
The remote control for the lights and the seat.
The windows are quite different than in most other aircraft. There are two of them next to each other but one of them (the nearest in case of seat 2A) is missing which means that you don't have a good view outside unless you lean forward from your seat. At the same time the design and the mood lighting of the windows are nice and you can remotely control the window blinds. The view from the seat with the window blinds open and closed:
This is how you can open or close the window blinds.
Headphones and blanket were waiting at the seat.
The content of the amenity kit:
An expected flight time of 7 hours and 40 minutes was announced.
Push-back was at 14.20, exactly on time. Take-off was at 14.40.
Drink orders were taken 25 minutes after take-off. Here's the complete drink menu:
I ordered a kir royal which was served with canapés. A cold towel was offered at the same time.
Let's have a look at dining onboard this London-Gatwick to Bermuda flight on British Airways First Class
Onley Oak beef carpaccio, octopus, smoked cherry tomatoes, Tewkesbury grain mustard dressing Roasted heirloom carrots and squash, goat's curd, toasted walnuts, orange vinaigrette Seabass with sweetcorn and Mascarpone risotto, red pepper confit and basil oil White onion soup, ham hock bonbon and sage crème fraîche Seasonal mixed leaf salad Spicy lemon vinaigrette or creamy honey mustard dressing
Onley Oak ribeye steak, vine cherry tomatoes, baby watercress, beef jus Roasted monkfish, tadka dal, curry leaf and mustard coconut sauce, pickled carrots Orchard Farm pork belly, carrot purée with star anise, thyme jus and glazed pearl onions Pan-fried goat's cheese gnocchi, wild mushroom ragoût, cauliflower crisps, sage oil
The meal was varied, creative, plentiful and tasty. Service was professional, polite, efficient and friendly.
I slept very comfortably for about two hours after lunch.
Mood lighting in the cabin with the flight map reflecting from my screen.
Flight information two hours and 22 minutes before landing.
Later I watched some movies: there are a total of 238 movies and 214 TV shows available. The choice is excellent and everyone should be able to find something interesting. All four classes (first, business, premium economy and economy) offer the same in-flight entertainment.
A snack was offered one hour before landing. Cold cuts: somked free-range chicken, Blue Monday cheese, caramelised pear and walnuts, apple dressing.
We landed at Bermuda at 18.20 for a scheduled arrival time of 18.10.
I was one of the first to deplane. Immigration can be slow at Bermuda but I was in a taxi about 10 minutes after landing.
Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory 5500 kms from London but only 1200 kms from New York. It's a small territory of only 53 square kms and a population of 72,000 people. The population is extremely varied: some people have Caribbean, British, American (many of them the southern states) or Portuguese (including Azorean and Madeiran) origins.
It has a subtropical climate. The temperature in January was about 16 °C.
The capital "city" of Hamilton has a population of 1,000.
There are a lot of churches everywhere. About 15 different religions are followed by at least 1% of the population each.
The Front Street in Hamilton.
St George's is a small town originally settled in 1612 with a lot of colorful buildings.
Alexandra Battery Park is an old fortress in St George's.
There are small beaches all over Bermuda.
Thank you for reading my flight report and please feel free to comment.
British Airways FIRST Lounge
London - LGW
Hamilton - BDA
While the British Airways First Class Lounge at Gatwick South was a disappointment as it was not much more than an average business lounge, the on-board experience was faultless: very comfortable seat; nice mood lighting; varied, creative, plentiful and tasty catering; attentive, professional, friendly and polite cabin crew; and an in-flight entertainment with a modern screen and a huge choice of movies and TV shows, including 35 aviation themed videos. Overall it was a great first experience in first class.
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