A non-vintage English sparkling rose is being poured – alongside Taittinger Brut Millesime 2004 – in British Airways First Class. The wine is the Balfour Brut Rosé, made at the 400-acre Hush Heath, Kent. The owner, entrepreneur Richard Balfour-Lynn, is an interesting fellow – his company MWB owns hotels, including the Hôtels du Vins and Malmaisons around UK, and he personally is co-owner of the brilliant Fox & Anchor pub near Smithfield, London.
I was offered a glass of the pink bubbly when I boarded BA 086, one of two daily Vancouver to London flights (great timing, you leave 1755 and arrive at 1100 next morning). I was thrilled to find this particular 747 had one of the new-look First cabins.
Wow, there cannot be any more stylish way of flying, scheduled rather than your own private Citation-X, than this. The 14 First seats are set five down each side, and two pair in the centre. I was 1-A, the most far forward on the left side. Gone is the natural wood-look. Now it is sleek, computer-look paired with ‘private yacht’ interiors. Each person’s back-confine curves around, for more privacy, and in the outside of that extra curve is the hanging closet of whoever is behind.
I loved, of course, having proper electric sockets, to take UK or US plugs, and personal lighting is now a dinky little wall-set light above your head, for reading, complemented by two individual overhead lights. The screen is almost as big as my television at home and, joy of joy, you have a venetian blind, behind glass, that covers far more than your two porthole windows.
Style is also a proper navy sleep suit, and an Anya Hindmarch toilet bag with beige socks that will later become perfect hiking companions for my Brasher boots. Dinner was preceded by cocktails with nuts. I started my deliberately-simple meal with a healthy salad, went on to penne. Others chose Alaskan halibut, or rack of lamb, or chicken marsala or a main course salad with roast beef.
And when night came, my seat easily turned into a really-flat, absolutely-horizontal bed, with a white padded mattress, a white duvet and, if I needed it, a grey cashmere blanket. I woke at a lucky time, to find the nearer of the two dedicated First washrooms free (I like this one as it has a real window, the rear washroom does not).
Joy of joys, they now offer you coffee in proper mugs, oh so much easier to handle than elegant afternoon-tea-type cups. And the final thought from this great flight: the three flight attendants in this cabin made the whole experience a true luxury flight.