Time for a real luxury flight. London Heathrow to Hong Kong was the ticket, in this case. First to my Heathrow home, Terminal Five’s complex of lounges, South.
There is one more regimented lounge, with excellent à la carte dining, and another (with a pair of Mooi horse sculptures at the entrance) that looks out over the tarmac and offers buffet, from a Champagne bar with Laurent-Perrier through to a fully-fledged main meal buffet.
They also bring bespoke dishes on request. I coincided with a couple of young friends tucking into really attractive salads.
British Airways First is actually emphasizing, inflight, Height Cuisine. This apparently maximises taste at high altitude, and the menu lists such items as parmesan and tomatoes. I hoped to find plenty of both last items.
First, I changed, in the washroom, into an airline sleep suit, navy with the airline’s Nike-like flash in cream (these sleep suits, like Emirates’ stone-coloured ones, make really good trekking or in-the-rough outfits if you are going on a strenuous activity trip). Then I settled into seat five-K, which had plenty of storage space. One corner nicely held reading material and a glass of Laurent-Perrier – this time, onboard, it was Grand Siècle.
An 11-hour flight whizzes by when you can lie flat. These luxury airline beds start as seats, and then go absolutely horizontal. Crew convert’em, with white mattress pads and duvets, and proper pillows, into beds acceptable for even the most discerning Queens of Sleep.
I also ate, magnificently. There was a foie gras terrine that must surely have fitted the umami (fifth taste) requirements of Height Cuisine, and there were such comfort foods as macaroni cheese, with sun-dried tomatoes. Getting right foods when flying is essential to be ‘inside luxury travel’.
Purely in the cause of professional duty I tried one of the wine list’s red offerings, The Laughing Magpie 2007, a South Australia Shiraz and Viognier blend from d’Arenberg, the winery started in 1912 by a teetotaller, Joseph Osborn, and now run by the fourth-generation, Chester Osborn. There is a sense of humour here, by the way: Chester Osborn’s output includes Dead Arm, The Hillbillies, The Musketeers Red and White …
British Airways is really upping its luxury product (the airline’s new brand management and customer service director, Frank van der Post, is a keynote speaker at the vital International Luxury Travel Market ILTM in Cannes, December 5-8 2011).
A passenger near me on this flight even toasted the early morning with another glass of Grand Siècle, but I stuck to juice and coffee. We arrived on time, the crew were still smiling.
Yes, a flight like this is just what a girl needs, from time to time. You arrive fresh, ready to go straight to a meeting, or to start attacking Hong Kong’s legendary retail.