Marilyn Monroe checking in for the LAX-LHR flight

On September 24, British Airways (BA) launched their inaugural A380 (the largest commercial jetliner today) service between Los Angeles and London Heathrow, and I was extremely fortunate to have been an invited guest on that flight—and even luckier to sit up front in one of their First class open suites. Below are some of the plane’s features and a photo gallery from the first flight, which began at and includes photos of LAX’s brand-spanking new Tom Bradley International Terminal, which reopened on September 18.

British Airways A380

If you asked me what my favorite aircraft was, my answer has been Boeing’s 747-400 for the past 20 years. It’s just an incredible bird—but unfortunately, like everything, it has aged and is now outdated. Now my answer is the 777-300 and A380 (though I haven’t flown the new 747-800 yet). So when British Airways announced they were replacing some of their 747-400 planes with A380s I was excited.

A380 WorldTraveller Seat

British Airways has twelve Airbus A380s on order and the first two have already been delivered—and are currently flying what British Airways is billing “The Red Carpet Route – LAX-LHR.”  The next planes will be operating between London and Hong Kong starting October 22, 2013, and between London and Johannesburg starting February 12, 2014. BA has configured their A380s with four classes of service: First, Club World (Business), World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy), and World Traveler (Economy). Below are the seating details as I found them on                                          

                                        Pitch     Width      Seating details   

First                                     78           21               14 open suites

Club World                       73           25           97  flat bed seats

World Traveller Plus   38           18.5       55 standard seats

World Traveller             31           17.5       303 standard seats

British Airways’ A380 can carry 469 passengers and 23 crew members. First class is at the front of the main deck and has 14 open suites. There are 44 Club World (Business class) seats on the main deck with a 2-4-2 seating configuration and there are also 53 seats on the upper deck with a 2-3-2 seating configuration. The 303 World Traveller (Economy class) are split between both the main and upper decks. However, the 55 Premium Economy seats (World Traveller Plus) are on the upper deck. Every seat comes equipped with on-demand audio and video systems that have enough programming to keep anyone busy for the ten-hour flight (our flight was only 9:29 thanks to strong tailwinds.) British Airways has three flights a day between Los Angeles and London, but only one of them is on the A380, five days a week. But the schedule rotates, since so make sure you check the aircraft before booking a flight! I was on BA268, which departs LAX at 9:30pm (21:30) and arrives LHR the next day at 15:45 (3:45pm)

When I was handed the First class menu, I realized why our hosts were putting us up at The Langham London, one of London’s top hotels. It’s because British Airways has teamed up with that hotel’s chefs to create a scrumptious First and Business class menu that includes dishes like filet of beef with parsley crust. First class passengers can order the Langham’s five-course tasting menu, or just à la carte.

And since The Langham London is known as the birthplace of afternoon tea (they’ve been serving it since 1865), British Airways is also offering a range of sandwiches, artisanal pastries, warm homemade scones and a variety of treats that you can find at the hotel’s Palm Court.

How did I get upgraded?! British Airways A380 First class seat

Obviously, I didn’t get to experience all four classes of service but I plan to soon. It’s also difficult to turndown a First class ticket. I can fly economy anytime, but it’s not every day that you get to see what’s it like on the other side of the curtain. So here’s what it’s like to fly up front on “The Red Carpet Route,” where the walkup fare is a whopping $21,000 roundtrip. Related: Luxurious Tom Bradley International Terminal Opens at LAX

British Airways A380
The New Tom Bradley International at LAX
Inside Tom Bradley International at LAX
British Airways LAX Check-In Counter
British Airways A380 parked at LAX. Photo by JL Delezenne
One World First Class Lounge
Appetizers in One World First Class Lounge
Hot food in One World First Class Lounge
Inside The New Tom Bradley International at LAX
Departures Board in New Tom Bradley International at LAX
Departures Board in New Tom Bradley International at LAX
LAX Airport Workers handing out free bottled water since restaurants aren't opened yet
LAX Airport Worker handing out free soda since restaurants aren't opened yet
British Airways Gate to Celebrate LAX-LHR A380 Service
British Airways A380 Cupcakes
British Airways A380 Cupcakes
With Marylin Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and BA Flight Attendant at LAX
British Airways A380 Model Airplane at Gate
Marylin Monroe Checking For LAX-LHR Flight
British Airways A380 Stairs
A380 WorldTraveller Seat
British Airways A380 Business Class
British Airways A380 First Class
British Airways A380 First Class Seat
How Did I Get Upgraded?! British Airways A380 First Class Seat
Storage Compartment on British Airways A380 First Class
British Airways A380 Champagne in First Class
British Airways A380 Welcome Champagne in First Class
British Airways A380 First Class Open Suite
British Airways A380 Emergency Card
Looking Out of the British Airways A380 at LAX
British Airways A380 First Takeoff from LAX
British Airways First Class Amenity Kit
My Drink of Choice on British Airways A380
British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu Created by Langham London
British Airways A380 First Class Menu
Hot Towels on British Airways A380 First Class
British Airways A380 Sleeper Suits in First Class
British Airways A380 First Class Lav
British Airways A380 First Class Bathroom Sink
Johnny Jet Wearing his BA Sleeper Suit
British Airways A380 Entertainment System
British Airways A380 New Releases
British Airways A380 First Class Seats Allow for a Companion to Sit
Tomato Pesto Soup
Braised Beef on British Airways A380 in First Class
British Airways A380 First Class Sleeper Seat
British Airways A380 First Class Breakfast Menu
Breakfast is Served on British Airways A380 in First Class
English Breakfast on British Airways A380 in First Class
British Airways A380 First Class Suite
British Airways A380 First Class Remote Controlled Window Shades
View from Windon on British Airways A380
Circling Around LHR
Fast Track Card
Landed at LHR! British Airways Planes
British Airways 747 from an A380
British Airways 747
British AirwaysTails at LHR
British AirwaysTails at LHR

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5 Comments On "British Airways' New A380 LAX-LHR Red Carpet Route"
  1. thepixinator|

    I have mixed feelings about this post. On the positive side, that’s a beautiful aircraft, and it looks like the inaugural flight was lots of fun. I love the photos; they really bring the trip report to life.
    It saddens me, though, to see that the chasm between first and coach classes has widened so greatly, mirroring the widening of the gap between the top 1% in America and everyone else. The seat pitch in coach is less than half that of first. I don’t think it’s possible to take a long-haul flight in coach anymore without seriously considering the possibility of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) . I also think the odds of getting a life-altering spinal injury in the event of an emergency have increased dramatically if you are sitting in coach, because there’s no room to assume the “brace” position properly. Look at the unusual pattern of spine injuries from Asiana crash this summer. Today’s aircraft remind me of the Titanic – an enormous vessel that those in steerage couldn’t hope to get out of alive.
    If I could have my own airline I’d have an all-business class long-haul aircraft for overseas flights with a price that was always the same, like $900, with no fees. The consumer would always know what they were getting, and what they were paying for it. It seems like the pricing strategies are part of the problem in cost, with constant airfare wars plus fee add-ons that make it so unpredictable. I’d also make it possible for everyone to fly in safety and comfort. It’s kind of a no-brainer when you think about it, like the Jet Blue or Porter of international flights.

    1. Michael Fawcett|

      Well said.

  2. Rhod Shaw|

    Totally agree with thepixinator. I recently travelled to Hong Kong in the cheap seats of the A380 & I found the experience rather claustrophobic & uncomfortable. The upright position on the seating was bolt upright & the reclined angle wasn’t great either. The comment regarding the ability to assume the brace position is totally valid but I would assume that the aircraft would not be granted a certificate if it was deemed an impossibility. I walked away from the experience with rather stiff knees & a twinge in my lower back. To be honest, I’ve travelled in more comfortable short-haul.

  3. albana|

    I’m going everywhere I can to ask this question! When BA originally started flying this monstrosity on the LHR-LAX-LHR route I balked. I immediately wrote to them to let them know there was no way I was getting on that thing. I asked if they were going to keep at least one 747 on the route to which the reply was there was actually going to be only flight a week on the A380. I breathed a sigh of relief only to start perusing the summer flights and discover not one 747. I’ve now written twice to them and still haven’t gotten a straight answer: Are they going to bring back at least one 747 by the summer of 2015? Does anyone know?

    1. long haul flyer|


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