OK: a good challenge, some thoughts from my perspective (though I don’t think we are saying anything new now on this thread. Maybe the moderator should put us out of our misery and close this now!)
I generally agree that BA does not lead in any single area of First:
Ground handling: LH leads the way here with a private terminal, which only proper 1st class fliers can access (and ‘Uber” FF). The Concorde lounge is very good too – but as others have noted, it can get busy, and you are still queuing with everyone else through security and to get on the plane. As for the Spa – I think this is personal taste. I don’t really want or need a sloppy oil experience, and thought the ‘chair’ was both innovative and did the job.
Cabin Environment: Personally I like space, and don’t need to be in my own private ‘box’. Yes I know this is pejorative, no – I’m not knocking those that have cabins for the sake of it ’cause BA doesn’t – it’s just not my taste. Clearly less people is better though, and here probably CX/SQ would get the nod. I don’t think loads of gold trimmings and mirrors and gadgets make for a nice environment, Less is more here, and attention to detail in the way things are put together will make a genuinely different feel. I hope BA Get this right
Seat: I think this is a zero sum discussion, Its not like Business class where there are so many ways to squeeze flat beds into the space available. Generally most leading providers give a seat that’s both as broad and wide as anyone needs, I don’t want to sit next to anyone, unless I happen to be flying with someone. So the choice is good.
Food: Its airline food. I don’t think it needs to be defined by luxury ingredients – my favourite meal recently was the chicken pudding. It was food I wanted to eat rather than food I wanted to be impressed by. If it’s the latter you are after then you need an airline that delivers lobster and caviar on every flight, which isn’t BA.
Wine: Again – i don’t think ‘named’ champagne equals the best quality. Krug, DP and Crystal are all very well, but its bit ‘bling’ to think that is what First class should always serve. There are better. BA gets this right. Again though – if you want names – fly another carrier
Service is about attention to detail and understanding what is needed, This is the one area which BA can lead and often does. Attentive and anticipatory, but not subservient.
As I’ve said – there is a balance to be struck here. Affordability and access versus premium. I dint think aiming for ‘the best you can possibly have’ is appropriate, either for these times, or indeed because of the price implications, or the ability to access First with mileage. Clearly if money is no object – you wont be flying commercial, no matter how good it is!
So while BA doesn’t stand out in any of these areas (except perhaps service) – it is reasonably consistent as the world’s most ‘popular’ (measured by customer numbers) intercontinental first class service. When you bring all these things together I think BA provides something which is more than the some of its parts (rare in this world) – and its approach for the new First suggests this is the ongoing focus. Not to blow our minds with one particular feature – but a quietly confident approach that does all things really well, on the majority of routes I want to fly, and from London. That’s why I fly BA – and First when I’m lucky enough to be able to.