Do you remember your first business class flight?

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This topic contains 31 replies, has 31 voices, and was last updated by  M.Moose 14 Aug 2016
at 18:33

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  • Gin&Tonic

    I read a review recently of someone’s first business class flight, the excitement of using the lounge, the priority boarding and the entire on board experience, all being very new and very exciting.

    It got, me thinking to which was mine, I do remember it was Virgin Atlantic Lhr-Bos, I can’t remember the year I am going to guess at approx. 1992/93

    I don’t remember getting to use a lounge at Lhr, if there was one I must have been naive not to know. As for the flight I can really only remember sitting in a chair which resembled my arm chair at home and having full crockery and cutlery with my dinner.

    Overall if I am honest comparing with today not such a memorable experience. What I do remember most distinctly as I started to travel was the excitement of finding a mini bar in my hotel room for the first time!!! How sad is that?


    My first business class flight was an upgrade on Air Canada in 1991 from LHR to YYZ. My dad had purchased a full fare ticket, and on checkin at the old T3, the agent looked at the ticket, and called his supervisor over. I was a bit nervous and asked if there was a problem (It was a one way ticket through to YWG). His answer, the flight is full and we are looking to upgrade some passengers. Needless as a 21 year old this was hitting the jackpot. It was the old AC B747-200, with recliner seats and overhead screens, but certainly a lot more comfortable than economy, and the service was certainly to write home about. Sitting in the nose of the aircraft was a great experience. I do not remember using any lounge back then.


    I can’t remember mine, it would have been circa 1982, but I can remember my first time in F, in 2001.


    June 2005, LHR/SIN SQ 747 upper deck. Was a lowly Krisflyer Silver then. Rather surprised to have been upgraded!

    First revenue ticket Business class was MH KUL/MEL, which was quite poetic as my first ever revenue ticket purchase using my own funds (not from the bank of father and mother), saved up from doing odd-jobs, was on MH LHR/KUL.


    Pan Am 747 classic LHR-SFO in around 1983. Too many Bloody Marys I think!!

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    1993 BA LHR – HKG on British Asia Airways. It was a full fare Y ticket, checking on at T4 the agent picked up the black telephone to make a the call and subsequently upgraded me. I don’t remember using the lounge but i enjoyed the seat, the seat back tv, the food and the service.


    January 2002 after spending Christmas and New Year in South America. An upgrade on AA following a mega delay. MIA to LHR on a B777. I remember feeling distinctly underwhelmed by the whole experience but, as we all know, AA has come leaps and bounds since then ?


    1996 WLG-CHC-SIN-ZRH-GVA on Air NZ and Swissair. First business class flight was the short 45 minute hop WLG-CHC (no longer any domestic business class in NZ) on Air NZ in a 737 where I got served lunch: salad, bread roll, coffee and juice, THEN a choice of two hot options, presented on a tray one being grilled salmon fillet with potatoes. We had started the descent by then (3 rows in business in a 2-2 configuration with recliners). I had it, and my tray was being cleared away with the seatbelt sign on. It seemed such an extravagance on such a short flight, but it was part of the long haul ticket.

    However, it was the tranquility of the NZ lounge at CHC, with free hot food and wine, then the comparative luxury of a wide recliner in the front of a 767 (similar to what NZ still has now on such aircraft though they are being phased out), IFE screens (10 channel two cycle loop) when there is nothing in economy, that sold me. That plus the free flowing wine, the dessert trolley, cheese and fruit trolley (both phased out by Air NZ in the 2000s), made for a very pleasant 11 hours to SIN. The food range was more generous, and the wine I knew relatively little about at the time, but enjoyed it.

    Then a shower and refresh at the Silver Kris lounge before the long overnight on a Swissair MD-11! I got fed again, used what was one of the first interactive IFE systems, and remember the smell of the smoking section – as the back corner of 4 seats in the cabin were for smokers. The contrast for my previous long haul trip in economy on a similar route, with no lounge access, no IFE, didn’t bring earplugs or eye masks (I was a young naive traveller) was overwhelming. Spoilt me for life. I returned on a similar routing and a couple of weeks later got a “Silver” Air NZ FF card. I knew nothing about such a thing, the travel agent told me she would sign me up for points, so I shrugged and thought why not. The card gave me two lounge passes and an upgrade voucher. After my next trip I had a “Gold” card, had Star Gold status and started paying attention to points/status and well… on it goes.


    May 1982 was my first time in British Caledonian Super Executive from LGW-LOS. The route was upgraded on the day of my first flight from the DC-10 which was the back bone of the BCal long haul fleet to the 742 due to demand on the route, mostly driven by the oil industry. I remember I was most impressed by the service and the charm of the tartan clad ‘bonny lassies.’ They never did forget you had a choice. The aircraft was their first 742 which I believe they bought from Lufthansa but it must have had a comprehensive refit as I remember nothing LH and plenty of tartan about it. I remember there was a very smart leather amenity kit with all sorts of things in it including a nice pen that I used for many years.

    Lagos was a regular on my itinerary for quite a few years during the 1980s and right through to the end of 1987 when repainting was underway the sight of the lion rampant on the ground at LOS was always good to see, even after repainting started there were still quite a few of the crew dressed in tartan but gradually they were all replaced with the striped (and very smart) BA uniform of the time. My other frequent destination at the time was HKG and as that was also served by BCal I used them to there too mostly on the DC-10 with a stop in DXB.

    Interestingly I read Nick Ridley’s memoirs a short while back, he was Transport Minister in 1987 and he was clear that allowing the BA take over of BCal in 1987 had been a mistake and that a lead should have been taken to bring together BCal, Air Europe and probably Dan Air to create a unified carrier at LGW which would provide a strong base and a viable alternative to BA at LHR which of course had just been privatised.

    I wonder how things would have looked these days if that had happened.


    My first Business Class flight was in 1981 and was also my first business trip when I was in my mid-20s. This was to Bahrain on a BA B741 in SuperClub. To be honest, I don’t recall much of it being “super” at all. The only memorable experience that I have of it was the very uncomfortable seating. This was basically Economy seating where the 3 seaters along the sides were converted into 2 seaters so that you ended up with a very wide (and uncomfortable) seat. I don’t believe that there were Lounges at that time and that if the catering was an upgrade from Economy, it wasn’t much of one. I might be wrong but I believe that a fully-flexible Economy ticket was sufficient to get you into SuperClub


    Whilst I don’t really remember my first flight in F (probably BA circa 1985) beyond the big squidgy armchair seating, I certainly remember my first in the “new” what BA called “demi-cabin” back then, probably 1993 or so, to ORD. It was such an extraordinary step up from the old cabin, and dinner service on the huge pull out table dramatically different. Sadly, apart from a “lick of paint”, it hasn’t moved on much from them, and the soft stuff has gone backwards.


    It would have been either 79 or 80 and would have been Pan Am or TWA to JFK. I also tried Peoples Express as well as AA and, of course, BA. I am fairly certain that those were the days before lounges, as I also remember signing up to BAEC in 1984 when we paid £50 a year for lounge access. My first FFP was AA , around early 80’s.

    My fond memory was my first First flight from BOS > LHR on TWA, as no Business was available immediately before Easter 84. I sat next to a very British man who asked if I had been upgraded. No, I said, and “Shit” he said. He then went on to say that his last 8 flights in 1st had been refunded as he had sat next to someone who had been upgraded, and was not of the quality that he expected to sit next to in 1st. I also must have disappointed him as he did not speak again, but I enjoyed the peace and quiet.

    I also remember, in the mid 90’s, flying BA Club from JFK to BHX on a 757 where they were trialling the new “bucket seats”. They were, and in my opinion still are, the worst Club seats that BA ever had. On the HK run I preferred CX as they still had “armchairs”, before BA “invented” beds.


    2006 and it was our honeymoon. Used bmi Diamondclub points to redeem flights. The outbound flight was with Air Canada MAN-YYZ in economy, YYZ-LAS in Business class and the return was with United LAS-IAD in economy (remember the days of TED, the route was economy only) connecting to IAD-LHR on-board a 777-200 – 2x3x2 recliner seats. We used the Mapleleaf lounge in YYZ, but as it was early morning we didn’t really indulge. At IAD due to the quick connection time we didn’t use the United lounge, but don’t think we missed much. Regarding the business class flights they certainly felt better than economy, but we didn’t think it was splashing out the extra money. e.g. the food was not that much better, only the larger seat differentiated between economy vs business.

    Today either I have become spoilt flying flying business class regularly and/or business class has come along way on long haul flights and economy has got worse. Now we/I only fly business or occasionally PE for long haul flights.

    I think my most special memory for a flight, was my first trip with Singapore Airlines in 2001. It was to New Zealand on Boeing 747-400/Boeing 777-200 in economy. It was memorable because the service, food, IFE, etc was so much better than anything I’d ever flown before (typically Monarch Airways, JMC, Britannia)


    September 1989 flying on an Air Zimbabwe B707 from LGW to Harare. I was able to check in with BA at Victoria Station and use the BA lounge in the North Terminal which was then located on the lower ground floor. I returned from Harare to LHR in Club World on the upper deck of a BA 747-200 which had started its journey in Lilongwe. The seats on the upper deck were the ones which had been converted from economy seats. There was an Executive Club lounge at Harare but it admitted members only. In those days membership of the Executive Club was upon payment of a subscription (around £70 I think) and included travel insurance.


    Spring 1999 and it was on a Virgin Atlantic flight from LGW to EWR. We were booked into Premium Economy but upon check-in, we were informed we had been bumped up to Upper Class. Never had I been so excited to fly.

    I remember the experience vividly. Boarding through door 1L on a 747, my seat was a window seat in a pair of two in the nose cone with the spiral staircase to upstairs behind in the middle.

    When the cabin crew addressed me by name in order to serve me a drink, I couldn’t believe it, it felt so special. How did they know my name? Little did I realise crews had a print out manifest. The crew was amazing, the food and drink kept flowing and it was truly a memorable flight.

    We weren’t given lounge access into the Clubhouse at LGW but it didn’t matter, it was amazing enough that we would fly up front. Family and friends were enthralled when I told them what had happened and what a great flight I had had on Virgin Atlantic.

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