Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Economy Review

Since Virgin Atlantic launched their new Airbus A350 there has been a lot of talk surrounding the new Suite product. In fact, there has been so much talk about it that I forgot there was even an economy product onboard. On a recent trip to New York, however, I found myself without a flight home and without hesitation was on Virgin Atlantic’s website looking at prices.

Booking

Usually, my flights with Virgin Atlantic are paid using points seeing as I am a big fan of their mileage plan. Points are transferable to Virgin from American Express at a 1:1 ratio and you’ll only need 10,000 points to book this trip in off-peak season. Seeing as this plane has just been launched, however, there were absolutely no points seats available in any class and an Upper Class ticket would have set me back a lot more than I could afford. With this in mind, I opted for an economy class ticket which carried a cost of around £180 one way. This isn’t a bad price one way from New York to London and I jumped on it.

I booked this ticket using my American Express Gold Card because of the 3x point multiplier on transactions directly with airlines. Booking this ticket therefore earned me just under 600 American Express Membership Rewards Points.

Ground Experience

Virgin Atlantic use Terminal 4 at New York JFK and I arrived on the air train from Jamaica station. Seeing as I wasn’t checking in a bag, I headed straight through security which had a waiting time of around 20 minutes and down to the gate area. Economy passengers are not eligible to use the Virgin Atlantic lounge unless they are Flying Club Gold members with Virgin Atlantic in which case lounge access is complimentary. I was able to visit the lounge so headed upstairs by gate A5 where I entered and enjoyed a complimentary ‘unwind’ body massage, a full a la carte dinner, complimentary drinks and a game of pool before heading back to the gate area. You can read my review of that lounge here.

Once I reached the gate I was amazed at how busy it was. Every single queue was bustling with life and staff were loudly announcing that only Sky Priority could board the plane. Seeing as I was Sky Priority, I headed into the premium queue and within 5 minutes was walking down the jetbridge onto the new Airbus A350.

The Flight

Once onboard, I was directed to my seat by the cabin crew who were instantly less welcoming than I expected. I had been lucky enough to secure one of the seats at the front of the economy cabin and once I reached it I realised it was a bulkhead window seat! Beaming with happiness I checked online expertflyer.com to see if I had fellow passengers in this row and found that I didn’t, another score.

The legroom in this bulkhead row is significantly better than that in the rows behind me and before anybody else got onboard I had a chance to sample the legroom they had. For passengers not in the bulkhead, I found it to be super tight around the legs and would not want to find myself in a middle seat in economy on this plane. Having flown in on TAP Portugal’s A330NEO, I was surprised at the lack of space on these seats and not impressed at all.

Before long, I realised that expertflyer had done me dirty and I did in fact have two fellow passengers in seats B and C. With fixed armrests, however, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a free row would have been.

The Seat

I have to say upon arriving on the aircraft I was a little disappointed with both the width and pitch of Virgin’s seat. My bulkhead seat had reduced width which is standard on all airlines and aircraft because of the need to squeeze a table and screen into the arm rest but legroom was greatly enhanced.

Behind me, however, legroom was incredibly tight, and I would not have wanted to spend my 7 hours in those seats.

Each seat features two USB plugs, a tray table, a personal monitor and movable headrest. My seat had the same features but they were just located in different places from the seats behind me. Above each seat is a personal air conditioning nozzle, a light and a screen displaying the usual seat belt and smoking signs.

The inflight entertainment systems were really impressive on this plane. I’m not aware if they are new for this aircraft but if so, Virgin have done really well. There was an excellent selection of films and TV alongside a moving, controllable map and tail cameras. I was really disappointed to see British Airways didn’t add tailcams on their A350 so when I saw Virgin opted for that option, I was very impressed.

The screen was very responsive and acted quickly on my touch. I didn’t manage to watch any films because of the amount of work I had to do on this overnight flight but with the quality of the headphones, I’m not sure I would have wanted to. Luckily, I still had my headphones from the day before’s flight on TAP Portugal so used them when I did start a film towards the end of the flight.

I was lucky enough to be sat in the front economy cabin which had a cosy 8 rows of 9 seats. The rear cabin houses a further 19 rows of 9 seats and felt far less private.

In front of each seat is a literature pocket which was filled with two inflight magazines, a safety card for the new plane, a sick bag and supplied a perfect place to store your menu and passport.

Finally, waiting on each seat was a standard uncomfortable economy pillow, a nice red blanket and a pair of appallingly quiet headphones which I asked to change. Once the headset was replaced, I realised the problem wasn’t just apparent in the first pair but standard across all pairs and opted to use my buds instead.

The A350 is fitted with WiFi throughout which was quiet reasonably priced. You could purchase a full flight messaging package for £2.99 which I assume allowed WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, a further £6.99 got you access to WiFi for an hour and for £20.99 you could watch crazy cat videos for the whole flight. As usual, I opted for the relaxing option at £0.00 which allowed me to not check my phone every second and actually relax for once.

Service

Something that really impressed me about this flight was the speed of the service. It only took the crew 10 minutes to start the first drinks service from which I asked for a white wine. The wine was ok and tasted slightly bitter but I find that with almost every white wine on offer in economy. It was nice to see that I was given a little bottle instead of being poured a glass like the day before on TAP. The wine was served with a bag of pretzels which went down a treat.

Something I always love about Virgin Atlantic crew is how energetic and bubbly they are and seeing as I had never flown them in economy before, I was eager to find out if this was the same across all cabins. Unfortunately, I found the crew to be less engaging than on previous occasions which I understand is to be expected in economy where they have to cater for hundreds of passengers. I am a big believer in crew making or breaking a flight and on this flight I think they played a key roll in making me identify the negatives of the product. They seemed annoyed to be working in economy overnight which I totally understand but shouldn’t be shown to passengers.

Around 1 hour and 30 minutes after taking off, the crew were around with meals and a choice of gnocchi, barbecued pulled pork and chicken curry. I opted for chicken curry and my tray was promptly delivered. The first things I noticed were all negative. Firstly, there was no bread roll which I expect to see in most longhaul economy meals. Secondly, there was only two real bits of food to eat with the chicken curry sitting next to a bowl of cheese and crackers. I would have liked to see a salad or other side dish accompanying the curry.

After tucking in, however, I did start to see the positives. Firstly, a bottle of water was given which is so much better than the terrible plastic cups of water I still see on other airlines. I never understand why airlines give them but that is a rant for another time. Secondly, I found the chicken curry to actually be quiet nice and not as dry as I initially thought it would be. The crackers were, well crackers, and were a nice way to finish the meal. I opted for another white wine to wash the meal down with which was as bitter as the first but my neighbour went for the red which she concluded was ‘not bad, pretty average’.

Overall, I thought the meal service was rather weak and nothing to be too proud of. I thought more work could have gone into the presentation of the meal and portion sizes and I would have liked to see another dish alongside. If I hadn’t eaten already in the lounge, I would have been very disappointed and a tad hungry after that meal service.

After dinner, I was expecting the lights to be dimmed so that passengers could use the final 4.5 hours to sleep but the lights stayed quite bright which meant had I wanted to sleep, I would have found it relatively hard. Around 20 minutes after collecting my dinner tray, the crew were back around asking if anybody would like a tea or coffee. I decided against both and worked away on my laptop which just about fitted on the wobbly tray table.

Around an hour after this, I began to feel very drowsy and opted to hit the hay. This wasn’t quite as easy as on other flights, however. I found the seat to be quite hard and the temperature onboard too cold to instantly nod off. Nonetheless, after 30 minutes or so, I fell asleep for the next 2 hours to be woken up (on request) for the breakfast service.

The breakfast service consisted of a small box with a yogurt and some fruit inside it and an option of a drink. I chose orange juice which went down really well.

As far as the breakfast was concerned, I was again left disappointed and would have loved to see Virgin serving up something hot like an omelette. I also think it could have been served a little later as I had at least another 30 minutes sleeping time in me but I understand that the crew have a lot to do towards the end of the flight and can’t be faffing around with clearing up our breakfast.

Before long, we begun our descent into London over Ireland and I was able to watch the descent on my IFE screen which was really magical.

Conclusion

I was expecting quite a lot from Virgin Atlantic’s A350, maybe because there had been such a hype over the new Upper Class product being launched. When I got on board, however, I realised that the seats were really quite tight around the legs, the food was pretty shoddy and the crew were nothing like what I had experienced on previous flights. I also found the headphones to be rubbish, the seat quite hard and the temperature far too cold.

With all that being said, I thought the inflight entertainment was excellent and much better than that provided by many other transatlantic airlines and I really lucked out having the bulkhead seat.

Overall, however, I was left relatively disappointed by my economy flight with Virgin Atlantic.

Flying Club Suite on BA A350’s FIRST OFFICIAL Flight

The British Airways A350 has caused quite some stir around the aviation and travel world over the past month since it was revealed. It’s the first time BA have made a change to their aging 2-4-2 business class which was once so revolutionary. With Toronto announced to be the stage for the plane’s inaugural long-haul service, I booked a seat in the new club cabin for just four days after launch only to be left disappointed when they moved the first outing to September 2nd bound for Dubai. I booked this flight immediately and have been counting down the days ever since until today where I finally got the test the cabin out for good.

Booking

To fly this plane’s inaugural in club, you needed quite a bit of cash as ticket prices were in the thousands. If you didn’t use my trick saving you hundreds of BA’s long haul flights, you really were losing out.

I booked an economy and premium economy return in order to review two of the three cabins but in order to try the Club Suite before anybody else, I was offered a space dependent upgrade to club world by British Airways. I was under absolutely no pressure to push any opinions about the product, however. The ticket cost me around £400 which I booked using my American Express Gold Card to receive 3x points.

The Aircraft 

British Airways took delivery of their first A350-1000 in late July 2019, I was on hand to witness the arrival and unveiling of the aircraft where I made this short video touring the cabin and the extract below is from my article touring the plane which you can read here

“The cabin features 56 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with each seat boasting direct aisle access. World Traveler Plus (premium economy) has also benefited from a makeover in its soft product as new pillows, quilts and amenity kits are introduced. Finally, the World Traveler cabin is set up in 3-3-3 configuration with slimline seats and passengers will be able to use inflight WiFi throughout the flight”

Ground Experience 

I checked in at Terminal 5 in the Club section located at section H. The staff here were all super friendly and directed me on my way with my boarding pass.

As a club world passenger I was able to use the fast track facility in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Compared to fast track lines in other airports, this one felt rather less premium and took a long 20 minutes until I was through. If I’m honest I don’t think there was a huge difference in timings between fast track and normal security.

The security pushes you out into the main concourse with the first of the two British Airways lounges located on your left. The Galleries north lounge was heaving when I arrived and the queue to get in was pretty long leaving me standing their for at least five minutes. Once I was in I couldn’t find anywhere to sit, even on the terrace and left instantly.

The other option for club passengers is the Galleries south located a 5 minute walk through the terminal with the other BA lounges. This lounge is less busy as I feel it is less well known and the offering of food seemed different. In this lounge they were offering salads and sandwiches with more space to sit.

I headed down to B gates as soon as it was announced on the screens hoping that there may be some sort of event to mark the flight. There wasn’t. Once there I visited the final business class lounge which I actually find to be the best of them all. It is much quieter than the other two with a similar food offering and service. It also has the perk of having an Elemis spa.

The Flight

I headed down to the gate as boarding begun and there was some serious crowding around the gate entrance as many passengers were at the wrong gate and thought it was the Philadelphia flight leaving from gate 32.

Nonetheless, boarding was strictly enforced in groups and as a group two passenger, I was in the tunnel around 15 minutes after I started queuing. Once we reached the jetbridge, the queuing continued.

The CSM personally welcomed me onboard with a ‘welcome back’ which I thought was a lovely touch and would go on to be the standard for the amazing crew throughout the flight.

I walked to 1A through the large front business class cabin where I was welcomed again by crew and sat down.

It took five or so minutes before I was offered a welcome drink and then soon after, a hot towel, the days menu and my amenity kit were offered.

Waiting for me onboard was a large pillow, a bag containing the bedding and a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

It was nice to see the screens were up-to-date with information from the days flight.

The Seat 

The new British Airways Club Suite is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration of reverse herringbone seats. The seat is similar to that used by airlines such as Air Canada but with the door attached. I played around with the door as soon as the seatbelt signs were off and my while my initial reaction wasn’t great, I grew to like it. I found that in a seated position I was able to still see over the top, thus making it less private than I thought it would be but while in a lie-flat position, the door made a huge difference and I felt fully enclosed.

To the left of the seat, you can find a storage compartment filled with reading material and a small tray for storage. Next to this is a reading light which is activated by pushing the top part into the wall.

Below this is the first cupboard storage which is actually rather small but fitted with a mirror. On the left side is another small storage bin, this one the most useless of them. And finally, in the middle, the largest of the storage bins was fitted with two USB ports, a plug socket, headphone input and remote control for the IFE. Interestingly enough I didn’t actually find myself using the remote control once as the screen was always reachable. For a full look at this, see the video.

Below the storage areas is a screen for adjusting your seat position. The screen allows you to move different areas of the seat to your satisfaction or to be presets such as lie flat or takeoff mode. From talking to the crew, I was told you have to hold down the takeoff preset button until it has a green circle surrounding it so you know you’re in a position for takeoff and landing.

At feet level to your left, you’ll find the final storage compartment which is an area to store your menu and safety card. I also found it to be a good fit for the amenity kit.

In front of you sits your large IFE screen which I found to be very responsive and equipped with a good selection of films, games and map features. The map was fully touchscreen and was the same map as Cathay Pacific use. I was a huge fan of it then and I’m a huge fan of it still.

The tray table is released from underneath the screen by pinching a small clasp underneath. I actually found it to be a bit fiddly and struggled with it while moving the table back

Finally to your right, you’ll find a rising armrest operated by the same clasp as the table.

Because of sitting at the bulkhead, I was actually lucky enough to have huge amounts of storage infront of my seat too.

In terms of legroom I am still a tad confused as to if there was enough or not. I often struggled to reach the footrest while sitting up and eating but at the same time was touching the front edge of the seat while in a lie-flat position.

Each seat has personal lights above the seat but no air vents. I wore a polo shirt the whole flight and wasn’t cold at all.

One of the major downsides of having such a wide seat is that the aisles are very narrow. It was annoying that for cabin crew to walk past while you were in the aisle, you’d have to stand inside a vacant suite or have an awkward shuffle past each other.

Service 

After takeoff I was asked what drink I would like and opted for the champagne. The champagne served in business class is Carnard-Duchene “Cuvee Leonie” Brut which retails at around £30 a bottle. It tasted nice accompanied with a lovely bowl of nuts.

Soon after this I was asked what I would like to eat from the lunch menu which was served around 30 minutes after my order was taken.

As a starter, I opted for the Arabic Mezze starter. With Qatar Airways Mezze in mind, I was left a little disappointed and still a little bit hungry. The components all tasted good and it was delivered with a warm brown roll. I still think it is a shame that BA serve meals on a tray rather than a plate but that’s an article for another time.

Next up, I ordered the grilled chicken which was delivered around 20 minutes after finishing my starter. I found that because of the large cabin, food was still being delivered as mine was already finished so I moved my tray to the bulkhead storage and continued to work during this time.

The grilled chicken was actually very nice and filling. It was a shame my bread roll dish wasn’t removed or replaced and there was a definite lack of seasoning options compared to Virgin Atlantic or Qatar Airways.

Finally, after another long wait, my meal was replaced with a cheese plate to finish off. As I stated in the video review, I am usually far too full to eat desert or cheese onboard but this meal hadn’t hit me all to hard so I tucked in. The cheese was excellently presented and tasted fantastic.

After my meal, I asked the grew for a gin and tonic and the CSM suggested I try one of the cocktails. I opted for the gin zing which was brought with popcorn and a dairy milk chocolate because he could’t decide which one I would prefer.

After this, magnums were brought around which was a nice treat.

My final meal and drink came around two hours before landing in the form of ‘afternoon tea’. I was offered either a selection of small sandwiches or tapas and opted for the tapas because sandwiches are served in First Class and I wanted to try something a bit different.

The tapas tasted good and was perfectly accompanied by a hot chocolate.

If the food wasn’t enough for you, there was also a club kitchen set up in between the two cabins with snacks and drinks on offer.

Back to the flight

After my lunch service I attempted to turn my seat into a bed but with very little going for me, one of the crew members took pitty and helped me out. I wasn’t actually sure if they were expected to help or not but it seemed like he was helping me only because I was so bad at it myself!

I found the mattress topper to have limited comfort as it was quite small and easily became scrunched up when you moved around. The duvet and blanket, on the other hand, were both good and the pillow was very comfortable.

I actually ended up getting quite distracted from work after lunch and ended up lying back and watching Notting Hill with a few more glasses of champagne.

In terms of entertainment, the options were good and WiFi is provided too. The prices were quite high for the amount of data you get and I decided not to purchase. The prices are as follows: 25MB for $4.99, 75MB for £11.99 and finally 150MB for £17.99.

Conclusion

Overall, I had an amazing time onboard which was down to an incredible crew and fun passengers. From talking to the crew, I know that this wasn’t just a random selection but the creme-de-la-creme. Each crew member was super attentive and I was treated very well.

I think the seat is an enormous upgrade from the old product and I was impressed with both the privacy and comfort of the suite.

Although the food service was dragged out, the actual food was nice and not overly filling which was good as I so often leave an aircraft about 20lbs heavier.

In conclusion, I think BA have done very well upgrading their business class and I can’t wait to see them roll it out on more routes and aircraft over the next few years.

How I save THOUSANDS on my British Airways Long-Haul Flights

London is great for a lot of things, you can peddle a boat around Hyde Park on a summer day, watch tennis at Wimbledon, rugby at Twickenham or a play in the West End. One thing London isn’t so good for, however, is flying out of.

Flying out of London with British Airways involves paying hefty fees which are hidden in the ticket costs. In this article I will show you how I completely eliminate those fees by starting my trips elsewhere in Europe.

Due to Air Passenger Duty (a tax on passengers flying out of the UK), flying out of the UK will almost always end up being far more expensive than out of Europe. What this usually means is that starting your trip from a European airport, flying to London and continuing your trip as you were originally planning on doing is cheaper. Airports that I usually route out of include Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris because these airports are easily and very cheaply accessible from East Midlands Airport which is where I am based for most of the year.

Example #1 – Avios Bookings

In October, I will be flying to Toronto in British Airways’ new business class. I opted to book this trip using miles and straight away I saw that this trick would save me around £400. 

The cost of an avios redemption in business class to Toronto would have cost me a total of 50,000 avios and £418. With this enormous cost in mind, I used opted to start in Dublin instead.

Firstly, I searched for cheap flights out of EMA and found a one-way to Dublin for only £9.99: booked.

Secondly, I searched British Airways website for a one-way avios redemption from Dublin to Toronto via London which came up using the same London-Toronto flight I would have selected at first for a total of 62,750 avios and £166.

While this is a steep increase in the number of avios, for me it made much more sense I have a lot more avios than money. But remember, if you don’t want to use so many avios you could reduce the amount you use for cash.

Example #2 – Cash Bookings

Cash bookings are where the real money can be saved just by starting your trip in Europe. The example I will use for this is a trip I am looking to book to Tokyo in the autumn in business class where the usual return ticket comes in at £3,670. 

Total cost: £3,670

Now there are two ways to finding a much cheaper price for yourself on BA’s website. Firstly, you need to decide if you want to visit the European destination in advance and effectively start your trip a few months before or if you simply want to fly out, back into Heathrow and go straight from there. If you want to make a holiday out of the European hop then you want to use the multi-city flight search tool on BA.com and input the day you want to return from your small trip (start of your big trip), the outbound and inbound dates for your main trip (the Tokyo bit) and then a throwaway return leg which you won’t be using. This is what my search tool looked like:

After inputting these dates, you will be pushed through to a shabby looking page to choose the flights (note that you won’t be able to see the prices of the individual sectors) and once I had selected the flights the price of €2,606 which is a total of £2,385. 

This trick therefore created a saving of £1,285 per person and when you include the flight to Amsterdam you have to buy separately you’re looking at a rough saving of £1,245.

Conclusion

This is no hack or mistake fare but the most simple way to reduce costs on your next flight out of Heathrow. I tend to always use this trick when flying longhaul as it can pay for so much once you arrive in your destination.

British Airways Reveal BRAND NEW A350-1000 Cabin

Today, at  a media event held at London Heathrow, British Airways revealed the cabin of its brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft to the public. You can see the full video tour below:

The aircraft landed at at around 2pm on Saturday at LHR after being delayed by a day because of bad weather and ATC problems across Europe. This is by no means a review of any of the cabins onboard as those reviews will be coming soon.

The aircraft landed at Heathrow on Saturday (Photo by geram23 – Instagram)

The aircraft is BA’s first A350 aircraft to be delivered of 18 and will be used on long haul flights as a way of gradually phasing out the older Boeing 747s which should be gone by 2022.

The new plane is fit with the newest of British Airways’ business class cabins the ‘Club Suite’. The new cabin will be fitted on all the A350 jets and on certain B777 planes too.

The cabin features 56 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with each seat boasting direct aisle access.

Each seat is fit with a door for added privacy, a mirror and large IFE screen.

World Traveler Plus (premium economy) has also benefited from a makeover in its soft product as new pillows, quilts and amenity kits are introduced.

The cabin of 56 seats is set up in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Finally, the World Traveler cabin is set up in 3-3-3 configuration with slimline seats and passengers will be able to use inflight WiFi throughout the flight.

The A350-1000 will begin operating on BA’s longhaul network on September 2nd as it flies from London Heathrow to Dubai on BA107. The aircraft will then operate BA106 from Dubai to London Heathrow.

On October 1st, BA will add Toronto to its A350 network as it operates BA93 to Toronto and BA92 back to Heathrow.

However, the first A350 flight will be to Madrid on August 5th as it operates BA460. Tickets are still available on this flight in economy but business class sales have been blocked due to British Airways reserving them for media.

British Airways Announce Delivery Date of NEW A350 + Route Info

British Airways have announced the delivery date for the unveiling of the their new business class product the Club Suite as well as the delivery of their brand new Airbus A350-1000.

The ceremony welcoming the aircraft will take place on Friday 26th July where British Airways will unveil their new business class to the world for the first time and the LondonSpotter team will be present to welcome the arrival.

HOT VIDEO:

The new ‘Club Suite’ will revolutionise British Airways’ business class and has been eagerly anticipated all year making this one of the biggest deliveries of the year.

The A350-1000 will begin operating on BA’s longhaul network on September 2nd as it flies from London Heathrow to Dubai on BA107. The aircraft will then operate BA106 from Dubai to London Heathrow.

On October 1st, BA will add Toronto to its A350 network as it operates BA93 to Toronto and BA92 back to Heathrow.

I will be flying onboard the A350 at least three times in its first month as I test out each of the cabins on longhaul flights.

The aircraft will also operate short haul flights to Madrid but it is yet to be announced which flights these will operate.

Qatar Airways A380 First Class Review

Qatar Airways have always been one of my favourite airlines and having tried out their old business class on the A380, new QSuite business class on the A350-1000 delivery flight and Qsuite on the B777-300ER, I decided that it was finally time to try out the most premium cabin of all on the world’s best airline: Qatar Airways. Below, you can see my video review of the flight so be sure to check that out as well as having a read of this article.

The day before this flight, I had landed in Doha with Qatar Airways from Hong Kong and stayed overnight at the lovely Warwick Hotel and seeing as my flight wasn’t until 2am the following day, I opted to book myself onto one of the city tours Qatar Airways offer and explore the city a little more. I headed to the airport at around 2pm where i dropped my bag and checked in for the flight and then headed down to arrivals where I met my tour guide for the trip.

Dropping my bag at the amazing first class check-in area

We arrived back at the airport at around 5pm and I was absolutely starving hungry. I headed back into the First Class check-in area and through the incredible security channel where I didn’t see another passenger the whole time. This process screamed luxury to me.

Arriving at the first class check-in area

At the end of the security process, I was led up an escalator and into the remarkable Al Safwa First Class lounge. The lounge is incredibly built and covers a huge amount of space with a jacuzzi, several rooms, its own duty free and more. To see the full review of that lounge click here.

Booking

Qatar first class is hard to book on points as it only flies on one of their aircraft: the Airbus A380. I managed to find award space on only one of their routes which was to Perth and seeing as there was only one seat left, I jumped on it and booked.

I paid 123,750 Avios and £152.90 on this ticket which some might think to be a little stupid but I had the Avios to spend so considered it worth it.

Ground experience 

The ground experience had stuck out for me as being the best I had ever had. The walk from the taxi to the lounge had been seamless and when I left to walk to the gate, I interacted with passengers for the first time in the whole experience which I thought was great. It took 10 minutes to walk to the gate and once I arrived I was impressed at how the boarding area was split between economy passengers and first/business passengers.

I was grilled at the gate for my reasons of travel and had my bag searched thoroughly. Eventually, I was allowed into the private waiting area and made sure I was the first to board when boarding was called.

The walk to the plane took me up an escalator and down a jetbridge where I was welcomed by the cabin manager and led to my seat: 1A.

The Seat

Qatar Airways have a small first class cabin on the A380 set up in a 1-2-1 covering two rows. I was lucky enough to be seated in row 1, at the front of the cabin.

The seats are very wide but not the most private. Each seat is equipped with a TV, lamp and power plug at the far end.

To the left, you will find a table for storage alongside the tray table which is stored in the side wall of the seat.

The left armrest features a bottle holder and remote control device which was very unresponsive and slow.

The right armrest features another slow remote control which controls the lighting and seat features and your Oryx one headphones.

The Flight

Once I was seated, the crew begun to ask what drink I would like. Initially, I opted for a lime and mint mocktail because, well, i’m obsessed with it and then I eventually bailed and had the best drink on the menu – Krug 2004 Vintage Champagne.

The drinks came alongside a hot towel and a bowl of cheese and grapes which tasted horrendous.

Next up, my amenity kit, pyjamas, menus, wifi voucher, arabic date and arabic coffee all arrived and the crew came around one more time to take my dinner order.

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We took off on time out of Doha and as soon as the seatbelt sign was off, I headed to the enourmous bathrooms to change into my pyjamas. I opted for a medium but they were very baggy and next time would go for a small size.

Once I returned, the crew were round immediately to set my table for the dinner service.

First up came my caviar course. I have to say this was probably my favourite course and was definitely nicer than the caviar course on Cathay Pacific. The caviar is served on a beautiful glass plate with pearl spoons so that the taste of the caviar isn’t disturbed.

Next up came a small appetizer which I hadn’t actually ordered. It tasted lovely and I believe it was tofu.

Finally, my main course arrived which was the veal steak. I was very full by this point so didn’t manage to finish the meal but from what I did eat, it tasted fantastic.

After the meal service was complete I lay back with a few more glasses of champagne and enjoyed what the IFE had to offer. The IFE screen is a lot larger than what you will find on other airlines and the Oryx one entertainment system has a fantastic mix of films, TV, music and games. The onboard WiFi (free for first class passengers) was also a great way to keep me busy during the flight.

After a few hours of drinking, I headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth and moisturize my face for bed. There are two first class bathrooms located at the front of the cabin, both equal in size. The bathrooms must be four or five times larger than normal airplane bathrooms and are equipped with a bench running down one side, a large sink, cupboards packed with amenities, a hangar but unfortunately no shower.

Picture from previous flight in 2018

Once I returned from the bathroom, I realised the crew had made my bed up for me. The fully flat seat was covered with a thick and extremely comfortable mattress topper, a duvet and the classic purple blanket. This made for an amazingly comfortable bed which I fell asleep in almost instantly with the help of my eye mask and ear plugs from the amenity kit. I never usually sleep very deeply on planes but this was an exception and seven hours later, I awoke with only 3.5 hours to go until we landed.

The Bar

Business and first class passengers have equal use of the bar area on the A380. Unfortunately, the bar is located at the rear of the business class cabin which makes it a little unaccessible for first class passengers as they have to walk through the whole upper deck to get there.

The bar area is lovely, however, and well worth a visit. There are an array of nibbles laid out and a barman to make you whatever drink you desire.

As I was in the bar, one of the crew members found me and asked if I would like to begin my breakfast service when I arrived back. I said I would love to and followed her back to my seat where my table was set with a bread basket, jam and melon juice.

Breakfast started with a small greek yogurt covered with granola which tasted good.

Next up, first class passengers have the opportunity to create their own breakfast (see menu for choices). I did this and created my own full english spread which arrived promptly.

I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the breakfast options and the meal wasn’t of a standard I would expect in First class. The omelette tasted very stodgy and I didn’t finish it.

After finishing breakfast, the crew cleared my table and unmade my bed. For the final two hours I did some work in the bar before heading back to my seat for landing.

Conclusion

The start of my Qatar Airways First Class experience had been luxury to say the least. The process from checking in to leaving the lounge was unbelievably seamless and I can’t wait to do that again soon.

The process did become less premium onboard but only because the product didn’t live up to the Qatar Airways business class QSuite product. If you forget that product completely, I thought the service was great, food highly average and seat good but it could have done with more privacy.

Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Review

Qatar Airways are well known for their excellent service in premium cabins both on the ground and in the air. Having flown their QSuite business class only the day before, I was eager to find out how the First Class product compared to other airlines and having just stepped off Cathay Pacific’s first class, the bar was set pretty high. Before I got to step on the plane, however, I had to sample the lounge experience in Doha. You can see my full video review below or read on to find out what I thought.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge

The ground experience in Doha is simply incredible. Your taxi driver will ask what cabin you are flying in and if it is first or business class, will drop you at at a specific area where staff are on hand to take your bags for you and lead you to your specified first or business check-in area. I’ll write more on this in the flight review so hold tight for that.

As soon as you collect your belongings from security, you are led up an escalator and straight into the Al Safwa First Class lounge. This process is seamless and I didn’t see a single other passenger until I got to the lounge.

As soon as your boarding pass is checked, you are guided down an enormous corridor filled with historic artifacts, huge paintings and a waterfall. It really is mind-blowing how EXTRA this place is.

There are corridors on both your right and left leading to other rooms which I will take you down later in the article but at the end of the corridor is another enormous waterfall and the restaurant/bar area.

I took a seat right away and my menu was brought over along with a choice of drink. It was proper restaurant service which I loved.

I opted for the beef sambusak which was really nice for an appetizer.

Next up I had the lamb chops which were my favourite part of the meal.

The lounge is fit with several different rooms coming off from the main corridor starting with a business room on the left.

The business room has a mixture of PCs and Macs in quiet rooms which would be a perfect for a business meeting or a quiet spot to do some work.

Next up, the first class lounge has a private duty free area with all the duty free products you would expect from the shops downstairs.

On the right of the corridor is another restaurant area which had a sushi bar and salad bar.

I sat there for a short while toward the end of my stay where i enjoyed a few glasses of wine, sushi and a bang average chicken sandwich.

The lounge features a family room off to the left with a few darkly lit rooms, televisions and a private food area filled with small sweets and nibbles.

Attached to the family area is a kids and gaming room. The room was amazingly kitted out but I highly doubt it is used often as I don’t expect many kids pass through.

Off to the right is the spa area which has both a male and female spa and double and single bedrooms which are bookable for 6 hours. I booked one of the single rooms which was great as it gave a place to drop your bags base yourself for your stay in a lounge.

The spa menu was on show but the prices were quite expensive and i found it weird that you had to pay for a treatment. I opted for a visit to the Jacuzzi which was free and it was a lovely way to relax. I was also brought slippers and a gown to change into afterwards which was a lovely touch.

Conclusion

The Al Safwa lounge is huge and full of things to do, eat and buy. As I left the lounge for my flight I felt extremely relaxed and ready for my 13 hour flight. The food had been lovely, the staff had been very attentive and I thought the private rooms were a lovely touch.

If you have a chance, I would highly recommend paying this lounge a visit and checking it out for yourself.

Curve Metal | Full Review

This card review is going to be the first one that isn’t of an American Express card as if you have seen my newest YouTube video (coming tomorrow), you’ll know that AMEX and I haven’t been getting on all too well recently. In fact, I just cancelled my American Express Platinum card after only one month in favour of this gem: The Curve Metal Card.

Brief Review:

Card: The Curve Metal Card

Cost: £150 a year or £14.99 a month

Sign-up Bonus: N/A

Favourite Perk: MasterCard Lounge Key Lounge Access

Curve are a relatively new face in the UK as far as I’m aware but I have started to see them being used quite a lot and so decided to check them out for myself. After looking into the cards they offer, I realised they had three cards I could order. I will be reviewing both the blue card which is free and the top-tier metal card which costs £150 per year.

The metal card comes in three different colours which you can easily choose by signing up through their app. After you choose your colour, you simply enter your delivery details and pay – it really is that simple.

I opted for the rose gold card and when it arrived I was super impressed with how it looked and felt. The card weighs 18g and feel nice to hold in your hand.

Who are Curve?

Curve are different from all the other cards on the market such as Monzo, HSBC and even AMEX in that they know people don’t want to set up another bank account. With this in mind, they have created a card which links all of your cards together in one so that the only card you need to take out with you is your curve card. Curve have an amazing user-friendly app which allows you to manage your finances and sign up for a card and they offer A FREE £5 just for signing up. All you need to do is download the app from the App Store or Google Play, choose which card you want (free, £9.99 per month or £14.99 per month) and remember to use the code LSPTR for a free beer, coffee or anything else on me!

The Perks

The Curve Metal card comes with several built in perks which were the reason my head was turned from American Express.

1. Firstly, as a user of the Metal card, you are automatically covered by AXA insurance for travel and medical insurance, car hire insurance and finally gadget insurance. As far as I’m aware, none of the AMEX cards cover your gadgets so this was a real winner for me.

2. Secondly, the Metal card is phenomenal for using abroad. It allows up to £600 a month in ATM withdrawals for FREE! This is a huge perk of the card as it cuts out the foreign transaction fees so many banks stick on. If you use the card abroad, it will also charge your bank a £ payment so your bank won’t charge you a fee as it thinks you haven’t used it abroad.

3. Next up, the Metal card is part of MasterCard’s Lounge Key program which allows cardholders access to over 1,000 airport lounges just by showing their card. Entrance into the lounge will cost users £15 per visit but as you can see in the above video, I argue that this makes it more worth it than the Priority Pass.

4. Finally, the Metal card allows you to select 6 of your most visited stores such as Tesco, Waitrose or Apple and for each of these shops, you will receive a 1% cashback for every purchase. This works amazingly if you’re using the card every time you fill up your petrol tank or every time you do a food shop as over time this money will add up!

Conclusion 

Curve have stolen my heart after my recent fallout with the American Express platinum card. The perks of this card seriously outweigh the £150 per year membership fee and make it a keeper for my wallet.

If you travel a lot, this card makes complete sense because of the insurance and foreign transaction fee removal on overseas purchases and if you are bored of having a full wallet then this card makes complete sense too.

To sign up and claim a FREE £5 then download the Curve app, choose which card you want to use and enter the code LSPTR.

Curve Blue | Full Review

Curve are a relatively new face in the UK as far as I’m aware but I have started to see them being used quite a lot and so decided to check them out for myself. After looking into the cards they offer, I realised they had three cards I could order. I will be reviewing both the blue card which is free and the top-tier metal card which costs £150 per year.

Who are Curve?

Curve are different from all the other cards on the market such as Monzo, HSBC and even AMEX in that they know people don’t want to set up another bank account. With this in mind, they have created a card which links all of your cards together in one so that the only card you need to take out with you is your curve card. Curve have an amazing user-friendly app which allows you to manage your finances and sign up for a card and they have offered a FREE £5 just for signing up! All you need to do is download the app from the App Store or Google Play, choose which card you want (free, £9.99 per month or £14.99 per month) and remember to use the code LSPTR for a free beer, coffee or anything else on me!

Perks of the Blue Card:

1. Firstly, this card is excellent for use abroad. Most banks will charge you or withdrawing cash at a foreign ATM but by using the Curve Blue card, you can withdraw £200 completely FREE every month which I think is an awesome perk.

2. Secondly, you can use it to pay abroad for free and it will only charge your bank a transaction in pounds. Therefore, your bank won’t charge you either and finally, you can stop paying ludicrous foreign exchange fees!

3. If those two reasons didn’t sway you, Curve have an offer on which means that if you sign up using the code LSPTR you will automatically receive a FREE £5 to spend on whatever you want!

4. Finally, users of the Blue card will be able to select 3 retailers and every purchase at those shops will result in a 1% cashback!

Conclusion 

While this card doesn’t offer the same sort of insurance or lounge access perks as the Metal card, it is also free so won’t break your bank to use. I personally think this card is A MUST if you’re going abroad due to the elimination of foreign transaction fees so be sure to download the app, choose which card you would like to sign up for and enter the code LSPTR for that free £5.

How to Claim your FREE £5 with Curve

If you’ve read my two newest card reviews of two of Curve’s three cards, you’ll know exactly who they are and what they do but if you haven’t be sure to read them for an overview of their products.

Full review of the Blue Curve Card here

Full review of the Metal Curve Card here

Curve are offering a sign up bonus of £5 to any new customers by using this coupon code: LSPTR. 

If you are going abroad soon, the Curve card is a MUST for you as it eliminates all foreign transaction fees on purchases overseas. If you select the Metal card you’ll even be able to visit the airport lounge and be insured on your trip! More of that in the full card review.

All you have to do to claim this free £5 is download the curve app on your mobile phone, choose which card you would like to have the £5 put on, enter your delivery information so the card can be delivered to your door and you’re done!

No matter which card you choose, it’ll be a MasterCard so will be accepted no matter where you spend it.

Happy spending, and make sure you sign up before going abroad to eliminate those pesky foreign transaction fees!