The first leg of my round-the-world trip would take me in first class from Kansas City (MCI) to Charlotte (CLT) to Washington DC (IAD) to London (LHR) to Paris (ORY) in an absolutely wonderful cluster of awful flights, all because I wanted one particular intercontinental flight: British Airways flagship first product from IAD to LHR. I'll be writing up a post at the conclusion of the trip to fill in the gaps (including American's first-class flights within the US), but I wanted to start with my first first-class experience, which was at the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at IAD.
The Round-the-World Series
While the BA Galleries First Lounge is not British Airways' flagship lounge, it is their next-best offering. And maybe it's just because my only other experience in airport lounges is at fairly par-for-the-course Admirals Clubs, but I was highly impressed.
After scanning my boarding pass and passport to confirm your ticket (Priority Pass is the only other way to access this lounge, but only between 7am and 2pm), the receptionist offered to show me around the lounge.
It was very quiet, which could have been due to the late hour (this was the last BA flight out of IAD that night, and there are only 14 first class seats available), but I decided to stop by at the restaurant to have something to eat.
Even though I had read what to expect, I don't think I fully grasped that everything on the menu was free. I opted for the lobster club, figuring that even though I don't particularly like seafood, no time like the present.
Unfortunately I still don't like seafood :(
However, the follow-up of the beef barley soup was excellent (I'm a big soup buff). And though the swordfish was tempting (swordfish totally doesn't count as seafood...), I opted for the beef short rib as the main dish.
I could have just been starving, but the beef short rib was very rich and very tasty. I figured I had to top of it off with the dessert, warm chocolate cake, which honestly I found a little dry. But I ate it anyway. For science.
The food was very good, but honestly for free, I was pretty darn impressed. And I think my being impressed with the first class experience has only gone up since then.
I decided to take a stroll through the rest of the lounge. It features a traditional buffet-type bar, which was fairly sparse (again, it was late), a full-service alcohol bar, and a long seating area that overlooked the IAD terminal. There were plenty of power outlets and the staff were more than helpful when it came to offering additional refreshments.
I sat and dozed for a while during my three hour layover (I was at this point very full and very under-caffeinated) and the receptionist woke me (by name... which was kind of scary) to let me know that the flight was boarding.
Since first class boards via separate gangway, I was guided to the proper gate (just across the way) to wait until boarding started.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the British Airways Galleries First Lounge. I've heard that the Concorde Room (BA's true flagship lounge) is somewhat underwhelming, but for my part I couldn't say that I had any complaints at all about my experience at the Galleries First Lounge, with the possible exception that it's very exclusive. But maybe that's the charm...
Stay tuned for my review of the flight, British Airways BA292 on the Boeing 777-200 in first class (spoilers... posh!).