Today British Airways unveiled their brand-new Club Suite business class seat that will feature on the A350. Given the hype surrounding this seat, I wanted to share my thoughts and impressions based on the media images and videos released by BA this morning.
See below the videos released by BA:
Cinematic tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ9XUNnvkvg&feature=youtu.be
Alternatively, check out BA’s website to get a better feel for the seat and find out more.
BA currently operates a Yin-Yang (also infamously known as “dormitory-style”) business class seats in a 2-4-2 or 2-3-2 layout, and had refrained from any seat updates since unveiling them as the first truly lie-flat business class seats over 20 years ago.
In light of this, BA’s business class was widely seen as inferior to those of its joint-venture partners such as American Airlines and Finnair, as well as inferior to sister companies such as Iberia and parent investor Qatar. Thus, when BA announced that they would be introducing a new business class seat on the A350, it was widely expected that BA would be bringing its own business class cabin in line with these superior offerings.
Rumors of the new seat ranged the gamut of seats, from minor upgrades to the existing seat, to the reverse herringbone offered by JV partner American, to even a licensed and modified version of Qatar’s Qsuite.
Given these expectations, I think that BA did a pretty good job and their new seat certainly belongs in the upper range of those expectations. I’m certainly impressed to see BA introduce a true “suite” with a door. This will instantly cement the new seat as “world-class” and put it in esteemed company with peers such as the Delta One suite and Qatar Qsuite.
Comparisons to Current Seat
As I mentioned earlier, this is a clear upgrade from BA’s current “dormitory-style” seating arrangement with increased privacy and direct-aisle access from every seat. In my opinion, this is actually better than BA’s current First seat on the 777 and 747.
In fact, my first impression of the seat was that they took the current First seat, added a door to it, and removed a good deal of “extra” lounging space. Thus, I consider this seat far superior, and in many circumstances would prefer to fly this seat in Club Suite over an upgrade to First.
That being said, BA will almost certainly upgrade the current First seat as it is so inferior to the Club Suite – I can easily see adding doors to the current 787 First seat, along with an improved soft product (caviar service perhaps?) allowing First to remain a premium product even to this new-and-improved Club Suite cabin.
While obviously I haven’t tried the seat out yet, I am impressed. Doors have still not become widespread in business class, and thus by virtue of that alone BA is introducing a world-class product that is miles ahead of many peers. That being said, it’s important to remember that doors don’t always guarantee a good seat – if it isn’t thoughtfully designed it can still turn out to be a disappointment. Furthermore, it will be a while before this becomes the new standard for Club World. For the next couple years, don’t expect to get this seat if you book Club World – chances are you’ll be stuck with the current Yin-Yang seats.