After almost twenty years, British Airways announced a brand new Club World seat, known as the ‘Club Suite’. That’s both a testament to how far ahead of its time the previous generation of seat was, but also how far behind the competition British Airways have fallen, and how long they’ve left it to update their proposition.
Their press release spiel says:
The airline’s sophisticated and newly-branded ‘Club Suite’ offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Boasting 40 per cent more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens*, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC / USB power; every aspect of British Airways’ Club Suite has been designed for today’s customer.
Based on the photos, it’s what’s known as the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat, with a door, as all of the rumours had indicated. This is the same seat that a number of airlines are already flying, such as American Airlines, Air Canada, Air France and Qatar Airways (prior to the Q-Suite).
They’ve also announced the seat-map for the A350 series of aircraft, which will fly first with the seat from July.
As well as a new 56-seat Club World cabin, the three-cabin A350 will feature the latest World Traveller Plus cabin (56 seats) with new furnishings including a plush new pillow and warm quilt, new amenity kits and an enhanced service and an improved dining experience. The World Traveller (economy) cabin offers 219 seats.
For those that want to experience the seat sooner, BA have announced they will be flying the A350 between London and Madrid on test flights, before rolling it out on long-haul flights:
During phase one, the first A350 aircraft will start some short-haul flying between London and Madrid to allow the airline’s teams to perfect their customer service delivery and familiarise cabin crew with the aircraft layout. In phase two, from October 1, 2019, the aircraft will begin long-haul flying. During this period another three A350 aircraft will join the British Airways fleet and two Boeing 777 aircraft will also be retrofitted with the new cabin.
Below are some of their press images of the new seat.
This is a huge improvement over the current product. Huge. The B/E Super Diamond seat is my favourite of the ‘off the shelf’ designs for business class seats currently flying. The addition of a door will further improve an already solid design.
However it’s been a long time coming. Too long. Plus I suspect it won’t be until 2022 before the entire fleet is fitted. Even then, the 747’s are likely to never have this new seat. By the end of this year, only six aircraft will be flying with it out of a fleet of over 100 long-haul aircraft.
I am in two minds as to whether this is truly a market leading proposition. Back in 2000 when the first flat bed Club World was announced and rolled out on the London to New York market it was revolutionary. Adding a door to an existing off-the-shelf business class which your competitors have been flying for a number of years, isn’t. But they will be the only airlines flying with this variant of the seat.
Either way, I’m very much looking forwards to flying and trying the new product.