British Airways said this week it will introduce the next generation of its Club World business class cabin later this year as it receives its first Airbus A350-1000 wide-bodies.
Dubbed “Club Suite,” the new cabin will eliminate the awkward alternating forward- and backward-facing seat layout found in Club World cabins on BA’s existing long-haul aircraft.
Historical note: BA introduced the industry’s first lie-flat business class seats in 2000, starting a trend that eventually led to the elimination of first class cabins at many international airlines. BA’s unique forward and rear facing seats have met with mixed reviews over the years, so this should come as good news for the naysayers.
The new Club Suite seats will be configured 1-2-1, and each one will have a door for more privacy, a flat-bed seat, 40 percent more storage space (including a vanity unit and mirror), Wi-Fi, 18.5-inch video monitors, high-def gate-to-gate in-fight entertainment offerings, and PC/USB power ports.
Each window seat will be angled outward (i.e. toward the window), while the two middle seats will be angled inward. Business class passengers will also see new in-flight menus from the Vienna-based caterer Do & Co, and new bedding from the U.K.-based The White Company.
British Airways still has a first class option on some wide-bodies, but the new A350-1000s will not offer it. Besides their 56 Club Suite seats, the new A350s will have 56 World Traveller Plus (i.e. premium economy) seats and 219 regular economy seats. Satellite Wi-Fi will be available for all passengers on the A350s.
The airline is due to get the first A350 in July and will start flying it temporarily between London and Madrid on familiarization runs for flight crews. BA said the first scheduled long-haul flights for the A350 will start October 1. According to Routesonline.com, the first routes for the BA A350 will be from London Heathrow to Dubai and Heathrow to Toronto.
After October 1, the airline will bring three more new A350s into the fleet and will retrofit two 777s with the new Club Suite cabin. Starting early next year, BA said, it will introduce the new Club Suite cabins “on further long-haul aircraft across the network.” BA didn’t say how long it will take to finish the work on its total fleet, but did say the new business class seating will be rolled out “in a carefully managed program designed to minimize disruption to customers.”
So we’ll have to see how long it takes…hopefully not as long as it’s taking United to roll out the much ballyhooed Polaris business class seat.
Also in 2020, British Airways will start taking delivery of the first of 23 787-10 Dreamliners that it has on order. Those aircraft will come with the Club Suite cabin pre-installed but will also have eight first class suites – indicating that BA still sees a future market for the traditional front cabin while most other carriers have ditched it.
Get a 360 degree view of the new Club Suite cabin in this video.