Is this the new British Airways A350 Club World seat?

An image appeared on Flyertalk yesterday which appears to show the new British Airways Club World seats for the forthcoming A350 aircraft.

I have not reproduced the image because it has been stolen from an internal British Airways IT system and, if genuine, is obviously under BA copyright.

You can, however, see it in the first post of this Flyertalk thread (unless BA has taken steps to have it removed by the time you read this).

British Airways A350

The first thing you will notice is that the standard ‘ying yang’ layout has been retained.

Note the comment on the slide though – “Direct aisle access for every seat”.  This would be a major step forward for the Club World product if confirmed.

It isn’t fully clear how BA intends to do this.  The Emirates solution is to make the aisle seats shorter than the seats by the windows or in the centre of the middle block in order to create a gap for the other person to get out.  The person who published the slide implies that the cabin may have one fewer row of seats in order to accommodate this.

You shouldn’t get too excited by any of this.  British Airways only has 18 A350 aircraft on firm order with an option for 18 more, and they won’t start arriving until 2018.  It has already stated that the new Club World seats used on these aircraft will not be fitted on the A380, 777, 787 or 747 fleets.

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  1. James67 says:

    Very disappointing, by 2018 it would not be urpriing if even the likes of Air Asia X were introducing better business class seats than this.

  2. The competition must be delighted. 8 abrest seating maintained by cramped world does not improve simply because of aisle access. Even today there are a number of seats which provide this. Vuelingisation of BA continues.

    • Don’t forget that Etihad’s acclaimed Business Studio is 8 abreast in a narrower cabin where Club World is only 7. Even taking into account the larger seat pitch to allow direct aisle access the overall seat density is not that far off BA.

  3. Could some mechanism exist whereby the window seat tilts or swivels in a way to allow access to the aisle?

    I can’t see a real reason for BA to do things differently, there is a lot of moaning but CW seems to be pretty successful as it is now. They obviously could choose to compete by making a better product but they must have decided that the costs outweigh the benefits of doing so. I mean, even if they could match the hard product of others there is no way they could match the soft product.

    • It is possible, by accident, that BA is ahead of the game. The Emirates CEO said last week that business class fares are on a permanent downward trend. Not even Goldman Sachs is happy to sign off £6k for a fully flex CW to JFK these days. We have seen what Qatar is doing on pricing. If yields do fall sharply, more airlines may end up increasing seat density up front.

      • Barry cutters says:

        We are also forgetting that Ba executive club is the best for earning miles. I always use Ba for work for the sole reason they give me the best points earning potential to then use for for my personal flights. Club Europe may be bad value , however what other option is there? Club world may not be as good as Qatar or Emirates , but it’s good enough for me – I can still sleep, eat reasonable food and and earns me status and a good chunk of miles to use for myself and partner/ kids. Combined with the Ba credit card and Amex earning opportunity we have a pretty good situation.

        • Agree. As nice as QR may be, it doesn’t fly LHR-HKG or LHR-TYO which is what I need.

          QR J may be ridiculously cheap if you are happy to change planes twice in each direction, but that’s for when the destination is the plane itself and the lounge in DOH, not when you need to get somewhere quickly and rested.

          • Genghis says:


          • +1

            Though given the choice I’d always do JAL to TYO / CX to HKG. Either case, though, you better like Asian cuisine – the “western” options on JAL are meager in comparison to the Japanese meals and CX catering sucks in general…

            • Yeah, I would choose CX and JL too, but they usually don’t have good ex-EU deals. I can’t afford ex-LHR J fares.

              Perhaps I should have said, a weekend break in a European city followed by a direct BA flight the next day is preferable to changing twice with QR when I have things to do at the destination.

      • If I were paying and something like BA club world was priced competitively I’d always fly in a cheaper dense club world bed than something like QR.

        The real problem is that at the moment QR have a better product and a lower price.

        At the end of the day, once you have a bed on a long haul flight the rest is really a marginal improvement for a lot of cash (ie the cash price from CW to First).

        A couple of thousands of pounds gets you a lot in terms of hotels and activities on holiday relative to a slightly nicer meal and seat on the plane.

        BA seem to be getting the best of both at the moment, high density and high prices, long may London’s new runway be delayed for them!

  4. Godfrey says:

    All a bit irrelevant as by 2018,IAG will be part of Qatar and we will finally get a great product from BA

  5. At least with CW you know what you are going to get, with only some variation in the seat between aircraft that a lot of less well travelled would spot. A lot of the ME3 aircraft are still fitted out in a 2-3-2 configuration, some with angle lie flat beds, where the window seat and middle seat still require you to step over the other passengers. There have been some great Qatar fares recently, but you always need to double check the aircraft config to know what variant of business class you are likely to get (barring aircraft changes).

    The CW flights I have been on have been full or nearly full, would like to know what the split is between corporate travel, reward seats and personal cash tickets.

    • James A says:

      A lot of Emirates aircraft (almost all the 777s) are fitted with the seats you describe, but afaik no other aircraft in anyone else’s fleet is?!

      • EK 777’s are mostly/all 232 layout, and it’s being retained for their new business class seat. Others have a 222 layout with a mixture of seats, so no direct aisle access if in a window seat and the Qatar herringbone seat arrangement isn’t on all their aircraft. KLM operated an old business class arrangement of 232 (with an angle lie flat seat), whilst refit was carried out (think complete at end of 2015?). My real point is that people compare BA CW to the best seats available on ME3 carriers (i.e. on a 787 or A380) whilst they use a mix of seat designs.

        • Well EK have staggered 1-2-1 seating on their a380s, similar with EY on their widebodys apart from their a380s which are a more evolved 1-2-1.
          QR have 2-2-2 on their 777s and a340/330s and 1-2-1 reverse herringbone on their a380/ 787/ a350s.
          I would rate them all as superior to CW, and I am a BA fanboy!

          • Of the 252 aircraft that Emirates have, 79 are A380s with a 1-2-1 configuration – so you are much more likely to be on a 777 with a 2-3-2 config.

            • Emirates is hugely reliable though – if they say A380 you will be on an A380. Out of London it is a certainty.

          • It always amuses me that people talk about Emirates and Etihad having a 4 abreast layout in the context of BA’s 7 or 8 when they actually have overlapping rows that make them 8 abreast in practice.

            I think BA is missing a trick here – alternate odd and even row numbers on the aisle and non-aisle seats and people will then think they are 1-2-1.

    • James67 says:

      A BA FA told me once that on predominantly leisure routes the CW cabins are dominated by redemptions, BA crew and their nominated beneficiaries.

      • I flew on a staff ticket to Las Vegas with Virgin many years ago, there were 12 staff passengers, in various classes on the flight, the return flight was much worse with 28 staff passengers all on standby tickets! We all got on, best £70 I ever spent..

  6. BA could match or even beat key elements of the longhaul Business Class soft product such as catering, IFE and blankets, pillows etc (at leas that of westbound carriers such as AA and DL) in a matter of weeks if it wanted to – but clearly prefers to rely on its corporate deals, regular fare sales and unrivalled network and frequency ex LHR to retain volume and revenue market share.

    A bolder decision would be to abandon First on all but the10(?) routes where there’s inherent demand;, then reduce the density (by providing aisle access) but add net 4(?) rows in CW on most of the 747 and 777 fleet. However, with senior management irrationally preoccupied with the “threat” from EasyJet shorthaul and Norwegian longhaul, the opinions of BA’s CC and loyal passengers will probably continue to fall on deaf ears (just like the call bells in Club World)..

  7. Godfrey says:

    Wouldn’t Brexit remove the 49% ownership rule …. and Willie is very much in favour of its removal

    • Surely Brexit would be more likely to trigger the rule – so that IAG (then based outside EU) would no longer be allowed to majority own Iberia, Aer Lingus or Vueling… forcing their disposal or IAG listing move to EU :-)

      • You and I are very likely to be dead by the time all 21,000 pieces of UK legislation which must be changed to leave the EU are rewritten ….!

      • Daftboy says:

        IAG is a Spanish company, listed in Spain and in the UK

  8. If BA had to go 1-2-1, it would. It’s CW cabin is normally full, so it doesn’t. People will always moan, but the new seat looks like a winner to me. A window seat with direct isle access and no foot coffin is a winner. I already prefer the older Qatar seats to the new 1-2-1 herringbone because they dont taper; BA will be offering that with direct isle access and more privacy. If they can serve the window seats direct from the isle and add some storage, it will be very popular. Obviously BA needs to go some way to improve cw food too, but as a seat it looks good.

    What it will mean, though, is that the window seats will be far preferable now: they are by a window (always cool to have a view); they are more private; and I suspect they will be longer to allow for isle access. The biggest pity for me is that they didn’t find a way to have the screen permanently facing the seat. I like my ife and having none for take off and landing is always a pain, especially when not in a window seat.

  9. OT/ But still BA.

    Travelling to a few of the Euro football games in the coming weeks with 3 friends, I am BA Silver, so will have no issue getting 2 of us in the lounges at T5.
    However the 3rd person of course will not have entry – Any ideas on trying our luck? Asking a Silver/Gold CH stranger (is that a massive no/no?)

    • You only get one guest so it’ll be you plus one of them leaving two of them outside the lounge. I wouldn’t just approach folk, there used to be a guesting thread on Flyertalk but that has been closed for just now. Paid-for lounge access is your main other option, I guess?

      • Billy Buzzjet says:

        Yeah you’re definitely not on to a winner there. Even golds can’t get an extra person in, no matter how charming . BA is really strict about this now . I was only able to get my sister and nephew in because he was under two years old. Maybe your friends could check MMB and see if they’re offering an upgrade to CE.

        • Get an Amex Plat for the Priority Pass or two, choose your lounges carefully, plus the bonuses, and cancel the card in 3 months.

    • Genghis says:

      The lounges can get quite busy (i.e. lots of people traffic). You could go in with one mate then 10 minutes later leave (i.e. “go to Boots”) leaving your first mate inside. Then go back in with your second mate. You’ve nothing to lose I guess.

      • Ha I have always wondered this… always thought that the way they scan the boarding pass they would know if somebody else had been scanned beforehand as a flag.

        Guess it will have to be a quick dash in, load up on drinks and then go for lunch together elsewhere.

        • Whenever I nip out of the lounge to buy something, I always walk straight back in, say ‘you scanned it last time’ to the person on the desk, and keep walking. Never, ever had a problem doing that. You could probably get away with it irrespective of whether you were meant to go in!

      • Nice try, but that’s unlikely to work as they update the booking on their system to say which passenger you have guested in (flight number and seat) to stop folk doing just this, or them trying to guest folk into both Galleries North and South!

        As an aside to the OP – only Gold Guest List BAEC members get two guests.

        • I’ve seen them threaten to close someone’s Executive Club account for abuse of the guest system, not worth it and a very awkward conversation to have

    • Massive no-no, I’m afraid. The best I can suggest is that you look at the price to upgrade one of them to CE. Can you upgrade one of them with avios? if not, the cash cost might not be that far off buying a few drinks and a bit of food in an airport restaurant.

      • Afraid not! – Cash rates at the moment are close to £700 Return in CE! and no Avios seats available (I’ve booked 3 of them in Y with avios).

        • Genghis says:

          Perhaps best to get some free bags of crisps etc from the lounge and then go somewhere else to eat. Enjoy the Euros! I’m heading out on Friday.

          • I am BA Gold. Depending on where you are flying you might have better luck on the return leg. Despite us all flying on economy I managed to get both my wife and my daughter, (20), into the lounge at Venice Marco Polo last week. I suggest that you just be polite, acknowledge that it is an extra guest and hope for kindness. I think in general it will be very dependent on how full the lounge is. Different storey at T5.

  10. Ronster says:

    This new J product does mean that the elusive “direct isle access”, that has really been the main advancement in J hard products will be met by BA. It does look like a good place to be and I would certainly consider using my Avios on flights of up to 7-8 Hours. Above that It will not change my Avios burning policy of only F when traveling 7-8 hours plus.

    As commented by myself a week ago,if Mr Cruz has already stated that the above J new product is not special enough to be fitted in the other planes, (that Raffles mentions above), then the real surprise will come when that new J class is revealed.

    It remains to be seen if the A350 gains F and if it will be the same as in the 787-9 or will that too be a totally new design as well?


  11. It looks as though the shell around the footstool for the aisle seat has tapered down to stool level (on the diagram) – I guess this would allow them to leave a small gap, as you’d be stepping through barriers which are below knee level rather than squishing through at hip/chest level of a seat back…

  12. If i understand the diagram correctly, the two seats are different sizes. Although this msut add cost and complexity to design, build and maintenance, this seems a good idea that could be pushed further.

    It makes seat selection even more critical but means you can make more efficient use of the weird spaces available in aircraft and keep more people happy (bigger seat for larger customers, smaller seats to fill up awkward spaces and make seat layout more efficient).

    • That is what Emirates have always done. Aisle seats are shorter.

      Bit annoying for as we put the kids together in the middle, even though they dont need the space, and then we get squeezed a bit on the outside seats.

    • I’m not sure that the diagram does show different sizes. It shows different widths for seat and bed because the arm rests in CW drop down to bed level as the seat reclines.

  13. Interesting you reported on this, despite it being pointed out by BA staff that this is NOT the seat coming on the A350.
    The employee has found a seat proposal document made by a seat manufacture, there are also such detailed documents produced for other designs – including the ‘Sofa’ design that was patented.