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British Airways announces First Class ‘soft’ cabin improvements, live from 31st March

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British Airways has announced details of the ‘soft refresh’ of First Class.  The good news is that the airline has learned from the year-long roll-out of the new Club World bedding (because it takes a year to swap over your blankets, obviously) and is doing this one in eight days.

The roll-out starts on 31st March and will be completed by 7th April.  You can’t argue with that!

You can see the official details on the ba.com First page here.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New First Class loungewear

British Airways is launching new First loungewear, including slippers, designed by Temperley London:

New amenity bags

The loungewear will be complemented by new amenity bags, featuring Temperley’s ‘Star’ design.  My wife will be gutted as she really, really likes the current Liberty ones ….

New British Airways First Class improvements

New amenity kits

The bags will be filled with Elemis products, including the high-end Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen range.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New menus

A new a la carte menu is being introduced, with a focus on ‘fresh seasonal ingredients of British provenance’:

New British Airways First Class improvements

New crockery and cutlery

Your new-look meal will be served on new-look bone china crockery, featuring an exclusive design by William Edwards.  There will also be contemporary cutlery from Studio William.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New glassware

BA will now be serving “the airline’s fine wines and champagnes” from new Dartington glassware.  It isn’t clear if the non-fine wines, such as the one in First which is sold by Morrisons for £5 per bottle, will also get the same glassware 🙂

There will also be new Dartington tumblers for soft drinks and spirits.

New British Airways First Class improvements

New afternoon tea

BA is introducing a new signature afternoon tea service in First, including sandwiches, pastries and scones served with a variety of teas:

New British Airways First Class improvements

New headphones

High performance headphones from Meridian, a well respected British brand, are being added.

New bedding

BA is replacing the current bedding with new 400 thread count products, along with a foam fibre mattress topper.  Day flights will come with a new day blanket and bolster cushion:

New British Airways First Class improvements

It is only fair to add that First passengers also benefit, at Heathrow Terminal 5, from the new private First Wing for check-in and security control, which deposits you directly in the Galleries First lounge.  If you are a ticketed First Class passenger, of course, you should immediately leave Galleries First and head across the corridor to the Concorde Room!

What do you think?

We need to see if this is genuinely good news. The brands being used by British Airways are suitable high-end and British, and all credit to BA for that.

The bedding is probably a genuine improvement, as are the new headphones.

The glassware is clearly an improvement, given that it now looks adult sized.

The jury is out on the loungewear until we’ve seen it.

Everyone seemed happy with the Liberty toiletry bags so the switch now may be more change for the sake of it than anything else.  Keeping the Liberty bags would still have fitted with the ‘premium British’ theme.

The list of contents in the bag seems similar.  BA is not, for example, introducing small bottles of premium scent as some other airlines do which would have been a genuine step-up.  I’m not sure that Elemis is much more premium that the current items or the Ren products used before that.

The jury is also out on the food.  British Airways is not claiming to be spending any more money on it – nor is it apparently changing the wine list despite the bad press it got from the ‘£5 per bottle in Morrisons’ story last week.

My best guess is that none of these changes are costing the airline more than a nominal sum on top of the current budget.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with that – you can spend the same amount of money and get a better looking or better performing product – but overall it seems like evolution rather than revolution.

The ba.com First page is here.


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Comments (186)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Harry Hv says:

    What about the simple fixes urgently needed
    1. Dont ration food to the extent F clients cant get their first choice
    2. Dont offer wine worse than standards of J class (on other airlines)
    3. Dont offload F-Class latecomers
    4. Dont substitute “Afternoon Tea” for meals, that experiment has failed before
    5. Dont cut back on cleaning the planes
    6. Dont cut back on cleaning and tidying the F lounges

    • Catalan says:

      I agree with all your points above except point no.3.
      Why should I and 200+ other passengers be kept waiting on a plane for ‘F-Class latecomers’? Did they get published a different departure time to everyone else?

      • Shoestring says:

        Because F latecomers will be staggering there from the lounge & it would take longer to find their checked suitcase in the hold than waiting 10 mins on the tarmac?

        • Catalan says:

          I’d rather wait the 10mins on the tarmac to offload their luggage than to just sit there in the hope that they might just turn up.

    • shd says:

      > What about the simple fixes urgently needed

      Sadly all of those things sound like they’d involve actually spending more money on the product, which is a bit of a non-starter when “cost-cutting’s in the DNA”:

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/29/devotion-cost-cutting-dna-british-airways/

    • Paul says:

      If they didn’t do that how would the staff travel and where would the capatains wife sit?

  • mike sanders says:

    I hope the slippers include size 11 I never get a pair that fits as for the sleep wear current one is OK.
    The Liberty bags are nice we have too many now personally I preferred the Anya Hindmarch which are great for all those accessories and gadgets one has to carry now.
    Glassware looks very nice just upgrade the £5 plonk and we’re good.

    • Alex Sm says:

      and the opposite – hopefully not all the pyjamas are L and XL. I understand that many people get slightly obese by the time they can afford flying in F but not all of them!

      • Rob says:

        M is XL anyway ….

        • Alex Sm says:

          if they are made in China, it should be the opposite!
          I bought some garments recently from AliExpress and they turned out to be XS while in Chinese sizes table it’s M!

  • Cat says:

    I’d say that Elemis is a major step up, I’m not a fan of Aromatherapy Associates (I feel the same way about the hand cream as most people feel about the old Hilton shower gel, and as for that awful deodorant that pops out of the case…). It’s a shame to lose the Liberty bags though.

  • E says:

    Elemis was previously in Club I think, before the White Company stuff?

    • Cat says:

      It was, but the Ultra Smart range is new and is at a much higher price point – £210 for the Serum and £145 for the eye treatment. I’d never pay that kind of money, but it is their premium range at least.
      Also, hopefully the deodorant won’t pop out of the case and fall on the floor each time you try to use it!

    • reddot says:

      Indeed. Will miss the Liberty bags, and +1 to the above comment where they say that austerity has taken on a toll on hardware such as toilets and lights by the seat.

  • Hunter says:

    These ‘tweaks’ add up to a really decent overall improvement in my view. I was going to buy some Bose headphones, as the current F ones are rubbish, but won’t bother now. Hope they stick to those timescales though, as fly to HK on 9th April!

    • Genghis says:

      If you travel often I’d encourage you to buy your own quality headphones

      • Doug M says:

        Agree. If you’re flying F then the price of good Bose noise cancellers must be loose change.

      • Alex says:

        I bought mine for £40 on Amazon and they do the job.

  • ChrisC says:

    I’ve seen a few wine snob sniffy comments about the £5 bottle of wine that are based purely on the price and the supermarket that sells it for that price.

    But what does is actually taste like once you’re up in the air?? That’s the important thing surely? We should all know that food and drink tastes differently at altitude.

    We’ve all read the reports that in blind tastings Aldi gin gets more points from the supposed experts that bottles costing £40 quid and more. Ditto with champagne and wine tastings.

    • Shoestring says:

      sniffy comments not based entirely on fact, as HfP knows full well – makes a good headline or throwaway comment, though 🙂

      for a start, it’s £5 for 35cl on promotion in Morrisons (not 70cl)

      there’s a FT thread on it if you’re interested

      • ChrisC says:

        Yes I read some of it when it was started and stopped reading when it was clear most people commenting on it hadn’t even tasted the wine yet were happily criticising it based on the incorrect price and supermarket involved.

      • David S says:

        Wine on BA, particularly in J is not great. I am not a wine snob at all but usually find something I like when flying but the only wine I wanted on recent SCL-LHR ran out by dinner time. I was given a small measure of a white from First class and said no more refill were available. Poor effort BA.
        I do agree with some comments that other airlines J wines are much better than BAs.
        Ultimately I am not bothered if the wine is £5 or £500, if it tastes ok on its own or paired with food when flying. I can see people upset however when you pay 1000s of Pounds and get served £5 wines, unlike the recent Emirates First class review by Rob.

  • Nigel the pensioner says:

    As there are way fewer F seats than J seats they jolly well should turn the changes around – or i expect that would be Cruz’s illogical comment!
    I expect the contract for Liberty to supply rock bottom priced goods (or even pay for their product to be used) has reached the agreed spend / numbers, hence move on to the next company. What is in them gets thrown into the bin in the loo except the pen. The bags as suggested can be used for IT accessories or medicines etc. Maybe HfP could offer a prize (of a Liberty bag) for the most novel suggested use of an F or J amenity bag?!! 😁
    The wines – well its pretty disgusting that it is budgeted so atrociously. Im afraid that mostly it does taste pretty awful and is at the low end of any good region if chosen. It needs to improve. On the other end of the scale the bling approach of some if the Arabic carriers is also unnecessary. It needs to be said that Dom Perignon is NOT the worlds best champagne imho – it may be the best known, but there are better and I dont mean “Ace of Spades” either!!
    Must go or ill be late for football training!! 🤣

    • Shoestring says:

      the bling approach of the ME3 is deliberate & not designed to appeal to you, a Western European with impeccable European tastes!

      no more than you would (I hope) take up collecting stuff from the Pokemon franchise 🙂

      • Rob says:

        My son wants a cuddly pikachu for his 8th birthday.

      • PeekAtYou says:

        It may surprise you to learn of the huge Pokemon communities in the cities of the UK who are almost all adults and some of who read this blog frequently!

    • Rob says:

      I am actually using some Aromatherapy Associates stuff here in Berlin which my wife got on her last F BA flight!

    • ChrisC says:

      The reason why the CW changes too so long was because it was an entirely different method of doing the service than previously and so cabin crew needed to have special training on delivering it properly and try organising that training when people are all over the world.

      These F changes are only things like new crockery which are easy to do and don’t require any training to implement. Just like the changes to the CE meals last year. It was essentially Big Bang because only the food changed not the delivery.

      • Sarah says:

        That doesn’t explain why it took so long to roll out the bedding, which I can’t imagine required much in the way of training.

        • ChrisC says:

          the issue with the bedding was the first batch didn’t meet safety regulations so had to be redone and that delayed the roll out.

          • Rob says:

            It delayed the initial roll-out. I don’t think there is a factory capacity issue on blankets!

            On the other hand … the factory making the new Club World can make 3 seats per day. This is from Alex’s mouth at a recent staff briefing. You can therefore start to work out how long the full fleet refurb will take.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          3/day? Seriously? Hahahaha is it being hand-carved by a man with a beard in his shed in Devon?

    • Anna says:

      After all these comments I’m going to be tempted to go round the F cabin asking the other passengers if they intend to throw their amenity kits away! It could keep me in Elemis unguents for months 😂

    • Will says:

      I enjoy the odd glass of something nice but I’d happily trade expensive plonk for a nice fresh food offering in the lounge prior to departure.

      Both buffet and a la carte options are very poor for “first class”.

      A fillet steak is about £10 cost price. Keep the expensive wine and champagne and offer me that cooked well with nice accompaniments and I won’t want to eat ok the plane.

      Im happy to pre order it to save on waste.

  • Mikeact says:

    I don’t think your wife will be too upset. My wife received some of these products last Christmas and was quite impressed.

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