The waiting is over. British Airways has launched its brand new Club World business class seat.
And, I have to say, it is far better than expected.
The product is called Club Suite. It’s called Club Suite because it has a door.
I saw the seat on Friday via an impressive virtual reality simulation. Whilst the downside of VR is that you can’t touch the fabrics or test the firmness of the seat, VR does let you walk around a ‘real’ cabin and get a better feel for the general layout than you’d get from sitting in a real seat on a factory floor.
I should say that the images supplied by British Airways, which you will see below, do not give anywhere near as good an impression of the seat as I got from my VR tour.
There are two videos:
360 video: https://youtu.be/dYJgVnHyDqA
…. which should hopefully give you a better feel. I added a couple of screenshots to the article.
Where I can try Club Suite?
The seat will launch on the Madrid route in mid August. The exact date is not known because BA only gets 30 day notice from Airbus of final delivery. If you want to book a speculative Avios ticket, it is planned to operate the first Heathrow rotation of the day at 06.20 although this may change.
The first official routes will be selected flights to Toronto and Dubai. Whilst the official press release is quoting October, Toronto may start during September depending on the delivery date.
What is Club Suite like?
Let’s start with the technical stuff first. In this article on 31st January I speculated that it would be the Collins Aerospace ‘Elements’ seat, previously known as ‘Super Diamond’, but with a door. Collins had produced a mock-up of such a seat, although no airline had ordered it, and we knew from a BA Future Lab survey that a door seemed likely. I was correct.
The Super Diamond seat is already in operation with Qatar Airways (for non Qsuite aircraft) and various other airlines. If you read my Qatar Airways 787 business class review here then you will have an inkling for what to expect.
Tell me more about BA’s Club Suite
Let’s run through a few of the key features. This is based on the A350 configuration, which will see a 56-seat Club Suite cabin in a 1-2-1 layout.
All seats have direct aisle access
BA has been touting ‘all aisle access’ for some time so this is not a surprise, and to be frank it is the very least you’d expect in 2019.
The seats are angled at 30 degrees instead of facing forward
This is the secret of Club Suite and indeed other variants of Super Diamond. The reason that you are able to gain huge amounts of personal space around the seat is because your feet disappear into a triangular cubby hole under the back of the seat in front.
I know that not everyone is a fan of this layout, but I like it. I can’t imagine, once you’ve seen the seat, that you wouldn’t prefer it to the old Club World layout.
The bed is 79 inches long, seven inches longer than at present
British Airways is advertising Club Suite as a 79 inch long bed when fully reclined. This is seven inches longer than the current Club World seat. In reality the bed is longer but because it tapers into a V-shape they are not measuring it directly to the tip of the ‘V’.
The IFE is a 17 to 18.5 inch Panasonic screen
As BA has previously promised, the seat has a fixed TV screen. The upside of this is that you can watch it ‘from gate to gate’ with no need to stow it away. The downside is that it is sitting there in front of your face for the entire trip whether you like it or not. As you can turn it off this is unlikely to be an issue. The screen size will vary depending on aircraft type – the A350 seems to be getting 18.5 inches. There is no mention of 4K.
There is a separate hand-held IFE screen too
There is a 2nd hand-held screen which can be used by anyone who prefers that. There is also a display screen on the IFE controller, which means that you get three screens in total!
You have a car-style shoulder seatbelt for take off and landing
The seat comes with a double belt. One comes across your shoulders and the other sits across your lap. The shoulder belt only needs to be worn for take off and landing. Apparently this is a trade off – safety rules meant that BA had to either fit a bulky airbag into the lap belt or make you wear a 2nd belt. This option is seen as better because you are not encumbered by an unreasonably bulky belt during the flight.
Storage is EXCELLENT
Yes, you now have somewhere to put your glasses!
In fact, you have lots of places. You get a little cupboard next to your head which will take a small laptop or iPad (the A350 planes come with wi-fi). There is also a flip up storage unit next to the control unit, which contains all of the charging options you’d expect in 2019.
Finally, there is a small storage unit near to floor level which contains a bottle of water. This is apparently well placed for when the chair is in bed mode.
There is a vanity mirror
This is one of smart touches that you wouldn’t normally expect from BA. The inside of the door to the storage cupboard next to your head is mirrored. This allows you to check your appearance before leaving the plane.
There is still a small privacy screen between the middle seat pair
If you are travelling with your partner you are likely to take a middle pair of seats if you want to chat. The privacy screen slides left to right, instead of up and down, and is smaller than the existing one. Even if the screen is open it honestly doesn’t invade on your privacy.
Because the seats are angled inwards it isn’t perfect for a couple who can’t bear to be apart. Your head is a few feet away from the head of your seat mate – your head is actually nearer to the head of the person across the aisle from you.
There are overhead lockers down the centre of the aircraft
Some airlines have started to remove overhead lockers from the centre of the aircraft for aesthetic reasons, because it gives the cabin a greater sense of space. British Airways has chosen not to do this on the A350.
The dining table slides almost fully away under your TV
BA is very proud of this. Your tray table slots away under the TV. When you pull it forward, it slides outwards and downwards. This means that it is stored fairly high and maximises leg room.
The tray folds in half, so you can use it as either a table or a drinks tray. Importantly, you can push it forwards when in use to allow free access to and from the suite. This makes it easy to nip to the loo or attend to your children during the meal service.
Let’s talk about the door though. Let’s talk about it in Part 2 of this article, which you can find by clicking here.
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