IT’S HERE! British Airways launches Club Suite, the NEW business class seat – and it’s very good (Part 1)

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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

Cinematic: https://youtu.be/vQ9XUNnvkvg

…. which should hopefully give you a better feel.  I added a couple of screenshots to the article.

British Airways Club suite business class

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.

British Airways Club Suite business class

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.

British Airways new club suite business class

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’.

British Airways Club Suite new business class seat

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.

British Airways Club Suite new business class seat

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.

British Airways new Club Suite business class

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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IT’S HERE! British Airways launches Club Suite, the NEW business class seat – and it’s very good (Part 2)
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Comments

  1. OT – I’m sure I’ve read this somewhere but can’t seem to find it anywhere…

    Do you get Hilton status benefits booking a holiday through BA holidays or American Express travel? As I saw you do through certain partners.

    Thank you

    • No, only for FHR bookings (unless you get lucky).

    • It has occasionally happened but you should assume not.

    • I’ve got a trip to Rome booked through BA holidays, staying at the HGI. They have confirmed my OH and I will get free breakfast as per gold membership. (I have hung onto to the email though, HGI tried to charge us for breakfast in Washington DC last year even though it was a direct booking!)

  2. Assume this will also get rolled out on the 777-X that BA ordered… Shame Airbus has marginally screwed up (again…) on sizing their plane. Looks like Ba has gone to the awful 777 to replace the Jumbos as A350 not big enough. Shame, as the A350 is quieter than anything Boeing will make… I already assume the 777-x will be a bit better than the 777-300/200 but it will remain noisier than anything Airbus makes.

    • Let’s wait with Boeing. The box has just been openned . . . . (certificatin)

  3. Chrisasaurus says:

    Another – has anyone had any luck modifying (shifting back a day) a Marriott redemption that was made pre-Cat 8 creation, without being on the hook for the new rate?

    I have to fly a day later than planned and hence need to make the change but it’s a lot of extra MR if I can avoid having it repriced..

    If anyone has ever had luck, who is the port of call, hotel or MR CS?

  4. Sorry OT:
    Have 4 CW return tickets booked to US in the summer. Return flight now has 4 F availability, so I phoned BA who advise £35 change fee pp, but also an increase in taxes of £112 pp. Is that correct? I always thought F and CW had the same taxes and charges. Was trying to save the charge for CW seat.

    • BA pushed up taxes by about £100 on North American routes recently.

      • Thanks – probably explains it.

      • A rip off

      • Alejandro says:

        “taxes”

      • Lady London says:

        Personally i think that sneaking up of Carrier Greed charges, errr sorry, “taxes” unannounced by British Airways, was unethical. British Airways charges on tickets purchased with Avios have always been higher than almost anyone’s. They must be even higher than Lufthansa’s now, surely?

        • And SIN fees etc are 900+ on the F 241 redemption per person! Hkg half of that, so,it seems to vary with destination.
          Huge ripoff.

        • Michael says:

          I’ve made a pact with myself not to fly them on long haul redemptions because of the junk fees. I might be swayed with the new CW however.

    • On the topic of BA fees, can anyone explain – just tried a dummy redemption LON – USA in CW. Fee is £666.92.
      Adding domestic connection to same flights changes fee to £663.74 – why is it lower?
      Also, when I made the actual booking last week (same flights with connection) fee was £664.64 ?
      These are the fees after clicking through – not the incorrect fee you see on the initial pricing page.

      • A thought on the price change since last week – some elements of the fees are levied from the US side, presumably BA converts these to GBP so price will change in line with currency movements?

      • Aren’t those sort of small changes likely due to currency movement given some of the taxes on that route will be in USD and need to be converted to GBP?

  5. How exactly does this compare to know with the number of seats available?
    assuming that the angle allows more rows? but the number in rows is falling by half! 2-4-2 (8) to 1-2-1(4)

    • Less space needed lengthwise, as feet are now under the pax in front of you. The current seats stretch out to 6ft. So they can fit far more than thought. Indeed they could have done even better density, which we thought they would, and go for the Waterfront, 2-2-2, all with aisle access.

    • We don’t know. However, taking Qatar as an example, the old 777 has 48 rubbish seats (2x2x2) and the new one has 42 Qsuite. Roughly 10% loss of capacity will be more than compensated by improved yield.

  6. The jury is out on this until e actually have the seat in place, but I have to say I don’t like the foot cubby hole – nor the fact that the seat is likely to be lowered to the floor in order to make it flat! This happens on some of the AirCanada business class seats and I never put them flat. I HATE having my feet in a cubby hole – brings on a mild panic attack that I won’t be able to get free in a hurry if I need to. And the lowered seat means you will feel every movement of trolley and feet as they go past. Not a good idea. Give me Air New Zealand business premier everytime.

    • I do look forward to the cubby hole, but I have watched the film and the seat does not seem to drop when it flattens out.

    • Doug M says:

      You’re 7 miles up in the sky in a metal/composite tube and putting your feet in a cubbyhole gives you a panic attack. You need to rethink what concerns you 🙂

      • Or even on the ground. Was flying LHR-VIE Saturday and a woman in the row behind me started screaming. We were only taxiing.

  7. Cheshire Pete says:

    Someone mentioned in another place they sat on one today at T5, so is there one to try out somewhere there?

    • There is one in Waterside it seems.

      • The Original Nick says:

        I have an email from BA for seat changes to my LHR-DXB booking for mid January. I was in seat 64A on the 747 but now changed to 1A and seat configuration is 1-2-1.

  8. This seat will make me worry less about retaining status – which I’d already decided to drop. I have mainly redeemed LH in First in the past – I’ve continued to do so partly because you don’t have to shell out to choose your seat as you do in CW (without status – slipped to Bronze the shame!) which frankly rankled. TBH once this seat is up and running I won’t much care which seat I get or whether I’m sat next to my travelling companion. I certainly won’t pay for the pleasure. Add to this the Plaza Premium lounge in T5 and the forthcoming Amex Lounge in T3 for Y flights SH and…..well no I don’t need status.

  9. Happy & Sad at the news.

    Happy as someone who is privileged enough to travel enough to experience at least 6 One World airlines a year, BA from a single flyer perspective looks to have finally caught up. Direct isle access, storage, quality seat, sheets, duvet and improving food.

    Home lounges of every airline should always be headliners. The Pier in Hong Kong, Qantas in Sydney, Qatar in Doha, Galleries in T5 for example. Albeit Qantas seem to be the best all round performers wheb outside of their home nation. So BA are not miles behind there.

    Sad however as someone who uses the privelege to share with friends and family, BA’s quirky setup serves as one of the best family setups. Travelling quite a lot during school holidays you see mothers/ fathers and young children holding hands in the middle seats. Toddlers learning to fly with the safety of their parents next to them. Older couples sharing moments together on once of a lifetime trips. Only Qatar Q Suites and interestingly Singapore reverting in their new launch to offer this. Most Premium Economy Cabins (Air NZ now sadly included) fail to offer this service as they have hard barriers between seats. If only there was a middle ground.

    • Nice post.

    • Matthew says:

      I wouldn’t say Galleries T5 is anything to write home about (either First or Business), and same for the Qantas J class lounge in Sydney (which is very lacking in food). Personally, I think the CX T3 lounge (J/F) is better than the equivalent BA T5 lounge even though it’s not a home port lounge.

  10. Kate Hyde says:

    My 9yr old av-geek son had an exciting idea regarding Rob’s VR Tour at BA, which presents an opportunity for the leisure traveller to save plenty of time, stress and money. Simply get hold of a VR headset and this presentation, turn it on in the comfort of our own homes, and we can immediately spend many happy days ‘flying all over the world’ in this wonderful new cabin, with zero risk of IROPS, and still be home for supper.

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