IT’S HERE! British Airways launches Club Suite, the NEW business class seat – it’s 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
…. 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 our British Airways Club Suite overview which you can find by clicking here.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is doubled to a crazy 50,000 Avios! Apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is doubled to 10,000 Avios. Apply here.
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
CRAZY 50,000 Avios for signing up (to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
10,000 Avios for signing up (only to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.