Your thoughts on BA’s new Club Suite, a seat plan and first flights confirmed

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Not surprisingly, our two articles on the new British Airways Club Suite yesterday attracted a lot of attention.  You can read our two part Club Suite review here and here.

I thought it would be interesting to look at some of your feedback in our comments section, since HFP readers have generally been strong critics of the existing Club World arrangement.

Your thoughts were generally very positive.  What intrigued me was that a BA insider dropped me a note to say that the original plan – dropped two years ago on cost grounds – was even better and would have blown even Qatar’s Qsuite out of the water.  Whether that is true or not, and whether the initial plans would ever have been affordable or be able to be engineered, is a different question ….

Here is a new picture which gives the best feel so far of what you will actually get:

New British Airways Club Suite launched

One thing I didn’t mention yesterday is that there are no real ‘bad’ seats with the Club Suite layout.  The need to pay £60 – £90 to reserve a Club World seat, if you have no status, should no longer be necessary.  You can’t easily chat to your partner if you’re sat next to them anyway, so if you end up being sat further apart it won’t be a disaster.  You should also find it fairly easy to find someone willing to swap seats to help you, if needed, as the seats are all very similar.

Which flights will Club Suite be on?

Club Suite is now in the British Airways timetable.  You are looking for these flights, which do not show an aircraft type – you can usually click on the flight number on ba.com to bring up the aircraft type, but for these flights it is not there:

  • Toronto from 1st October – BA92/93
  • Dubai from 8th October – BA106/107

The Madrid test flights won’t be timetabled for a while.

What is the Club Suite seat map?

Yesterday I suggested that we had a 48 + 8 two cabin layout.  It is actually 44 + 12.  Whether it feels a bit dorm-like or not remains to be seen.

This is the seat map, click to enlarge slightly:

British Airways Club Suite business class seat plan

What did HFP readers think of Club Suite?

Here are a few quotes:

“It’s a huge step up for BA and I for one (and being a CW hater) will welcome the change. Adding a door does nothing for me its simply something else for BA to break and not repair ….. Direct aisle access is the key and that is delivered. The rest of the service now needs to match starting with grumpy unprofessional crew who talk all night and stomp up and down the aisle like flatted footed oafs.  Food then becomes important and IFE content. I am less concerned about alcohol as I find I drink less and less on board now.  So, 10 out of 10 for effort, roll out of 4-5 years I think will be an issue. Just how long can they keep flogging the 747 on a route like JFK when these seats are flying to other places.”

“It looks amazing!  *searches for business redemption chart while rubbing hands together in glee*”

“This seat is amazing! You’ll never please everyone with everything but it certainly pleases me.”

“Wow is all I can say, This looks class leading.”

“After endless justifiable grumbling about CW over the years, we really should give them credit for this. Let’s just hope they don’t drag their feet too many years in bringing it to the wider fleet…”

“Very good effort. Almost on par with Q Suites which is much better than my expectations were for this seat!  Lets hope that they now fix the onboard service.”

“The seat belt is a positive for me, didn’t like the bumbag belt on Etihad especially when trying to sleep.  Looking forward to trying this out.”

“Looks good as long as they clean it well.”

“CW feels like a dorm of you are in an aisle seat with someone sleeping next to you just across the aisle, with no barriers and no privacy. I can’t see that being a problem with reverse herringbone seating, no matter how big the cabin is. Well done BA. Maybe they have aspirations to become World Class again. Let’s hope so.”

“Wow! I really wasn’t expecting them to push the boat out but credit where it’s due, this is a great effort. Sadly by 2022, who knows what new creations ME airlines will have but it’s still a big step up for folks based in the UK.”

“I still think BA are behind. Poor lounges, some old airplanes, many of them dirty and poor food and wine although BA are slowly improving on the food front but not on wines, like when they ran out of a white on our recent trip from Chile with our first meal!!!  Crew generally are better on BA but not all the time.  For aircraft seating, AA and QR are better in J and for food, QR is miles ahead along with any time dining and good selection of wines as well as pyjamas even in J. CX has also fell behind on food. CX are also way ahead on lounges along with QF and QR not far behind. Theses are only OneWorld ones. I understand it is a personal choice however.  But hopefully with these new seats and the proposed DO&CO food by 2020, BA might make up some ground.”

So …. in general, you’re happy.  Now all we can do is wait for the Madrid test flights to appear in the timetable for August!

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Comments

  1. I honestly wonder what the impact of this will be on First. The Club hard product seems slightly better so to persuade people to pay for First will depend heavily on the soft product and lounges I think

    • Mud Island Mlungu says:

      The A350’s won’t have a First Class. Most of the B787’s don’t either, except the 787-9.

      I have a sneaky feeling that BA are going to start slowly phasing out First over the next 10 years. They may keep it on the A380’s and 777-9s in time.

    • Many planes won’t have 1st all eventually. Bit like Qatar, mainly top notch J products across the fleet. Obs retaining F on very few prime routes. Many of their F cabins are redemptions. When looking for F seats, have often seen 4 available.
      Saying that, not an F seat in sight next Jan, Feb or Mar for our preferred dates to Asia.want to use our 241. Once the new J is up and running, we won’t bother with F redemptions at all, but hope sufficient J seats will still be available.

      • Genghis says:

        But if F remains, it’ll have to improve to differentiate itself from this.

        • G, hard to imagine how. Guess just more roomy. And nicer furniture and features. Looking at the J door, might be a tight squeeze in and out for a big person….

        • Totally agree

        • Shoestring says:

          F is for ‘fleece’, right?

        • Car transfers to / from terminal, luggage priority, etc lots of room for improvement

        • Service service, service and on the ground. That’s the difference between First vs Business.

    • The Lord says:

      Perhaps F could offer “original plan – dropped two years ago on cost grounds – was even better and would have blown even Qatar’s Qsuite out of the water”

  2. There is not much mention of WT+ on this new BA plane. The seating is 2-4-2 but other airlines like Lufthansa have 2-3-2 on their A350’s in premium economy, so it will be interesting to see if the seat on the BA A350 has to be narrower in WT+ compared to their other planes.

    • Just cannot believe they left it at 2-4-2, as some of those fares are close to 1K, l would expect 2-3-2 at a maximum. it’s as bad as Y, almost. Seats looked very narrow in the pic l saw.

      • Doug M says:

        In straight forward rows of seats like WT and WT+ the seat width really is determined by the plane width and number of seats. This is why I like to bang on about Virgin’s claim to have a 21.5 inch seat in Premium compared to BAs 18.5″ on the same model aircraft. At 8 across have Virgin took 12″ out of each aisle. No, they just measure the seat differently, and because of their marketing they have travel review sites repeating this in comparisons like it’s fact. The truth is the seat cushion width is not the story, it’s how much space you really have, which in Premium Economy on a 747 is 1/8 of what’s available after the aisle width is removed. This is why I never want to travel in economy on a B787 or 10 across B777.

    • Doug M says:

      My guess is LH will be the outlier here. The norm in economy on an A350 is 9 across, standard attitude to + cabins is mostly one less, so I think the 2-4-2 will be the norm. It’s hard to judge how this will feel until you try it. WT+ on the 747 and 777 was always 2-4-2, with 9 across in economy, until they decided to sardine economy on refurbed 777. But then again the 787 has 9 across in economy and a 2-3-2 in WT+ so who knows.
      What could be the game changer is Virgin going 7 across, that would expose the BA WT+ seat as inferior for space.

    • Nick_C says:

      I think 2-4-2 is the norm for PE on the A350. Cathay, Delta, Iberia, and Singapore have all gone 2-4-2 in PE. Singapore even have 2-4-2 on the ULR service that only has PE and J.

      The only 2-3-2 configs I can find are on China Airlines, French Bee, and Lufty.

  3. That’s one big cabin. Fist fights for the smaller cabin l reckon. Think big cabin is too dorm like, looks huge. But once inside your private space, you won’t be aware just how big it is. These pics give a great idea of the product.
    Finally, well done BA.

    • Nick_C says:

      11 rows of 4 is the same as you get on AA’s highly regarded 77W. It doesn’t feel at all dorm like.

      Cathay have 11 rows of 4 plus an extra middle pair on the A350.

  4. John Matrix says:

    My feedback is I really don’t care about seats

    • I care about suites though.

    • Darren says:

      The seat is the most important aspect of flying for me and is the only reason I collect air miles. The lounges, food n drink and IFE are minor additions.

      I think this is a huge improvement from the CW offering at present, but I’ll be interested to see how cramped the cubby is.

    • Just out of interest, what do you care about (flight-wise)?

  5. If F disappears, what will they do with the First lounges and Concorde room? Somehow decide which J passengers can go in them? (Business lounges already seem to be at capacity).

    • Maybe status gives entry to F lounge?

      • Same as AY with their “Premium Lounge”, even though they don’t have a first class.

        • Apart from the premium lounge is currently closed and it’s like a zoo in what remains

        • Well yes, but that’s clearly a temporary anomaly. If anything, the fact they’re still investing in the refurbishment of the Premium Lounge despite having no F product makes my point more clearly.

        • I’ve always been puzzled by AY’s premium lounge. It seems inferior to the other one to me in a lot of ways.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      F lounge will probably be same as now (OWE access or F on other carriers). Concorde room maybe GGL only?

    • Michael says:

      F isn’t going away – it will still be on 777, 787-10 aircraft and likely the A380. I wouldn’t be surprised however, to see it removed from the 787-9.

      • Doug M says:

        I believe F will also be on the A350, just not the initial deliveries. This based on comments on FT from people that get a lot else right.

        • Some rumours too that it won’t.

        • I may be in the minority but once I’ve got a bed, decent IFE system and charging points and somewhere to store my bits and bobs the rest is secondary. I’d happily see first go if the quality in business meets the initial impression.

          I don’t need an apartment, some privacy is nice and a decent meal is appreciated if your not going to serve one at the airport but I really don’t need expensive plonk and meals which sound amazing on the menu but are very average by restaurant standards.

          Maybe I’m easy to please but it’s 12 hours on a plane which I’m going to try and sleep through most of it.

          A really nice sandwich (made to order?) or something that keeps well like a curry or stew would be far more true of what you expect in a restaurant than a fillet steak that’s impossible to serve on a plane.

          Save the nice food for the lounge prior to departure, a fillet steak served prior to boarding done properly beats anything that can be acheived on a plane.

  6. Nigel the pensioner says:

    As I took my seat at the front of a Qatar he788 yesterday morning, I immediately saw the tease photo ” push to release table” or suchlike. It then became apparent that Rockwell Collins Aerospace was the basis of the seat. The seat material type and the armrest shape with storage release button was further confirmation. Whether it is eventually christened Waterfront remains to be seen! Probably the most important mod is moving the touch screen controller forward out of the way of ones elbow as I have spent 2 flights now, reconfiguring the IFE by inadvertent elbow nudging of the controller’s touch screen!! The power socket is conveniently below this but im not sure where the usb socket will go as its here on QR and it cant swap places as it will dig into your elbow
    The door is gimmicky as anyone passing by can see over it.

  7. I haven’t seen any commentary on the number of the new seats as against the number of seats currently in Club. If (as it looks) the seats are further apart, and longer, does this mean fewer seats overall – and therefore BA will need to be charging higher fares?

    • Nobody knows – the only confirmed seating plan we have for Club Suite is on the A350, which has never had CW for comparison.

      • Michael says:

        Still some cheap fares to Toronto being sold, I’m sure i saw £1.8k return or something like that.

  8. 2002ad says:

    I’ve got 2 young infants so this basically rules out BA for me… which is a shame because the old CW worked so well!

    I think for everyone else it should be a massive improvement… I hope first sees an equally good upgrade.

  9. I don’t mind the current seat but only on the upper deck of the 747 and A380 window pairs. Otherwise yes this looks good, but the only way I’ll fly CW is on ex-EU fares, so in a way it doesn’t matter what the seat is, because it’s the price that matters to me.

    Sure if QR and BA are offering the same low fare on the same dates then I would now choose the new BA seat (in however many years’ time) over QR but usually there is only one choice of airline….

    • I’m not sure the seat alone would swing it from QR to BA although people going to Asia may consider going straight through on BA rather than transiting Doha. Also even though I’ve never really got what the space is for between the two sections of QR A350 biz class, it’s still space and contributes to the openness. Looking forward to reading reviews.

    • ChrisC says:

      Remember to always price up an ex U.K. trip not just ex EU – you may be surprised!

      I have an SFO in July (bought in the January Sale) that is cheaper than any ex EU I found.

      Ditto in the current sale for NYC next January.

      I prices up Toronto yesterday for October and again cheaper than the ex EUs involving the same long haul flights from LHR.

      • Doug M says:

        What are you finding? I’ve previously paid just over £1400 Ex-INV for a trip in May. 600TP not to be sniffed at using East Coast to transit.

  10. Looks like the smaller cabin of 12 seats will be very popular with those who have status. Rob, please keep us posted on the Madrid flights. I wouldn’t mind a cheeky summer break to Madrid to test out the seat.

  11. Graeme says:

    This just brings then I to line with their Oneworld partners, in terms of seat. That’s all.

  12. Any news on which Madrid flight the A350 is likely to
    be on yet ?

    • I was told 06.20 but not timetabled yet and could change.

      • BA currently operate a 777 from LHR-MAD on BA460 @ 13:20 and the return.

        I don’t for a second doubt your info that the A350 would be the 06:20 flight but would BA fly two wide body flights per day? This is in addition to Iberia using one daily too.

        My guess would be they switch the 777 for the A350.

        • The issue with the early 6:20 departure is that this rotation used to be operated by 767. Now it’s operated by 321 (if i’m not mistaken), so cargo is an issue. Remember IB has a rather large departure wave to long haul destinations, including South, Central, North America and Asia. I guess they see this as an issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if this rotation sees a long haul plane in the longer run.

        • courtster says:

          I think the first rotation was a bit of a stretch when the 777 first went on the schedule, the birds were only just getting back from their early long haul arrivals so subs or delays were common. Making it lunchtime meant there would be more available aircraft and would still still back in time to do operate an evening long haul.

          Ive booked a pre-emptive outbound on the 777 at 0620 is a bit early for me with a return on the 1055 with a 241 that was expiring in August. Fingres crossed! Worst case is I’ll get a couple of days to look round Segovia.

        • Doubt it. They MUST run the 777 for cargo reasons. If there is a problem with the A350 and the 777 is doing something else, BA is stuffed. Better to keep the 777 where it is to guarantee the cargo flow and then drop the A350 in and out as required.

        • Fair enough Rob. For now I’ve got both flights booked via Avios to Madrid so will cancel/change if need be, also got Toronto booked. I do like the “BA is stuffed” part though, although I don’t think they are 😉

  13. Mikeact says:

    If only BA would introduce a non stop service to Oz, we’d be more than happy in these seats. As it is we’re going to try the Qantas non stop to Perth early next year. Their Club seats seem to be very positive…we will see.

    • There are conflicting reports about how well this service is doing.

      • If they could squeeze the extra mileage to get to Melbourne or Sydney I’d imagine they’d do better. Perth is nice but many will then still end up with a very long internal flight to the East coast.

    • Nick_C says:

      At present, there isn’t a plane that can make it non stop from London to Sydney – at least not if you want to carry passengers and luggage! Qantas are committed to introducing non stop to Sydney oce a suitable plane becomes available. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45568179

      Personally, no matter how comfortable, I’m not sure I would want to be on a plane for 20hrs. I’d rather have a break, spend a few hours in the lounge, have a shower and a shave (etc)!

      Not sure how the economics of carrying a double set of crew stacks up.

  14. Michael says:

    My reaction is that these new seats/suites look fantastic! The VAST majority of people would be absolutely happy to fly in business class, no matter what, so for people to sit and complain is a bit boring. It looks like a dorm, so what, close the door 🙂 If you hate BA so much, fly one of the ME carriers and connect, easily solved. For the rest of us in the real world, I’ll be over the moon the first time I get to try the new seat! Well done BA

    • Hear hear, well said.

    • Peter 64K says:

      +1

      • +1 and I wonder how many of the moaners actually pay for their own flights

        • Someone who pays £1500 of their own money in a BA sale has more skin in the game than someone whose employer pays £4000 for a fully flex flight.

          I’m still waiting for BAEC to realise this.

        • Doug M says:

          Don’t you think they do. I think BAEC rewards the casual business flyer quite well, relatively easy to get status and reap the benefits of that.

        • Nick_C says:

          “Someone who pays £1500 of their own money in a BA sale has more skin in the game than someone whose employer pays £4000 for a fully flex flight.”

          Totally agree. If I’m paying to fly J, then its AA. If I’m on a redemption, its BA.

          When the new Club Suites roll out to TATL, I will happily pay to fly J on BA. BA have some fabulous cabin crew – currently their biggest asset. Plus if the flight back is delayed, I’m covered by EU261 on BA but not on AA.

        • Definitely agree on that latter point – got stuck with a 14h rolling overnight delay with AA and only got a handful of points.

  15. Have to say this is a lot better than I expected this would be! This with Do&Co catering makes this actually really nice proposition… Wow – yes I can’t believe I just all that!

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