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Review: Club Suite business class on a British Airways A350

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This is the second of two posts about the arrival of BA’s A350. In the first article I looked at the event itself whilst this article will be a closer look at the Club Suite itself.

This is the first time that HfP – and indeed anyone apart from some select British Airways personnel – had seen the cabin. When Club Suite was first announced Rob was able to see a virtual reality mockup but it is quite hard to get a sense of the space through two tiny head-mounted screens.

The first thing you notice about the British Airways A350-1000 is the brand new plane smell.  If you have ever been on a new(ish) aircraft you may know what I mean.

What is the Club Suite cabin like?

Although the A350 wasn’t flying off anywhere, British Airways had set the aircraft up as if it was ready to welcome passengers onboard. Overhead mood lighting, as well as in seat lighting, had been switched on to give a fuller picture of what passengers can expect.

It looked very smart. Although it uses quite a muted colour palette of greys and some wood effect, it does look good:

British Airways A350 Club Suite seat

British Airways has retained overhead bins on both sides of the aisle as well as above the centre pair of seats, ensuring plenty of storage. They have NOT opted for adjustable air vents, although there are overhead reading lights in addition to those included in the seat.

There are two business class Club Suite cabins. The first cabin contains 44 suites in eleven rows whilst the second is much smaller with only three rows at 12 seats in total. In total there are 56 Club Suite seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with all-aisle access.

British Airways A350 Club Suite cabin

The two cabins are divided by the self-service Club Kitchen:

British Airways A350 Club Suite kitchen

…. as well as two toilets (there are three toilets in total in Business). Although they did not have a huge footprint, the way the toilet and sink has been set up makes them feel quite spacious.

British Airways Club Suite toilet

The British Airways Club Suite seat

The Club Suite is based on the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat, rather than an in-house design, although it has been significantly customised. The Club Suite is the first time that the Super Diamond has featured a door.

British Airways A350 Club Suite cabin

The first thing that struck me when I sat in the seat is that it feels remarkably spacious. Despite the door and the fairly high seat surrounds, it does not feel cramped. With storage on one side and a retractable armrest on the other, there is plenty of room at head-height.

The seat itself feels comfortable, despite the fact that I am 6’2″ and have relatively broad shoulders. Here it is in seat mode:

British Airways A350 Club Suite seat

And here in bed mode, with The White Company bedding:

British Airways A350 Club Suite bed

and

British Airways A350 Club Suite British Airways A350 Club Suite bed

One of my main concerns regarding the Club Suite was that it might be too private. In renders and other photos the middle divider between the centre pair of seats looked very small.

It IS small – only about a foot (30cm) can be moved. However, this has been carefully positioned so that when both passengers are seated you can see each other without having to move forward or back. This affords privacy whilst still enabling conversations and a line of sight with your neighbour.

British Airways A350 Club Suite privacy divider

The literature pocket is at the top of the seat.

British Airways A350 Club Suite seat

Storage

Storage has also been improved on Club Suite. There are now four storage areas. The first is a small cupboard at eye-level which comes with a mirror. This is perfect for storing headphones or bottles.

British Airways A350 Club Suite seat

There are two shallow storage areas along the side console. One of these is outfitted with two USB plugs, a headphone socket and universal power socket as well as the personal in flight entertainment controller.

British Airways Club Suite storage

Finally, there is an open storage compartment at foot level, again suitable for headphones, water bottles or similarly sized objects.

Leg room

If you have read our previous coverage of the Club Suite you will know it comes with a foot cubby when in bed mode. This innovation has now become one of the most popular ways to ensure direct aisle access for every passenger without reducing the density of business class configurations. Most airlines are now installing seats with foot cubby holes, so British Airways is in good company.

At 6’2″ I was able to lay flat in the seat with no problems. The height of the cubby isn’t quite as generous although I do have decent sized feet and kept my shoes on:

British Airways A350 Club Suite foot cubby

Although not without its detractors, the foot cubby is a decent compromise when it comes to being able to offer direct-aisle access.

Tray table

The tray table is one of the stand-out pieces of engineering in the Club Suite seat. It slides out directly from underneath the in-flight entertainment screen, and can be latched in two positions: all the way out or, alternatively, at a half-way point. It is a full-width table which can be folded out. This means you can keep it as a small table for drinks or snacks, or it can be folded out to create a large table for dining. It is very nicely done.

British Airways A350 Club Suite tray table

In flight entertainment is provided by an 18.5″ Panasonic screen. It is fixed so can be used gate-to-gate which is an improvement. We weren’t able to test the IFE on our walk-through but this looks like a solid offering.

The best seats in British Airways A350 Club Suite cabin

Whilst all the Club Suite seats are nominally identical – all have direct aisle access, identical legroom and privacy – the seats are not perfectly aligned with the windows in the A350-1000. This means that, depending on which row you are seated in, you have between one and two windows.

Rows 3, 4, 7 and 17 all have one window only.

Rows 2, 5, 6, 8 and 16 have one and a half windows each

Whilst rows 1, 9, 10 and 15 all have two windows.

This is not a massive variance but might factor into your choice of seat if you are particularly picky.

Conclusion

I am, surprisingly, impressed by the new Club Suite.  My worries that it would feel too cramped and private have proved unfounded. When seated it feels remarkably spacious, and the addition of the door is a clear improvement.

Whilst it would be nice for the entire divider to retract between seat pairs, the sliding partition does allow for conversations. It is – obviously – not as ideal for families or couples travelling together compared to the previous Club World double beds, but it is not quite as extreme as I thought it might be.

The additional storage storage is a bonus, and the in-flight entertainment will be gate-to-gate which is a clear improvement.

The design and engineering of the tray table is exceptional. Whilst this may sound like an insignificant detail, if you consider how much the table gets used it is a small detail that elevates the whole travelling experience.

It’s safe to say that British Airways has outdone our expectations and developed a product that is really very good. The real test will be in a week’s time, when we are due to fly to Madrid on the first commercial flight with Alex Cruz, the BA CEO, himself …..


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Comments (118)

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

  • Charlieface says:

    And for those of us who don’t live in London you can have a late afternoon stop in the Great Hounslow Desert. So essentially the same thing.
    Top it off on a flight to Australasia regions with a quick bounce through the isolated Singapore Island and a few hours in the Sydney Steppe.
    Definitely, BA.

    • PGW says:

      Correct. For those of us who are fortunate enough to live outside the London area, BA is so often a poor choice. Flying to many secondary Asian destinations from regional airports often requires just 1 connection on ME3 whereas the same destinations using BA require 2 stops including the zoo that is LHR or, even worse, both LHR & LGW.

      • The Original David says:

        I think your spectacles are rose-tinted – surely all your one-stop regional options are also available from London? If you look outside BA, LHR has a huge range of direct options to secondary Asian destinations, particularly in China.

        Is there any carrier serving a UK regional airport that doesn’t serve London?

  • Nick_C says:

    As someone with no status, I look forward to being able to get a good Club World seat without having to pay up to £111 to select a specific seat!

    The things I hate about CW are climbing over people’s legs (or being climbed over), the lack of privacy of the aisle seats, and the lack of storage. This new cabin seems to fix all these issues. Well done BA.

    • C77 says:

      And you absolutely have that option – by paying for a full fare ticket you get the complimentary seat assignment feature for free. It’s probably going to cost you more than £111 though when comparing to the cheapest ticket but if we’re going to go down that old road (BA has been doing it for 13yrs now) then let’s keep all the facts in there.

      • TripRep says:

        C77

        IIRC – Virgin don’t charge for seat selection on redemptions in Premium cabins.

        Been this way for years. Just keeping all the facts in there.

      • Nick_C says:

        But if I’m buying a ticket and heading West, I can fly AA and choose my seat when I buy a ticket without paying an extra £200.

        BA may have been ripping off Business Class passengers for 13 years, but the seat selection fee has got ridiculous. No other major airline charges J passengers to reserve a seat.

        If I’m redeeming Avios and a voucher, then it makes sense to use BA. If I’m buying a ticket, it does not.

  • Alan says:

    Looks decent, my main worry was the foot cubby but it appears bigger than the very cramped Swiss ‘throne’ seat one or the Finnair A350 one 🤞

  • M Todd says:

    It looks better than I was expecting although it still looks a long way off QSuites! Obviously the issue with Qatar is that you struggle know know if you will get QSuites, although I guess for quite some time BA will now be running two different types of business class but hopefully the A350’s will be reliable and not have to have many plane swaps!
    All that said for now I will stick with BA F to North America and then other airlines when flying East, it looks good for what it is but unlike QSuite not somethig that would tempt me out of F. Which probably means BA have got the product design and placement spot on.

    Before I get jumped on I am not suggesting BA should have matched QSuite, they don’t need to with the primary market they serve, simply comparing the new product to what I consider the best business class in the sky!

  • Paul says:

    “Rows 3, 4, 7 and 17 all have one window only.
    Rows 2, 5, 6, 8 and 16 have one and a half windows each
    Whilst rows 1, 9, 10 and 15 all have two windows.
    This is not a massive variance but might factor into your choice of seat if you are particularly picky!”
    ************

    BA will probably have flexible pricing for seat selection charging a premium now depending on number of windows!

    • Polly says:

      And how far you want to be away from galley noise or loo queues.

  • Philip says:

    Good article.

    Now all we nee to know are which Madrid flights the A350 will be scheduled on, so that we can check out the Club Suite for ourselves 🙂

  • John says:

    Even when the hard product is now in line with the competition I doubt that attitude of the stuff will change as well .Most of the time I find BA flight attendants arrogant , behaving like they own the plane and doing you a favour by doing their job .My experience is mostly on club. world LHR-HKG and JFK which i fly regularly and maybe 1 in 10 flight I get a ldecent crew.

    • John says:

      More like 9 in 10 for me.

    • Lumma says:

      Personally I’ve never had a terrible crew on a British Airways flight. I think it’s often just because it’s typically British service and slightly reserved, in comparison to the insincere over the top American service going west or the subservient service you get from the Asian and Middle East carriers

      • Lady London says:

        +1 on the other carriers but have had a couple of BA longhaul crews where you felt all they wanted to do was get the food out, turn up the heat so everyone would call asleep and disappear for the rest of the flight. Not for a while though.

        M’y respect for an Airlines crew is based on how they treat Economy passengers. I’m still to be found travelling a lot there. Have been really impressed with Delta crew there.

    • Mikeact says:

      Some people are just never happy……you say you fly regularly HKG and JFK. Both routes have ample competition from London. If you’re that aggrieved I suggest you fly with another carrier.

  • Catalan says:

    An excellent review and a great looking product.
    BA haters, please stay away from it!

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