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Who won ‘Best New Business Class Seat 2019’ at the Head for Points Awards?

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Over Christmas and New Year, we are unveiling the winners of the inaugural Head for Points Travel & Loyalty Awards.  For Boxing Day we are on Category 2 – “Best New Business Class Seat”.

The Head for Points Travel & Loyalty Awards 2019 are a great opportunity to recognise the cream of the crop when it comes to UK premium business and leisure travel. A lot of the areas we are covering, such as airport lounges and travel credit cards, are ignored by other awards because they are too niche – but for our readers, they are very important and appreciated.

Over 4,500 HFP readers voted over three weeks in November. There were 12 categories in total. As well as giving an award to each category winner, we are also giving out a number of ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards for products and services which we personally admire.

Each winner will receive a trophy which we will be presenting at a special dinner in January. You can catch up with all of the winners we have announced to date by clicking here.

What is the best new business class seat?

Today we are announcing the winner of ‘Best New Business Class Seat’. And the winner is….

British Airways

British Airways beat three other short-listed airlines to the top slot, trumping Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class Suite, ANA’s The Room and Turkish Airlines’ new Aurora seat.

The British Airways Club Suite was a long time coming and, after an initial reveal this Spring, finally went on to commercial flights in August.  It wasn’t just a brand new seat – it was first launched on a brand new aircraft, the A350, although you can now find it on a handful of Boeing 777 and, in recent weeks, the first deliveries of the new Boeing 787-10.

Here is my review of the initial Club Suite flight to New York.

British Airways A350 Club Suite

I wouldn’t say that expectations were low when it came to the new British Airways seat.  What is fair to say is that Club World had fallen so far off the pace that pretty much anything would have been an improvement.  There was a risk that BA would settle for something that was ‘good enough’, given that BA is also supported by its strong position at Heathrow, without raising the bar.

We were wrong.  We were amongst the first to experience Club Suite and were surprised just how good it was.  Despite being an off-the-shelf product, British Airways has done some excellent modifications to customise the seat and improve it even further – most obviously by adding a door, but also by adjusting the tray table mechanism for additional flexibility.

Best New Business Class Seat 2019

What British Airways has now is a very competitive seat which finally means that Club World will have all-aisle access, increased storage and a bigger and better TV screen. The uniformity of the cabin is an additional bonus, with all seats virtually identical.  You won’t be caught out if you don’t reserve seats in advance, and indeed I don’t see any need to pay to reserve specific seats if you do not have British Airways status.

Coupled with the new improved Do&Co catering, as well as a relatively fast roll out (30% of the long-haul Heathrow fleet will be Club Suite by next Christmas), BA is in with a real chance of changing customer perceptions over how ‘premium’ it actually is.

Best New Business Class Seat 2019

We should say a few words about the new Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Suite, pictured below.  As with Club Suite, this is a huge improvement on the old seat which it is replacing.  Taken as an entirity – including ‘The Loft’ social space on the new A350 aircraft (more on that to come as the awards unfold) and the warm and welcoming colour scheme – it is great.  The airline has been forced to modify the tables, however, due to negative feedback and there are still issues over storage space.  The jury is out on whether the half-closing door adds much.

At the end of the day, I think it was the shock of seeing British Airways taking such a major leap forward which made so many readers reward them with their vote.   I don’t blame them.  Club Suite could well be the best business class seat offered by any European airline at the moment.

Best New Business Class Seat 2019

We also decided to award an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in this category.

The winner of the ‘Editor’s Choice’ award is …….

ANA

Although ANA’s route between London and Tokyo is a niche one for most UK flyers, their new business class product, “THE Room” is exceptionally good.

“THE Room” is a brand new custom designed seat. What will strike you first is just how wide the seat is. Rob tried it out recently on the ground at the media launch and was even able to sit in the seat comfortably with an extra person!  “THE Room” still tapers into a foot well but it is nonetheless a new and innovative seat that rethinks how personal space is allocated on an aircraft.

ANA business class the room

“THE Room” is complemented by 24″ 4k screens as well as retractable privacy screens and doors that allow for full privacy if raised.  There is even a second opening which allows the crew to pass you your meal without having to open the suite door.

The ANA London-Tokyo route is also one of the best value redemptions you can make from the UK using your Virgin Flying Club Miles. Coupled with the new seat, flying to Japan has never looked so good!

The aim of the ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards is to highlight products or services which the Head for Points team believe are excellent and which deserve wider recognition.  We can’t think of a better example than ‘THE Room’, which shows yet again how the Asian and Middle East carriers are still setting the pace in innovative seat design.  If you are flying to Tokyo in 2020 in Business Class, we recommend giving it a try.

Congratulations to both British Airways and ANA on their success.  They will be picking up their awards at our winner’s dinner on 13th January.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of ‘Best Airline or Rail Loyalty Scheme’.

Comments (99)

  • Alan says:

    This one was always a hit of a foregone conclusion…

  • Jon says:

    I think I recall (though I admit I may be mis-remembering) someone commenting a while back that despite what the Virgin Flying Club rules state, one-way redemptions on ANA with VFC miles can be done… Can anyone shed any light?

    A one-way Tokyo-London next year could be very useful to me. Has anyone managed it, or is it definitely a no? Thanks.

  • Brian says:

    Lol at the idiots voting for the “10 year old already” BA seat over ANA’s. Brain dead idiots.

    • Darren says:

      Thanks for your contribution Brian, have a lovely day

    • Nick says:

      Good Morning To You Brian,
      Could you be so kind as to advise whether you have flown both the new BA Club suite and ANA The Room?
      Your name and reply did amuse me this morning and reminds me of that old Christmas Cracker joke. Q: What do you call the person with the dyslexic brain? A: Brian
      Happy Boxing Day!

    • Farid hagmil says:

      Hi Brian,.I will not call them idiots, just bias as they may work for BA?
      You can imagine Headforpoints to have a significantly disproportionate share of BA employees?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        You may find that employees of large corporations don’t actually like the products they produce. Usually because they know far more about the niggles/faults that exist and also familiarity breeds contempt.

  • Phil says:

    “ Although ANA’s route between London and Heathrow is a niche one…”.
    Yep, that’s pretty niche I’d say. 😧 😂

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    If the award is for “best improvement over old offering” then clearly it’s BA, but if its best seat irrespective of what went before, then it’s ANA imho.
    I think I read it as the latter and voted accordingly…..like the editors?

    • Rob says:

      That’s why we’re running both awards. There are more examples like this to come 🙂

      • Doug M says:

        Of the people that voted how many do you suppose will have done BA, VS and the NH seat.

        • Rob says:

          I think the basis of any ‘new’ award is that you haven’t necessarily tried it yet, but like the sound of it. That said, the order of the winners is probably the same as the order in which readers have flown them.

  • Trini says:

    OT: anyone used virgin cc with Revolut after 17/12 with no charges?

    • Mr. AC says:

      *checks statement* OMG
      That’s 4 more cash advance fees than I’m comfortable with… Was there an indication from Virgin they were changing the rules? I have received no mail.

      • Mr. AC says:

        Question to people more well-versed in the system: do transactions that are marked as “cash” start attracting interest immediately, or they are interest-free if clearing the balance via Direct Debit? Trying to figure out if I need to clear the balance it some portion of the balance (the “cash” tx?) via a debit card top up ASAP.

        • Grant says:

          “No interest free period for balance transfers, money transfers or cash advances” – i.e. you pay interest from the day of the transaction.

          “Payments received will be allocated to pay balances with the highest interest rates first…”

      • Benilyn says:

        Does the cash advance show up on the intra month statement on the website as you log in, or end of month statements only (the PDFs)?

    • Ian says:

      Yes, Virgin top up on 21/12 – no fees

    • Grant says:

      Seems to be mixed experiences. Colin McK posted the other to say he had some cash advance charges and it seems that Revolut are applying a different MCC to some, but not all, top-ups.

      • Lady London says:

        It looks like Colin M had a few transactions fail (fx conversions) that may have needed manual intervention – i.e. a human – to look at his account. This may not have been a good thing. It may be why his wife’s account has not had transactions reclassified to MCC types, whereas he has.

    • TripRep says:

      How much/many top ups are you folks doing between different cards per month?

      I was only really doing about £1000/month for Hilton in a single top up, which I’ve actually spent in foreign currency transactions in the last couple of months as was in Turkey and US. But now will consider Virgin, but wondered what was deemed to be appropriate to putting through it per month.

      Email me if more appropriate, click on my username.

      • Grant says:

        I did £2.5k on 19/12 with no fees

        • Hi,

          In our family, Revolut have changed the MCC on my top-ups but not on my wife’s. So far, seems to have affected my Virgin and IHG top-ups – a cash advance charge (5%) on Virgin online statements immediately, and the interest charge on my IHG monthly statement when it cam out the other day.

          Don’t know about Lloyds – nothing online and monthly statement not arrived yet.

          Normally put 3 x 200 a week through IHG and 6 x 500 a week through Vurgin and recently started putting 4 x 400 a week through Lloyds. Lloyds often gave a payment failed a few times and then worked – typical Lloyds IT (perhaps that was what annoyed Rev?)

          Put a lot through to pay my mum’s care home fees and an upcoming long holiday overseas.

          Didn’t use Rev to pay Brighton etc.

          Going to be off on hols soon, so not going to challenge Revo (there is 4k in dollars stuck there after a failed transfer to Tanzania which I will use later – but on second thoughts I may just transfer back into GBP and close the account – don’t want it frozen for alleged cash washing!)

          All a shame, was thinking Rev was good enough to be my main bank account.

          ps It was also pointed out to me that I should challenge Rev because it was against their own rules and cash advances on credit cards don’t look good on credit scores. If anyone does, let me know!

          • Grant says:

            I would be tempted to ask why the sudden change in MCC with no prior warning.

          • John says:

            Revolut isn’t a bank (yet) and I don’t think there is any way of contacting them other than using an app, so I don’t understand why anyone would use them as a “main account”

            I don’t think one cash advance hurts anything but four is too many

          • Isolde says:

            Hi Colin,

            Please could you tell me how you find out which MCC is being used by Revolut? Is it on the linked card statement?

            Thanks

          • Lady London says:

            Your point is very good about cash advance type transactions – which I presume these are the MCC codes you are getting now that you didn’t get before – being a very bad thing on your credit report.

            If the nature of what you’re doing is not equivalent to a cash advance then I think you’re entitled to protest to them and say they are misclassifying your transactions and that you would like them reclassified back again to non-MCC codes due to the negative impact on your credit report. As long as you’re not doing ML, MS / cash recycling and can explain why you’re not, I don’t think you should have a problem. If push comes to shove you could close the account and contact the credit agencies to state you closed the account due to transactions incorrectly being classified as cash transactions when they werent and have them put the note on your record.. But I wonder realistically how many HfP readers landing MCC coded transactions are in a position to protest that what they’re doing is not MS.

            I’d suggest you contact them quickly if you are going to challenge it because cash advances may hit your credit report sooner than you think – perhaps even monthly. Others will know better than me how this works.

          • Shoestring says:

            Colin – I think I will prefer death by alcohol all the more after you told me those sums! I never wanted to be in a care home & sounds like you’d rob the kids of a lot of inheritance in a couple of years

            much better my plan – sit on the terrace drinking the good stuff and fade gradually into the distance

          • Shoestring,

            My plan is always to have sufficient avios for a one-way trip to Switzerland.

            My godson’s fees at Winchester are less than my mum’s care home fees. Fortunately her pension from 40 years as a full-time GP (it was a 24/7 contract in her day!) just – in no more – pays her care home fees.

            I know she would have preferred the money for the care home to have been spent on giving greater opportunities for some of her former patients from working-class Maryhill .

            And she’s not in a fancy care home – a few of the residents are former patients!

        • Shoestring says:

          I reckon you & I have got it right, pretty much the same thing

          good luck with your mum

    • Rich says:

      I haven’t topped up Revolut since then, but a payment to Monese (via Curve) has posted as a purchase.

      • Grant says:

        AFAIK you don’t need to use Curve as a conduit for topping up Monese.

        • Rich says:

          Ta. Tbh I’ve only ever topped it up a couple of times for the gift card promos, but I noticed it has much higher overseas spending limits than Curve or Revolut so I might end up using it more in the future

  • Chris says:

    Hey Rob, I replied to your comment on the Amazon business discount article the other day, not sure if you saw it. Any easy way of getting the code to work that helped the other dozens of people you spoke of?

    • Rob says:

      It is all working fine now – no major issues for 6-8 months. If it does not, assuming account is verified and you are not paying by invoice, the issue is usually something to do with your purchase.

      If there are multiple items in your order, all must be delivered together. This is a key reason for the code failing.

  • Rich says:

    OT Melia is having a Boxing Day sale. “Up to 50% off”. Nothing like that on the trip I was looking at, more like 10%, but there is a saving.

    Don’t forget to use one of your three 20% off codes if you’re Gold, and a further 5% for booking via the app.

    • Doug M says:

      Thanks for mentioning. The countdown clock seems to say that you have until tomorrow midnight to book.

    • Benilyn says:

      Doesn’t look like points are on sale again right?

      • Charles says:

        Points seem to be a bit cheaper than regular pricing – working out at 0.5c euro per point. Not as good as during the Black Friday sale (0.35c) but better than full price (0.7c).