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The new British Airways First Suite – the world’s first review

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The first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with the new British Airways First Suite has been flying for just over a week now.

Since we broke the story that a new First class Suite was being introduced we have seen a number of official and unofficial photos. What has been missing, until now, is an actual flight review.

British Airways First Suite review

One reader (who wishes to remain anonymous!) flew to New York last week and sent us some photos and his thoughts on the new seat. Over to him:

“With urgent business in New York, the 50% Avios redemption sale was an excellent opportunity to upgrade my business class ticket and try out the brand new First Suite that British Airways is installing on its new Boeing 777-300s.

The last time I flew first with BA was in 2018, on one of its Boeing 777s. I thought it would be interesting to compare the experience, especially as my return flight was with Club Suite on the same aircraft.

British Airways has chosen to fit eight First Suites in the cabin, in a 1-2-1 layout:

British Airways First Suite review

Whilst the aisle is the same width as Club Suite, the First Suite definitely comes with more personal space, I imagine due to the different angle of the seats.

I was sat in 1A:

British Airways First Suite review

The First Suite is based on the First seat on the 787s, and it should be familiar to anyone who has flown that particular cabin:

British Airways First Suite review

One change you’ll notice is that the little reading light is now on the inside of the seat rather than on the door side.

British Airways has also chosen not to install the electronically-controlled blinds. It’s not clear why not – they have them installed on the older 777s and the 787s have electronically dimming windows where it isn’t a problem.

British Airways First Suite review

Overhead air nozzles are also notably absent – disappointing for a First class product. I generally found the temperature in the cabin to be, as Monty Python put it, “up and down like the Assyrian Empire”.

BA’s First Suite doors

Unlike on Club Suite there are two doors that meet in the middle. These are locked open for take-off, which is fine, but I had to get out of my seat to unlock them to be able to close them which was annoying.

This was the first time the crew were flying with this seat too. Once they are fully trained, it may be that they are asked to go down the aisle and unlocking all the seats once at cruise, as they do with Club Suite.

British Airways First Suite review

As you can see, the doors don’t quite close properly, leaving a slight gap, which is pretty common on seats with doors. This doesn’t really affect your privacy, as anyone is able to look over the top of the door anyway when walking down the aisle!

British Airways First Suite review

The tray table slides out of the side console. Annoyingly, it isn’t adjustable forward or back – one area where Club Suite has a definite advantage.

Connectivity and seat controls

Connectivity is good, with two USB and one universal plug socket in the side table:

British Airways First Suite review

Seat controls are the same as on the First seat on the 787s, but having never flown that product I found them very unintuitive:

British Airways First Suite review

Don’t be deceived into thinking these are buttons. They are simply selectors which you can then adjust by turning the dial in the middle.

For example, to turn on a light, you must first tap on the light you want to change (which isn’t always that clear from the icon!) before dimming it up with the central wheel.

Some controls also only appear to be on the remote control with a second screen.

There wasn’t a guide explaining the seat controls either, although I admit that since this was one of the first flights there may be one in the future.

Annoyingly, there is ambient lighting underneath the side table. Whilst this is great, neither I nor the flight attendant could figure out how to turn this off when I wanted to sleep. This is not ideal as the lighting is right in your face in bed mode.

Storage on the First Suite

There is a lot of storage in the seat, with a narrow wardrobe for a jacket:

British Airways First Suite review

The ottoman also opens, with room for a backpack:

British Airways First Suite review

As well as a little cupboard with a vanity mirror (although this could have been a little bigger!):

British Airways First Suite review

More thoughts from First Suite

Although not related to the seat itself, I found the toilet for the First cabin very cramped, with a bifold door. The outboard toilets in the Club cabin felt much more spacious with a ‘proper’ door.

I found the seat belt uncomfortable for take-off and landing when you have to wear the shoulder strap. The height is not adjustable and digs into your neck, depending on your height. Luckily it isn’t required during the main portion of the flight.

PS. Despite having a First Class ticket and connecting from Manchester to London, British Airways has chosen not to provide lounge access for its premium customers in Manchester.

Whilst it is understandable that the British Airways operated lounge is temporarily closed, I’m not sure why they couldn’t offer access to the third party lounge next door.

First Suite vs Club Suite – which is better?

With 50% off my Avios redemption, upgrading to First was a no-brainer.

It’s a little less clear cut if First is considerably more expensive. Obviously you get all the soft product benefits of First – better lounges, food, bedding, pyjamas etc as well as more attentive service in the smaller cabin – but Club Suite has really closed the gap in terms of the seat itself.

One notable difference is the width and length of the seat, which is noticeably bigger in First. You also get more personal space. The big difference is that the Club World cabin on the Boeing 777-300ER is huge whereas First is much cosier with just eight Suites.

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Comments (83)

  • Andrew says:

    And yet still a ready meal in a cardboard box with plastic cups, whilst other airlines returned to a normal service months ago.

  • TGLoyalty says:

    “Whilst it is understandable that the British Airways operated lounge is temporarily closed, I’m not sure why they couldn’t offer access to the third party lounge next door.“

    Just cost cutting to the extreme!

    • Andrew says:

      Race to the bottom for BA.

    • Capt Hammond says:

      It’s not just the lounge at Manchester that BA are cost cutting on – they will only pay Man Airport for two check in agents. There is no business class check in facility.Check in opens 2.5 Hours before the flight and because of the understaffing, along with the additional time taken to check passengers in because of multiple additional Covid related entry requirements across different destinations, queues are horrendous. Poor effort from BA again when it comes to the provinces.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        There is huge cost cutting across the whole network.

        I can’t believe fast track isn’t open at Heathrow yet. I had a horrendous start to my journey a couple weeks back with queues out the terminal door at security and even after making myself known as I was going to miss the 35 min conformance otherwise. I just made the flight by final call, which wasn’t a problem as I was row 2 but it’s still not how I expect to start my journey as a club passenger.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      I’m glad BA is cost-cutting to the extreme. These are extreme circumstances and – for me – the survival of BA on the routes I want with a miles programme that works is extremely desirable.
      I am quite certain that some of BA’s competitors won’t survive.
      Airlines are a high volume game at low margins.

  • James Vickers says:

    Cost of first with BA for what you get is outrageous

  • JP-MCO says:

    No level of urgency would ever convince me to spend 14 days in the house when I get back from a business trip!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      If it was my own business I absolutely would.

      • JP-MCO says:

        I’ve owned a business for almost a decade and there’s no way I would. Despite everything that’s happened in the last 7 months, and there’s been some challenging circumstances, there’s not been a single situation that couldn’t be resolved by video link or phone call.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Plenty of contractors who need to physically attend locations. I’m primarily office based (well, home now), but have had an unavoidable need to attend remote sites in person probably 6/7 times since COVID commenced.

    • Mark says:

      There are exemptions from the quarantine mandate. I travel to UK for work from my home in France every so often and am not required to quarantine due to the nature of my work. Before anyone comments, I make a personal decision to self isolate prior to travel (working from home makes this possible) and currently use the tunnel rather than the star to minimise risk (there went the Carte Blanch I was looking forward to!)

      • Yuff says:

        No problem with you not self isolating when it’s ok, according to the met, for an MP to use public transport fir 7 hours having just tested positive!!!!

        • sigma421 says:

          To be boringly accurate, that is now illegal, it just wasn’t at the time she did it.

    • mradey says:

      I assume you refer to the quarantine, not the trip.

    • memesweeper says:

      You can’t service or repair an MRI machine by Zoom. Some things need doing in person.

  • Dev says:

    I see they decided to cut costs by not installing the automatic windows in First. They look good on the older aircraft and after all, aren’t we all told that first impressions count!

  • Paul says:

    The window blinds are coming and haven’t been forgotten.

    No long haul BA plane have air vents

  • memesweeper says:

    Many thanks to your anonymous reader, this is a great contribution that gives a proper sense of what BA are launching.

  • Jimbo says:

    Good review, thanks. As someone who’s flown FIRST 8 tines in last 3 years there’s Nothing in this review that would induce me to waste my money booking this fake first product! That thin wardrobe looks trouble .. how would crew fish out anything that drops from a pocket, new controls look and sound cheap, and the final nail in coffin is the light in your eyes when sleeping, to say nothing of doors that don’t close fully or a meal in a cardboard box. Cruz really did race to his bottom. Tara! You’ve won Mr. Cruz you f^cked a great airline and wander off with your enormous bonuses. Bye Bye BA

    • Rhys says:

      The wardrobe DOES connect with the ottoman, so lost items should be a little easier to retrieve!

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