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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)

  • Solitaire says:

    BA do not have a first class. It starts at 3rd and goes back. Old seat with a door, whoopy do! Not to mention putting up with the miserable de-motivated crew (you can’t blame them) and poor food (even pre-Covid). Don’t waste your Avios or money on this.

  • Paul says:

    Unintuitive, disappointing, annoying, uncomfortable!

    You’d never know this was a BA First review. LOL

  • Andrew says:

    And we thought Club Suite was a damp squib with the old style Qatar seat with an eye height door you can still see over when seated – and now this similarly unimaginative design.

    • Goldmember says:

      Well it’s better than no doors when it would have been blatantly obvious that Club Suite looked better than First. Until a time that First is updated with a revolutionary new product to put it ahead of that then it’s a suitable stopgap. I’m glad the reviewer tried it and was able to give the review but First in these times looks to be a complete waste of money and/or Avios as far as I’m concerned – especially on an aircraft featuring Club Suite as there’s not enough differential as to what I’m getting to warrant the additional cost.

      • Andrew says:

        Totally agree. Apparently the box meal is getting a hot main course in Club World from next month – so be interesting to see how they improve First if at all, as at the moment the hot ready meal is the only difference in terms of soft product.

      • Tom says:

        I think you’ll be waiting a very long time if you’re expecting BA to come up with a revolutionary first product! One that isn’t currently beaten by ANA’s new business class would be a start…

        • Goldmember says:

          I’m happy to wait and not spend any of my money/Avios on First for the time being. A boxed meal and plastic cups isn’t really worth anyone’s money least of all my own. Seems such a waste. Especially when on a Club Suite aircraft.

        • Goldmember says:

          lol @ ANA – how many Business Class products have they currently got on the go exactly and how many routes to they operate their “The Room” Business class on? Looks nice and wide but leg space looks hemmed in (perfect for a sumo wrestler perhaps?) 😊

          • Tom says:

            It’s a relevant comparison because ANA are flying it on LHR-HND every day, going up against the BA flights directly on purpose! Indeed, BA have now mostly dropped F on Tokyo, in addition to COVID presumably partly because it just doesn’t square up against the competition at all any more.

            Presumably you haven’t actually flown it and are just assuming there is less space? At 6ft2 I certainly don’t have freedom of movement in BA F when laying down (other than on the A380).

            Not really sure why I’m bothering responding TBH because it’s clear you are looking to defend BA whatever (I also love the vanity of defining yourself as BA Gold just so everyone knows, not that that’s particularly difficult to achieve..)

        • Goldmember says:

          lol it’s a just name Tom. I take it you’re not an Austin Powers fan?

          As for being a BA defender, far from it – you only have to read above. But realistically if all BA would be competing on is the Tokyo traffic then that’s probably not a up there in the serious competition stakes is it – considering its a joint venture route that they share profits on with JAL and Finnair.

        • Goldmember says:

          And as I also mentioned, I think BA F with a door will do as a short term hard product fix (where fitted). As for medium to long term solution for a revolutionary hard product I think it’ll be a long wait and at any rate the soft product is always the general let down where BA is concerned. I’d much rather be on a Far Eastern carrier full stop.

  • Paul says:

    Unfortunate the First toilet felt cramped as it is larger than the current 777 First Class toilet. Only the accessible toilet in Club has a non-folding door, the rest of the Club toilets have folding doors and are smaller.

  • David says:

    How were you allowed into the US?

    • Mark says:

      US citizen perhaps?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      There are a number of exceptions its not a complete ban.

      • Rob says:

        Anyone UK passport holder can enter the US as long as they have not been in the UK or EU in the previous 14 days. Fly to Istanbul, have a 2 week holiday in Turkey and you can then fly to the US.

        • Nick says:

          Plenty of people also have visas that are exempt and/or have other types of exemptions. The number of British passengers who can fly to the US at the moment really surprised me… just a shame it’s not me!

          • ChrisC says:

            There are exemptions that cover people such as diplomats, law enforcement and ‘National Security’.

            Business and organisations can also apply for a waiver for certain specialist staff that they may need that aren’t otherwise available in the US and whose physical presence Is actually required.

        • Lady London says:

          But will the US still let you do that non-visa visa waiver program thing online before travelling now, if you do the Turkey alternative?

        • mutley says:

          Would you need to fly direct from Istanbul or could you route back via LHR and transfer to US bound flight?

  • Errol says:

    Wow you had to pull out all the stops to give this review some balance – maybe instruction cards, maybe the crew will unlock the doors, and the more attentive service in F is, in my experience, definitely a maybe. Seems like a lack of attention to detail by BA – eg. If the tray table doesn’t slide, forward or back, do you have to move the whole seat to get the spacing right to eat or work, and to nip out of your seat to use the loo? Also I value clear controls that I can operate when I wake up, groggy and without my glasses on. And ambient lighting that doesn’t switch off when you sleep – that’s just crazy. I’d love someone involved in the design to come on here and explain these basic missteps. Was there a senior management meddler who sought to demonstrate their power by over-riding the design team with their own “wisdom”?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The review does certainly give the impression of a lack of refinement. Especially surprising given that it’s a modest evolution of an existing design – you’d have thought they’d know where to smooth off the edges by now.

  • Alan says:

    +2
    My partner and I flew BA First to Santiago in January, BA’s longest route. Only 1 hot towel before take off for the entire flight, previous passenger used socks left on the ottoman and not cleaned, no slippers, that flight catering only loaded English breakfast tea nothing else (even their menu had a long list), desert only 1 option (again, menu has several options), really poor catering…

  • Opus says:

    The way people talk about BA first. I think it might be better for them to scrap it since no one is willing to pay for this “crap”. They certainly shouldn’t waste time investing in a proper one because they won’t get they won’t get their money back

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