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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
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:
Seat controls are the same as on the First seat on the 787s, but having never flown that product I found them very unintuitive:
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:
The ottoman also opens, with room for a backpack:
As well as a little cupboard with a vanity mirror (although this could have been a little bigger!):
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.