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The new British Airways First Suite – the 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.

Comments (83)

  • Lentil soup says:

    I read this article thinking this all seems a bit mediocre and uncompetitive for First. Sure enough most of these comments are consistent with that.

  • Russ says:

    Trouble is it costs money to bring in ergonomics/human factors people so airlines use their own engineers/designers to draw up these things then bring in ergonomists/human factors engineers in the hope they will give it the once over and just rubber stamp them as human friendly. It doesn’t work that way . So what you end up with is passenger’s pressing ‘buttons’ with a reasonable expectation of a desired outcome only to be left feeling deflated wondering what he/she is doing wrong.

  • TomD says:

    Lol the likes of Qatar/Singapore/Cathay/ANA etc business class blows BA First out of the water!

    • Andrew says:

      Yes, in every way – hard product, lounge, food and drink, and crew service.

      • Peter K says:

        Wow. A chip on your shoulder there Andrew? So much vitriol in so many comments about BA. I’m not saying they are wrong but it does make me wonder why such apparent hatred vented towards them from one person!

        • marcw says:

          In general, the comment section on this site has lost value – there are still some very interesting and insightful comments every now and again, but as a general rule, it used to be way more interesting. Now its just transforming into a – too often – toxic environmentl; no comments at all; or 241 and Revolut/Curve/Ernie/,,,, spending spams. When this community was smaller, it was a way more enjoyable place.

        • Andrew says:

          Just a disappointment that BA can’t up their game a bit – so I’m expressing that in my comments. The catering thing really irritates me as it’s this doing us a favour approach that BA seem to always adopt. Anyway sorry for boring, I’ll keep out of the discussion now.

          • AndyC says:

            Andrew, as far as I’m concerned your comments re BA are absolutely spot-on. As someone who has experienced ‘F’ on both the B-787 and the A380, sorry to say, but I too had the distinct impression that I was the one being ‘done a favour to’, rather than the other way around. Not a particularly pleasant feeling when you’re seated in BA’s so-called ‘premium product’!

    • John says:

      Sadly none of them fly to the US, which is where the majority of my business travel was before COVID hit!

  • Tom Murray says:

    No wonder he wanted to remain anonymous 🙂

  • krys_k says:

    Any intelligence on when the Concorde room will open ? For me that’s when I’d consider to fly First (via Avios of course 😉

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I believe they are very happy with the CCT set up. So unless first lounge returns to levels of occupancy seen before I can’t see it returning.

  • A says:

    Why no blinds?
    The aesthetic alone with the coloured lighting sets the F cabin apart normally….

  • NFH says:

    Since 13th October 2020, all iPhones are supplied with modern USB-C cables instead of the old USB-B cables. Other manufacturers had already done the same a while ago. BA’s USB sockets look like USB-B. Why has BA fitted USB-B instead of USB-C with PD? This is madness.

    • Alex W says:

      USB 2/3 is still far more prevalent than USB C. At this point you’d probably upset more people if you made it USB C only. Besides you can easily get a USB C cable with a traditional USB connector on the other end. It won’t charge as fast but heck you’ll have 7+ hours available!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      There’s a pretty easy solution to that travel with a USB-A cable.

      Which is by far the most common usb connector available in public spaces.

    • Ken M says:

      So since 8 days ago all iPhones that have not yet been released come with a USB-C to lightning. As of 21 October 2020 most people have USB-A cable that plugs into the wall plug for their phone chargers

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Well, 13th October was easily long enough ago for them to have reached critical mass, then – certainly I know I’ve binned my old cable in preparation for the new iPhone to actually be out and clearly all phones are iPhones so yes this comment makes absolute sense

    • Alan says:

      No, they’re not USB-B (that’s what you find on printers), they’re USB-A sockets. I’m not sure I’d hold Apple up as standard bearers for USB-C given they’re still putting Lightning connectors on most of their non-Pro devices. It’s perfectly easy to have a spare USB-A cable or adapter, most hotel rooms will also have USB-A sockets.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Interesting read – of significant interest to me also though is also how the hell the reviewer actually got *into* the US?

    Resident or super narrow range of essential travel reasons isn’t it?