British Airways is the latest airline to jump on the new seat bandwagon, revealing a brand new business class seat and layout for the new A350s that it will receive later this year.
Direct-aisle access, flat beds, more storage, larger in-flight entertainment screens are some of the improvements BA mentioned that the new suite will offer, but the biggest win for this new product is a suite door which can be closed for more privacy, similar to Qatar’s Qsuite.
The new A350 will offer 56 of these Club Suites, along with 56 premium economy seats – World Traveller Plus – as well as 219 economy class World Traveller seats for a total of 331 seats.
The new seat is a customised version of Collins Aerospace ‘Elements’ Business Class seat, which can be found on some other airlines including China Airlines and Virgin Australia. However, BA has gone a step further and is the first airline to install the privacy door, effectively calling it a suite.
In a reverse herringbone layout, the seat faces either the middle or towards the window, and each seat will have its own overhead cabin space as well.
In bed mode, the bed measures about 2 metres long (79 inches), but the end narrows into a V shape to take the space under the console of the seat in front.
Some of the other features of the seat include charging sockets, more storage in the seat, and also electronic seat controls.
Much needed upgrade
Currently, BA’s Club World seats are amongst the worst in business class: a 2-4-2 configuration in an alternating front- and back-facing pattern, which forces customers in the middle and at the windows to climb over their neighbours’ legs.
Contrast that to today’s norm of a 1-2-1 configuration with all seats offering direct aisle access, that is obviously a very lagging design.
While BA was a pioneer in offering flat beds back in 2000, the lead was quickly lost as other airlines progressively refreshed their product over the years (some more than once) while BA left its business class seats alone for nearly two decades.
Where will the news seats be on?
BA will be taking delivery of several new aircraft and fleet types, including the A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9, over the next few years. The new Club Suites will be available on all these aircraft, and also progressively retrofitted on the Boeing 777-300ER fleet, with the first two be fitted by the end of 2019.
At the time of writing, Mainly Miles reported that at least six aircraft will feature the new seats by the end of the year, including four brand new A350-1000s, the first of which should be delivered by July 2019.
The first couple of long haul routes the new seats will travel to, unfortunately, will not reach Asian shores as yet. The new A350-1000s will first be deployed to Toronto, and then Dubai. So I guess that leaves us with the older product for now, until BA takes delivery of more new aircraft in the coming years.