British Airways Unveils Their New Business Class Seat, Suites With Doors

Over the weekend British Airways teased the look of their new business class seat. Now they’ve revealed it.

  • It’s much better than what I was expected
  • It’s less revolutionary than what they once promised

The airline that pioneered lie flat seats in long haul business class hasn’t really refreshed their product since 2006. The current-generation British Airways seat is well past its prime, and is still going to be flying for many years.

Introducing Direct Aisle Access Suite With Door

Whereas they once said they were going to create a true industry-leading bespoke product, they’re taking something off the shelf and modifying it — but adding some great modifications.

The new ‘Club Suite’ will debut in their new Airbus A350s with 56 business class seats which start arriving in July and flying long haul October 1. The A350 will initially be flying London – Madrid before operating long haul.


Credit: British Airways

They’ll be using the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat from Collins Aerospace (fully flat with direct aisle access) with a door added on, along with:

40 per cent more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens*, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC / USB power


Credit: British Airways

Retrofitting Existing Fleet Will Move Slow

As far as the rest of the fleet eventually seeing these seats they predict a slow (“carefully managed”) retrofit “designed to minimise disruption to customers” as opposed to being designed to offer a good business class hard product quickly. They’ll retrofit two Boeing 777s to offer these seats by the end of the year.


Credit: British Airways

BA Will Eventually Have One of the Better Business Hard Products

BA is using the Rockwell Collins Super Diamond seat that has become the American Airlines standard for their new installations. American has it in their Boeing 787-9s and many Boeing 777-200s. Except British Airways has added doors.

This is a very good seat, and once they have it on a critical mass of planes at some point in the future they could well go from offering one of the weaker business class experiences to one of the better ones in the world.


Credit: British Airways

With additional privacy, storage, and certification so that you can use the foot well for your belongings during takeoff and landing, they don’t have a revolutionary seat, but doors alone put them in a rarified air and I generally prefer the Super Diamond seat over the Thompson Vantage XL Delta uses. This could ultimately be the best modification of a sold long-standing product that’s in use by several airlines — including Qatar Airways (Super Diamond was their new seat before launching QSuites).

First Class Will Eventually Improve, Shrink

We’ll eventually see new first class seats, too. The new business goes into an aircraft without first class first which makes sense — the Club Suite will offer greater privacy than the current first class product. Ultimately we’ll see British Airways offering fewer first class seats as well, though a strong business should compensate.


British Airways First Class

This Move Surprised Me – But Shouldn’t Have

The move to a good seat and adding doors surprised me because British Airways has been going so consistently down market for so many years that CEO Alex Cruz had to even declare that the carrier was still a premium airline. Outside of the introduction of the First Wing it’s hard to think of that much impressive BA has done in the premium space since bringing on the ex-Vueling CEO to run the airline (under Willie Walsh’s direction).

It strikes me, then, that BA is following a strategy quite similar to transatlantic anti-trust immunized joint venture partner American Airlines of investing in premium cabin hard product while degrading the product that most customers fly. So this really shouldn’t have come as being such a surprise at all.

And if nothing else two years ago reader BA said to expect exactly this.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Any word on by when, if ever, BA expects the fleet to be fully converted to this new business class seat?

  2. So what happens to the BA Fuel surcharge now?
    1000 dollars each way when its already a raping?
    And then you have to connect on BAs inter Europe flights in business class that is not unlike flying Ryan Air in cramped coach which then destroys the end experience
    Shocking how bad they have become and now the wait to see
    if they can restore faith in their brand
    Certainly looks like a step forward.I wouldn’t book it though knowing there is even a chance I could end up in one of their older cabins
    I’ve moved on to other carriers over the past few years occasionally subjecting myself to the organized BA chaos

  3. What I expected or what I was expecting. Please don’t make these silly grammatical mistakes because many, many people read your writings.

  4. Learning new “conditions” not really written anywhere each day – Once the kid turns 2, was hoping to use Amex Platinum IAP, but apparently AMEX doesnt issue child tickets in that program. So, it becomes totally useless for a young family!

  5. While it’s nice to know the size of the IFE, I’d like to know the size of the seat. What is seat pitch? Width? Is there good foot space or a cramped cubbyhole?

  6. The seats are so nice. They remind me of a spaceship. And I love the finishes. The darker tones overall really are a nice touch compared to the previous style as well as the first class cabin.

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