British Airways Launches Their New Business Class Seat (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 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 Was Surprising

The move to a good seat and adding doors is surprising 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).

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.

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