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British Airways' new Club World business class seat will take wing in July 2019 on the first of the airline's new Airbus A350 jets.
BA confirmed the schedule at its annual Capital Markets Day presentation to the financial community, held overnight in London, but offered no new details of the seat itself, which has been long promised as offering direct aisle access, increased privacy and additional storage compared to the current design.
However, only four A350-1000s with the new seat will be flying by the end of 2019 – although they’ll be accompanied by two Boeing 777 jets, as British Airways also plans to fit the seat to selected aircraft in its exciting fleet, along with new Boeing 787-10 jets.
Australian Business Traveller has approached British Airways for further information on the retrofit program.
The new Club World business class seat will also feature ‘gate-to-gate inflight entertainment’, which implies a screen fixed into the seat shell.
British Airways has been conducting closed-door tests of the next-generation Club World business class seat with the mock-ups said to offer more privacy as well as better storage built around specific items including water bottles and reading glasses.
The airline has decided against fitting first class to the Airbus A350-1000s – perhaps in a sign of confidence that its new Club World business class seats will be good enough to take pride of place at the pointy end.
The new Club World seat will cap a business class reboot for British Airways, following recent upgrades in its business class inflight meals and sleep service, the rollout of WiFi plus new lounges at New York's JFK airport (below), Rome and Aberdeen.
Those lounges will be followed in 2019 by JFK’s business class lounge plus lounges at San Francisco, Johannesburg, and Geneva.
The new seat's debut will come just shy of two decades since British Airways launched the world's first fully flat business class bed in 2000…
... and almost 13 years after the November 2006 launch of British Airways' current Club World seat which adopted a controversial 'high density' approach to maximising the number of passengers in the available space, as well as a relatively unique forwards-backwards seating layout.
The ensuing decade has seen competing airlines forging ahead: spacious business class seats boasting privacy, direct aisle access plus ample personal and storage space are now the norm, while what is widely regarded as the world’s best business class seat – Qatar Airways’ Qsuite – edges closer to first class in its design and amenities.
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz has previously tamped down speculation of a radical replacement for the Club World cribs, describing them as not "ultra-revolutionary" and focusing more on incremental changes to the current seat.
British Airways is keeping its cards close to its chest on the design of the next-generation Club World business class seat, with no shortage of concepts and rumours continuing to swirl around the industry.