British Airways confirms first class suites axed from Airbus A350s

By David Flynn, November 8 2018
British Airways confirms first class suites axed from Airbus A350s

British Airways has confirmed that its forthcoming Airbus A350-1000 jets won't feature a first class cabin.

The first of BA's 18 Airbus A350-1000s will arrive in July 2019 and mark the debut of an all-new business class seat – an long-awaited successor to the current 13 year old Club World design, which will offer direct aisle access, increased privacy and at-seat storage

Read more: BA confirms new Club World business class seat launching July 2019

However, that's as premium as A350s' pointy end will get. During its annual Capital Markets Day presentation to London's financial community, British Airways indicated that these A350s will have only three classes – Club World business, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy – with the first two seeing a new seat design.

A spokesperson for British Airways has since confirmed this to Australian Business Traveller, saying "At the moment all 18 A350s we have on order will be three class."

The A350-1000s are intended to provide an "efficient replacement" for BA's oldest Boeing 747s, which feature a first class cabin of 14 'open suites', although the Capital Markets Day presentation also revealed plans to extend the life of the jumbo jets by retaining an additional five more of the hump-backed planes through to 2020.

BA will embark on a 'product upgrade' to first class but this isn't seen as heralding a new suite as much as "new food, bedding and amenities from May (2019)", according to the airline.

Earlier this year, speaking at a UK business leaders event in London, BA chief executive office Alex Cruz confirmed that following the rollout of its new Club World business class seat, the airline will turn its attention to first class.

Cruz suggested the challenge will be "to conceive the new first class experience of the future” – but with less reliance on the 'hard product' of the seat and its surroundings and more on 'soft product' such as meals, drinks and overall service as a differentiator.

Meanwhile, BA's bête noire Virgin Atlantic will also pull back the covers on its own next-generation Airbus A350 business class seat in mid-2019 with plans for a new Upper Class design.

“We’ve seen it, I’ve sat in it, it’s a fantastic seat,” says Virgin Atlantic exec Oliver Byers. "It’s exactly what you would think Virgin Atlantic is in terms of the look and feel, the design, the feel of the cabin and the warmth of the environment."

Read more: Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Becoming a world wide trend. Mustn’t be profitable.

London has the most premium traffic in the world, and BA has a somewhat less decadent First product compared to many other airlines with a First, so I don't think its unprofitable. Perhaps they think that their First product is going to be cannibalized by the new Business. Or perhaps the A350-1000 is going to serve a different role in the fleet... as a 'higher-capacity lower-yield' type jet (although that would imply being based at Gatwick rather than Heathrow... aren't the A350-1000s meant to be based at LHR?).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 133

Wow this is a surprise move. Hopefully there are two configs for the A350s. I can't imagine a trans-atlantic offering without first class!?!?


30 Jul 2015

Total posts 108

BA flies dozens of jets transatlantic and worldwide sans F class!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

26 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

I can't believe it. BA has been dragged down since Walsh (ex Qantas) took over.

BA still have a pax base who will only always use BA First. Plus, they said they wouldn't be retrofitting A380, 787, or 777.
New BA J will not measure up with with Qatar or Singapore.
Who knows what will happen to 777X?? Only time will tell I guess.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

10 Oct 2018

Total posts 3

I think you’ll find that you’re getting your Irishmen mixed up...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 35

Willie Walsh has never worked at Qantas.

18 Nov 2017

Total posts 3

Based on a couple of recent experiences, BA First won't be missed by me. The hard product on the A380 was ok, but the rest of the experience was totally sub par. Once was bad enough. Twice, let's not bother again. Too much choice these days to go back a third time for another disappointment.

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2018

Total posts 8

All A350's are for LHR. Plus, they have only said initial 4 will not have F class.

BA has 3 daily flights from LHR - LAX, using A380, 787-9, and A380. F is always full. Rumours suggest swap of 787-9 for A350, but will only feature W, J, and F.
Crew due start training Jan 2019.

01 Aug 2018

Total posts 4

Are we not simply transitioning back to 20 years ago? Business is the new first, premium the new business?

There doesn't need to be 3 premium categories, plus economy (and in some cases, plus economy plus/x/ etc) on any aircraft imho.
A super premium (business/first), a mid range (premium) and a lower range (standard economy) makes sense.

They can always still charge a premium for legroom in Y, and if they really wanted to add another category, surely a super budget section of economy at the back (less legroom etc) would be the smarter option (allowing them to compete with LCCs).

I know some airlines already do that - it just seems to make more sense to me to divide the classes in economy, than in those classes that are less 'price sensitive' up front.

26 Nov 2016

Total posts 7

British Airways is seriously capitalizing their market position. Sub-par service but flyers don't have much choice, thanks to LHR and corporate contracts.

BA is frequently selling First class for about 200-300€ more than their Business class so they know already that they don't have real First class product any longer. And as a passenger I agree, the only reason I'd choose BA nowadays is the price.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 20

Good riddance skybed, you make every business class ticket feel like a complete rip off

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 35

Skybed is the older Qantas business class seat, nothing to do with British Airways.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

26 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

Sorry about Walsh, however, he engineered merger talks between BA & Qantas, where he would become CEO of merged Airline.

Obviously, this never happened.
I remember days when BA had two 744's departing T4 for SYD at 23:00 & 23:10, and QF had two 744's departing T3 for SYD at same time.
How the times have changed. However, as National Airline BA can't axe F completely, especially on LHR - LAX & SFO routes.

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2018

Total posts 8

I was apologising for mistake saying Walsh was once at Qantas.

In addition, I don't think any National Airline should be without an F class on certain routes.
It may be just me, I've always found BA F good > excellent irrespective of
whether BF was working flight.

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