British Airways coy on new A350 Club World business class seat

By David Flynn, January 12 2018

British Airways is keeping its cards close to its chest on its next generation Club World business class seat, due to take wing in 2019 aboard the airline's new Airbus A350 jets.

The airline has refused to confirm or deny reports that CEO Alex Cruz has nuked the rumoured 'Club World Mk III' design (below), based on a modernisation of the current decade-old seat, and will instead opt for an off-the-shelf product from leading seatmaker Zodiac Aerospace.

A spokesman for British Airways declined to comment to Australian Business Traveller on plans for the seat, and offered up this press release copy-paste statement: "We are investing £600m specifically in Club World, including outstanding catering and luxurious White Company bedding - plus, from 2019, a new seat with direct aisle access."

In mid-July 2017 British Airways was decidedly more forthcoming in swatting down suggestions that it would adopt an all-new design rather than just 'update and evolve' the current Club World seat, with a spokeswoman telling Australian Business Traveller that "Nothing has changed... plans are well advanced now, and we haven’t changed our tack or design."

The shape of seats to come...

British Airways' current Club World seat, launched to great fanfare at London's Canary Wharf in November 2006 is best known by business travellers for its '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.

There's been no shortage of speculation over BA's 2019 Club World seat, fuelled in part by the airline's series of patent applications over recent years.

That includes this radical curvy sofa-seat...

.. which would see passengers adopt a forward-facing position for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the flight, but stretch out – with an infill section of the sofa creating a continuous surface between the seat and the ottoman – to relax or sleep.

There was also this more conventional 'herringbone' layout with angled seating...

... and this oddball layout which seems to double-down on the forwards-backwards orientation and 'stare at your fellow flyers' position.

This concept is perhaps closest to the British flag-carrier's current Club World configuration....

... and would allow the airline to retain its profitable 'high density' cabin layout, with some benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350.

This month's conjecture suggests that British Airways has flicked through the Zodiac Aerospace catalogue and drawn a big red circle around the SkyLounge Core model.

This happens to be the same platform as used by Emirates in its Airbus A380 business class, although BA would undoubtedly see it heavily customised and totally de-blinged.

Whatever British Airways has settled upon, the final design is expected to break cover – officially or otherwise – by the tail end of this year.

David

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.

Packetman21

Packetman21

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

Thank goodness! That is a relief.

Mightyreds

Mightyreds

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 266

The current forward/backward seat is awful. If they move to an all forward facing setup that will be good.

ECBB

ECBB

29 Sep 2014

Total posts 12

I seem to be in a minority but I don't mind the current seat. I have never had the "stare at the person opposite" issue (though I understand why some dislike it) and I find the sleeping surface and unconstricted footspace excellent.

Address the aisle access and lack of storage and I wouldn't mind an update of the current design.

I wonder if they could devise a way to have the divider up the whole time to address the awkwardness issue some have?

tangerine1

tangerine1

12 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

The screens on BA are down at TTOL largely due to regulations, and this is clearly a compromise. But a huge amount of effort went in to create a comfortable seat and bed. Yes, its compromised, but it's still a lot better in comfort terms than many of seats out there. Take note of how many people don't move out of TTOL (taxi, take-off & landing) position because the seat is low and reclined from the moment one sits - not bolt upright with people gagging to push the recline button. Also, being able to turn-over freely due to the unrestricted foot space is much more important in getting a good nights sleep than having a 6' 6" long bed. But it is long in the tooth - we should know - we designed it.

Nuttynorton

Nuttynorton

11 Jun 2016

Total posts 14

Anything .... and I mean Anything would be an upgrade to their current set up.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 387

That forward backward design is exactly what’s kept me flying BA for the past 10 years on long haul.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 387

Correction: Kept me from. Wont even talk about the soft product.

Runningonempty

Runningonempty

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jun 2015

Total posts 11

I think the current layout has great legroom, if fact I'd rate that certainly better than the Etihad narrow enclosed footrest. But like others have said - looking at some random facing diagonally opposite is the deal breaker for anyone seeking out a business class seat. I flew BA a couple of weeks ago, It was adequate / fine.

Vulch

Vulch

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

Needs it, just flew London to HK and that forward-back system, combined wiht a very cramped BC seat I found once it was lay flat, was just rubbish.

Shouldnt be staring a complete stranger in the face just because the crew want to serve you.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 150

I heard it from the horses mouth that it will be an off the shelf product with direct aisle access for all instead of an 'in house' design.

I attended a Gold Guest List even held by BA where Sr Cruz himself attended and taking a little Q&A. This was around six months ago.

My main flying is LHR-JFK/EWR and I have to say (seat apart) that the service on that route and the catering has come ahead in leaps and bounds. The quality, quantity and choice of meal has gone from zero to hero very quickly. The only downside with it at the moment is it's taking a little long to deliver. I'm not sure if it's because there aren't enough crew on board to deliver it or because the crew are still getting to grips with the new service.

But for once, it's a step forward for BA.

MikeS

MikeS

12 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

The current club world seat lets the airline down badly. This coupled with the fact BA insists on high density in business class means it is last on my list when looking for premium travel options. It appears Mr Cruz never travels Club World, because if he did he would see what an inferior product BA offers. Please Mr Cruz, face facts, your business class product is awful and significantly inferior to others and a total re-think is required. And I completely agree cooper81 - the service on BA has come on leaps and bounds. Lets hope the hard product follows.

Howie50

Howie50

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2016

Total posts 10

They are the worst airline in OneWorld in all cabins. They are the only airline to get 7 across in their business class upstairs in the A380...same room as Premium Economy! The length is 180cm and I'm 185cm tall so you can't stretch out. I'm a big ABBA fan, Anyone But BA

Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson

18 Mar 2016

Total posts 23

A new J seat is nowhere near good enough for me to fly BA.

I believe you STILL have to pay extra to reserve a seat at the time of booking.

Unbelievable !!!!!!!!

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

Surely not in business though??

Happy Trails

Happy Trails

11 Apr 2012

Total posts 56

Yes, unless you have sufficient BA /OW status

mewettjohn

mewettjohn

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 16

Tried BA once, was terrible, this won't make me go back. So glad they are NOT in Star Alliance.

ConcordeRay

ConcordeRay

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 5

Odd that no one mentions the current gap between the actual seat and the footrest on the current J offering, at least on the 747 and 777.At 6'2'' and being a side sleeper, I tried it only once and never again, as there is nothing to support your knees or calves, so after a single transatlantic night of torture-and zero sleep- I gave up and never came back! Hello OA!!

Geoffair

Geoffair

04 May 2018

Total posts 45

IB A350 just delivered and appears to have version of Zodiac Skylounge seat (see article above).

It makes little sense for IAG to order BA A350s with a different seat to IB so is that the new BAseat too?

Ian_from_HKG

Ian_from_HKG

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 119

A couple of posters have suggested that the seat/bed is long enough (ECCG: constricted footspace excellent; tangerine1 made a similar comment).

However, it is just 6 feet long. I am 6'3". From my research, more than 15% of the British male population (who, let's face it, are the largest demographic on board. For Australia, it's 16%.

I have also read an article (although I make no comment on its scientific rigour!) that suggests that more successful men (no accusations of sexism please, I am merely citing a source and reflecting the fact that, rightly or not (NOT!), the majority of corporate leaders are men) tend to be taller:

QUOTE

In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more strikingly, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are 6'2" or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30 percent were 6'2" or taller."

So - precisely the sort of demographic any sensible premium airline (a category in which I do not believe BA belongs, incidentally!) are deterring long-haul senior executives. Yet another demonstration of the fact that BA's motto is not really "To Fly, To Serve", but "British Airways - WE'RE not satisfied until YOU'RE not satisfied!"

mancho90

mancho90

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 76

I hope they will rid off that "Claustrophobic" high density Club World seat, I Hope the same for NZ, NH and JL...JL an least is a bit wider or at least it feels wider and have more space to allocate things... That CEO of BA is turning that airline into something without identity where it would become more vulnerable to competition because BA seems to be in the low cost carrier side but it has High end attitude or the shadow of the greater airline that used to be...

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