British Airways first class goes ultra-luxe in 'soft product reboot'

By David Flynn, March 7 2019
British Airways first class goes ultra-luxe in 'soft product reboot'

British Airways is giving its first class experience a total refresh as the airline continues its multi-billion pound march of improvement for premium passengers.

This will of course be capped by the looming debut of new Club World business class seats, but BA is far from forgetting about passengers in the most expensive cabins of its Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 jets.

In fact, just about everything bar the first class suite itself is changing – ahead of a likely next-generation first class slated for BA's factory-fresh Boeing 777-9 fleet, which will take wing from 2022, a dozen years since the Oneworld member pulled back the curtains on its current flagship first class design (shown below).

So for now, British Airways is retaining the physical bolted-down 'hard product' but rebooting the rest of what makes up the inflight experience, which industry boffins refer to as the 'soft product'.

Among the most interesting aspects of this: the noise-cancelling headphones are being upgraded to a custom design from Meridian Audio with 100% focus on using them in flight rather than also doubling as cans for the daily commute or the busy office.

“The aircraft cabin is an acoustically demanding environment," recounts Meridian Audio CEO John Buchanan. “These new headphones have been designed to significantly reduce resonance, reflection, and distortion, allowing the user to enjoy a combination of exceptional noise cancellation, excellent sound quality, and ultimate comfort."

The seasonal meal service will be plated up on exclusively-designed bone china crockery from William Edwards, accompanied by contemporary cutlery from Studio William...

... and  Dartington glassware, ranging from sophisticated stemware to elegant cut-glass tumblers.

Between main meals, first class flyers can treat themselves to a new signature afternoon tea service with include a selection of sandwiches, delicate pastries, scones and "tea infusions".

The sleep side of the equation on those long international flights gets another tilt towards luxury...

.. with a foam microfibre mattress topper and 400 thread count bedding, a stylish new day blanket and bolster cushion...

... plus super-soft male and female 'loungewear' and slippers from Temperley London.

Inside the new Temperley London amenity kits is a range of Elemis skin care products.

All up, BA boasts that its sky-high first class experience "would not look out of place in a revered five-star British hotel."

“In this, our centenary year, we’ve sought out some of the best British designers and manufacturers to work with to ensure travelling in First with British Airways is an unforgettable experience," says Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience.

First class flyers will notice these cumulative changes sweeping in from March 31 through to April 7.


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.