British Airways: new Club World business class seat for 2019

By David Flynn, April 6 2017

British Airways will debut a new Club World business class seat on both its Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 jets in 2019, and may refit the seat to some of its existing fleet.

The seat – which British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said would deliver direct aisle access for every passenger – will “absolutely (be) for the 350-1000 and the 787-10 and they will be coming from 2019.”

“We do believe we have to consider some retrofitting” Cruz told Australian Business Traveller at the airline’s launch of its new Club World meal and sleep service.

However, Cruz said he was determined not to “over-sell the (new) seat.”

“This will take a bit of time, so we will take some time to come back to you with all the details.”

“We have seen recent overpromising by other carriers and it would be a disaster if we talked about what we want to do and (then) make you wait a long time.”

PREVIOUS | British Airways has opted for evolution rather than revolution when it comes to the new Club World business class seat for its forthcoming Airbus A350 fleet.

Designs for what the airline describes as its Club World Mark III seat – detailed in leaked internal BA documentation seen by Australian Business Traveller – indicate the British flag-carrier will keep the alternating foward-backward layout of its current business class.

However, improvements to key aspects of the seat should boost its appeal to high flyers.

Foremost among them: all passengers will now enjoy direct access to the aisle, instead of having to gingerly step over or around their neighbour.

Australian Business Traveller understands that the seats convert into a fully flat bed measuring from 6'1" (185cm) to 6'4" (193cm) depending on if they are located at a window, aisle or middle pair, with a press-button recline into a relaxing 'lazy Z' position.

A new storage cubby lurks beneath the armrest of each seat, in addition to a slightly larger storage drawer, while manually-operated screens provide privacy or sociability between seat pairs.

The inflight video screen is almost 50% larger, having been upsized from 10.4 inches to a high-definition 15.3 inch display.

The new seat design, which plays up BA's palette of blue and silver, is both more stylish and spacious than the current second-gen Club World seat (shown below).

The leaked design matches up against a UK patent application lodged by British Airways and credited to BA Design Lead Peter Cooke and Paul Grader from London design firm Forpeople, which most recently worked on British Airways' Boeing 787-9 first class cabin and suites (seen below).

Video, photos: British Airways' new Boeing 787-9 first class

Mockup illustrations and diagrams from that patent application – while based on an earlier, less-refined seat concept  – give a better idea of how this all comes together in the cabin of the Airbus A350.

British Airways is also retaining a 2-4-2 'high density' layout, although this benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350.

BA's patent application also illustrates two possible ClubWorld layouts for the A350's business class cabin...

... using a different mix of orientations for the paired seats.

British Airways will begin flying the long-range Airbus A350-1000 from 2018, with 18 of the advanced jets on order and options for 18 more.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a British Airways spokesperson said “we regularly see speculation around what the next generation of our seats will look like, as we develop a lot of ideas with a range of design agencies. We often patent these ideas which is one driver of that speculation."

"As and when we’re ready to announce the seats for the A350s, which are not due to arrive until 2018, we’ll do so."

Earlier this year British Airways CEO Alex Cruz began tamping down expectations for the A350's Club World seat, saying it is not "ultra-revolutionary" and the design would focus more on incremental changes.

Speaking with UK media, Cruz added the seat would not be retrofitted across BA's long-range international fleet – such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER and 787 Dreamliner fleets – because "it doesn't appear to be sufficiently revolutionary."

Also read:

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David
David

David Flynn

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.

msport2012

msport2012

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 310

Would be nice to see BA launch the A350-1000 on the LHR - SIN - SYD Route. It would make for a strong argument on the Kangaroo Route :-)

jrfsp

jrfsp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 111

I wouldnt actually be surprised if it is..following crew training. Frees up less efficient 77Ws to operate shorter routes to North America.

aldrigsomandre

aldrigsomandre

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 126

Obviously it is unfair to comment on just drawings from a patent application, but, doesn't that look... rather congested? Personally, when I fly business, I do enjoy the exclusive aspect of it. Also, I'm not a fan of flying backwards.

msport2012

msport2012

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 310

When UA used to fly the B777 to Sydney I didnt mind flying backwards. Didnt notice any difference only when taking off and landing. 

Speedbird

Speedbird

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 274

It's actually safer to fly backwards as you are less likely to get neck injuries during a crash or aborted take off / landing

jurassic_6

jurassic_6

19 Aug 2016

Total posts 1

A pity that BA went with this design, just as other airlines are moving to suite-style J. This is really premium economy plus.

On another note, impressive editorial independence from AusBT - running BA promo spreads one day and publicising leaks the next!

GoldenClub

GoldenClub

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 37

Oh dear more awfulness from BA!

What a lost opportunity, they could have made their First seats their business seats and then introduced a true First Class. 

Arcanum

Arcanum

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 125

BA has so much captive premium traffic out of London that they don't really need to be competitive.  They know business travellers will take a non-stop with a bad product over a connection with a good one.  Of course, if Brexit destroys the UK financial sector that may all come to an end.

vantage03

vantage03

13 Aug 2015

Total posts 39

Just dreadful.

flightdeck

flightdeck

21 Oct 2013

Total posts 15

I could not agree more  Vantage03

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 150

"British Airways is also retaining a 2-4-2 'high density' layout, although this benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350'

Wider than what?  The A380, 747 and 777 all have 2-4-2 on BA and all have wider cabins than the A350.  The 787 is 2-3-2 and is narrower than the A350, so the A350 has the narrowest cabin of any with a 2-4-2 layout.

It's an improvement as it addresses the biggest objection to the product, but it is designed to make money on the Atlantic, as it probably will still do for some time.

StudiodeKadent

StudiodeKadent

20 May 2015

Total posts 584

So... more bed length, more width, more privacy and direct aisle access for all seats.

A great improvement! Good work BA! Please bring this upgraded product to Australia ASAP!

traveller99

traveller99

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 105

Have there ever been any designs with seats facing sideways?  I think that could be a good design.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

 traveller99 there are planes with herringbone arrangements (I think Cathay is one) which is about as sideways as you can get before haivng no space for aisles.

074061

074061

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

This has potential to be a forwards-backwards Apex suite of sorts (Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Oman Air etc.), let's hope that they get those partitions up!!

ajstubbs

ajstubbs

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

What's with airlines opting for backwards facing seats? It doesn't sound hugely progressive. True, they don't feel different in the air but people still won't naturally gravitate to them. JAL, I think it is, do a 2-2-2 configuration with all seats getting aisle access - its perfectly possible to do with all seats forward and still fitting lots in. Credit to BA for good seat width and, I hear from those who've flown their latest J and F, comfortable cushion but i'd love to see an end to this 2-4-2 melarky. Still, between the UK and US, BA would always be my first choice on their B787 or A380, they still beat the American products on service, seating, plane and food.

flightdeck

flightdeck

21 Oct 2013

Total posts 15

Hey, greed is good at 8 across,maybe they should try Boeings patented 12 across!Then you could travel from a shoe box into a sardine tin, all for the price of a business class ticket.  I much prefer to travel with airlines that think about me,instead of their shareholders and travel business class just 4 abreast.

Mikana

Mikana

UA

09 Mar 2016

Total posts 24

Backwards or forwards, who cares? But BA's J config is rubbish, even though the seat itself ain't bad at all. It's just too congested and one can usually feel a person exiting behind one's pod: bump, bump, rumble, rumble. Window seats are bearable but the rest are like flying in a Japanese capsule hotel only for about 500 times the cost. And the soft product is always, always very iffy, not much better than a Japanese convenience store (to extend the simile) at its worst, like DJ's food hall at best.

Kerry R

Kerry R

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2015

Total posts 11

You are sooooo right ....

emailboy

emailboy

03 Oct 2011

Total posts 29

Nice to see the biggest problems addressed (climb-over or be-climbed-over, lack of storage). It'll still be a tight squeeze, but the worst is that it won't be retrofitted to existing planes. 

emailboy

emailboy

03 Oct 2011

Total posts 29

Personally, I'm fine with backwards-facing seats. I get nauseous riding backwards in trains, or in a car looking inside or reading, or in a bus in the back, but never a problem flying backwards, aside from taxiing. 

zoomzoom

zoomzoom

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

Much prefer the herringbone config used by other carriers.......BA is going to be last choice for me.

lyndall

lyndall

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2016

Total posts 1

I travelled on BA A380 in business class from Hong Kong to London and London to Singapore earlier this year. I chose BA over other airlines because I like the A380 configuration on other airlines. I will NEVER travel BA again except on short hauls to Europe. It was a 2/3/2 configuration meaning 7 seats across so it felt cramped and quite claustrophobic. 

My husband who is over 6ft was on the window and because of the bulk head struggled to get past the feet of the sleeper in front as he had to bend down very low and then lift his legs over - it was ridiculous and unacceptable for a full paying customer. 

I am pleased to hear that they are reconfiguring the seats but from what I can tell on the plans it doesn't look any less congested.

I repeat - I am never flying BA on a long haul. 

Kerry R

Kerry R

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2015

Total posts 11

I sooooo totally agree with you .... NEVER AGAIN.  Did the same flights virtually, HKG/LHR/HKG - A380 both ways.  QF  Business beats this hands down!  

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 347

Which seats would be at 193cm and which seats would be at 185cm? You dont really say, other than "depending ...". What would be the guess ... window and cramped middle two at 193cm?

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 365

BA=Horrid business class hard and softproduct(First isn't much better either)

grov

grov

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 149

Minimal flat areas to place anything. I'm with others - wouldn't pay for the seats, but acknowledge that it's easy to find BA J award seats.

Serg

Serg

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Actually I like BA design far better than QF one (I am talking about old one, not new on A330). Though to get most of it one should choose seat carefully.
However I agree that nowadays this Yin-Yang approach more suitable for PE than for Business.

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 318

I quite like BA's existing J seats - especially the window seats, where you have plenty of storage and a lot of privacy. Direct aisle access in the new config fixes the only real problem. FAR superior to the QF Skybed, though I rate the QF A330 J suites better than the BA version.

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 250

Actually looks like a PE layout more than a business layout. 

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 250

Wow, people actually like this? Wow

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 174

still try to squeeze 8 seats into business while the quality airlines have 4 in a row-this is really bad! would never pay for this as long as there are alternatives-

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 174

btw etihad also uses backward facing seats on their 787 business class products but it still 1-2-1 layout

Kerry R

Kerry R

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2015

Total posts 11

Never, ever again will I do Business Class with BA.  HKG to LHR return .... That's it .... They got my money, but they won't ever get it again.  I will say no more .... 

Kerry R

Kerry R

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2015

Total posts 11

Never, ever again will I do Business Class with BA.  HKG to LHR return .... That's it .... They got my money, but they won't ever get it again.  I will say no more .... 

GAAN

GAAN

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Sep 2012

Total posts 4

Why persist with the Club World format? Almost every time you fly the "Nose to Tail" format long haul you get the unfortunate experience of having a flatulent person in the next seat for 24hrs. So apart from being packed like sardines, you guaranteed to get that specially priced CW (or was that WC?) smell. AY,CH,CX,QF,SQ are so many better ways to fly.

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 150

Let's be VERY clear.  This design is by no means confirmed as the option BA is going to go for.  CEO Alex Cruz said "“We have made a decision to move away from the Club World seats. The time has come to change and the decision has been made. It’s going to take a little time, and we’re not going to oversell and we will tell you as we make our decisions, but it will have full-aisle, all-aisle access for all passengers so people will no longer have to have long legs to step over a passenger when they want to get to the aisle. We will take some time to come back with all the details of how we will do that."


Now that isn't wholly inconsistent with the MkIII design depicted above, but the language of "move away" implies that there is discussion about a completely new design.  Now that doesn't mean it wont be what has been pictured (it is an obvious step, but probably the last step that can be taken without a wholly new design), but there at least appears to be some awareness that it isn't competitive.  Looking at AA, UA Polaris and the new Delta (bearing in mind BA's bread and butter on long haul is USA-Europe), it's fairly obvious that MkIII isn't competitive.

Mc

Mc

BA

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 18

I gave up on BA (iro long haul) some time ago because of its rear facing seats and the feeling of being cramped. I know its illogical but I hate travelling backwards, even on aircraft. The two centre seats look dreadful and I would hate to wind up in one of them. When I am paying J class prices I want a J class product. Other airlines understand this and provide a better product so I fly with them. This proposed 'new' offering has done nothing to persuade me to return to long haul BA.

cd1982

cd1982

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 14

Why do people keep saying other airlines offer 4 seats per row compared to BA's 8?! Do you not realise that BA have significantly fewer rows compared to other airlines because herringbone or staggered seating overlaps each other. Other airline seats can be very claustraphobic in a different way by having little cubby holes to put your feet in, compared with BA's having full height for the whole length of the pitch. The trade off is a lack of table space, but BA have tried to compensate for that with this new update with the small table in addition to the main table.

I grant that BA seats might be slightly narrower than other carriers but i think people get carried away when criticising the product.

The improvements to this seat design will make the product much more competative than the current offering, and because it is a unique product offers a real alternative to other airlines depending on what you like.

jeffinsydney

jeffinsydney

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 16

This is very much like the current set up. 

Claustrophobic and flying backwards (?) well, I am not a fan.


I did JFK to LHR in the setup, sim to the picture above, where the woman is sleeping (backwards) and the gent is eating next to her.

Worst flying experience of my life.

I have not flown BA since and never will again while they configure a premium cabin like this.



Hi Guest, join in the discussion on British Airways: new Club World business class seat for 2019