British Airways says it's on track for the launch of its new Club World business class seat in early 2019, but has denied reports of abandoning an evolution of the current seat for an all-new design.
Earlier this year the airline's CEO Alex Cruz confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the seat – which will deliver direct aisle access for every passenger – will debut on new Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 jets from 2019, and may also be retro-fitted to some other aircraft in BA's long-range fleet.
Designs for the next-generation Club World 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, but with improvements to key aspects of the seat to boost its appeal to high flyers.
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.
Mockup illustrations and diagrams from a BA patent application, shown above and below – while based on an earlier, less-refined seat concept – indicate the seat would allow British Airways to retain its highly-profitable 'high density' cabin layout, although this would see some benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350.
A spokesperson for British Airways has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "the plans are well advanced now, and we haven't changed our tack or design... we’re still on track to deliver the new seat in 2019."
It's been speculated that BA had gone back to the drawing board and was considering other potential Club World designs, ranging from these angled seats in a more conventional 1-2-1 layout...
... to this revolutionary couch-like design, which BA’s mock-up artwork tagged as a 'sofa' rather than a 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.
British Airways launched Club World business class in 1999, and was among the world's first airlines to adopt fully lie-flat beds in business class.