British Airways plans first class upgrade: new suites, but sans doors?

By David Flynn, March 20 2019
British Airways plans first class upgrade: new suites, but sans doors?

British Airways will to pair the rollout of its new Club Suites business class with the introduction of a revamped first class suite.

Passengers at the pointy end enjoy an upgraded version of BA's Boeing 787-9 first class, which will take pride of place in the forthcoming Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners and also be retrofitted to existing aircraft as those are wheeled into the hangar to have the swish Club Suites installed.

Read more: British Airways' new business class is a suite with a privacy door

"When an aircraft is taken out of service to get the Club World seat installed, it will also get new first class seats," British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said in a recent issue of the airlines's internal staff newsletter. "This will be our best, current first class, upgraded".

Cruz' comments amplify those he made during the annual Capital Markets Day presentation of parent company IAG in London on November 2, 2018 that while "the most visible part of the (first class upgrade) will be catering and amenities... the actual seat also will go through an upgrade."

The British flag-carrier's most recent first class foray is that of the Boeing 787-9, developed by London design firm Forpeople specifically for the Dreamliner and launched in late 2015.

With only eight suites, the focus is on intimacy and wrapping these premium passengers in quintessentially British luxury and a feeling of subdued elegance, including gentle lighting and plush quilted seats with stitched leather and machined aluminium elements.

The palette of charcoal, silver and gold takes its cues from the first class of BA's Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 flagships (below).

British Airways' first class refresh is more likely to refine this seat rather than re-engineer it to include the likes of a sliding privacy door – meaning the airline will instead seek to double down on the broader first class experience.

However, there will be fewer first class suites on board the Boeing 777s, with BA reducing the size of the primo cabin from 14 suites down to eight during the Club Suites refit.

"We will take... the number of first-class seats from 14 to 8," Cruz remarked during IAG's 2018 Capital Markets Day.

This will also enable BA to increase the size of its business class cabin and fit a near-equivalent number of Club Suites compared to the aircraft's current Club World seats. "We will... actually increase by 1 the number of Club seats," Cruz said.

The Club World-led upgrade to first class will take British Airways through to 2022, when its expected to launch an all-new first class suite on its Boeing 777-9 jets – and few would be surprised if this, like Club Suites business class, took the form of a fully private suite with a sliding door.


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Jun 2016

Total posts 44

Thanks David. I'll let you know what the "soft" changes to First mentioned in your update a few weeks ago are like when I experience it later this year on the 787-9. Part of a OneWorld RTW.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2579

Would be great to hear your first-hand report on those, thanks!

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 26

Of Course this means down from 14 First Seats to 8..Significantly less Award Seats.

23 May 2018

Total posts 6

no sliding doors? Why bother, might as well stay in business class especially Qatar's Q-suites that do you have sliding doors

Etihad - Etihad Guest

15 Apr 2019

Total posts 1

I'm booked on first in a 777 from Heathrow to Boston next march do you know if it will be upgraded by then?

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