British Airways will launch new Club World business class in 2019

By David Flynn , January 2 2018
British Airways will launch new Club World business class in 2019

British Airways is steaming towards a 2019 launch of its new Club World seat as the centrepiece of a business class reboot for the 'superbrand' airline.

Flanked by recent upgrades in its business class inflight meals and sleep service, along with the rollout of WiFi plus lounge upgrades at New York's JFK airport alongside Aberdeen and Rome in 2018, the new seat's debut will come just shy of two decades since the airline launched the world's first fully flat business class bed (below) in 2000.

BA parent company IAG headlined the date in its 2017 Capital Market Report to the financial community, locking in a timeline which airline CEO Alex Cruz has previously shared with Australian Business Traveller.

The 2019 Club World seat will be fitted to the British flag-carrier's new wave of Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 jets and may also appear on some of its existing fleet.

Leaked internal BA documentation seen by Australian Business Traveller indicate that BA will keep the alternating forward-backward layout of its current business class, but with improvements to key aspects of the seat to 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).

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.

This includes retaining the profit-raking 2-4-2 'high density' cabin layout.

BA's patent application also illustrates two possible ClubWorld layouts...

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

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.

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.

05 Dec 2013

Total posts 36

8 across in business (even if alternating) doesn't seem especially premium.

27 May 2015

Total posts 24

In the second potential layout, it appears as though you can (if seated in the very middle or the window seats) lock eyes with those opposite you. How fun...

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 32

BA is 2-4-2 in the same way that Qantas' A330 and 787 business seta is 2-4-2. Draw a line across the cabin and you will find room for 4 sets of shoulders and 4 sets of feet. What BA looses in storage space you gain in not having to stuff your feet in a small box to sleep. Same goes for any of the herringbone designs as well.


I've always rather liked the BA Club World seat and The Window seats are particularly great for sleeping and this modification to give aisle access will be a nice improvement.

Exactly...... If anything, the BA forward / back arrangement has always allowed for more leg room in the sleeping position than any other fully flat config (save the endangered QF skybed mark 2)

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 125

Unless, of course, you are more than six feet tall. In which case there is no room for your feet at all

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 269

ClubWorld MkIII is exactly what it is. I can't fathom why they haven't done something revolutionary. Still not as bad as EK 777, but it's not great.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 594

185 is way too short for a bed

Waiting until 2019 seems... unfortunate.


But this is still a good product overall. Fully flat beds over 6ft, direct aisle access for all passengers, longer and wider beds than previously with more storage. Its perfectly acceptable even though its not game-changing or super luxurious.

31 May 2017

Total posts 3

I really dislike flying BA 2-4-2 configuration. There is nothing premium feeling about it IMO. There is no privacy either, unless you are lucky enough to get the window seats. I would take the herringbone layout any day of the week and would actively avoid BA long haul flights because of this..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1389

So basically the existing product with a bit of extra seat shell, and a defined passage for the window/inner seats to reach the aisle.


Probably makes meal service with the reach through the divider even more difficult.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

Re meal service, reaching over won't be necessary as the crew will likely serve the food via the (narrow) access corridor from the window seat to the aisle.

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 21

Exactly Glenn1234. The Cathay herringbone seating is miles better. Cathay’s overnight schedules does it for me too. Add to that Cathay answers the phone straight away (Qantas charge for reservation help). One can pay in any currency at the current base exchange rate with any office and on ther Kangaroo Route, Hong Kong is the best of the bunch.

QFF

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 160

Surprisingly, I had a really good snooze in one of these aisle seats recently. But I found the lack of suitable storage space to be a real issue, and nearly crunched my glasses when I forgot to fully close the storage drawer, which is absolutely useless in bed mode. And the inability to choose your seat without paying a hefty sum is another major issue.

08 Nov 2017

Total posts 1

Flew BA one time on this ridiculous "facing you neighbour and no storage" layout and will never never never do it again. Why should I when I can fly Emirates, Qatar, Qantas, American, Singapore etc etc, in a far more comfortable and private business class layout?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2012

Total posts 29

100% agree kenesis2. There are so many better ways of flying 24 hours to Europe than this ridiculous seat layout. As i normally travel solo, a 1-2-1 configuration is perfect. Yet another reason my loyalty is with Finnair after an overnight rest in Asia, specifically Bangkok.

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 77

Will they still be flying by then? Lol!

Too unreliable: strikes, computer glitches and terminal hiccups. I so want to support my home country's airline but too risky on a quick 1-week trip.
I do like BA across the Atlantic though: excellent service. Brilliant lounges. Something civilised about it all.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 594

The reason why you like BA across the Atlantic is because their competition is shit. They don't have any world leading airlines (in terms of hard product anyway) to compete with.

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 77

Not true! AA have great business seats - same as Cathy I think, and decent wifi. They just can't make tea!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Brilliant lounges? Please elaborate.

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 77

Chris

The Concorde and First lounges are very nice and the a la carte menu excellent. Service is truly impeccable and the tea arrives in bone china cups: all terribly 'British!'
Open for 1st class and Goldies. I haven't used their Business lounges so apologies for misleading readers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 108

It deserves to stay in 2000... not 2018

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Nov 2017

Total posts 2

There are too many downsides to this configuration, lack of privacy, food passed over adjoining passenger, climbing over other people, it really is not up to other airlines standard. Never again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 366

Did you not read the article? Those problems are fixed in the new version.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 16

Just the pits!


Ever had to sit backwards in a Club World Kennel?
These are the worst Business Class seats in the air with new colours and fabrics...............and little else.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 29

Awful product. Almost no storage space, very little elbow room. Having to stare at a 'seat mate' before the divider can be put up is bad enough but the whole cabin just feels like a school dormitory with so many people packed in. It was because of a bad BA J flight that I started sampling the F product and that I actually like. So there's a silver lining to every cloud.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 17

I always thought air travel was about going forward, not backwards.

I'm not a fan of having to face your neighbour. On my most recent BA flight my neighbour had really terrible breath and I was desperate to get the dividing screen up as soon as we had taken off...

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 314

'superbrand' airline.

I needed a good chuckle today so thanks for that ABT.

Yes I know that they still rate highly for brand surveys, however I am doubtful that will continue for much longer under the currently, slash and burn style leadership of Mr Cruz.

Staff loyalty is rock bottom thanks Cruz’s brutish management style, and with that goes BA’s only remaining soft product, service claim to being a world class airline.

Their hard product is woefully out of date in all classes, with a 121 First Class seating that resembles CY or AA current Biz class offerings. This Club World update is already long in the tooth before it’s arrived, with the likes of Qatar’s excellent QSuites currently ruling the roosts in my opinion.

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 14

BA have been on a downward direction for many years now, with more and more cuts and a refusal to update many of its aging fleet interiors.


However there does appear to be a step change recently though, clearly realising that they cut more than they should and were losing customers and reputation. Club world is seeing a fantastic looking upgrade to its service and finishing touches and even World Traveller is having basic things like second meals being added back to their service.

This new Club seat is still just a rumour though as far as I know, and there was some suggestion I read that they were going back to the drawing board rather than rolling out this evolution as they implied a couple of years ago. Even if this is the seat, then if you combine it with all of the service improvements then you will have a very solid product, that simply offers a different type of seat to most other airlines. Not all of the differences are negative, and this evolution does reduce or eliminate many of the criticisms.

.. and as far as the rear facing element, this is something present on quite a few other carriers now including the much exulted Etihad and Qatar. From my experience it feels mildly strange at take off, but after that there was no difference whatsoever.

04 Jan 2018

Total posts 2

I think because B.A. is no longer the prestige airline it once was it's become fashionable to knock them. However the truth is that value for money wise they get my vote every time. I use Club World frequently and have no complaints at all re service, comfort, food and most importantly I pay considerably less for the privilege than I would with alternative carriers because of the deals they offer me.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

BA J class is rubbish, and this will not be a premium product either................only if nothing else is available.


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