New first, business class for British Airways A380s by 2026

The superjumbos are here to stay, and an upgrade for first and business class is now locked in.

By David Flynn, November 22 2023
New first, business class for British Airways A380s by 2026

British Airways is pushing ahead with an upgrade of its Airbus A380s, replacing the dorm-like business class with its vastly-superior Club Suite, as well as rolling out an all-new first class – and a deadline has now been set.

Speaking with The Sunday Times in July, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle revealed not only were the A380s here to stay but the airline planned to spend hundreds of millions of pounds bringing the superjumbos up to modern spec.

And thanks to the 2023 Capital Markets Day presentation released by BA’s parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) this week, we now know when that upgrade is likely to take place.

BA's A380s are back, and they'll soon be better than ever...
BA's A380s are back, and they'll soon be better than ever...

In the presentation IAG confirmed it would be investing in the airline’s onboard premium service, stating there would be “100% Club Suite at Heathrow by end 2026”.

British Airways flies multiple aircraft into Heathrow, including Boeing 777 and 787s, both of which now – or soon will – feature the improved Club Suite. This leaves the A380s also jetting into the busy hub as the next cab off the rank.

On the cards is replacing the outdated Club World business class with current Club Suites, which offer direct aisle access, more space and privacy for travellers and sliding doors.

Club Suites business class is finally coming to the British Airways A380.
Club Suites business class is finally coming to the British Airways A380.

There’ll also be a fresh take on first class, with the primo cabin possibly relocated to the upper deck in the process.

Doyle says the Oneworld member is “really committed to First, it’s an important part of the proposition,” adding “British Airways will be one of the few carriers to retain first on the scale that we do. It will be on about 65 per cent of all our long-haul flights.”

Approached by Executive Traveller earlier this year, British Airways declined to comment but noted the airline was always looking towards the next iteration of any seat or suite.

Given the superjumbos will be entering the hangar for upgrades to business class, it would make sense to introduce the new first class cabin at the same time.

BA's latest first class added a door to the Boeing 787 First suite.
BA's latest first class added a door to the Boeing 787 First suite.

The superjumbo refresh was originally slated to commence in 2023 and run through to 2025, until the global pandemic not only scuppered those plans – while also pushing back the Boeing 787 refurbs – but saw all twelve A380s grounded.

British Airways has long planned a new first class for its Boeing 777-9 jets, which were initially due in 2022 but are now unlikely to be delivered until 2026 at the earliest.

British Airways’ most recent changes to first class involved a refresh of the current Dreamliner First suite to add a sliding door, which has since debuted on the Boeing 777.

However, Doyle could push BA into dramatic new directions, even if it means cutting down on the current lower-deck count of 14 First suites in the name of more space and luxury for high flyers.

Such a move would be in keeping with recent first class forays by Singapore Airlines, as well as Lufthansa and Qantas.

Relocating first class to the nose of the upper deck could then see the entire floor become a ‘premium’ cabin, with the lower or main deck dedicated to premium economy and economy.

Additional reporting by Chris Ashton.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 951

Two points here; First of all so much for the death of the A380 and will Emirates get their way with a A380 Neo?

Second point is everyone seems to be upping their game with premium economy, business and first class and it appears people living in OZ are actually living in Grinch Land when it comes to innovation........ Might be worthwhile moving to Asia, Europe or US shortly.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 36

Excellent news - the big bird lives on !

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 101

Thing is - nobody dominates the UK-US or UK-JNB market the way BA does, and their A380s are packed to the rafters as is … that even without refurb’ing them, they’d still make a pretty Penny. The only markets they’d suffer competition would be hkg and sin. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 165

I'm glad news of the 'death' of the a380 has been exaggerated. Seems like the Post-Covid Era will be the true golden age of this unfairly maligned aircraft. I can't help but think it was launched too early (like 15 years too early) to be appreciated for it's sheer pax capacity and range.

09 Jul 2023

Total posts 3

BA probably wishes it still had the 747.400 in service.  The demand is far bigger than anyone could have calculated. The 380's that went to the scrap yard in Covid had an early death.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1513

I am not pity for 380, but greatly missed 747. My last flight on 747 was with BA on upper deck in last row at window. It was more private than First!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 104

BA First is the best Business class. Think I'll continue to choose Qantas First over BA First. More room, less snotty cabin crew.

The only thing BA has going for it is that it is an arrival into T5, has an Arrivals lounge and The departure lounge and First security is relatively stress free (although lounge was very crowded last time I was there.)

Quntas first has the best PE catering. I simply don't love it, good thanks

26 Jul 2015

Total posts 76

Given the slot restraints at Heathrow, its not surprising BA and Emirates, to name just two, are looking at keep the 380. Until it gets a 3rd runway (which is highly likely never to happen), there just isn't enough slots for everyone to fly 350's, 787's or 777's.  Sir Tim Clarke is being vindicated it seems. Of course, this will all go pear shaped at the next pandemic or big downturn.


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