British Airways: new first suites, business class

A £7 billion investment will be headlined new first suites and business seats, upgraded lounges and more.

By David Flynn, March 5 2024
British Airways: new first suites, business class

British Airways will spend a staggering £7 billion over the next two years to deliver what CEO Sean Doyle promises will be “the most significant transformation” in its history, which puts passengers front and centre.

First up will be free messaging via chat apps to all passengers on WiFi-enabled flights (provided those passengers are members of the airline’s Executive Club loyalty programme) starting from April 3 and available “on every WiFi-enabled aircraft within two weeks of the rollout date.”

April will also see the debut of new business and economy seats on British Airways’ workhorse A320neo and A321neo jets, which criss-cross the UK and Europe.

New deliveries of 20 single-aisle aircraft will sport a fresh take on both Club Europe and Euro Traveller seating.

The seats themselves are the same between each cabin, of course – but this time around, they’re upholstered in navy blue with red piping around the headrest, with USB-A and USB-C charging ports, plus the return of the leather tray console between the aisle and window seats in Club Europe business class.

The new British Airways Club Europe business class seat.
The new British Airways Club Europe business class seat.

Passengers will also welcome the extra-large overhead luggage bins of the new jets.

BA hasn’t revealed if the new seats or even larger bins will be retrofitted across its 30-odd existing A320neo and A321neo jets.

British Airways is also 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 suite design.

The UK flag-carrier has confirmed its plans “to introduce a brand-new and exclusive First suite” to the superjumbo fleet, saying the new First suite will “make its debut at the end of 2025 into early 2026 as part of its A380 aircraft refurbishment.”

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...

There’s speculation the primo cabin could be relocated to the upper deck in the process, 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.

BA will spend hundreds of millions of pounds bringing the superjumbos up to modern spec, including 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.

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.

Its 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.

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.

Also in the pipeline is a complete make-over of BA’s Heathrow lounges – a project which will take five years, and begin with the T5 Arrivals Lounge – while also embracing the airlines Global Lounge Concept.

That new look has been shaped by architectural firm Gensler, who were behind the New York JFK lounges jointly operated by American Airlines and British Airways, and will also appear at all-new lounges slated to open in 2025 in Dubai and Miami.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

09 Jun 2019

Total posts 10

Does this mean BA is finally abandoning its longstanding forward/backward seating configuration in business class in the long-haul fleet?

20 Jan 2020

Total posts 3

Doyle can spend all he likes. I’ll never fly BA Business (or any other class) again. BC on BA Singapore to Sydney was the worst BC I’ve ever experienced. The new style seats are less comfortable to sleep on than Qantas, Finnair, United or Etihad. And that’s despite Finnair BC seats don’t recline. But the real problem was how horrendously bad the service was. It was offensive. The cabin crew kept insisting everyone go to sleep. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was more like a command. They clearly didn’t want to do any work or provide any service. I had to get up and go to the galley every time I wanted a drink. And then I’d have to ask if I could “trouble them for some ice” to go with my warm Diet Coke. It would be handed over with “ok now you can go to sleep”. Every time. I kid you not. It was so blatantly obvious. When we landed the purser came over the PA and started screeching about “STOP ASKING US FOR ARRIVAL CARDS WE’VE RUN OUT”. I turned to the women next to me and did a mock sieg heil and she burst out laughing and said to me “at least they’ve stopped telling us to go to sleep!” Awful!! Wrote to BA, they didn’t bother to respond. Oh and their BC lounge in Rome has no toilets. You have to leave the lounge and find a public toilet in the airport. What a @%#£ airline. PS the food in BC was excellent. Best of the airlines mentioned here. But everything else was just a series of slaps in the face. Couldn’t wait to leave. 

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

Sliding doors is flimsy gimmick - pax can be overseen by anyone passing by, so what the point? And yes, I have tried it. Though internet above the sky very welcome. From other hands if one lucky enough to snatch very last window seat in cabin fitted with old "yin-yang" seats then it would be more private than first class. Unfortunately such seats are limited - I think only 4 on the plane.

Hawaiian Airlines - HawaiianMiles

13 May 2023

Total posts 2

If BA really wanted to impress and shock the world and its passengers with a revolutionary new product, putting passengers front and center, on your A320 family of aircraft turn the Club Europe into standard for all UK domestic configurations, then upgrade the former Club Europe cabins to the Club World cabins. Then all new A321Ns bring them in with 1-1 suites in 5 rows a la Mint. Intra-Europe biz has been lacking its price point for decades, the extra revenue you'd get from people seeking a viable on board experience added to frequent flyers hoping for an upgrade on oversold flights would both generate revenue as well as drive reputation and market share.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

at the very least should have US domestic First class recliner seats in proper 2-2 config


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