First look: British Airways Airbus A350 Club Suite business class

Let Executive Traveller get you up to speed on BA's next-generation Club Suite business class.

By David Flynn, August 5 2019

British Airways' new Club Suite business class is arguably the airline's biggest leap forward since it created the world's first lie-flat business class seat almost 20 years ago.

When BA pulled back the curtains on this long-awaited and long-overdue replacement for its crowded Club World business class, we described the Club Suites recipe as "more space, more privacy, more posh" – and now that these next-generation seats are flying on BA's new Airbus A350, Executive Traveller can confidently confirm this is a winning trifecta.

You'd hope so, given that this is the crowning piece in BA's £6.5 billion investment program – an unprecedented cash splash that's also seen new lounges, inflight meals and bedding and more.

British Airways' Airbus A350 has 56 Club Suites split across two cabins, in a standard 1-2-1 arrangement, so that every passenger has direct access to the aisle – and, unlike the previous Club World seat, no traveller has to sit backwards.

The business class cabin feels open, despite the tall walls surrounding each seat and the fact that BA has opted to keep the central overhead luggage bins (good news for passengers in the middle seats) rather than follow the lead of some airlines and do away with them, in order to play up the A350's cavernous room-like interior.

The Club Suites themselves shake off the antiseptic off-white and grey colour scheme of the old Club World seat for a modern, sophisticated palette of warm silver, grey and charcoal, with an inset woodgrain-patterned panel running along the side of the console plus trim in BA’s almost-signature bright anodised silver. The overall effect is muted and classy.

Each Club Suite has its own sliding door – ironically, something that even BA’s first class suites lack – which is 45 inches (115cm) tall.

That's enough to give you plenty of privacy and a sense of real seclusion without making you feel too hemmed in, especially as the seats are angled away from the door. However, anybody walking past – be they crew or passenger – will still be able to see into your suite.

The door doesn't close completely – there's a slim gap between the leading edge of the door and the seat's curved shell, which we're told is a safety requirement.

A switch towards the rear of the seat closes and opens the door, although unlike the business class suites of many airlines there's no Do Not Disturb indicator on the outside so that crew know to leave you alone.

The inside of the sliding door and the seat shell surrounding the passenger are lined with a soft noise-reducing felt material to help the transformation from business class seat to sleep-friendly cocoon.

The seat itself is 21 inches wide – a little more so than BA's current Club World seat – with a total of 27 inches to spread out once both armrests are lowered.

It's superbly comfortable: well-padded, with an elegant quilted pattern on the rear cushion, flanked by leather-clad armrests.

In fully-flat bed mode, the seat stretches out to 79 inches (2 metres) and is dressed in BA’s latest ‘sleep service’ products from The White Company including a mattress cover, duvet and woven blanket.

While passengers will have to swap the ‘open bed’ design of today’s Club World for a more constrained enclosed footwell at the end of the bed, there's space enough for plus-sized pods – although don’t expect much wiggle-room to cross your feet at the ankles, for example.

One very welcome change from its Club World predecessor is that the Club Suite boasts plenty of storage space.

Pop open the panel just behind your shoulder to reveal a compartment well-suited to your amenity kit, with a mirror mounted inside the door.

On the shelf next to you there's a small shallow nook where we could imagine many passengers popping their reading glasses, passport wallet and other small odds and ends.

Next to this, a deeper compartment houses the controller for the inflight entertainment system plus a headphone jack, as well as an AC power outlet and two USB sockets, making is a good place to stow your smartphone while it gets an en route recharge.

A slight gap between the lid and the surrounding panel lets you run cables out to your tech yet close the hatch without pinching or snagging the cord, so that the entire surface of the table remains useful.

Down near your feet is a small water bottle compartment.

Finally, British Airways says the space under the footrest can be used to hold a small laptop bag or purse during taxi, takeoff and landing.

A small touchscreen panel just ahead of one armrest adjusts the seat and includes three quick presets for takeoff/landing, a reclined 'lazy Z' lounge mode and the fully flat sleeping position.

We noticed a slight incline in what would usually be considered the 'upright' position, which is immediately more relaxing than actually sitting bolt upright.

Yet another win over the old Club World seat: with the 18.5-inch HD video screen fixed in place, passengers can enjoy movies and TV shows on a 'gate to gate' basis instead of having to have the screen folded out of the way for taxi, take-off and landing.

The tray table extends from under the video screen and is large enough to accommodate a 17-inch laptop.

It can also be partially retracted, making it easier to get in and out of the seat without pushing the table all the way back (a handy feature during the meal service or when you've set up your laptop).

As we've noted in our Best Seats guide for British Airways' Airbus A350 Club Suites, some of window seats (specifically at rows 1, 9, 10 and 15) have two windows instead of just one.

Read: Here are the best seats in BA's Airbus A350 Club Suites business class

The paired middle seats (E and F) are angled towards one another, with a sliding privacy screen which can be opened for sociability if you're travelling with a partner (you'll be able to see and chat with one another without having to lean too far forward or back)...

... or kept closed if you're flying solo.

Finally, if you need to turn BA's A350 Club Suite into your office suite, there's inflight WiFi at the ready, starting from £4.99 for one hour through to £14.99 for a 'flight pass' at speeds suitable for Web browsing, email, messaging and social media, with streaming speeds from £7.99 for one hour to a £23.99 'flight pass'.

British Airways is flying its first Airbus A350 between London and Madrid throughout August, ahead of the A350's debut on the London-Dubai route from September 2 (as BA106/BA107) and London-Toronto from October 1 (as BA92/BA93), while a refitted Boeing 777 is expected to take on the London-New York route – and Virgin Atlantic's own new Airbus A350 Upper Class – in late October.

David
David

David Flynn

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.

traveller99

traveller99

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 104

Now they just need to improve the slop/swill served up on international business class. I fly BA business class now and then between London and New York, and I don't bother with onboard food anymore. I eat in the lounge, and then buy a nice tasty sandwich at Pret, fruit salad, some crips, smoothie etc.

sid

sid

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Jan 2011

Total posts 38

When was the last time you flew with them? I flew in June and the food was pretty decent, nothing worse than say QF. They are also looking at rolling out Do&Co catering to more ports, which should be much better.

AsiaBizTraveller

AsiaBizTraveller

20 Nov 2015

Total posts 52

I really get tired of these ridiculous exaggerations of inflight meals. If you don't like the meal, fine, but do you really think those business class meals are actually 'slop' or 'swill'? I like a good Pret roll as much as anybody and think they're good to grab at the airport ahead of an economy flight, but BA's business class meals are quite decent of late, certainly better than they used to be. I know some people love to hammer BA but I would certainly not describe their meals as swill or slop.

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 513

Looks very much VA The Business except for the door which isn't surprising given both use the same Rockwell seat.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Yes, BA chose the same 'Super Diamond' seat from what is now Collins Aerospace as Virgin, Qatar Airways (A380), China Airlines and Canada's WestJet, among others, although BA added a few nice touches to really bring this one home. I've always liked the way that the side shelf remains a useable spaced even when AC or UBS cables are plugged in and snaking out.

BLAMEX

BLAMEX

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2017

Total posts 53

Well done BA looks like a very solid product. It will be some time until we see it between LHR SIN SYD however very good option when it becomes available. Next up will be the revamped F cabin. I have flown on BA F on numerous occasions and found the product is very good. Not as good as SQ CX JL however better than others.

turbojezz

turbojezz

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 125

i concur... I Love BA First. There really is something about how special the british can do something when they get it right. BA First is one of those things. Now finally BA Business is not only catching up, but setting standards or atleast getting in front. This J suite looks better than QFs latest J suite! Im very excited to try this :)

sakaiben

sakaiben

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2017

Total posts 9

I have been pleasantly surprised with the service on some recent BA flights (and the food was just fine), so it will be great to see the end of those reverse seats. These look really comfortable and someone has seriously thought about storage space, so I look forward to giving them a go.

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 346

Hopefully the washrooms on BA's A350 in first and club are somewhat better than what they have on their A380 and 777 which are absolutely woeful.

Whatever

Whatever

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 11

Same platform as many airlines but lots in common/borrowed from the VA seat. The center sliding privacy divider is almost a direct copy of the VA one.


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