British Airways’ latest long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets feature not only the much-improved business class Club Suites but new first class suites boasting sliding privacy doors.
They won’t seem entirely new to BA’s frequent flyers: the suites are an evolution of those which debuted on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 and 787-10 fleet – a design BA refers to internally as 'Prime' – to add a privacy door.
Yet they’re quite the change from the elegant previous generation of British Airways’ Boeing 777 First product, show below.
Executive Traveller reader George Budd recently flew in BA’s latest Boeing 777-300ER first class suite, and shared his first impressions (and some photos) with us.
First up: those doors, which are sort of an equaliser to the already-doored Club Suites.
Budd says he’s fan of the First suite’s doors, especially as they add much more privacy when the seat’s converted into a fully flat bed for sleeping.
That said, “the doors stayed open for most of the flight, other than when people went to bed, as the cabin and seat is private enough anyway” due to the high walls between suite and the aisle.
BA’s new Boeing 777 First suite “felt like it had more room” than the door-less Boeing 787 equivalents, Budd says, “although I prefer the wider foot space on the old 777 First – I don’t like the console overhang on the new ones, as my legs don’t fit under them.”
“The tray table still folds in half, but doesn’t push away as far as it used to, meaning getting out with the table out is very tricky, and I’m a skinny cyclist!” Budd exclaims. “It pivots back into the console, although that’s difficult when it’s fully laid (for meal service).”
“The metal edge on the table is much better, and the bedside light at head level is recessed and so isn’t going to get pulled off any more.”
Another shortcoming is the positioning of the suite’s video screen, which Budd observed was “at the wrong angle” and offset compared to the centreline of the passenger’s seat.
And with the screen hard-mounted into the front of the seat module, there’s no scope to adjust it to better suit your position.
“Imagine looking at your home TV sitting well off-centre, with the TV twisted on the bracket,” he suggests, adding that he found the headphone socket to be “temperamental, needed a gentle wiggle to get good sound.”
The suite’s inbuilt wardrobe “is very narrow, really only for a jacket or laptop bag,” Budd noted, adding that “it now has a separate, removable, hanger.”
He also observed that this recessed wardrobe “is connected to the deep storage to the front left – so if you lose something you thought you put in there, it’s in the bottom of the wardrobe.”
However, one of the unique design touches which gave the previous Boeing 777 First suites their cosy ‘private railway cabin feeling’ – the elongated window panels (which encompassed two actual fuselage windows) with automatic window blinds – have been replaced by the standard windows and pull-down shades.
A broader change in BA’s new Boeing 777 First cabin is that there are now only eight suites – arranged as two rows of 1-2-1 – compared to the 14 First suites of in the earlier Boeing 777 configurations.
The space which would usually be allocated to those other six first class suites has now been given over to a dozen Club Suites in their own business class ‘mini cabin’, ahead of the rest of the 76-seat business class section.
This affords a handy way to determine if your next BA Boeing 777 flight will feature the new or previous generation First suites: if the seat map shows only eight berths in First, you’re on one of the factory-fresh Boeing 777s.