With its centenary celebrations ongoing, British Airways has announced the latest major upgrade to result from the £6.5 billion currently being invested in enhancing the company’s products and services: an entirely new Club World business-class cabin.
Launched this morning, BA’s new ‘Club Suite’ seat will be a significant departure from, and drastic improvement on, the airline’s current offering.
Set in a 1-2-1 configuration, each fully lie-flat seat will provide direct aisle access and 40 per cent more personal storage space than the current standard. Amenities will be significantly enhanced too, with high-definition entertainment systems enlarged in size to 17 or 18.5 inches (dependent on aircraft type), tech upgraded and high-speed WiFi available.
It’s thanks to another new addition that BA has branded its new seats as ‘suites’: each one will have its own sliding door to enhance privacy.
Passengers will be able to experience the new Club World business-class cabin for themselves from July, when it will be introduced on one of the carrier’s A350 aircraft. That plane will initially fly between London and Madrid (the short-haul route will mean a greater number of cabin crew will have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new product).
A further three new A350 aircraft will carry the new business-class cabin, and two existing Boeing 777 aircraft will be retrofitted with them, from October 1, 2019. Those aircraft are expected to fly selected services from the UK to Toronto and Dubai.
Explore the forthcoming British Airways A350 Club World cabin in the above 360-degree video
At the start of 2020, the new Club World seat will be introduced to additional aircraft and will ultimately become the standard business-class product across all applicable BA services.
During the press launch I was invited to don a VR headset in order to try an impressively realistic simulation of the new Club Suite. There’s no question that regular Club World passengers will find the new product dramatically better than its predecessor.
While couples occupying the two forward-facing centre seats will still be able to see each other by lowering a screen, the removal of backwards-facing seats mean solo travellers will no longer need to make awkward eye contact or small talk with the strangers seated diagonally across from them.
The A350 cabin I explored virtually felt much fresher too, with high ceilings and white walls. There will be 56 Club World seats in BA’s A350 aircraft and the airline says passengers on board will disembark “feeling rested thanks to higher levels of humidity and refreshed air”, with the cabin pressure equivalent to flying at an altitude of 6,000ft. The new A350 will also burn less fuel than existing aircraft in the BA fleet, resulting in lower emissions.
Passengers will also benefit from additional cosmetic and service enhancements that were recently introduced across British Airways’ business-class services. Club World bedding and amenity kits come from The White Company; revised catering options means starters, desserts and cheeses are served from a trolley, much like in a traditional fine-dining restaurant, while the a la carte menu is more ambitious than before.
There are also plans in place to upgrade Heathrow’s business-class lounges in the next couple of years while BA has also just announced a range of enhancements to its first-class service. Passengers of every class are likely to observe further improvements as the impact of the ongoing investment programme becomes evident. Among other things, the carrier is expected to receive 72 new aircraft over the next five years.
For more on BA's Club World business-class service, visit ba.com.
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