Are British Airways First Class Passengers About to Start Asking to Downgrade, Because Business is Better?

British Airways new Club Suites debut in their Airbus A350, which has no first class.

They will be offering fully flat seating with direct aisle access using essentially the same business class seat as American Airlines does on most Boeing 777-200s and on American’s Boeing 787-9s — the Super Diamond seat — but adding doors.

british airways new business class
Credit: British Airways

british airways new business class bed
Credit: British Airways

While not world-leading business class this is a huge improvement over the current product which ranges from narrow and awkward (climbing over a seatmate to get to the aisle) to downright sad in the middle of four-abreast middle seats.

british airways business class

However BA is introducing their first refurbished Boeing 777 with business class suites with doors October 27th flying London Heathrow – New York JFK — unsurprising since Virgin Atlantic will be launching their new business class on the route.

    London Heathew – New York JFK, 1:00 p.m. – 5:10 p.m., British Airways BA177
    New York JFK – London Heathrow, 7:50 p.m. – 6:50 a.m., British Airways BA174

The Boeing 777 has first class, and will continue to in the new configuration. As expected there will be fewer first class seats — dropping from 14 in four rows down to 8 seats across two rows.

However BA’s current first class seat is wholly uncompetitive, I’ve called it the second best business class, BA first class is no longer even the best business class product (given Qatar Airways QSuites). The current first class product has no doors for privacy, while the new business class will offer this.

  • Will BA have a new first class seat, even though no one knows what it is yet?

  • Will they offer a first class product that’s less private than business class, since business class has doors but first class won’t (assuming it’s the same current first product)?

british airways first class cabin
British Airways Boeing 777 First Class

british airways first class seat
British Airways Boeing 777 First Class

The first class ground experience is marginally better — the Concorde Room at London Heathrow is disappointing as a first class lounge but better than the Galleries business lounge, first class passengers in Miami and Dallas do get access to American’s Flagship First Dining (BA passengers didn’t initially until BA agreed to American’s payment terms) versus Flagship lounge for business customers.

Have a meal before flying, especially on the Eastbound overnight flights, but then once on board I can see passengers who’d want to trade down to the smaller business seat with greater privacy to just go to sleep, unless we see a new first class product from British Airways.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The door doesn’t make the seat very private. Based on the pictures, anyone walking in the aisle can see into the seat area.

  2. Nonsense.
    F is F. The seat is more spacious and the cabin more private. Add in better the soft-product and anyone who wants a downgrade has rocks in their head.
    The new seat is nice, but doors in biz are a gimmick (which bloggers in particular are fascinated with). It gives the illusion of privacy but little else. Soon we will be onto the next fad.

  3. First class comes with first class service and food. And the Concorde rooms in New York and London are a tremendous step above most other lounges. The spa treatments for free (hello facial in a massage chair, come to mama) are better than Qatar where you have to pay even as a first class customer.

    Having flown BA first, it is incredibly quiet. I don’t need a door to sleep when there are only 8 or fewer people around me on most flights, and I don’t need one on the 747 especially when you are in the nose and no one is coming through the cabin from ahead of you. I am happy to have a choice now though, as to whether I’d want to fly business at all on BA and not pay a little more for a lovely, albeit dated, first class.

  4. Strongly agree on the comments regarding existing FC product on 747. I’ve flown multiple times London->Denverand it is totally adequate. Outdated yes, a bit of a bucket of bolts,yes. Staff has always been exceptionally courteous and no problems sleeping or with privacy. Do agree that London FC lounge isn’t all that nice. Adequate but outdated and doesn’t not match others (Lufthansa FC Frankfurt Terminal). I’ll stay in First.

  5. I have flown the new vastly improved BA First Class product in recent months on the 747 and 777.. To the UK and back. I just don’t get the knocking of BA First. I found it pretty good before and much better now. Both the ground Concorde rooms in London Term 5 and JFK excellent food served and wines.Yes furniture and space needs a bit of updating, but uncrowded, quiet and comfortable. Very elite . So no doors on seats on planes. . Big deal. The seat is very comfortable. Easy to sleep. Yes seats in middle after row 3 not best for privacy but still overall it is a good product. . New bedding, New glassware and dishes, very nice wines and champagne, good service with very attentive attendants. much improved overall. I think it’s just wrong to suggest the new Club experience with their new seats will be better.

  6. Gary – what is the continued fascination with door? Get over it. So there is a partition (not a true door) that closes to about waist high. Anyone walking by can look down on you so basically the only privacy you get is maybe from the one person across the aisle that may, if they care to do so, look in at you. Also, what in the hell are you doing on a plane that needs privacy anyway? I’ve flown over 8 million miles and never had an issue with privacy. Now some of the middle eastern carriers that have truly private suites with doors and partitions that go the ceiling are different but this is just adding a slide partition to the small opening that already exists into the seat.

    Gotta get over the obsession with “doors”, along with the click bait articles and continued negative AA/Bonvoy articles. Also, I subscribe to 5 of these blogs and amazing how much everyone just reposts other articles. How about providing actual reviews (TPG is best in this regard) or breaking news instead of the same old stuff. SMH

  7. So far, travel writers and bloggers say that BA first is inferior to other airlines’ business classes.

  8. I just flew Emirates DXB – MRU and will return after a week. This is neither my first nor last flight on Emirates 1st Class. I personally very much appreciate the doors!!!

  9. i still don’t get the fascination with adding half height doors to seats. Whatever are people doing on board that they need so much “privacy”. “Privacy” because anyone walking past can still look in.

  10. @john Harvard: By order of the Court, your last name is being changed. You’re clearly not Harvard material

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