You May Not Fly the New British Business Class Seat Until It’s Totally Outdated

British Airways has a new business class seat that’s being installed on new delivery Airbus A350s, and being retrofitted slowly in their long haul aircraft. At Capital Markets Day, British Airways parent IAG revealed just how slowly – and how long you’re going to be flying the old seats that lag the rest of the industry.

Today the new seat flies to Dubai and Toronto on the 350 and will soon fly to Bangalore and Tel Aviv. The first converted 777 is flying to New York.

british airways new business class
Credit: British Airways

british airways new business class bed
Credit: British Airways

British Airways is able to put a business class seat into planes that takes up more room than the old seat (remember, they’re going to direct aisle access from eight across on Boeing 777s) without reducing seats in back. The new seat takes up more room. Where does that extra room come from? Reducing the footprint of first class.

BA announced the roll out schedule for their new business class seat. They hadn’t previously shared that Airbus A380s would ever get the new seat, though now we know they will. However the timetable to put new seats on their planes also reveals that it’ll be 2025 before the project is completed and that’s just for aircraft based at London Heathrow (and not Gatwick).

Until 2025 you’re going to still be flying ‘cuddle seats’ on at least some aircraft, and climbing over other passengers to get up to the lavatory (or having other passengers climbing over you). The inferior business class – which is worse than any other major airline across the Atlantic – will still be flying for six more years.

british airways business class

This means, by the way, that the ‘new’ Club Suite will be past its sell by date by the time it’s even in some of their aircraft. The new business seat is the current American Airlines seat with a door. It’s a customized Super Diamond seat that was an old Qatar Airways business seat, before Qatar rolled out the QSuite.

So while it’s absolutely better than what British Airways flies today, talking up the seat is like United Airlines talking up and promising customers Polaris in 2016.

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, 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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  1. The traditional Club World seat is better than the current Lufthansa seat, the old United seat that is still in some planes, and any seat on a transatlantic 757.

    The traditional Club World seat is no longer a good seat, but calling it worst a major airline flies across the Atlantic is just wrong.

  2. @Sas: What makes the traditional Club World seat better than those other products? From the seat itself, I think the only seat that is potentially worse for trans-Atlanic is the pre-merger United 777s (2-4-2 config). Haven’t flown BA’s traditional Club World though, but I have flown LH (A380) and UA (777s – both 2-2-2 and 2-4-2 and true Polaris).

  3. 2025 should be the same year that AA finally gets power outlets installed on the legacy US aircraft.

  4. I’ve flown Club World on the BA 747 upper deck a few times, and int’l business class on Delta, AA, United, and Luftansa. I think that the BA product (at least on the upper deck) is just as good, if not better than the others. Regardless of airline, flying the 747 upper deck in business class is a superior product–it almost seems like you are on a private jet (not like I have ever been on a private jet, but I can use my imagination).

    I do wonder why BA still has first class at all. The last time I flew BA they upgraded me to First Class at the gate. The seat was larger, but there wasn’t a difference in comfort. The champagne and scotch were better (I wasn’t planning on drinking but when they bring out the Johnnie Walker Blue, its like I have no choice). The food was somewhat better. But I wouldn’t pay more in dollars or miles for First Class on BA. It is a mystery to me why they still have it.

  5. @-

    Traditional Club World is obviously better than 2-4-2 United. It’s about as narrow, but no stupid foot cubby, and more privacy.

    I personally think it’s better than all the other non-direct-aisle-access lie flat seats as well, because the foward/backward layout means it’s not as awkward to get and out while people are sitting, and most of the non-direct-aisle-access annoyance is when people are sleeping. Also, window seats and 2-3-2 middle seats have great privacy, even compared with more modern products. Even the aisle seats offer marginally better privacy because you at least have great isolation from your immediate neighbor.

    I’m sure people who frequently learn in the morning they have to be on a plane to Europe that evening, and often get stuck in the 2-4-2 middle seats have a much more negative impression of Club World, though I can’t imagine it being worse than 2-4-2 United.

    On the other hand, for a pure leisure traveler that books months in advance, traditional Club World is kinda great, because you can snag one of the wonderful direct-aisle-access bulkhead window seats. Especially the upper deck ones with the side storage cubbies.

  6. YUK.
    I wouldn’t pay or use miles to fly this crap.
    The route for my new high performance single engine plane is rather circuitous from LAS -London, making 6 stops, with extra fuel tanks, but you don’t think about the leg room or lack of bathroom when you’re flying

  7. Honestly the way people drone on about “privacy” whilst on a public mode of transport is bizarre. What exactly are you people doing at 35k feet that is so private? How do you cope with trials like “going to the loo” and “being in the airport” where contact with other human beings is unavoidable.

    I’m pleased it is being phased out but old business class seats are fine and better than all but the newest designs. In fact the number of people flying on my past 10 flights in BA bus seems to suggest that they’re much more bearable than pundits would make out.

    The old seat also has some things going for it which people tend to forget:
    – if you are terrified about the potential to catch the gaze of the person in the next seat during take off and landing, I have developed the strategy of looking away. It has always worked well for me. – You will find that in some ways the seat is more private than many of the open suites. if you’re working on something confidential or sensitive on a laptop – something many business travelers have to do, the yin-yang seat design and lack of row-staggering means your neighbor can’t see what’s on your screen. Somebody walking the aisle might, but people shouldn’t be lingering.
    – I will also miss the “couples” seats in the middle of the row. Likewise, sitting opposite somebody you know is also quite pleasant. Unlike virtually all other Bus seats on the market (and many first class seats) you can actually have a conversation here without shouting or pulling a muscle.
    – As somebody with large feet who stirs a lot in the night, I also appreciate the open foot design. Some of the newer designs are too restrictive for a good night’s sleep.
    – The view looking backwards during take-off is fantastic,
    – If, like me, you are able bodied, I find lifting one leg and then another to walk over somebody’s footrest isn’t too taxing, and probably helps to avoid DVT 😉

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