British Airways’ New First Class Coming To 787-9 Later This Year

I’ve long called British Airways’ first class the world’s best business class product. While British Airways first class is incredibly stylish, it’s also a rather “tight” product, and more in line with a reverse herringbone business class seat, than many of the evolved first class suites we see today.

Perhaps the worst is on the 747, where British Airways has 14 first class seats — that’s the same space in which many airlines have 8-9 first class seats instead.

British-Airways-First-Class

The British Airways A380 has an evolved first class product. While it’s the same concept, it’s considerably more spacious. That’s not really a surprise, given how wide the A380 lower deck is, meaning each seat is considerably wider, since they keep four seats per row.

British-Airways-A380-First-Class

British-Airways-A380-First-Class-2

British-Airways-A380-First-Class-3

While British Airways already flies the Boeing 787-8, they’ll soon be taking delivery of their first 787-9. While the former doesn’t have a first class cabin, the latter will. British Airways has just announced their first 787-9 route which will feature a first class cabin. Per airlineroute.net, British Airways will commence 5x weekly 787-9 flights between London and Delhi as of October 25, 2015. This includes the following frequency:

BA257 London to Delhi departing 7:30PM arriving 9:10AM (+1 day)
BA256 Delhi to London departing 11:10AM arriving 3:10PM

The British Airways Boeing 787-9 will feature a total of 216 seats spread across four cabins, as follows:

  • 8 first class seats
  • 42 business class seats
  • 39 premium economy seats
  • 127 economy seats

Here’s what the first & business class seatmap looks like on the 787-9:

787-Seatmap

British Airways hasn’t yet released any pictures of the new first class product. However, here’s what we know about the new first class product so far, per AusBT:

  • The new BA First suites include additional storage areas where passengers can park their inflight gear, with a new ottoman next to the adjustable footstool offering room for shoes, handbags and other personal items.
  • A locker positioned at eye-level is intended for smaller personal effects such as tablets, reading glasses and amenity kits.
  • The jackets and coat locker is now accessible without passengers having to move from their seat, while a mirror has been fitted to the inside of the locker door.
  • There’s another nook next to their armrest where you can stow a smartphone or tablet while it’s being charged by the nearby USB port.
  • The large 23 inch screen is partnered to a smaller touchscreen controller with an independent display, and unlike the current design (shown below) the monitor is fixed in position so that movies and TV shows can be enjoyed on a ‘gate to gate’ basis rather than having to stow the screen during taxi, take-off and landing.

Bottom line

Overall it sounds like a solid product. For one, a smaller first class cabin will hopefully mean that service actually feels more “first class” than you might otherwise get in a cabin with 14 seats. But beyond that, it sounds like the new product will be a bit more spacious than the old one.

I’m excited to see British Airways’ new 787-9, especially since BA is one of the few airlines installing a first class cabin on it.

Anyone have predictions as to what British Airways’ new 787 first class cabin will look like?

Comments

  1. Seeing as how BA F is already 4-across on the 777 and the 787 cabin is narrower, I’m guessing the final product will be underwhelming. They really should have introduced a completely new F cabin on the A380. I find the A380 seats do not make good use of the provided space.

  2. Is BA seriously doing 3 across the middle in business on the 789?? That seems like they’re going backwards, not forwards.

  3. @ Graham — I mean, this is the airline which also loves eight across seating in business class, so suppose that’s not all that surprising.

  4. @ Arcanum — I certainly could be wrong, though it sort of sounds to me like these may be forward facing seats rather than reverse herringbone seats, in which case they could be more spacious. Again, I may very well be wrong.

  5. @Lucky- I guess I’m more surprised to see this occurring with a NEW delivery given the airline industry’s move as a whole to herringbone and reverse herringbone, which in turn, typically gives us the 4 across config. Oh well.

  6. @Lucky – I’d be VERY surprised if these were forward-facing seats. Again, 4-across is what most airlines have for F on the 777, and that’s in a wider cabin. If you look at Etihad’s 787 F cabin (which I believe is the only 787 F out there) they’ve got 4-across seating, but they alternate forward- and rear-facing seats, with the seats narrowing at the feet in order to fit. That’s the only model I can see working besides the reverse herringbone, which as you said is really more of a J product.

  7. I flew BA First yesterday on the 777 and the 747, from Dubai to Heathrow connecting to JFK (on one of the Austin mistake fares.) The 777 is tolerable but the 747 is reallllly poor. Almost no overhead storage in rows 1 and 2, and an ancient, glitchy IFE system with a much more limited selection than on the 777 (I was bummed I couldn’t finish the second half of the movie I’d watched on the previous flight.) BA’s service is all over the place. Outstanding on the first flight from a burly Scot named Gordon, but terse and schoolmarmish on the second.

    Ah well. It was worth it for the flight out in an Etihad Apartment 😉

  8. I was on a completely full JFK-LHR flight in F with all 14 seats filled, and felt the service was fantastic. Granted half the passengers went to straight to sleep, which probably helped things, but the crew was extremely attentive, and seemed to enjoy interacting with the passengers that were awake. Compared to a LHR – SFO flight that I did with only 5 passengers in F, I did not notice a difference any difference in service standards on a daytime flight. While I agree it’s not the glitziest product, I feel that BA has a solid offering, that at least outdoes any US based carrier.

  9. The eye-level locker sounds an awful lot like the AA/CX reverse herringbone business class seating configuration, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they maintain something like their reverse herringbone-ish design. Though, that design isn’t a very efficient use of space in a 2-row cabin, so maybe for that reason alone they’ve decided to do something more rectangular.

  10. Boo, more BA bashing! They are pretty much the only airline in the world which runs a profitable First Class cabin, largely thanks to the denser configuration and less extravagant soft product than other carriers who run First Class at a loss because of the supposed halo effect it has on the rest of the business. BA’s First Class fares are also comparatively lower than the likes of Lufthansa, Cathay, Air France etc and there is MUCH more award availability and it is more easily accessible.It’s never going to be the most extravagant or luxurious First Class but that’s not what they’re going after and you won’t see them largely abandoing First Class as AA, TAM, etc have.

  11. @PT

    No it’s as Lucky says a very good J, not a F.

    It’s very easy to sell a product for a lower price than your competitors when your are selling is in really life a different class of product. If BMW sold as their top model the 5 series and claimed that it was the same as MB S-Class their price would also be lower, but the product sold would be not as good even if the 5-series are great cars.

    Seven across on a 787 is what Norwegian uses for their Premium economy. To put a J cabin like this into a new fleet of 789 in 2015 is crazy, can understand a airline that already have a large fleet of a aircraft type doing this if they just have a few planes left on a order. But on a complete new fleet? No way.

  12. @PT – I think the profitable F cabin has more to do with BA’s wealthy customer base. Having all those rich expats and City boys with their cushy expense accounts probably goes a long way towards filling the cabin, especially since those types prioritize non-stop flights over product. It’s the same reason F sells well on CX out of HKG and SQ out of SIN.

  13. @EthaninSF – “that at least outdoes any US based carrier”

    I love BA, but you’re setting an awfully low bar here. 🙂

  14. Ugh, they’re keeping their horrendously outdated business class where you have to crawl over a sleeping stranger to get to your seat, and risk getting a middle seat too?!

  15. They need to update their business class more than their first class. They need to move to reverse herringbone.

  16. It’s easy to say X number across is business, is the same as X number across in another airline’s premium economy… but X across means nothing on a seat map. What is the total area that the cabin occupies? Have you compared that? Clearly, the head of each seat in BA Club is not aligned. Yes, both Club and FIRST are dense configurations, but comparisons need to be a bit more logical!

  17. I have mixed feelings about BA’s business class. On one hand, I love the privacy of the window seats. Nobody can see you. On the other hand, I hate having to climb over somebody to get up and go to the bathroom.

  18. I’m expecting to see it turn into more of a qantas first layout, however a bit narrower than that, but wider then BA’s current first.

  19. I guess it’s the same one that CZ and CA uses for their 1st class cabin on 77W. (Actually I hope..)

  20. Thanks to the mistake fare from Germany to KUL I just booked a trip on the new 787 F for New Year’s. So let’s hope those seats turn out great!

  21. I booked ewr-lhr for July in 789 first, seat map on ba.com shows all 8 seats forward facing hope it’s a great product.

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