British Airways’ New Business Class Seat Patent

In 1999, British Airways was among the first airlines to introduce fully flat beds in business class. Not some janky angled flat seats like other airlines, but truly, fully flat seats. At the time it was pretty innovative.

The problem is that they’ve done very little to innovate their business class product since, and 16 years later they basically still have the same “bones” to their business class seat. While it’s a decent product, it features eight seats per row on their 777s and 747s, which is tight.

British-Airways-Club-World

British-Airways-Business-Class-1

British-Airways-Business-Class-2

There have been rumors for a while about British Airways finally introducing a new business class product, and it looks like that may slowly become a reality. British Airways filed for a US Patent Application in February, and that was finally published yesterday, August 13, 2015.

BA-Patent-Filing

Here are some of the images of the new product which are included in the patent application:

British-Airways-Business-Class-3

British-Airways-Business-Class-4

British-Airways-Business-Class-5

So what do we know based on the patent application?

  • These seats are in a herringbone configuration, meaning all the seats face the aisle, similar to Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic, etc. This is different than the reverse herringbone configuration found on airlines like American, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, etc.
  • All of the new seats feature direct aisle access, with three to four seats per row. Presumably the 787 would feature three seats per row, while the 777 and 747 would feature four seats per row.

BA-Seatmap

Purely in terms of the “layout” of the cabin, British Airways’ new business class product would look a lot more like Air New Zealand or Virgin Atlantic. Traditional herringbone seats are typically considered to be the “less” advanced style of herringbone seats.

Air-New-Zealand-777

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class

That being said, in terms of spaciousness, it looks like the seat will be more on par with a reverse herringbone seat than a traditional herringbone seat, given the amount of shoulder space found at every seat.

American-Business-Class

American-Business-Class-777-03

Bottom line

At this point this is just a patent, so we don’t really have any further information as to whether this new product will actually be introduced on British Airways, and if so, what kind of a timeframe we’re talking about.

If this is in fact British Airways’ new business class product, it’s a huge improvement over their old product. Based on the patent filing it doesn’t look truly cutting edge to me, though. I still prefer reverse herringbone seats (I’d rather face the window than the aisle), and there’s a chance you’ll have to flip the seat over to turn it into a bed, rather than being able to recline into it.

Still, this product looks considerably more spacious than any other herringbone seat out there.

What do you make of British Airways’ new business class seat patent?

(Tip of the hat to Australian Business Traveller)

Comments

  1. Well, it really wasn’t “not some janky angled flat seats like other airlines,” since when BA introduced flat seats, the concept of angled lie-flat hadn’t yet been invented. Angled lie-flat was actually a response by VS to BA 🙂

  2. @Lucky, unrelated question. With Alaska offering a more seamless travel experience on American Airlines, does that mean I’ll be able to book seats on Emirates with AA miles and/or book seats on Japan Air with AS miles?

  3. If you look at 1a and 1b in the pictures, you’ll see it reclines into bed mode, no flipping required. There’s also a footrest (3) that comes up to join the seat and ottoman (4), while the armrests (5) drop down to create more space.

    Let’s hope this really is the design for their new J seat and not the new F coming on the 789!

  4. actually I was thinking of their original park bench/couch like business class seat filed in the US patent

  5. I know for a fact (I have a source at BA) that a new business class product will be introduced by the time their a350 goes into service in 2017.

  6. Having seen the new BA J seat that is going on the a350 and future aircraft, you will be disappointed big time!
    ‘New Seat’ yes, but more like a refinement.

  7. I’ll believe it if it ever happens (the config, not the seat itself). There is no chance that they will forego revenue to such an extreme extent; 2-4-2 to 1-1-1 or 1-2-1 or whatever it may be. Not a chance.

  8. So do you think they can be installed by 9/4? Flying lhr-lax in Club World. Probably not….. I would suppose. God news is I get to look at my wife for 10 hours.

  9. Hi Lucky, a couple of questions for you:
    1. Do you like the herringbone layout? Looking at the photos, there does not seem to be the same level of privacy as there is with reverse herringbone.
    2. Have you flown BA 757-200 Business? Just curious what it is like if you have.
    Love the reviews – they are always my first go-to.

  10. Designair.net actually reported about BA’s next club world seat. In their depiction, it’s like a sofa or bench style seat, a combination of herringbone and reverse-herringbone seat. During take offs and landings, you face the window (reverse-herringbone). But if you turn it into a bed, your feet will be facing the aisle (herringbone). With this, you’ll have more space for your feet, which for me is more comfortable, unlike in reverse-herringbone seats.

  11. There’s been a few different patents floating around over the last year for new BA seat designs. I think this one was my favourite:
    http://www.ausbt.com.au/is-this-british-airways-next-gen-club-world-business-class-seat
    I recall seeing an updated ying yang style too, which may be the most likely for the upcoming A350 I guess. Or perhaps BA is just keeping everyone guessing by filling lots of potential designs and might do something as interesting as the original full flat bed in business was.

  12. Looks like the window seats face towards the center of the cabin, so passengers won’t be able to really stare out of the window without considerable straining the neck. Kinda like the old cathay biz class seats and the Virgin Atlantic & Air New Zealand seats. Why the hell canto they just turn the seats around to face the windows, takes up the same amount of space. Reverse Herring bone is the way to go.

  13. BA’s business class seat is way out of date, there is no space around the seat to put even a pair of glasses and you have the stupid screen going up and down whenever the crew can’t be bothered to pass something over the top. I have stopped flying BA when there are far more comfortable seats around on long haul. A recent trip to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific was superb. Based on the designs shown it looks like BA are planning to be the “Ryan Air” of business class.

  14. Both J and F on BA are subpar, yet they still manage to fill their planes. With London being the world’s biggest premium market, they’ve got so many hub captive customers willing to pay for the convenience of direct service that there’s no incentive to improve. Sure, Cathay’s great if you’re going to Hong Kong, but most business travelers won’t take a connection there on the way to Beijing when there’s a BA non-stop.

  15. You are correct in identifying why BA have not bothered to upgrade their business class service if you can fill the plane and pack them in like Ryanair then why not. I may be alone, but I choose to pick carriers (Cathay, Iberia, Singapore etc etc) with more comfortable seating even with the occasional non direct flight. Life is just too short to fly BA Club….

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