British Airways’ New A350 Business Class Seat?

It’s no secret that I find British Airways business class to be rather underwhelming (let’s not even talk about the service), as the airline’s 777s, 747s, and A380s feature eight seats per row in business class.

British-Airways-Business-Class

The thing is, British Airways used to have a truly cutting edge business class product, as they were one of the first airlines in the world to introduce fully flat beds in business class, back in 1999.

Since then, over the past 17 years, they’ve done almost nothing to change the “bones” of their business class seat. I don’t mind the window seats that much, but the aisle seats feel exposed, and the seats are extremely narrow.

British Airways still hasn’t announced plans to refresh their longhaul business class product on their existing planes. While their joint venture partner, American, has just four seats per row on their 777s, British Airways has twice as many seats per row. Last year British Airways filed a patent for a new business class seat, though them filing a patent doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll install it throughout their fleet.

However, British Airways will soon be taking delivery of their first Airbus A350, and they’re planning on introducing a new business class product on it. A couple of weeks ago Business Traveller mentioned that the A350 will have a new business class seat, but it won’t be “ultra-revolutionary,” and therefore won’t be retrofitted throughout the entire fleet:

Having seen the new seat, Mr Cruz said that it was not “ultra-revolutionary” and so would not be retrofitted. Instead he said, “What I think has some merit is to look at some of the attributes and small extras around the seat and the seat experience that we could more easily translate to the premium cabin.”

“The yin yang configuration is something we patented because we thought it was a smart innovation — it is a very efficient use of space.”

Well, it looks like we may finally now know what the new British Airways A350 business class seat will look like. FlyerTalk member hemschmall posted the following image on FlyerTalk:

British-Airways-New-Business-Class

The seat looks very similar to the current product, in the sense that the seats are still quite narrow, and alternate between facing forwards and backwards. However, if I’m seeing the diagram correctly, the ottoman is in a fixed position.

Perhaps the best part of that is that if you’re a window seat, you won’t have to climb over the ottoman of the person in the aisle seat to get out.

British-Airways-Business-Class-777 - 3

I’m not sure how exactly those in window seats will get out, but that’s the only option based on the above design. Perhaps it will be like an Apex Suite, where there’s a small walkway for those in the window seat.

Oman-Air-New-Business-Class - 7

Bottom line

While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it sure seems likely that the above will be British Airways’ new A350 business class. It certainly is an improvement, as it seems like those in the window seat will no longer have to step over those in the aisle to get out of their seats. However, it’s still not among the best business class seats out there.

Don’t get too excited, though, given that British Airways will only have a total of 18 A350s, and there are no plans to install a new business class product on the rest of their longhaul fleet yet.

What do you make of the alleged rendering of British Airways’ new business class?

Comments

  1. I’ve always been a fan of the BA seat, window seats at least, and this looks like a nice incremental improvement. Whilst it is 8 seats per row I don’t see it as particularly different from a staggered configuration, but with the advantage of no foot boxes.

    It definitely suffers from lack of storage space comapared to other products and the reaching over for service isn’t great if you are on the aisle, (or can the service happen through he narrow passage?)

    Not one of the best, maybe, but far from one of the worst.

  2. The overhead diagram clearly shows why some people refer to BA seats as coffin seats. As for the window being better. Yes, when you’re sitting there, but squeezing your way in can be a chore on the A380 upper deck even for those who’ve never shopped at a big and tall store. I suppose getting into an actual coffin may be easier.

  3. it says direct aisle access for every seat (finally)!
    But what i feel BA missed much on is the fact the IFE screen is still a fold away which means you probably may still have stow it on take off and landing which I find to be redundant when most other airlines have designed it to be safe for use during the entire journey.
    Sad how BA refuses to gain speed with its competitors AND its alliance partners.
    Branson must be gleaming at this Club World rendering and seeing $$$

  4. Take it for what it is. In “British” parlance, their product is perfectly adequate and like it or not it’s not going to change. So, if you want a better experience, fly another carrier.

    (Which I do by the way)

  5. This impending minor improvement is little incentive for me to change from other airlines’ business class offered at much better prices than BA’s. I seem to recall that BA implemented the current business seats in 1999 to try and fight Virgin Atlantic’s new flat bed seats in herringbone format, a breakthrough at the time.

  6. The dimensions of the new seat in the diagram are roughly the same as the new version of the reverse herringbone seat on CX that you love (which I do not as I find the implementation to be too firm and the upright position to be less comfortable than on BA).

    Per some of the diagrams on that flyer talk thread, the number of seats on the A350 for CX vs. BA would be roughly the same in the same cabin space (assuming this would be 7 across).

    4 across does not mean half as dense as 8 across when the 4 across are diagonal, so I don’t understand why that’s the argument you keep making (as I’ve noted before on http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1710032-refuting-tired-2-4-2-cw-vs-1-2-1-cirrus-seat-argument.html ). The current BA seat is more dense than CX/AA, but not twice as dense, more like 20%.

    The design mockup (assuming it is real) addresses all of the major issues with the current CW seat (where you currently pretty much want to fly 62AK or 64AK on the 747 upper deck or move to first class) other than enough storage space at a normal seat. I would definitely prefer the new window seat over the herringbone seat, and based on the design consider it very similar to the apex suite. Hopefully they also preserve the inclined take-off/landing angle and don’t add the airbag to the seat belt.

  7. I agree with Dylan, assuming the mock-up is accurate, this really looks like a version of the apex suite and seems like a very solid design that fixes most of the issues with the current seat. I think it is a good compromise of giving everyone privacy (especially the window seats) if they want while also allowing you to travel comfortably with a companion.

  8. I remember that British Airways commercial with the businessman going to sleep in the bed in Times Square and waking up in London. That was around 2003. One of the best airline commercials in the history of aviation.

  9. WOW! Talking Inovation… BA Biz has always looked to me akward. Prefer Ethiad or Qatar.

  10. So how are you served by the FA if you’re in the window seat? Does the person on the aisle have to suffer the FA leaning over him/her and dealing with the window passenger through the divider? I have only flown reverse herringbone, never any of the other configurations.

  11. Yikes! If I’m reading the diagram right the bed length is only 6 feet. There are lots of travelers taller than that, including me! The great thing about the current ottoman setup is that bulkhead and last-row seats have plenty of leg room for tall folks. If there pods are fixed in length I won’t fit. That’s a problem given my BA-heavy flying. I’d be distressed to have to change, but I’ve got to be able to sleep!

  12. We lived in the UAE from 1999 – 2007 and the BA product AUH-LHR-YVR was that epitome of pleasurable travel. Always managed to score 62 or 63 on upper deck.

    Newer products can be as nice but nothing yet beats the upper deck 747 2-2 configuration when travelling with my wife.

    Having said that I certainly have enjoyed the EK Y seats we had on a 380 to MXP from JFK. But that was more the experience of the lounge at each end being out of the world and a very friendly crew on-board.

    AC herringbone seats are narrow but comfortable. Cathay OK as well. Current BA 2-4-2 just does not cut it so I will have to wait until we get the details before committing or approving of these new seats.

    In the long run I don’t see these seats being a game-changer for BA.

  13. I was surprised his short the bed is! Both my husband and teenage son are over 6′ tall – I can’t imagine they would have a comfortable night’s sleep.

  14. British Airways likes to call itself the “World’s Most Favorite Airline” but I don’t think they realize how despised they are, and this is an example of their “let them eat cake” attitude. From less-than-average business class at premium prices, and aloof/snotty service, to exorbitant fees to redeem miles ($1000 fuel surcharge? really?) this is an airline that I avoid like the plague.

  15. Who flies BA? How are they getting away with premium prices for very poor seats / service? I avoid them like the plague. So many better options at lower prices.

  16. Dear Lucky,
    I have to agree with the readers critizising your comments that BA’s seats are too narrow. They have the same width as CP on the A330 (which you love) or KLM and are even wider than AU. And the window seats are the most private ones I know, once the divider is up. So for me BA CW in a window seat is still the prefered way to go for TATL flights. The only thing, I have to critizise is the pitch. The bed is too short for me (I am 6.6) and I really hope, they will keep the bigger pitch at the bulkhead seats as Mark mentioned already.

  17. I like how you say that this 20.5in seat is narrow yet you can’t stop singing praises for Emirates 18in first class seat

  18. The bit I dislike the most is the screen. You’ll notice the screen swings open and is right by the head of the person in the twin seat. Sometimes people slam the screen shut. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been shocked awake by an inconsiderate neighbour slamming the screen shut.

  19. For service they will apparently walk around through the “new” access route and not lean over as is often done now.
    As for density, completely agree with Dylans argument. CX Cirrus overlap at the feet, which would mean that if we follow the BA argument of 8 (2+4+2), CX also has 2+4+2 but with added space for direct isle access (which makes up for the 20% or so difference in density).

  20. I hope they will improve their seatconfig as for now i’m a BA emerald traveller choosing AA, Qatar, CX and Finnair and then just do 2 trips to London.

  21. The BA club world seat is old and non-competitive, this new version does not seem to fix a lot. If you add the service issues and declining quality, BA has seen it’s day. Willie Walsh (although now IAG chairman and not CEO of BA) has put his low cost airline touch into this company and the soft and hard products are now relatively poor.

    Staff are getting more and more disgruntled – just look at the recent failures in their new check-in software and ask a couple of BA desk agents what they think. You can just tell by the lack of smiles and the loss of the “I really care about you” service that can be memorable. Even LHR-JFK return in First this was true.

    I’m on 2-3 business flights to West Coast/East Coast US per month and a number of short haul in Europe…I avoid BA actively, more expensive and a worse product.

    I hope they start to pick up on customer feedback soon and stop cost cutting.

  22. @James “Club World isn’t too bad…”

    *says the girl who is an ex-BA FA*

    I agree with you in terms of your hatred toward the CW seat. It is fairly private in the window but the in the aisle it feels like your at the front of a stage. But BA isn’t as bad as spirit of frontier,no?

    Saying that, I flew economy before the cost cutting and they has a decent snack buffet on long haul, but my father went to Kenya this week (lets not talk about the 747 that still had economy with the tiny tv screens and bright blue seats) and said that there was no snack buffet and the simple response from the moody FA was “cost cutting”. You pay a lot of money and are unable to even have a cereal bar or something?

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