Revealed: British Airways’ Club Suites Rollout Schedule

Filed Under: British Airways

In March 2019, British Airways unveiled their spectacular new Club Suites (update: read my review of BA Club Suites here). These are essentially reverse herringbone seats with doors, so they added an innovation to an already great seat.

This represents a massive leap for the airline, which has otherwise had a lackluster business class product. These new cabins can’t come soon enough, and one question has been when we can expect these cabins to be available on more than a handful of routes.

After all, sometimes it feels like a seat is already outdated once the airline gets around to reconfiguring their entire fleet.

British Airways’ Club Suites Progress So Far

British Airways’ Club Suites debuted on their newly delivered A350-1000. British Airways took delivery of their first A350 in late July, and the airline has a total of 18 of these on order. Each of these is being delivered with the new seats.

As far as long haul British Airways A350 routes go, the airline is currently flying the planes to Toronto and Dubai, and they’ll also soon fly to Tel Aviv and Bangalore.

On top of that, British Airways has already reconfigured their first 777-200 with the new Club Suites, and that plane is flying to New York JFK. We should see several more 777s enter service with Club Suites over the coming months.

Club Suites Rollout Will Be Complete By 2025

Up until now I haven’t seen any concrete and detailed plans for adding Club Suites throughout the rest of the fleet. I was expecting it would take several years, though British Airways has now provided a more detailed look at what they’re planning.

The new Club Suites installation should be complete on all London Heathrow based long haul aircraft by 2025. That’s a while, but I’m actually impressed that the plan is for 79% of aircraft to have Club Suites by 2022, and 92% of aircraft to have Club Suites by 2023.

Here’s a graph showing British Airways’ plans, per British Airways’ Capital Markets Day presentation today:

To break it down a bit further (this is all based on long haul Heathrow based aircraft):

  • By the end of 2019, 5% of aircraft will have Club Suites; this will include just A350-1000s and 777-200s
  • By the end of 2020, 33% of aircraft will have Club Suites; a majority of that increase will come from 777-200s being reconfigured, though we’ll also see 777-300s start to be reconfigured, as well as newly delivered 787-10s
  • By the end of 2021, 52% of aircraft will have Club Suites; we’ll see more 777s reconfigured, more 787-10s delivered, and we’ll also see 787-8s start to be reconfigured
  • By the end of 2022, 79% of aircraft will have Club Suites; we’ll see a big focus on 787-8s and 787-9s being reconfigured, plus we’ll see newly delivered 777-9s
  • By the end of 2023, 92% of aircraft will have Club Suites; this is when we’ll start to see A380s reconfigured with the new seats
  • In 2024 and 2025 we’ll see them get to 100%; this will largely happen thanks to newly delivered 777-9s, and more A380s being reconfigured

Bottom Line

We can expect all Heathrow based long haul aircraft to have Club Suites in six years, by 2025. While that’s a long time, realistically in three years almost 80% of aircraft should have Club Suites, so that’s a pretty decent pace, actually.

As a point of comparison, United started their Polaris project just under three years ago, and they’re about 50% of the way there.

We’ll see British Airways take delivery of A350-1000s, 787-10s, and 777-9s, with the new cabins, and then we’ll see them first focus on reconfiguring 777s, then reconfiguring 787s, and then reconfiguring A380s.

It’s great to see British Airways plans to install Club Suites on A380s, since other airlines are dumping the planes nowadays. Then again, these plans are years out, so things can change.

What do you make of British Airways’ Club Suites rollout schedule?

(Tip of the hat to Sven Blogt)

Comments
  1. Presumably the last bit of the installation graph is when they still have 747s in the fleet which they are eventually retiring, not retrofitting. Therefore the fleet will never be 100% while they keep flying 747s.

    That’s a pretty impressive refit rate for such a big fleet (look at the angle of the first four bars, representing the bulk of the work done in 4 years).

    There can’t be many legacy carriers that have ever done a complete J refit in less time (most of them never have, since they seem happy to fly a wide range of seats. Brand consistency is unimportant to them).

    @Lucky: when are you reviewing this product? The comparison with the new VS product will be fascinating.

  2. @ The nice Paul — VS review will be up in the next couple of days, and flying the BA A350 very shortly (already have it booked). Stay tuned. 🙂

  3. I do wonder if we’ll see them refit the A380s…but for the rest of the fleet (ex-747) it’s a pretty impressive rate.

  4. Strongly reminds me of the great Flagship AA business seat.

    While the service can still be improved, Most US business hard products are well ahead of European now.

  5. @JDS I think they have pushed the A380 at the back of the que so they are more flexible. Depending on certain factors they can later decide to not retrofit and retire them early.
    For example if other A380 operators scrape their aircraft and maintenance costs rise astronomically BA might retire theirs early. Or if Heathrow 3rd runway gets build quickly and they can more easily offer the same capacity with multiple frequencies on smaller aircraft.
    Another factor could be the next recession which would definitely have an impact on airtravel.
    Additionally they might want to wait to see the real-world performance of the 777-9 before making a decision on the A380.

  6. I think when comparing it’s also worth adding how soon after the unveiling the seat has been rolling out. All in all, I’m yet to see any other airline do a fleet-wide rollout of a new seat as quickly and efficiently as BA! Knock them all you like!

  7. OMG Ben.
    I am still BA GOLD (mainly by flying CX and QR)….I think generallY BA crew is pretty decent and I have this crush for their FC lounge in LHR ( just walking out from it)…cannot really describe why.
    But please stop saying it is a big thing they will finally have 21st century BC seats…in over 2 years from now

  8. It would be great if they picked up some of these A380s being offloaded by other carriers over the next few years and refitted them like this. You have to imagine in 10+ years time with the capacity constraints at LHR and them having phased out the 747 that the A380 would make a lot of sense for long-haul routes which only have daily or twice/day flights (basically anything that has a 747 now, or routes like Singapore that has a 777 and an A380 flight) and if they could pick them up cheap, financially it could make sense too.

  9. The sad point for the refit is that most of the passengers on board become more uncomfortable. As the Club Suites are added, 777s go 10 across at the back.

    9 across 777s will become a relic real soon.

  10. Stephen,

    Gatwick serves different markets, mostly vacation spots, so there isn’t the same demand for premium cabins. For instance none of BA’s 777-200’s based at Gatwick have a First cabin, while the ones out of Heathrow do.

  11. @Tom Not completely true the 772 from LGW to Bermuda has a First cabin. Don’t know about other destinations but I believe some of the Caribbean destinations from LGW also have First.

    I don’t see why these 777-200’s wouldn’t be upgraded as well when their time comes?

  12. Interesting. I am excited to see this happening since I love their first class and abhor their current business class, and would see this as a much more flexible and viable option for getting places once it is in place. Especially since some of their flights from the US offer business only the first leg and first for the second leg to Africa.

  13. LGW 777s to Bermuda, St Lucia, Barbados and (I think) Grenada have First. I’ve flown First to all except Grenada, and last month on the Barbados flight.

    But First is not available on the other holiday routes so I agree with others, when are these LGW club cabins due for the update? The current Club product is crap regardless of whether you are travelling for business or pleasure … and there is competition from other, comfier carriers!

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