Does British Airways Have A New 777 First Class?

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways is in the process of rolling out their new Club Suites business class. The airline first debuted these seats on newly delivered A350s, though the airline also plans on reconfiguring a vast majority of their 777s with these new seats.

That project is now underway, and British Airways’ first 777 with their new Club Suites entered service yesterday, between London and New York.

What’s interesting is that this plane still has a first class cabin, so what’s that like? After all, British Airways business class seats now have doors, so is British Airways business class better than first class on the same plane?!

British Airways’ New 777 First Class Promises

Initially British Airways said that they would have a “product upgrade” for their 777 first class. In November 2018, British Airways’ CEO was quoted as saying that the 777s would have new first class seats.

However, we were warned to manage our expectations, and that the new first class seats would be based on British Airways’ 787 first class, with a few tweaks.

So, what kind of a first class seat did British Airways end up installing on their first reconfigured 777 (which is what we can also expect on all other four class 777s being reconfigured)?

British Airways’ “Refreshed” 777 First Class

The bones of British Airways’ new 777 first class seats are… exactly the same as the ones of British Airways’ old 777 first class seats.

The major distinction is that the cabin goes from having 14 seats to having eight seats, so the cabin will be much more intimate.

The bones of the seats are exactly the same, but there are just a few minor tweaks:

  • The seats have new fabrics and foams
  • The seats have new identification plaques, similar to what you’ll find on the 787-9 (where the seat number is written along the outside of the seat)
  • The seats have been deep cleaned, and any damage has been rectified (which I suppose is noteworthy for British Airways)

Just to give you a sense of what to expect, here’s a review of British Airways’ 777 first class, and here’s a review of British Airways’ 787 first class.


British Airways’ 777 first class

British Airways’ 777 first class

British Airways’ 787 first class (you can expect this stitching on the 777 too)

Yes, Business Class Has Doors, First Class Doesn’t

While I’ve never thought British Airways had a great first class product in absolute terms, there’s no denying that their old first class was way better than their old business class.

With this change, British Airways will have reverse herringbone seats with doors in business class…


British Airways’ new business class

British Airways’ new business class

…and on the same plane their first class won’t have doors.

Is British Airways Business Class Now Better Than First Class?

Is British Airways’ decision to install a great new business class product but keep their old lackluster first class product lazy and disappointing? Yes, I’d say so.

Is this an awful mistake, and is business class now better than first class? No, I don’t think so.

Yes, business class now has a door and first class doesn’t. Business class is also a lot more spacious than it used to be. But I would still say first class is significantly better:

  • First class has just eight seats, so the cabin will be more private, and service should be more attentive
  • While the Concorde Room isn’t much to get excited about, it is significantly better than their business class lounge
  • British Airways has made improvements to food and drinks in both business and first class, and I’d say their first class food and drinks are a significant step up
  • While first class doesn’t have a door, the seat is much more spacious, and the bed will be much more comfortable
  • First class has better amenities, including pajamas, slippers, better bedding, and more

British Airways’ 777 first class bed (more spacious than business class)

British Airways’ first class catering

British Airways’ first class amenity kit

So is the difference between first and business class huge? No. But aside from the novelty, I still think just about anyone would choose first class over business class, all else being equal.

British Airways might not see as many premium leisure travelers willing to pay the difference for first over business class, but they’re likely alright with that, given how much smaller the cabin is. Presumably they’re going after those who can book first class as part of a corporate contract, as well as the Hollywood crowd.

In other words, they’ll gladly take the money from the crowd that’s not price conscious, especially given the smaller cabin.

Bottom Line

While it’s lazy of British Airways to maintain more or less the same first class product while introducing a significantly better business class product, I actually think this serves their purposes.

In absolute terms first class will still be better despite the lack of a door. Furthermore, with the smaller cabin they’ll primarily be going after the crowd that’s not price conscious, and that can book first class due to a contract or whatever else.

While I would have loved to see British Airways innovate, I’m not surprised…

What do you make of British Airways’ decision to maintain the same 777 first class seats?

Comments
  1. The only time I fly BA First is if I get upgraded or am able to snag a seat for 10K more Alaska miles. 70K vs 60K seems like a fair increase for First vs. Biz. However, it will be interesting to see how their pricing on the product changes once more of their fleet is converted. Will the gap in paid fare pricing between the two cabins shrink?

  2. Meanwhile Emirates get scolded for keeping the same business class on their 777X. Why can’t BA be held up to this standard?

  3. The club world door is just a gimmick. You can easily see over it and it doesn’t actually offer as much privacy as it’s made out to be.

  4. 1. The Concorde Room isn’t really all that nice. Often an hour wait for the shower (which is -shared- with biz class), no spa appointments are ever available. And it’s not like they’re even great to begin with. And if you’re not flying out of LHR then you have the exact same ground experience.

    2. The food is -fine- but I don’t know that it’s really that big of a difference. The food in BA F is about on par with I dunno, Alaska Airlines or JetBlue Mint with fancier plating and better champagne (but worse coffee.)

    Actually, that’s not fair – both JetBlue and Alaska can do beef without it being like shoe leather.

    3. It’s not like first class is all that roomy, and it really depends on which seat you get.

    So the real thing is – is BA first class better than Virgin Atlantic upper class? The answer is “no.”

  5. The Major difference that I really care about is the leg room while sleeping; F seats on BA are quite roomy. The One thing I dislike about reverse herringbone seats is I feel my legs are trapped while sleeping. Interestingly if they are going from 14 to 8 and keeping same seats, that means most likely they are just taking out seats in the middle. I wonder what are they going to do with all that space? I’m also guessing F award seats will be harder to come by since there will be less of them.

  6. @Kevin

    They aren’t removing F seats to have an empty cabin. They are moving to two rows of 1-2-1 F so they can add 13 Club Suites in front of Door 2.

  7. Kevin, I fully concur with your opinion on leg room when sleeping being a key factor for choosing F over J. I honestly do not consider the catering on EK or LH or LX to be superior to BA now that they have upgraded. Yes you get Caviar on LH or Balik on LX and a whole lot of bling on EK but is it worth it? I say no because I buy my F class tickets and the price diff is huge. This is one aspect of flying F on BA that justifies being in the front cabin. (I wonder if pricing will change if the no. of seats in F are reduced to 8 from 14. We will have to wait and see).

    Much of the time on BA the price diff – for a Revenue ticket – in F is not significantly higher than the J class. At least on sectors I travel : JFK/BOM-DEL or JFK/PVG-PEK…

    And finally about scoring an award seat in F on BA : it’s still easier than many other carriers and again we will have to wait and see if it gets harder with lesser seats available

    Finally, apart from the “Hollywood crowd” and “Corporate types” there are some of us of a certain age who are happy to spend “a bit more” to fly in F (leg room as Kevin points out, and also more attentive service and better food) The significant factor is the “bit more” as opposed to a huge multiple which I feel is not sufficiently emphasized on these pages.

    Award seats, aspirational experiences, a Porsche to the plane – yes, its all great. Been there, done that, ENJOYED it… but at a certain stage VALUE for MONEY becomes an imperative. And the VALUE should be judged not just in terms of the Bling, the Luxe and the Caviar but also in terms of comfort and attention . BA has not lacked on those 2 counts for me.

  8. Windswd,

    Agree and, as you say, F is often only $200 more than J on a Trans-Atlantic crossing on BA, even from the west coast.

    The other problem with the J cabin on BA is that on some planes, like the A380 and the 747, the J cabins are huge. (The upper deck J on a 747 is excellent, in that regard).

    Availability in J and F for awards is easy from NY and Boston; harder from the west coast

  9. PATHETIC!!! It’s like U.S. carriers saying they have First class on domestic flights. BA shouldn’t even bother if they won’t spend the money to differentiate between biz and first.

  10. @windswd

    I couldn’t agree more. I thoroughly enjoy the Porsche pick up in Frankfurt and caviar service on LH – but I never pay for those tickets, only use miles to upgrade from J to F. BA First I actually pay for – not infrequently it’s cheaper from Atlanta than Delta business class, and a far far superior product

  11. Sorry, but having just flown ANA’s “Flying Honu” A380 in First between HNL and NRT, I know what a First Class product should be and BA’s pathetic offering ‘ain’t it.

  12. A new first will soon be released…so stay tuned.

    Everyone just needs to relax. The 777s that are not getting the new first don’t have much longer in the fleet anyway. This is really to get the club suite to market as quickly as possible.

  13. Alex Cruz has said they plan on introducing a new first class on the 777x. So expect a new BA first class by 2022ish

  14. @Alpha
    I was kind of with you until this:
    ‘is BA first class better than Virgin Atlantic upper class? The answer is “no”’.

    That’s simply nonsense. I can’t think of *any* measure where flying Virgin UC is “better” than BA 1st. (Caveat: I haven’t flown the new UC or the refreshed BA 1st.)

    You can justifiably argue that the Virgin ground experience is better – lots of people seem to prefer the Club to the BA 1st lounge. But once you head to the gate, it seems clear that BA 1st is better.

    The other factor that’s been mentioned but is worth reinforcing is cost. I was just looking at a LHR-JFK paid J class return in January. One-way is pricing at £1,300 in J, and just £1,500 in 1st. And that’s in all flights, including the one operated with the new Club Suite.

    It’s all very well droning on about how LH or AF or whoever’s 1st class is so much better than BA’s (and they certainly are). But they are also an order of magnitude more expensive.

    It’s a bit like complaining the top-of-the-range Ford isn’t as good as the top-of-the-range Rolls-Royce. Well, no, on most measures it isn’t. But what are you paying for each car?

    I’d suggest it’s also worth considering which airlines seem committed to 1st: my guess is that BA operates more routes with 1st class options than *any* other western airline (European or North American). Even on the high-yield NY-LON route, which airline operates competing 1st class cabins?

  15. I absolutely loath reverse herringbone seats. I always travel with either my daughter, wife or both and this configuration completely isolates me from them. I find the seats claustrophobic and isolating as it is, the addition of doors will only compound this.

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