First-Ever Pictures Of British Airways’ New Club World Seat

Filed Under: British Airways

(Update: I was able to experience British Airways new business class on the A350, see here for a full review!)

This should prove to be an exciting year for the business class products of the UK’s two global airlines. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will both be taking delivery of their first Airbus A350s this summer, and in both cases the airlines are introducing all new business class seats.

For both airlines these are so long overdue. British Airways has up to eight seats per row in business class on their planes, which is so uncompetitive nowadays. Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic has herringbone seats, which are also no longer competitive.

Both airlines have been tight-lipped about what we should expect from their new business class products, though.

In the case of British Airways, all they’ve revealed about the new seat so far is that it will:

  • Be larger, with direct aisle access from every seat
  • Feature gate-to-gate entertainment
  • Feature increased privacy and stowage

Well, today British Airways has revealed their first-ever pictures of the new Club World seat. Unfortunately they’re mostly really close-in picture. So they’re teasing, but clearly don’t want to reveal what the product actually is.

Here are the four pictures they’ve shared on social media:

On the surface this isn’t terribly revealing, though I do have some observations based on two pictures:

  • The armrest picture has a button that either lowers it, or it’s possible that the button “pops open” the armrest and reveals storage
  • The table release picture suggests that the tray table slides out from in front of the seat, rather than from the side

Maybe I’m over analyzing this (actually, obviously I am), but this means to me that the airline won’t be going with a traditional staggered configuration, which is what many of us suspected they’d choose. Why do I say that? Because staggered seats don’t typically have armrests that are curved like that, and the tray tables don’t typically pop out from in front. Below are a few pictures, just to give some examples.

Iberia’s A340 business class


Vietnam Airlines’ A350 business class

Hong Kong Airlines’ A350 business class

When I saw the picture, the first thing that came to mind was a B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat, which has both an armrest and tray table like that. For example, below is a picture of an American 787-9 business class seat. Notice the armrest at the bottom right (which is lowered in the picture).

American’s 787-9 business class

Here’s what it looks like when open:

American’s 787-9 business class

Also notice the similar tray table, which is above the footwell.


American’s 787-9 business class

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting British Airways is necessarily going to choose a reverse herringbone seat, but rather think that these pictures are a clue that something along the lines of a reverse herringbone seat is more likely than something along the lines of a staggered seat.

The one other seat concept I could potentially see them going for based on these pictures are seats from Stelia Aerospace, similar to what Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines have on their 787s. These seats have tray table releases that look similar to the pictures, though the armrests don’t quite look the same to me.

Singapore’s 787-10 business class


Singapore’s 787-10 business class

While British Airways says they’re introducing a customized seat, I question to what extent it’s truly customized, rather than them just putting their own touches on an existing seat.

Hopefully they reveal the seat in the next couple of weeks!

If I were a betting man, I’m now leaning towards them just going with some sort of reverse herringbone seat, based on the armrest and tray table. I could be totally wrong, though, and that’s not what I was expecting all along.

Anyone have any guesses based on the pictures that British Airways shared?

Comments
  1. Ben,
    Who cares ?
    Bulk of planes will still have existing BC configuration for a decade probably.
    I am BA Emerald , but never fly them anymore.
    Cathay ! Qatar !

  2. This is consistent with the leading theory in the UK that it will actually be the new Rockwell Collins ‘Elements’ seat — which is essentially the Super Diamond seat with an internally sliding door on it.

    BA investor material has already referred to the new business class product being a ‘suite’ rather than a seat, suggesting a door. And since BA would also be first to roll out ‘Elements’, it would be true to their claim to be launching a unique product (at least for a while).

    The mounting evidence makes this looks pretty nailed on as a prediction now. And I for one find that pretty exciting – BA could once again have one of the best products out there.

  3. If they do choose a Super Diamond seat, it’ll easily be an excellent replacement to even their First Class- if the cabin crew ups their game (hopefully they’ll be proud of the new product), this could definitely make BA the ‘world’s favorite airline’ once again.
    I’m a big fan that they’re using leather in areas, instead of plastic.

    Hopefully their new First Class will be a sufficient upgrade from Club.

  4. @Daniel

    Wouldn’t that make their business class seats superior to their first class seats? Granted, if they go with regular reverse herringbone seats, their BC will have the same seat as their FC…

  5. @ Daniel – those are the front row upgraded option I believe, majority of the Elements seats would look slightly different / less spacious, see the photos at the bottom of the article I posted.

  6. @Aaron, arguably it would, but remember that the A350 won’t be carrying First. So I would say that it certainly would raise questions about BA’s commitment to First in its current configuration and extent of routes.

    It suggests either quite a slow roll-out for ‘Elements’ across the fleet; a reduction in the extent of the First network (which is pretty large compare to many airlines); or much smaller much better First cabins in the future.

  7. Looking forward to this, just a shame it’ll only be on a handful of planes for the next few years.

  8. Say what you may about BA and their hard product, but I’d like someone to point out another airline that has a more consistent fleet and who refit their entire fleet with new seats quicker than BA has done in the past. It’s certainly none of the ME3 or US3! Not even the likes of SQ who still operated longhaul flights with angled seats a decade after introducing their first flat beds. Cathay is probably one which may have come close on their long haul (non-regional) fleet.

  9. The new Rockwell Collins ‘Elements’ seat does look like a more private version of the leaked patent about the new club world seat a while ago. I’m convinced this could be the one (and I believe lucky wrote about the leaked patent a long time ago)

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