Details Of British Airways’ Business Class Improvements

Filed Under: British Airways

In April I wrote about British Airways’ announcement that they plan on revamping their business class experience. This is long overdue, as I think British Airways has one of the worst business class products of any major airline. Some of these changes include the following:

  • £400m in Club World (long-haul business class)
  • Introducing Club Europe on UK domestic services
  • New lounges
  • First Wing direct security and lounge access at Heathrow
  • Latest generation Wi-Fi fitted on long-haul and short-haul fleets over the next two years
  • Self-service check-in and biometric boarding gates to speed up the airport journey

A few of these things have already been implemented, though the investments in their longhaul business class (known as Club World) haven’t started yet.

Today British Airways has outlined some of the changes that they plan on making to Club World. Perhaps the biggest announcement is that British Airways will be partnering with The White Company to supply the bedding and amenity kits for their Club World product in the future. Here’s how the new amenities are described:

Later this year, customers traveling in Club World between Heathrow and New York JFK will be given a new elegant day cushion which will double up as a fantastic lumbar support when working or relaxing on board.

Exclusively for British Airways, The White Company have also designed a bespoke, luxuriously soft large pillow and white cotton pillowcase to enhance customers’ comfort and to help them sleep well in the sky.

Customers will also be given a super-soft woven blanket with satin trim and a specially developed luxury duvet to improve their quality of sleep, as well as a padded mattress cover giving an extra layer of comfort. The new bedding from The White Company will then be gradually rolled out across British Airways’ other long-haul routes.

The new Club World amenity kits come in an elegantly designed bag from The White Company and contain products from the retailer’s ‘Restore & Relax Spa Collection’, as well as a super-soft jersey eye-mask, offering a further touch of luxury in the sky.

As you can see, this will initially roll out between New York and London “later this year,” and then should be extended to other routes in 2018.

There are some other service enhancements coming soon. British Airways will begin handing out breakfast cards in Club World, so that passengers can decide in advance if they want to have breakfast or prefer to sleep in. Furthermore, in the fall, British Airways will introduce new display trolleys in Club World, that allow guests to select dishes from them.

On top of that, British Airways will introduce a new Club World seat with direct aisle access from every seat in 2019. This is something we’ve already sort of known. While this is an exciting development, it’s going to be two years until the seat is first introduced, and then probably another five or so years until it’s available throughout the fleet, so…

Do you think these changes to Club World will make a substantial difference in terms of the overall experience?

(Tip of the hat to Jesse)

  1. I was hoping for:

    “After an exhaustive project of over 4 million failed attempts, we have finally learned how to prepare and serve an appetizing filet of beef.”

    I guess the research isn’t done yet.

  2. Let’s hope that new product can breathe life into he’s J cabin when it is announced. Also a BA F with private suites would look so elegant :DDDD

  3. Must be something to do with Qatar’s recent part acquisition of BA/IAG shares? I know Qatar have used The White Company product for quite a while.

  4. I think the best improvement is wet leasing Qatar Airways. Don’t you want to try it out Ben?

  5. Without a major seat upgrade, BA’s business class is going to remain as the worst business class out there.
    BA is really getting the priority wrong here: the first update needs to be the seat itself and not bunch of other random things.

  6. do BA cabin staff know you if you are flying on a reward ticket in club or first, and would it affect the service you get from them if they know?

  7. Didn’t BA announce the new seat over 2 years ago? Seemed to be like the new UA Polaris arrangement so 2-4-2 could be promoted as 1-2-1/all aisle access.

  8. @Tom
    “Without a major seat upgrade, BA’s business class is going to remain as the worst business class out there.”

    You haven’t flown very much, have you?

    It is by no means “the worst”. It is probably the worst among all those airlines that now have flat beds throughout their longhaul fleet (BA was a pioneer of flat beds, of course, back in the day).

    It’s no good enthusing about the handful of planes in a fleet which have brand new – and brilliant – business class seats if most of the rest of the fleet still has angled chairs (yes, KLM, you’re one of those).

    Is BA the best? Absolutely not, so far from it.

    Is it the worst? Definitely not. Though massive room for improvement. I’d go with the commenter above who described all this fawning over a new pillow as “lipstick on a gorilla”. Let’s see what the new A350 J seats are like when they arrive.

  9. Unfortunately for BA I don’t sleep in an amenity kit. No amount of lipstick is going to dress up this pig of a product. Nothing short of an entirely new 4-abreast cabin with direct aisle access at every seat will resolve what is arguably overall one of the worse business class products in the sky.

  10. Lemme know when they no longer charge $100 for the right to choose your biz class seat, then I will think they might be serious about being competitive and attracting new customers outside their ‘increasingly less captive’ market.

  11. Given how cosmetic many of these changes are I think it is a bit of a shame that they need all this time to implement.

  12. Irony really if you think about it — BA simultaneously has the best AND the worst J product in the world. BA F & J So it’s not like they don’t know what a good J offering is like. They’re just way too cheap to actually do anything about it until it’s way too late.

  13. That’s it?
    @James, yea customers will like it more if Qatar flies more of BA’s routes.

  14. It does seem a shame that this long overdue upgrade is still going to take so long to roll out.

    Also, will they really be upgrading ALL their aircraft interiors? Because for now there are still a lot of very old aircraft with very ancient fit outs e.g. on the leisure routes and places like BKK. I just can’t see them being that generous! They seem so complacent with regards to existing customers and indifferent when it comes to appealing to new customers.

    But they’ve reeled me in, and as a UK resident I keep flying them (and I LOVE the crew!), so I will just have to wait patiently and hopefully, eventually experience these promised upgrades.

  15. 8seats in a row for business class? BA needs to work on the seats. I guess the soft products are a good start. What about the attitude of cabin crews? Are they going to do something about it?

  16. BA: it’s not the best and it’s not the worst.
    Most offensive are those high additional “fuel” surcharges and the insulting fee of $100 to choose a seat in business class.
    But, friends, I for one am deeply, deeply grateful not to be back in coach on any airline, any time anywhere.
    I can live without Whoohoo Company Products, fluffy-wuffy blankets, wifi, movies, pillows, even decent food. Those are all extras.
    I want NOT to be crushed into intolerably small seats in a flying subway car atmosphere, to not have my knees folded into my teeth while the person in front “reclines.”
    Second, is politeness, civility, and a little concern from the staff. Then I am grateful, very grateful.
    Of course, the better it gets, fine, I’ll enjoy it. Just, please, not coach.

  17. The lack of a true reading light has not been mentioned. I bring my own LED USB light so that I can read/work during the flight from SAN to LHR in BA Business Class. So depressing to not have proper personal illumination during a long flight.

  18. Agree with @paul and others: get rid of the worthless seat configuration. Those dumb screens.

  19. For me personally, I love a BA true window seat in business class because of the level of privacy you get once the shield is raised. That being said, given Qatar are introducing Q Suites in J, BA’s investment choices would seem to be too little too late.

  20. We’re very familiar with AA’s business class but recently flew BA Club World for the first time (on a 787-8 from LHR to MSY) and were quite surprised how poor the current arrangement is.

    It’s not just the lack of direct aisle access. We were amazed that that you can’t deploy the last two feet of your flat bed without getting out of your seat, as it’s a separate, manually operated, fold down foot rest a long way out of your reach. But the worst thing was that there was almost nowhere to put your bits and pieces (books, glasses, iPod, snacks, headphones, water…), especially on an aisle seat. There’s a drawer down at floor level that is supposed to be for a laptop, but you can’t reach that if your tray table is out or your seat is reclined at all. I really can’t understand how anyone can have come up with this design, or why BA have been installing it in recent aircraft like the 787.

    The only positives we noticed, compared to AA, was that the crew seemed more friendly and helpful (AA are pretty terrible at that) and to be fair we both found the seat more comfortable than AA’s. As my wife has a serious back problem, this was a plus point.

    By the way, the main reason we flew BA was that by booking a good value Premium Economy ticket, we earned more AA EQDs than we’d have got on AA – thereby retaining our AA status for another year. And we got an unexpected upgrade on the outgoing flight because of our OneWorld status – so it worked out well for us overall.

  21. MarkF,

    If you think about it, charging for J class seat assignment is really a perk for their elite flyers who, as a result, get a better choice for their free seat assignment. If you are criticising BA for favouring their elites, then every airline deserves that criticism.

    In F, all classes of passenger can choose their seat for free at the time of booking. And Silver and above can also choose for free.

  22. @Tim Cross

    I’ve flown them in Club and First on award tickets and didn’t notice a difference in service compared to other pax, some of whom were presumably paid.

  23. Dreadful hard product. You fly backwards for privacy and/or a window and have to climb over others’ legs to get out. Face forward and you’re in the aisle. A full revamp to reverse herringbone 1-2-1 can’t come soon enough.

    Always liked the crews, though.

  24. @Fred M

    “A full revamp to reverse herringbone can’t come soon enough”

    I’d say it’s too late for that. Just as the original Club World leap-frogged all the competition, BA has an opportunity to piggy-back on part-owner Qatar’s Qsuites. How fabulous would that be?

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *