British Airways have revealed their new Club Suite product in all its glory, and boy, are we excited! From luxury fabrics to ultimate privacy, the British carrier has really stepped up and created a business class product to be proud of.
Although we speculated it might have been a Stelia Solstys seat, we didn’t have a lot to go on. BA’s teaser images were simply not enough to identify the seat. However, we did get some insight from seating superfans who agreed with our other hunch that it was a Rockwell Collins design.
It’s already in use on WestJet’s new Dreamliner fleet as well as Air China’s A350 and Virgin Australia’s ‘The Business’ class product. However, the Super Diamond seat destined for BA’s A350 has had some welcome modifications. Let’s take a tour of the new BA Club Suite to see what we can expect.
What’s the Club Suite cabin like?
The cabin itself has been designed to be spacious and comfortable, with a 1-2-1 layout giving direct aisle access to every single passenger. The arrangement isn’t straight rows of seats, as currently experienced in Club World. Instead, seats are arranged at 30 degree angles, also known as a herringbone formation, increasing the available space around each seat.
BA released this cool 360 video of the new Club Suite cabin, so you can see how it will be laid out with the new seats and orientation.
What about that seat though?
So, we know that the seat is a Rockwell Collins Super Diamond, as used by many premium airlines in their business class product. But it’s had some upgrades to make it more unique for British Airways.
The most noticeable change (and potentially the most exciting one) is the addition of a door. Clearly, BA are concerned with privacy for their business class travelers, starting with the 30 degree angling of the seats and finishing with the option to shut the world out with a door.
During takeoff and landing, the door with be locked in the open position for safety, but at other times in the flight, passengers can choose to have it open or closed. Adding a door has allowed the product to be called a suite rather than a seat, giving a more exclusive, luxurious feel to the product.
If you’re in the middle seats, you have the option to be sociable or not. Here, friends and colleagues can travel together and chat as they go, or they can slide a dividing screen out and enjoy complete privacy, just as those in a window seat would.
When folded down into a bed, the seat stretches to 79 inches in length. That’s a whole seven inches longer than their current Club World seat, and enough to accommodate a 6’5 person at full stretch. In fact, it’s actually a little longer even than this, but because it tapers into a V at the very tip, BA have chosen to market it as 79 inches rather than measure right to the tip.
Is it comfortable?
Hard to say from images and specifications alone, but BA are definitely aiming for comfort with their choices of design and construction materials.
For a start, there’s a car-style seatbelt for takeoff and landing, which eliminates the need for a bulky airbag in the lap belt. This means it should be far more comfortable to wear the seatbelt at other times during the flight too.
In terms of materials, British Airways new Club Suite uses Muirhead leather on the ottoman and arm caps, the same high quality leather we’ve seen in BA’s First Class product previously.
The inside of the suite is lined with felt to dampen passenger noise on the super quiet A350.
For fabric, they chose to work with British apparel company Hainsworth. Established in 1783, Hainsworth have been supplying iconic English fabrics and clothing for centuries. Their products include the scarlet uniforms worn by the Royal Guards, the ceremonial outfits worn by the Royal Family during state occasions and the military uniforms worn during the Charge of the Light Brigade. You know this is fabric of the very highest quality.
Other notable design features include the wood grain effect panel surrounds on the seat controls, the anodized trim around the door and the muted charcoals and greys of the overall color scheme.
We were promised more storage…
…and we got it. Storage in the new BA Club Suite is outstanding, with the designer’s clearly having put a great deal of thought into this. For a start, they’ve retained the overhead bins of the A350, which many business cabins do not in a bid to make the cabin feel more spacious.
While spacious is good, having somewhere to put your bag is also good, and thanks to the high headroom of the A350, we don’t think this will impact on the spaciousness of the cabin overall.
There’s a small cupboard next to your head which is big enough for a small laptop or an iPad. The back of the door to this cupboard even has a vanity mirror, which is perfect for checking your hair is in place before deplaning.
There’s also a small storage unit next to the control panel, which contains all the charging solutions you could want. Finally, there’s a floor level storage unit containing a bottle of water. This unit is strategically placed to be handy when the seat is in bed mode.
Other versions of this seat do also have storage under the arm rest, but BA have chosen to sacrifice this in order allow the arm rest to fold away. We think, with all the other storage space available, this was a good call. Folding down the arm rest can make significantly more space, which is always welcome on a long flight.
One of the things we’re loving about the new Club Suite is the tray table. Stowed, it slots neatly under the TV at a good height to maximize legroom. The table can be folded in half to make either a full table or a drinks tray. Most excitingly, you can push it away when its laden with items. This will allow access in and out of your suite without having to pack away your belongings.
What about IFE?
BA’s new Club Suite has a fixed TV screen, which means there’s gate to gate entertainment available on all flights. The A350 is getting an 18.5 inch screen, using the Panasonic X3 entertainment system. While there’s no 4K functionality, it’s great to see a fixed screen in place on these new BA seats.
As well as the main screen, there’s also a separate hand-held IFE screen. This could be useful if you’re lying down. Finally, there’s also an IFE screen on the controller itself. That’s no less than three screens of fun and entertainment per seat!
Overall, it’s clear that the new BA Club Suite is a marked improvement over Club World. It’s going to take time before it’s widely available on BA flights, but we think they’ve done a great job.
What do you think? Are you excited to fly the new BA Club Suite?