British Airways this morning announced their hotly anticipated new business class seat. The groundbreaking new seat is something of an enclosed suite, and will debut on the company’s A350 when it is delivered in the summer. However, could this advanced new seat kickstart the British Airways’ First Class demise?
It has been many moons since British Airways last updated their business class cabin. In fact, the state of the cabin has become a running joke with regular passengers. What was once groundbreaking has now become obsolete. This negative view of the old seat has stimulated a huge desire among passengers to see a redesign.
First class demise
With the rollout of the new Business Class Suite, British Airways is initially waving goodbye to First. Over the course of 2019, a total of six aircraft will receive the new cabin. Four of these, the A350s, will not have the First cabin. Instead, the 56 Club World seats will be the most luxurious on the aircraft.
This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The new business class suite introduced by British Airways is arguably better than the First class product currently on aircraft. Could this be enough to kill off the First Class cabin entirely?
Soft product differences
From March 31st, British Airways will be launching changes to the First cabin. This action could, in part, be prompted by competition from the new business seat. While the bedding will sport a 400 thread count, and foam mattress topper, there will also be improvements to the menu. Passengers will be also offered upgraded amenities bags containing “Ultra Smart Pro-Collagen”, in addition to brand new crockery and glassware.
While the rollout of the soft product will be complete by April 7th, First has another quality which Club World lacks. The small cabin size gives passengers the feeling of exclusivity. While the A350’s Club World cabin will hold 56 passengers, current British Airways aircraft only have between eight and 14 First seats. Given its exclusivity and quiet nature, it is unlikely that First class will disappear any time soon.
What about BA1?
BA1 is a unique British Airways flight operated from London City Airport to New York’s JFK via Shannon. The aircraft used is an A318 with just 32 business class seats on board. The key USP of the service is its convenience departing from London City. Additionally, by clearing US customs during a refuelling stop in Shannon, the flight lands as a domestic flight upon arrival in New York.
The new Club World seat could potentially pose a threat to this service. Given the option of a suite, or the current BA1 business seats, passengers could well opt to bear the inconvenience of travelling out of London in order to utilise a Club World suite. The new suite is expected to be rolled out across the long haul fleet by 2023
Do you think the new Club World seat poses a threat to First? How about to BA1? Let us know in the comments down below!