Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have now taken delivery of their first Airbus A350 aircraft. The former arrived a little over two weeks ago, the latter, just this weekend. Both of the carriers are introducing a new business class onboard these aircraft. But how do they stack up against each other? Simple Flying investigates.
Both British Airways and Atlantic have revealed their new business class cabins to the world. Earlier in the year, Virgin touted a hard demo of the seat. Meanwhile, British Airways revealed the concept of their new business class suite, waiting until their first Aircraft had been delivered to show off the product in the flesh. Simple Flying has now tried both seats, albeit very shortly in the case of Virgin’s new Upper Class offering.
British Airways Club Suite
British Airways has revolutionized its business class offering with a new suite in Club World. The suite offers a private lie flat bed for each passenger in the A350’s brand new business cabin.
With a closing door, the seat is a cool 21-inches wide, converting into a bed which is 79-inches long. Bags can be stored under the ottoman, in a number of little cubby holes, or in the huge overhead lockers. Meanwhile, the 18.5-inch IFE screen can be used from gate to gate. There are 56 Club Suite seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class may, on first look, appear similar to British Airways’ new Club Suite. Both are in a 1-2-1 layout, both have an 18.5-inch IFE screen, and both have a privacy door (of sorts). However, there are some distinct differences between the two.
For a full disclaimer, the British Airways Club Suite is still fresh in my mind, while my experience of the Upper Class seat was back in April. As such, this likely isn’t an exhaustive list. The two big things that stick out in my mind both relate to privacy.
On the British Airways Airbus A350, each business class suite is pointed away from the aisle. Meanwhile, on the Virgin Atlantic A350, each seat is angled away from the middle of the plane toward the window.
In addition, the privacy door on Virgin Atlantic’s seat is more of a sliding panel, only half covering the opening. This means that passengers without a window seat could feel their privacy is slightly compromised. Virgin Atlantic claims that this is to promote the social nature of the airline.
It’s not all bad, however, as the flatbed on the Virgin Airbus A350 is slightly longer at 82-inches. Meanwhile, the 18.5 IFE screen can be controlled by Bluetooth, something not possible on BA’s A350. The Virgin A350 also gives access to the aircraft’s tail camera, something not available on BA’s A350.
All in all, there’s not a huge amount of difference between the two products. In fact, the seat itself is a highly modified Rockwell Collins Super Diamond. It’s the same seat being used in the new BA Club suite and is also used by Qatar and many of the Chinese airlines.
Which suite do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.