There’s now a date. In July 2019, British Airways will take delivery of their first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. The plane is the latest generation of modern flying marvels, with quite a few fascinating advances, such as moving wings to maximize efficiency and vertical interior side walls. Ahead of delivery, British Airways has offered new insights into what customers can expect and while there aren’t yet any pictures, the details are promising…
First things first, there’s no first class. Airlines are largely moving away from the first class market by advancing business class to new heights. Who needs first? And the better question: who pays for it? Qatar Airways coined the phrase “first in business” with the launch of their business class QSuites when the airline began a shift away from first, and the move has been a major success.
Improved Business class
British Airways promises a newly refined business class experience in 2019, starting with the Airbus A350. The airline will receive their first aircraft in July, which is said to begin operating short haul flights within Europe. By the end of 2019 four A350’s and two 777’s will be retrofitted with the new seats. Strong rumors suggest an adapted version of the Zodiac Aerospace Sky Lounge Core seat, which is very similar to offerings found on the Emirates A380, ANA 787 and Iberia A350. Exact pictures have yet to be released, but here’s what is known…
- every seat will feature direct aisle access, no stepping over people.
- there will be gate to gate entertainment with a fixed screen.
- increased storage space around the seat and tray areas.
- a larger seat overall, with more surface area for sleep.
- more privacy, with each seat featuring additional finishes.
British Airways newest generation premium economy seats are very competitive, featuring larger entertainment screens, above average legroom and increased padding. Premium economy has proven to be a wildly successful product, as airlines face tightening corporate travel spend and customers look to upgrade their experience from the increasingly densified cabins of economy. British Airways has pledged to add more premium economy seats to new aircraft, and the Airbus A350 will likely feature a very business and premium heavy configuration, with a smaller economy cabin.
Economy will get the latest seats with updated in flight entertainment, which will presumably also offer gate to gate connectivity. British Airways is expected to utilize a 3 x 3 x 3 layout, similar to OneWorld partners Finnair and Qatar Airways. If British Airway happen to offer a 3 x 4 x 3 layout, they’d be the first airline to do so with the A350, which is roughly 9” narrower than the Boeing 777 wide body jet. With more emphasis drawn to the premium economy cabin, a smaller economy cabin can be a real win.