British Airways is now officially in the game…
Boarding an Airbus A350 is unlike any other flying experience. You immediately notice the high ceilings, whisper quiet cabin and the beautiful, extra large windows, but for British Airways business class customers who didn’t quite know what they were booking onto, they’ll also notice yet another stark difference, and rather quickly too – a remarkably modern and refined new business class cabin.
A lovely sight. @British_Airways future and past in one frame. #avgeek #ba100 #A350 pic.twitter.com/gwugTU7ky6
— Gilbert Ott | GSTP ✈️🌴🌏 (@godsavethepoint) August 5, 2019
Gone are the old seats and in are new business class “club suites”, complete with a privacy door to tune out the world, or at least your seat mates choice in entertainment. I was on board the first ever commercial flight, and put the new British Airways Club Suite seat through its paces. My verdict: it’s a sensational way to fly, but like many iconically British things, not without its quirks…
The British Airways A350 Club Suite Cabin
The British Airways A350 splits business class into two cabins, divided by a crew galley and a “club kitchen”, where guests can grab snacks in between meal services. As noted in our “best seats in every BA A350 cabin” look at the aircraft, Seats in rows 1, 11 and 15 would absolutely be my pick for business class, thanks to increased privacy, legroom, space or proximity to the exit door.
Upon settling into my seat, I was very pleased to find not one but two eye level storage spaces and a vanity mirror, which served, if nothing else, as a nice reminder to go to the gym. Unlike many seats which practically require a training manual, the controls really couldn’t be any easier to use, with three distinct buttons. One for takeoff and landing, one for all “chill modes” of half recline, and for the flat out bed. I’ll touch on the comfort levels for all three…
Upright: the seat enjoys an absolutely fantastic “upright angle”, with a really comfortable slouch position and excellent lumbar support. As I write this, I’m happily enjoying this seating position without feeling like i’m standing against a brick wall.
Half Recline: the “chill mode”, or rather movie mode, is my favourite position for this seat. I’d say the padding around the lower back is amongst the very best I’ve experienced in business class on any airline, and I loved watching some Curb Your Enthusiasm with a glass of wine. It’s extremely well done, and the arm rests make things really groovy.
But bed mode was a bit of a mystery, albeit a very comfortable one depending on how you sleep.
I’ll start with the bad.
My main gripes about British Airways new Club Suite in bed mode are focused on the one immovable arm rest each seat features, which takes away from potentially useful sleep space. If you sleep “coffin style” on your back, you’ll find this functionality very odd, and mildly claustrophobic for such an an otherwise exceptional seat.
At the same time, the other arm rest can be lowered to bed level, but it doesn’t feel as if it’s part of the same bed surface, in part because of the different fabric finishing, or in this case, leather for the arm rest. In addition, there’s a fair bit of space between the two. With those caveats, the lowered arm rest does help to create additional space for side sleepers and with any hope, the mattress topper will make it a feature that’s hardly noticed.
As far as the good goes though, there’s plenty.
Laying flat out in coffin mode, my 6’3’’ wide frame had at least a couple inches to spare in length, which is more rare than one might guess in business class, due to the fact that most seats are only 6’0” in length.
If you enjoy sleeping as if you’ve died, are in a coffin and are on your way to wherever you are headed, you really can do that here- and that’s something very few business class seats can say, including even the Qatar Airways Qsuite or ANA’s new “The Room”. I’m not saying it’s as wide, but in terms of the distance between the top top of your head and the bottom of your tippy toes, this is way up there.
For side sleepers who curl their legs up a bit, the seat is very good and offers better padding than say… 20/25 of the best business class seats. If there was more room created where the immovable arm rest is located, it’d be nearer a perfect score.
The BA A350 Privacy Door, And How It Is In Reality
This is not the tallest privacy door on an airplane, but a darn effective one it is. In upright mode, I could see over the seat, but could not see shorter passengers, and could only see the head tops of those in front of me. Once reclined, even slightly – everyone disappeared.
The privacy door is really unobtrusive and gave me an odd amount of relief, comfort and confidence to write, watch or sleep in peace. I happened to be writing this on the plane, and there was a real comfort in knowing that anyone wishing to eavesdrop would have to pull an Inspector Clouseau to do so. You couldn’t exactly be inconspicuous, which is entirely the point. This is about privacy, and you’ll absolutely feel it – especially compared to the previous iteration!
BA A350 Club Suite In Flight Entertainment System
As to the new Club Suite screen, which comes in at 18.5’’ in full HD quality, it’s superb. It’s genuinely fast, very responsive to hand touch and gestures and is easily the most intuitive and easy to use IFE system British Airways has ever offered. It was little touches like instructions on how to login to the wifi that made an actual difference.
As to the actual films, television and docs, I’ve long considered British Airways to have one of the better selections of film and television, with a steady mix of new hits and classic bits, and I’m glad to see that this has not changed at all.
With a window seat featuring the A350’s extra large windows, which happened to be very clean on this maiden flight, it was just a question of which entertainment to pick between the sky and the IFE. They just don’t make movies like they used to, but that’s hardly British Airways fault.
BA A350 Lavatories, Sounds And Other Bits
The best lavatory in British Airways A350 Club World cabin is definitely the one found in the front cabin, in front of row 1, and not just because you feel as if you’re practically in the flight deck. This is an ADA compatible lavatory with enough space to comfortably turn around. All the lavatories are nice, but this one is the best.
Aside from a cabin which propels British Airways to an extremely competitive top tier business class offering, it’s the plane itself which makes this a sensational way to fly. This plane is so whisper quiet, you just cannot help but love it. Colleagues can chat at a whisper without disturbing other passengers and engines are more of an idea than a constant state of sonic fixture. Thanks to the well documented anti jet-lag measures on the plane, passengers on long haul flights will really feel the difference. I do.
The tray table is also a nice touch. It’s positioned high enough and adjustable enough that you can comfortably slide in and out of your seat during meal service, without pulling the table cloth and thus knocking your entire meal into your perfectly pressed outfit. It’s the little things, and this was done well.
Overall Scoring And Thoughts On British Airways A350 Club Suite
Overall, I am really excited by this new business class experience from British Airways. If I could’ve made the privacy door 6” higher, I would’ve. If I could’ve prioritised more bed width over arm rest and tray space, I might have. But those are entirely first world problems, and I really can’t help but feel grateful at 40,000 feet in the sky, in a flat bed long enough for anyone not playing in the NBA, with a privacy door to shut the world out. I give this a 9/10.
On balance, how does this compare with ANA’s The Room, besides the seat in bed mode being maybe not as long
The “room” from ANA I’d now rate as the very best. It’s superior to this seat for sure in terms of hard product, but this is in the top 10 conversation, which I’m glad for BA for having achieved. Basically, I’d fly both, but on a direct LHR-HND, I’d be in the room, though I do prefer A350>777.
Thanks for the brilliant review !
Hmm… I am side sleeper and always on the left. I think the immovable armrest means that I could only sleep on one side of the cabin. This is pretty annoying for us non-status passengers who can’t and won’t pay for seat selection.
This breathlessly over-positive review really feels like you’re blinded by the freebies and being extended the invitation to give a proper review.
I have no idea how you can discern 100 different values of review for privacy or storage space giving you’ve given scores out of 100, especially comparing between airlines.
It’s a decent product for a second-tier airline but (all except this privacy screen) barely catching up over what will be a slow roll-out to what other airlines are 3-5 years ahead in. I’d much rather fly American, Singapore, Qatar, Delta or hell even United’s new seat to NYC than BA.
The fact a small piece of plastic to hold your water bottle is worth mentioning by the CEO of a global airline is a reflection on how horrendous the current seat is, not how revolutionary the new seat is.
Business Traveller has a much more balanced review, you’d do well to have a read and make your journalism more well-rounded.
James, have you flown the seat? No. Then decide for yourself. I stand by every word.
And for the record, I spend at least $40,000 on airline ticket every year to avoid “freebies” from any airline, but thanks for going there.
Sorry James not be rude, but what you said here was trash. How you can give Bad feedback on what you haven’t flown is funny. everyone who has flown the seat is says it’s a fantastic product. (GSTP has said yes it’s not the best, but it’s one of the best and his given his honest review, including what he doesn’t like) just shows you have nothing sensible to say here. Sorry though. And you say oh catching up (except the door) what do you mean except the door?! How many airlines have a door? Is it the American or the united? The fact you had to take out the door so you could prove a non existent point is funny. Sorry maybe BA hurt you previously in the past but please, this seat is fantastic. Stop being salty
Thanks Gilbert for your informative review and the best photos of the new club suite I’ve seen so far. They give a really good sense of what to expect, how much space there is and how the suite looks from all angles. Can’t wait to try it now
Thanks for the kind words Stuart, very kind of you. Hope you enjoy!
…and less than 48hrs later, YET AGAIN British Airways inflict misery on tens of thousands of customers, disrupting and cancelling their journeys and unable to offer effective support because of the scale of the issue and the cuts to staff and systems that have happened in the recent past… So passengers are left stranded with no information or help in many cases as a direct result of hollowing out the organization and refusing to genuinely invest in the customer by having working IT. As opposed to the essential fleet renewal which is being spun as for the customer (who does benefit but since BA *have* to replace some of their airframes for economic and safety reasons it’s not a decision). Their estimated IT spend is £170m a year, their profits £2,000,000,000 yes that’s billion. It could be fixed but it’s more profitable to pay out £8m to £10m twice a year when things go wrong so after 4 consecutive years of multiple IT failures they still haven’t fixed it. That is a good indication of the disdain the current board have for the customer and delivering the service they sell.
What a contrast with uncle Alex…
Recent trip to Athens with Aegian and they were able to provide a comfortable seat, a decent meal and drink in a clean cabin all for about £10 more than the surcharges on a BA avios redemption flight (or about 65% the cash price BA wanted).
THIS is why people #flyabba
My wife and I had a very enjoyable flight to Madrid in the A350 new Club World Suite.
It is obviously a great and long overdue improvement. We have been extremely critical of BA’s Yin-Yang seats and previously went out of our way to avoid flying BA Club World; unless we had to for convenience (e.g. non-stop route)!
1) On one/both lids covering the small storage bins it would have been useful to have a small dimple to reduce the risk of a glass/cup sliding.
2) A female perspective was that they might prefer just 1 deeper storage bin (instead of 2 small ones) where they could deposit a small handbag (out of sight/out of mind). Maybe not as big as the Emirates trough though.
The cloth seats are comfortable and presumably appeal to people who do not approve of leather but how well they last and stay clean remains to be seen.
We will see what other BA routes get the benefit of the A350 after the initial few because if Virgin fly the same route for a similar price then they will get my business for now.
Am confused about where the main galley is – as it can be noisy when trying to sleep with staff chatting etc. I read there is a staff galley between the two business sections and then in another review that it is a help yourself galley instead, so totally lost!. Trying to work out which seat to go for for quiet overnight trip from Denver to London. Think 3A? – BA don’t seem to know where the galleys are. There are no pics of them on the website seat plans. Seat guru not that much hep either.
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