British Airways will launch new Club World business class in 2019


Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.

British Airways is steaming towards a 2019 launch of its new Club World seat as the centrepiece of a business class reboot for the ‘superbrand’ airline.

Flanked by recent upgrades in its business class inflight meals and sleep service, along with the rollout of WiFi plus lounge upgrades at New York’s JFK airport alongside Aberdeen and Rome in 2018, the new seat’s debut will come just shy of two decades since the airline launched the world’s first fully flat business class bed (below) in 2000.

BA parent company IAG headlined the date in its 2017 Capital Market Report to the financial community, locking in a timeline which airline CEO Alex Cruz has previously shared with Australian Business Traveller.

The 2019 Club World seat will be fitted to the British flag-carrier’s new wave of Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 jets and may also appear on some of its existing fleet.

Leaked internal BA documentation seen by Australian Business Traveller indicate that BA will keep the alternating forward-backward layout of its current business class, but with improvements to key aspects of the seat to boost its appeal to high flyers.

Foremost among them: all passengers will now enjoy direct access to the aisle, instead of having to gingerly step over or around their neighbour.

Australian Business Traveller understands that the seats convert into a fully flat bed measuring from 6’1″ (185cm) to 6’4″ (193cm) depending on if they are located at a window, aisle or middle pair, with a press-button recline into a relaxing ‘lazy Z’ position.

A new storage cubby lurks beneath the armrest of each seat, in addition to a slightly larger storage drawer, while manually-operated screens provide privacy or sociability between seat pairs.

The inflight video screen is almost 50% larger, having been upsized from 10.4 inches to a high-definition 15.3 inch display.

The new seat design, which plays up BA’s palette of blue and silver, is both more stylish and spacious than the current second-gen Club World seat (shown below).

The leaked design matches up against a UK patent application lodged by British Airways and credited to BA Design Lead Peter Cooke and Paul Grader from London design firm Forpeople, which most recently worked on British Airways’ Boeing 787-9 first class cabin and suites (seen below).

Mockup illustrations and diagrams from that patent application – while based on an earlier, less-refined seat concept – give a better idea of how this all comes together.

This includes retaining the profit-raking 2-4-2 ‘high density’ cabin layout.

BA’s patent application also illustrates two possible ClubWorld layouts…

… using a different mix of orientations for the paired seats.

Cruz has previously tamped down speculation of a radical replacement for the Club World cribs, describing them as not “ultra-revolutionary” and focusing more on incremental changes to the current seat.