When I first heard that British Airways were planning to release a revolutionary new Club World business class cabin I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive. Their current eight abreast Club World cabins were revolutionary when they were first released 19 years ago. This design was tweaked at first, then in 2006 the Club World which we are all used to was born. This however looks more than dated, it just doesn’t even compare to the fantastic seats and suites which are already available on other airlines. The British Airways Club Suites were officially announced five months ago and were set to debut on British Airways’ newest long-haul aircraft, the Airbus A350 which they started to take delivery of this summer. Once the delivery date of the first aircraft was confirmed, BA announced the first destinations would be Dubai and Toronto, but for a few weeks over the summer crew familiarisation flights would operate to Madrid. No set dates were given by BA for these Madrid flights, but information about them leaked on various websites, so once I heard that this information was credible I didn’t hesitate in booking a return flight to Madrid on the fantastic new British Airways A350 Club Suites.
My British Airways A350 Club Suites Flight From London Heathrow to Madrid
On the morning of my flight I turned on the news to see that British Airways were again suffering an IT melt down with their check-in systems. This resulted in cancellations, delays and utter chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick. Luckily my flight wasn’t due to depart until 16:45 so I was hoping the issues would have been rectified by that point. I checked my flight every now and again until it was time to leave for Heathrow and it was still showing as running on time, so I headed up to Heathrow. I arrived early expecting the chaos that I had seen on the news, but the worse of it seemed to be over, so I just passed through security and made my way to the Galleries lounge to wait for my flight.
Boarding started on time, but it did take quite a while, resulting in us departing about 40 minutes late. This was down to the boarding only taking place through one door, and the aircraft was full due to the earlier flight being cancelled. As I was in Club Suites I was able to board in group 1 and for the first time in ages I was greeted at the door with welcome back Mr Hislop – something that should happen for executive club members, however rarely does. The Club Suites occupy the entire front cabin of the aircraft and a small section of the next cabin as well. There are 14 rows in total, each having a 1-2-1 configuration, so everyone has direct aisle access, a big improvement to the previous Club World cabin.
Because this service is just a crew familiarisation flight to Madrid you do not get the full Club World service, food, bedding, amenity kits etc. All you get is the standard Club Europe meal and bar service which I knew would be the case, I was just interested in trialling the new Club Suites which feature on this new Airbus A350 aircraft. Since BA have started using Do&Co for their catering at Heathrow the food on Club Europe has hugely improved. One thing I was very happy about on this flight was that there was BrewDog Speedbird 100 Transatlantic IPA on the bar menu. This is the IPA which BrewDog brew especially for British Airways, and the process was started onboard a BA Dreamliner while passing over BrewDog’s home in Scotland.
About the British Airways A350 Club Suites
The new British Airways A350 Club Suites are loosely based on the Super Diamond seats that Qatar Airways use on their 787 Dreamliners and A350s, however the BA seats are quite heavily modified. The first major modification is the addition of a door, making it a suite instead of just a seat. The doors are locked open for taxi, take off and landing, but once airborne the crew unlock them so that you can have more privacy if you require. The doors are easy to operate: there is a small handle and you can simply push them open or closed.
There is a fixed 17inch IFE screen, as well as a small handheld version which is stowed in one of the storage spaces on the console table. The advantage of having a fixed IFE screen is that passengers can now enjoy gate-to-gate entertainment. Inside this storage area there are also a couple of USB sockets as well as a multi-region power socket. There is also another smaller storage area in the console table, as well as a large storage area under the table, and a small cupboard at eye level, which is located next to the magazine rack. Unlike Qatar Airways who opted for a vaulted celling on their A350, BA have chosen to have overhead lockers above the middle seats too, which has effectively given each passenger a whole overhead bin each.
The British Airways A350 Club Suites seat itself is very comfortable, and can be adjusted by three quick buttons by the seat; a take-off/landing position, comfy Z position and flat bed. There is also a touch screen next to these buttons where you can manually adjust sections of the seat individually such as the back rest and the foot rest. There is a fixed footrest in the cubby hole where your feet would go when the seat is in flat-bed mode, and when in this mode you have a full 79 inch bed. We were given a pillow each on this service, but no blankets were available due to this only being a Club Europe service. When this aircraft begins long haul services The White Company will be providing luxurious bedding and amenity kits.
Some other new design modifications are the reading lamp which you can push in and out the seat shell, and the brightness can be controlled by the same touch screen that controls the seat position. The last feature is the new table design which when stowed hides neatly under the IFE screen, but can be pulled out and down towards you, and can be locked of in a number of positions to suit your needs.
Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Overall I found the seat very spacious, even when the door was closed. I initially thought this may make it a little claustrophobic but this certainly wasn’t the case. The colour scheme of the seats and the cabin in general are very typical of BA, deep blues, greys and black with the addition of a wood effect finish on the sides of the consol table which break up the other colours nicely. Some may say that the colour scheme is perhaps a bit dull compared to the bold colours of others airlines such as Qatar Airways, Emirates or Virgin. I would say that the classic BA colour scheme used with the addition of the wood gives the whole product a very classy feel. The new colour scheme is also a vast improvement on the rather plasticky previous Club World cabin.
My Overall Thoughts on the New Club Suites
Overall I feel that the British Airways A350 Club Suites are a huge improvement over their predecessor. British Airways were the first airline to offer flat-beds in business class, but have become a little lost on their way and ended up behind the times. Club Suites have changed this, giving BA a fantastic revolutionary business class product which can now compete with the big Asian and Middle Eastern carriers. I now can’t wait to try Club Suites on a long haul route!