British Airways officially unveiled its new Club World Suite today, Monday 18 March 2019.
This is the first radical redesign of the Club World cabin in nearly 20 years. It will make its debut this year on new deliveries of Airbus A350-1000 and refurbished Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Please see here for full details of the new suite.
However, it is going to take some time before it is retrofitted to the existing fleet and for new aircraft to be delivered with the new seat. If history is anything to go by, it will be aircraft on Heathrow routes with the some of the highest premium demand that will be retrofitted first. For the next 2-3 years at least, the majority of BA long-haul flights will operate with the existing seat.
Of course, there is also more to Club World than just the seat. There is a lot else happening to the existing BA fleet. Here’s a quick precis of what else to expect in terms of aircraft, lounges and in-flight service in the coming years.
52 Club World Seat Boeing 747 Refurbishment
Last year, BA began refurbishing its 16 remaining 52 Club World seat Boeing 747 aircraft.
These regularly operate on routes from London Heathrow to Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver. They have long been known for their relatively poor interior condition.
Some aircraft have received a modest refresh with new carpeting and seat covers. Others have received a more substantial refurbishment with a new in-flight entertainment system to bring the aircraft in line with the 86 Club World seat aircraft. As more 52 Club World seat are refurbished this year and others are retired, the chances of flying on a non-refurbished aircraft should diminish.
Gatwick Boeing 777-200 Refurbishment
BA is about half way through a two year project to refurbish its Gatwick based Boeing 777s.
As far as Club World is concerned the main changes are that the size of the cabin is being reduced from 48 to 32 seats on 3 class aircraft. The cabin interiors are being refreshed and a significantly improved in-flight entertainment system installed.
At the time of writing 7 Boeing 777-200 aircraft have been refurbished. They regularly operate on routes such as Antigua, Cancun, Fort Lauderdale, Kingston, New York JFK, and Tampa. An 8th aircraft is currently in Singapore for refurbishment.
In recent years, BA has opened new lounges for Club World passengers in Boston and Gatwick.
BA’s currently refurbishing its Club World lounge at New York JFK and is expected to open in a couple of months. However, there will only be 3 years to enjoy this lounge as BA will be moving to Terminal 8 at New York JFK in 2022. BA will continue to have its own lounges in Terminal 8.
The BA lounge in San Francisco is currently closed for a long overdue refurbishment and will reopen his summer.
BA is also due to refurbish its lounges in Johannesburg this year. Other international BA lounges earmarked for refurbishment in the coming years include Chicago and Miami.
The airline will also at some point in the next couple of years start to refurbish its Heathrow lounges. BA has yet to publish any plans. One particular area for consideration is capacity. Since the lounges first opened, BA has a substantially larger presence at Heathrow following its merger with bmi in 2012 and yet the lounge footprint has remained the same. It’s worth recalling that a planned lounge in T5C never came to fruition.
Last year year introduced new a format to its catering service and new bedding from The White Company.
It took some time to complete the roll-out at Heathrow and it was not a universal success. The cabin crew did not take the use of display trollies in the aisle and this was abandoned.
More changes are to come next year as Do&Co, who have provided catering for London Heathrow – New York JFK, take over the entire catering contract for BA long-haul flights. This should offer a significant improvement in quality.
BA is in the process of rolling out WiFi on long-haul flights.
The target is that 80% of BA’s long-haul fleet will be fitted with WiFi by 2020.
There’s no way of knowing exactly in advance if aircraft will be fitted with WiFi. However, you have a good chance of WiFi is flying on an Airbus A380, 86 Club World seat Boeing 747, and Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft.
BA is also currently trialing access to the PressReader digital magazine service. If you have booked a flight directly with BA you should receive an e-mail before your flight with a download link. Alternatively, you can download magazines, albeit on a relatively slow link, using the BA lounge WiFi.