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Category: British Airways Club World
Club World is the name of British Airways’ long-haul business class cabin. BA is in the process of upgrading the Club World in flight service and will roll out a new seat in 2019. Here are the latest developments in Club World.
Gone are the are the post take-off packets of nuts and paper sachets of salt and pepper. The airline will introduce entirely new menus, crockery and glassware. The way you choose your food will also change. You will choose your starter and dessert from a cart displayed by the crew in the aisle. The starter will also include a choice of hot soup, which is not presently on the main menu.
You will pre-order your main course as normal. However, the choice of main courses has been reduced from four to three.
For dessert, you will have a choice of desserts from a cart and a cheese board.
If we were to make one criticism, it appears BA have not introduced any further choice of coffee in Club World!
Any one who has flown British Airways’ Club World long-haul business class on more than a handful of occasions will be more than familiar with the in flight service.
It begins with the offer of pre-take off drinks of champagne, orange juice and water. The hot towels, amenity kits and bottles of water are dispatched. There is a bar and main meal service, with one choice of coffee to follow. A widely varying offer of snacks are available in the self-service Club Kitchen. Before landing there is a second meal service, typically Afternoon Tea or a light breakfast, depending on the direction of travel.
Over the years the catering budget has gone up and down, depending on external and internal financial pressures. There have been small initiatives, such as the Heston Blumenthal inspired “Height Cuisine”, changes to the presentation of meals and the ability to pre-order a main course. The Club Kitchen gets periodically gutted and restocked. The quantity of sandwiches and cake for Afternoon Tea has been forever tweaked with. However, the service has fundamentally remained the same.
BA has announced today at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company, International Airlines group, a significant investment in its Club World long-haul business class cabin.
At the outset, we should say this is unlikely to involve BA removing its “yin-yang” 2-4-2 Club World seating configuration from existing long-haul aircraft.
A new Club World seat is planned for the Airbus A350 aircraft which is not due to enter service for some time. However, this is expected to maintain the 2-4-2 configuration, but with modifications to provide direct aisle access for all.
Whilst this is uncompetitive against many airlines which have introduced business class seats with all aisle access, BA favours the density of seating afforded by this configuration.
What BA does promise is a significant improvement in food & beverage through, for example, the ability to pre-order a wider range of meals online in advance of a flight and a complete redesign of the in-flight service.
BA also promises investment in cabin crew training and an improvements to cabin ambience to provide a better environment for sleeping (we’re not quite sure what that will be).
In the interests of expectations management, this investment is unlikely to involve increases in cabin crew numbers in the cabin nor changes to the size of the galleys on the aircraft, so we would not expect anything truly radical. BA is also not likely to introduce anything that adds significant weight to aircraft or could result in high levels of wastage.
No date has been set for the changes. However, when they are implemented it is likely they will be introduced gradually across the route network.
You can view the full slide deck from the Capital Markets Day here.
With American Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and others introducing new business class seats which provide all passengers with direct aisle access, British Airways has maintained its typically eight across “yin-yang” business class cabin on all recent deliveries of new aircraft.
The reason for this is the efficiency of the cabin layout and that BA flies a number of routes with very high business class demand (such that some 747s are to have business class seating increased from 70 to 86 seats and its A380s have 97 business class seats).
It was some fifteen years ago in May 1999 that British Airways shook up the market for long-haul business class travel with the launch of its fully flat Club World “flying bed”. Designed by Tangerine, it was arguably the singlest biggest innovation since the original introduction of business class (which Qantas claims credit for.)