BA’s New Club Suite On The Boeing 777-200

A word of caution before booking Boeing 777-200 flights that may feature BA’s new Club Suite.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

BA is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, G-XWBA, this coming Friday 26 July 2019.

This is much anticipated as it will be the first aircraft to feature BA’s new Club Suite.

It has also been known for some time that BA is to begin retrofitting the Club Suite to four class Boeing 777-200ER aircraft this year, of which there are around 23 based at London Heathrow.  

At the same time, BA will reduce the number of First Class Seats from 14 to 8 and increase the number of seats in World Traveller from 9 to 10 across.

Two aircraft are planned to be refurbished this year and seat maps for some flights are showing as operated with refurbished aircraft.  

These include select flights to New York JFK from late October 2019 and a random assortment of flights through until early 2020. You can tell if your flight is operating with refurbished aircraft as the seat map will show Club World seats in 1-2-1 configuration, labelled A-E-F-K from rows 5 to 17.

The Club Suite is much anticipated on the 777 as the current Club World cabin is one of the least favoured on any BA aircraft.

However, a word of caution should be sounded before booking Boeing 777 flights that show as operating with the Club Suite.

Historically, BA has always prioritised “blu riband” routes when retrofitting new Club World seats to aircraft.  This used to mean retrofitting high premium seat configured Boeing 747 aircraft first.  

As these aircraft used to operate all flights to certain destinations such as New York JFK, Hong Kong and San Francisco, BA used to be able to publicly guarantee refurbished aircraft would operate on certain routes.

The position with the Boeing 777-200 aircraft is quite different.  It’s a versatile aircraft that tends to be paired and swap with Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft on many routes.   From a cursory scan of historical flight data, on many flights to New York JFK the Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 operate the same flights on different days of the week. Boeing 777-300 aircraft can also pop-up now and again.

It’s certainly a safe assumption that BA will want to put refurbished Boeing 777-200 aircraft on New York JFK as soon as it can, not least because Virgin Atlantic is using its new Airbus A350-1000 on this route.  

Also based on the experience of the Gatwick Boeing 777 refit programme, whilst seat maps for future flights were a reliable indicator of the general plan for the refurbishment, refurbished aircraft operated on many routes before seat maps indicated so.

There are of course also a multitude of factors that can result in last minute aircraft swaps on the day.

Put simply, until there is a critical mass of refurbished Boeing 777 aircraft in service, it is not possible to give a reliable indication of which flights they will operate. Passengers should certainly not make purchasing decisions without specific guidance from BA.  

BA Club World Miami – London Heathrow

A review of British Airways Club World on the Boeing 747 from Miami to London Heathrow.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Boeing 747 aircraft, Miami International Airport
British Airways Boeing 747 aircraft, Miami International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

After our review of BA Club World from London Heathrow to Miami, here’s a review of the return flight back to London.

Pre-Departure

BA flights from Miami depart from the Central Terminal.

The BA check-in desks do move around a lot. If you’ve flown out of Miami before, don’t assume they’ll be in the same place next time! Miami is of course a huge American Airlines hub. Security queues, even the priority lines, can be quite long.

The designated lounge for BA passengers is the Premium lounge which is located after security. This is on level 5 of Concourse E and can only be accessed by lift. This often results in queues to leave the lounge when boarding is called in the lounge.

It’s an expansive lounge but the decor is a little dated. There are shower rooms. If you want to use these you need to ask at reception. There has been talk of a refurbishment for some time, but no firm plans have been announced yet.

Premium Lounge, Concourse E, Central Terminal, Miami International Airport
Premium Lounge, Concourse E, Central Terminal, Miami International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

How the busy the lounge is depends on whether Finnair and Qatar Airways flights are also operating. Finnair flies from Miami three times weekly in the winter. Qatar Airways operates daily in winter and five times weekly in summer.

The Central Terminal is connected to the North Terminal used by American Airlines. If you don’t mind the walk you’re better off using the American Airlines Flagship lounge near Gate 30 on Concourse D. It has significantly more modern decor and, more importantly, better catering with hot food.

BA departures tend to use Gates E23-E25 and, regardless of which lounge you use, you do need to take a shuttle train to access these gates, as per the terminal map.

Boarding

To boarding, and it was the familiar scene at Gate E24 with a large crowd gathering at the start of the boarding lines.

Boarding procedures are a perennial battle between airlines setting procedures, and passengers being willing and able to follow them.

All it took was for just one passenger to move towards the front of the boarding line, and then everyone else followed. Chaos ensued as BA ground staff battled to get Group 1 passengers through the lane.

Miami was, until the last season, served by a daily Airbus A380 in the winter. BA used two adjacent gates for A380 departures and boarding was far more orderly as passengers queued correctly in the designated lanes well before boarding started.

The Cabin & Take Off

On to the aircraft and it’s upstairs to one of the most coveted seats in Club World, 64K on the Upper Deck of the Boeing 747.

This seats benefits from direct access to the aisle, complete privacy with no passengers in your line of sight, and plenty of storage space in the side bins.

Seat 64K, BA Club World, Boeing 747 Upper Deck
Seat 64K, British Airways Club World, Boeing 747 Upper Deck (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Seat 64K, British Airways Club World, Boeing 747 Upper Deck
Seat 64K, British Airways Club World, Boeing 747 Upper Deck (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

On take off you do get good views of Miami Beach. Though, they are better if you sit on the port side of the aircraft.

Views of Downtown Miami and Miami Beach
Views of Downtown Miami and Miami Beach (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
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BA Club World London Heathrow – Miami

A review of British Airways Club World on the Boeing 747 from London Heathrow to Miami.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

Miami South Beach
Miami South Beach (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

London Heathrow – Miami is a good illustration of the vagaries of flying BA.

BA operates three return flights a day, all now with a Boeing 747 so passengers should know with confidence to expect. Right? Well, not quite.

It’s perfectly feasible that three groups of passengers all taking different BA flights on the same day could each report different experiences.

The reason being that only some of the 52 Club World seat aircraft that serve this route have been fully refurbished with new in-flight entertainment systems. Some have had just a light interior refresh. Others have not been refurbished at all in ten years due to their imminent retirement. And you’ll only know what you’re getting once you’ve stepped on board the aircraft.

Let’s take a look at one early morning departure from London Heathrow Terminal 3:

Pre-departure

After a quick check-in at a reasonably busy Heathrow Terminal 3 for an early morning, it’s to the lounge.

It’s received wisdom that any passengers flying Oneworld from Terminal 3 with lounge access should head to either the Cathay Pacific or Qantas lounges.

However if you want to download reading material from PressReader at the airport you need to use the BA lounge WiFi. A couple of tips: you do need allow for a generous amount of space on your device and a good amount of time to download as it does take more than a few minutes.

To boarding, BA has for some time been using the grouping system for boarding aircraft. One weakness is that the relative numbers of passengers eligible for Group 1 boarding can vary widely by route. As Miami is an American Airlines stronghold, there are a lot of Oneworld Emerald cardholders eligible for Group 1 boarding on this route.

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BA Club World Upper Deck Seating Changes

BA has introduced further changes to its pricing structure for the selection of seats in Club World.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Airbus A380 Club World cabin
British Airways Airbus A380 Club World cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

A couple of weeks ago we reported that BA had introduced a new pricing structure for seat selection charges on the main deck of Club World.

BA has introduced a new set of six price points for selecting a seat, and these are detailed here.

It was expected that further changes would be forthcoming for the Upper Deck. BA has today, Tuesday 11 June 2019, implemented a new pricing structure for the Upper Deck of the Airbus A380. This has a relatively marginal different configuration of 2-3-2 rather than 2-4-2 on the main deck. Window seats also have storage bins.

Using a flight to Vancouver as an example, there are now separate charges for seat pairs by the window and lower charges for the centre seats. All of these Upper Deck seats were previously priced at £105. Now the centre seats attract a lower, albeit very modestly so in the grand scheme of things, price of £95 to select a seat.

On the main deck of this flight, seat selection charges range from £79 to £105.

British Airways Airbus A380 Upper Deck Vancouver Seat Map
British Airways Airbus A380 Upper Deck Vancouver Seat Map

Note that these changes only apply to passengers making new bookings. Passengers with existing bookings will not see any changes. Seat selection charges will also vary by route. At present, pricing of the much smaller Upper Deck of the Boeing 747 appears to be unchanged.

BA Club World Seat Selection Charge Changes

British Airways has changed its pricing structure for selecting seats in Club World.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft, November 2018
British Airways Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft, November 2018 (Image Credit: British Airways)

For the past ten years or so BA has required passengers other than Silver and Gold members of the Executive Club to pay a fee to select a seat at the time of booking.

This applies to all cabins except First Class, even Club World. Please see here for a full guide to BA’s seating policy.

Even though BA is one of the only, if not the only, airlines in the world to charge business class passengers to select a seat, and it is seen as somewhat egregious, this policy has survived.

As BA has learned of passenger preferences it has applied dynamic pricing to different parts of the same cabin with differential charges by row and proximity to aisles and windows.

In Club World, this has meant higher charges for the much loved upper deck of the Boeing 747. On the main deck of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 and in all other Club World cabins, there were three tiers of prices, Front, Middle, and Rear. There were higher charges for forward rows and lower charges for rear rows.

Changes from 14 May 2019

Since Tuesday 14 May 2019, BA has split the pricing of seats on the main deck of Club World into no less than six tiers.

These are Front Side, Front Centre, Middle Side, Middle Centre, Rear Side, Rear Centre.

In the example of an 86 Club World seat Boeing 747 below, there are now higher prices to select a seat on the side of the aircraft, which are £87 per person at the front of the cabin, £80 in the middle of the cabin, and £67 at the rear of the cabin.

Centre seats are at reduced prices of £79, £72 and £59 per person. Charges will vary by aircraft, and are higher on other aircraft such as the Airbus A380.

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What Else Is Happening With Club World?

As British Airways unveils its new Club World Suite, here’s what else to expect from BA long-haul business class in the coming years.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft, November 2018
British Airways Refurbished 52 Club World Seat Aircraft, November 2018 (Image Credit: British Airways)

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.

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This Is British Airways New Club World Suite

British Airways has unveiled its new Club World Suite which will be fitted to new deliveries of Airbus A350-1000 aircaft this year.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has unveiled its first radical redesign of its long-haul Club World business class cabin in nearly 20 years.

It was in 1999 that details first emerged of BA’s plan to unveil its first fully flat bed in business class, with a “yin-yang” rear and forward facing configuration.

Whilst the seat has been progressively modified over time, the fundamental layout of the cabin has remained the same. It is a layout that has served the airline well financially due to its space efficiency. However, it has by BA’s own admission and in the view of many frequent flyers, fallen behind its competitors which all offer direct aisle access to all passengers. Please see here for a history of Club World over the past 40 years or so.

BA has now jettisoned the yin-yang layout with an entirely new seat and cabin layout.

This will debut on the Airbus A350-1000 which will operate select flights from London Heathrow to Madrid this summer and selected long-haul flights to Toronto from 1 October 2019 and Dubai from 8 October 2019. BA will confirm the exact start date for short-haul test flights in June. There will be 56 Club World seats on the Airbus A350-1000.

The New Club World Suite

Here are details of the new seat:

– All seats have direct access to the aisle

– All seats are forward facing, albeit at a slight angle

– The seat is 79″ long when fully flat

– All seats benefit from greater privacy with a partial door to the seat

– Personal storage is improved significantly, with 40% more storage than the existing Club World seat. Storage facilities include a personal storage drawer and vanity unit

– There is a much larger 17″ – 18.5″ TV screen. It is now possible to watch the in-flight entertainment “gate to gate” as it does not have to be stowed for take-off and landing.

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

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The Evolution of British Airways Club World

As BA introduces its new Club World seat, how the concept of “Club” long-haul business class has evolved in 40 years.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Club World Outdoor Advertisement 2000
British Airways Club World Outdoor Advertisement 2000

British Airways is about to officially launch its new Club World seat. This is the first radical redesign of its long-haul business cabin in 20 years.

It is by some margin the most important cabin for the airline. The financial performance of BA is inextricably linked to the volume of long-haul business class traffic. Here’s how it has evolved, both in terms of cabin design and marketing, since the very first origins of “Club” 40 years ago.

The Origins Of “Club”

Which airline deserves credit for the introduction of long-haul business class depends on who you ask.

Qantas claims to be the first airline to introduce a dedicated long-haul business class cabin in 1979.

However, it was in May 1977 that British Airways introduced an “Executive Club” cabin on its Boeing 747 flights to New York. The relatively large size of the aircraft allowed for the introduction of new cabins. This was a separate cabin for economy passengers paying the full fare, divided by a not particularly attractive curtain.

British Airways Club Class Advert, November 1979
British Airways Club Class Advert, November 1979

A year later this became known as Club, a word which has become synonymous with business class. The Club cabin was soon extended to all transatlantic routes, and then worldwide.

Super Club

In March 1981, BA launched “Super Club” on transatlantic routes.

British Airways Super Club Advert (USA)
British Airways Super Club Advert (USA)
British Airways Super Club Seat Advert
British Airways Super Club Seat Advert

These were expanding seats in a 2-2-2 configuration with a folding table in the middle of each seat pair. BA promised it was the widest airline seat available with 24 inches between arm rests.

The “Super Club” seat was extended to all long-haul routes worldwide, as illustrated by the 1984 advert below where the aircraft had to be opened up to fit the seat in it. This was one of Saatchi & Saatchi’s earliest TV adverts for BA and you can see the cinematic influence.

This is one iteration of the “Super Club” seat. Before personal TV screens were introduced in the 1990s, personal at seat in-flight entertainment amounted to in-flight audio only.

British Airways Super Club Seat
British Airways Super Club Seat

Club World

British Airways Club World Ticket Wallet
British Airways Club World Ticket Wallet

It was in January 1988 that BA introduced the “Club World” brand.

Club on short-haul flights was also rebranded as Club Europe. For the first time Club World had a dedicated cabin crew as well as new a “slumberseat”.

The launch was marked with this TV advert. A group of colleagues in London think they have set up a colleague seconded to New York to fail by despatching him on a red rye flight to London in business class. “Like a lamb to the slaughter, gentleman”.

Whilst the advert emphasised how the Club World cabin addresses the needs of the business traveller, such naked male one-upmanship is not something we would see in airline advertising today.

A similarly male focused ad followed a year later with two businessmen completing a deal in BA’s Club World cabin.

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BA’s New Club World Seat Arrives July 2019

British Airways will introduce a new Club World seat when it takes delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in July 2019.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

British Airways Club World Suite
British Airways Club World Suite (Image Credit: British Airways)

2019 is going to be the year of the long-haul business class war.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are going to introduce new long-haul business class seats with the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

For BA, this will be just before it officially celebrates its centenary. And Virgin Atlantic never does anything quietly.

This will be the first radical reconfiguration of their business class cabins in 15-20 years. Whilst both airlines have introduced new seats since they first introduced fully flat beds in business class near the turn of the century, the fundamental layout of the cabin has remained the same.

In the case of BA, this is its “yin-yang” 2-3/4-2 layout with backward and forward facing seats. For Virgin Atlantic, this is its reverse herringbone configuration with window seats facing into the cabin.

BA’s first Club World fully flat bed (Image Credit: British Airways)
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Upper Class Cabin (Credit: Virgin Atlantic) Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Upper Class Cabin (Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

BA’s New Club World cabin

BA has today, Friday 2 November 2018, confirmed the following details of its new Club World cabin:

– The new larger seat will feature direct aisle access for all passengers.

– Personal storage and privacy will be improved.

– Gate to gate in-flight entertainment will be introduced for the first time, meaning that the TV monitor will be fixed into place, rather than adjustable as at present.

– BA has not given anything anyway at all regarding the look of the actual seat and cabin.

BA’s New Club World cabin on the Airbus A350-1000

The new seat will arrive when the first Airbus A350-1000 aircraft is delivered to BA in July 2019:

– Four Airbus A350-1000 will be in service by the end of 2019.

– BA will take delivery of 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft in total.

– BA will also take delivery of 12 Boeing 787-10 aircraft between 2020 and 2023 which will be fitted with the new cabin. The first six aircraft are due to arrive in 2020.

– BA will also take delivery of 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft between 2022 and 2025, with 15 aircraft delivered by 2023.

Retrofitting the new seat on existing aircraft

Over 100 aircraft will be fitted with the new seat:

– Two Boeing 777 aircraft will be retrofitted with the new seat by the end of 2019. The number of Club World seats will actually increase very marginally by 1 on these aircraft, with the extra space likely to come from reducing First Class from 14 to 8 seats.

– The retrofitting of existing aircraft will continue in 2020 and will be completed by 2023.

– Given that many of BA’s competitors have experienced delays in retrofitting aircraft with new seats due to late deliveries from seat manufacturers, there may be a degree of expectations management at play here.

– It’s a safe assumption it won’t be retrofitted to Boeing 747 aircraft as most will be retired by 2023.

– Based on historical practice, Heathrow aircraft with the highest premium seating configurations, such as 4 class Boeing 777s, will be retrofitted first.

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British Airways modifies new Club World meal service

British Airways is to remove the use of display trollies from its new Club World meal service on long-haul routes at London Heathrow.

London Air Travel » British Airways » British Airways Club World

BA transatlantic Club World meal service from London Heathrow August 2018
BA transatlantic Club World meal service from London Heathrow August 2018 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

British Airways continues to roll out its new Club World meal service across its long-haul network at Heathrow.

The latest routes to receive the new service this week are Buenos Aires, Jeddah, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo Haneda, Tokyo Narita, Santiago, and Sao Paulo.

However, BA has also just pulled a major volte face.

When the service was launched last year, there was much emphasis on added “theatre” and the ability to select starters and desserts during the first meal service from a dedicated display trolley in the aisle.

New Club World Food & Beverage (Image Credit: British Airways)

However, as we noted in our review of the service 12 months in, the delivery of the new meal service has been inconsistent. Some crews have simply not used the display trollies at all. Others have, but grudgingly.

It has been confirmed that from Sunday 28 October 2018, the display trollies will be abandoned altogether.

As per the previous service, starters and desserts will be delivered to order. The entire meal service will be delivered by the crew by hand from the aircraft galleys.
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