BA new First Class ReviewBack to Forum
Anonymous12 Feb 2010
I’ve just done a quick return to Chicago, and managed to find myself on board BA’s new First Class cabin both ways, with the outbound being the inaugural flight for BA’s new First Suite.
The wow factor of the cabin is great – it is sleek, contemporary, refined, rich, elegant yet simple and understated. The windows have electronic blinds that make the cabin look exclusive, like a private jet in style (one fellow passenger referred to them as ‘Orient Express’ in style). The suites are tall and private, and I very much like the use of the three different coloured leathers (navy blue, tan and cream) – the hand stitching is superb, akin to an Aston Martin or Bentley. Old First feels more like a comfortable old Jaguar car.
There is 55% more seating space, which enhances the experience, especially when sleeping – I found much more room in the shoulder area, and more seat width overall, making it possible to sleep on back, side or front comfortably. Indeed, passengers on the return slept like babies (even in a cabin I found to be a bit warm). The buddy seat is very wide, too – I tried it for a while and it was very comfortable, perhaps double the width of the current buddy seat. The base of this seat pulls forward and down, giving you a footrest which will suit customers of any height.
The new suites makes the centre suites on the 777 very attractive as they have work and dining space that is not present in current seating. The squared footprint of the centre suites makes them very much akin to other F products in the market.
The large video screens are perfect viewing size (15 inch screen, I believe), and the split screen map enhancement is more than welcome (you press MAP on the bottom of the screen, the screen splits and the moving map image comes up on the left – nifty for those of us who like to know where we are and how long we have left to fly). I was able to plug my iPod in and watch things I had downloaded.
The mood lighting works well (and compared to the glare of other cabins), and sets a relaxed and comforting tone, especially during night boarding and for morning wake-up. Each seat has a personal cupboard, with enough room to hang trousers, a jacket and there are some mesh pockets which are ideal for books, newspapers, iPods, eyeglasses or other necessities. The mesh is a great idea as you can instantly see if you’ve left something in a pocket. At the bottom is a shoe-cupboard, which lit up when the door opened, ensuring you didn’t leave anything behind when departing. Nice touch.
Like BA’s Club World cabin, the new First cabin is a “clear floor” cabin – this is due to decompression vents which must be clear for take-off and landing. Thus, when you board, the cabin looks clean and neat (no duvets, headsets, etc. cluttering up the buddy seats). All baggage must be stowed in the overhead bins, so the cupboards serve as an ideal solution to keep papers or other essentials to hand.
There is ample room to work, with a table that folds out with a blue leather writing pad (which also nicely secures a laptop and keeps it from sliding whilst typing), and then the table opens up for eating (or working) to double in size. It is very sturdy, and more than ample to work and eat at the same time, plus there is a side table for additional space. Three lights – a small shaded lamp, a focus ceiling light and a wider wash light provide additional personal lighting for working or eating. They did not affect the quality of the video screen at all.
I know some people may have expected private suites a la Singapore Airlines and Emirates. Personally, I found the BA suites to be private enough, whilst offering a sense of cabin space and openness that is refreshing. The claustrophobic feeling one can have on the closed-door suites can be intensely irritating, especially on long day-flights. The luxe of the BA First Suite, combined with the contemporary feel of BA new First cabin is a positive and welcome step change that will continue BA’s role as a top premium carrier.
The crew showed me their new steam ovens which had been fitted on board – they were super – my “catch of the day” – a seabass, was moist, perfectly cooked, with steamed veggies that were bright and vibrant. Even the bread rolls were good – moist inside, crisp crust and they didn’t dry out in the cabin air in less than 10 seconds. A new espresso machine produced rather delicious coffee.
Crews in both directions were excellent, they were excited and enthusiastic about the new product and were eager to spread the word to their colleagues and friends. They were only advised of the new seat being on their flight at their briefing, I understand, but all First crew have had premium training, so service was not any different to old-First on-board service. Perhaps food and beverage will get an upgrade, too, to match this super new product.
Overall verdict: A winning proposition from BA – it will bode them well for the next few years, and will certainly win business – I’m be more than happy to pay for this First product as it is markedly better than Club World, and can be an ideal tool for business, or a welcome bit of luxury for a much-deserved break.
I’m not a frequent poster on these forums, nor am I employed by British Airways (and never have been). I’m a Canary Wharf based consultant who travels frequently for work and for leisure. As this product is so new, I felt it would be a welcome addition to the BT pages.12 Feb 2010
Just a quick note to posters in general – occasionally the forum software does not recognise paragraph breaks in posts (this can happen if posts have been pasted in from Word documents). However you can go back into your post and edit once it has been published if you so wish.12 Feb 2010
The lavatories have been refreshed, so they are clean and bright, but they have not been changed – they are still in the same location and same size…
sorry about the paragraph issue – I did cut and paste this from my laptop…12 Feb 2010
Thanks Andrew !
Your report sounds promising and positive; it doesn’t differ from my assumption of demure and down-to-earth. It really shows my picture of the new F class. Hope to try the new product myself and get lucky to have the new product in my next BA flight.12 Feb 2010
VK works for BT, but promotes all BA spin for them through here.
It is rather laborious & desperate that BA need this, & a rather dodgy arrangement for BT to condone it or facilitate it, probably breaching press regulations & their independence…18 Feb 2010
i would have thought that BA should be investing in updating their superb club world product. here is a product that beats most first class products in terms of comfort. Especially in night flights, if your are on a flat bed and asleep, does it really matter whether you are in first or club world. The food in First is magnificant, but in club world it is still supeb. The biggest joke about First though is the number of free upgrades – you can always tell who has been upgraded beacuse they are not handed menus, they are given the choice of the left overs. BA get a lot of stick, but th eonly critisism in this piece is that First is unecerssary when club world is available. Well done BA on club world, dont waste you money trying to impress staff of other airlines with free upgrades.18 Feb 2010
Hi eveyone !
Mark– frequent users here now what you have commented. I won’t get thoroughly about it. They are straightforward. Just be aware that BT ( and who ever this person is ) could delete your comment as it feels when it is offending for VK. Unfortunately the “bias taste” regarding VK and BT as well as BA won’t just get off ! How come ?
Coming back to Martyn’s comment—you are right–BA’s C product is a good one. Well, they invested in enhancing the C product ( see BA’s pages over the new improved C cabin ). It is interesting to read–does it matters if you fly first or club world? Well, it does matter, if you pay your F ticket and not been upgraded or sponsored. As I have mentioned before–it is nice to experience upgrades—but being treated as obviously as an “Upgrader” in F cabin and other pax can obviously see it–is in my opinion a bad service quality. NO F pax should be treated differently than the others in the same cabin. Not handing out menus and receiving only the rest of the paying pax–is in my eyes a dismal and insulting. It may be BA’s policy and surely a priority for paying pax. But I personally would not take such kind of upgrades where I only get the left overs and the crews and/or the situation actually give me the feeling of being “tolerated” and apparently taking advantage of something which I am not entitled of. Such is undignified !
I would rather decline an upgrade in such circumstances and sit in club world– receive fairly a menu and a proper choice of the meals. And most of all–not to have the feelings of gratefulness on the side of the airlines for being bumped on a better class –but the dignity of paying your own ticket and therefore being objective to situations on board which you don’t like and especially those cutting your rights as a paying pax.19 Feb 2010