Last week I went down to the Cabin Development Centre (CDC) at London Heathrow to look at the cabin mock-up of the new First product being introduced by British Airways. The CDC building is a brutalist concrete monstrosity,
and the interior certainly isn’t plush either,
but then this is an engineering centre, not a marketing suite. The mock-up is housed in its own cabin
The photos shown here are ones taken by me, both with a flash and without, and also are of a mock-up which has undergone many changes, and so is showing a little wear around the edges. There are also certain panels, covers and decoration absent which I think is obvious.
The roll out
The new seat is being introduced on a B777 aircraft which will initially fly on London Heathrow to New York, but may well fly other sectors. If you want to experience it before anyone else, then you will need a fair amount of inside knowledge and luck because it will only be on this one aircraft for the next 90 days – the length of time it has to fly before gaining CAA approval. The plan is for all the B777 aircraft which have First on board to be fitted with the new First cabin, and then the B747-400 fleet will follow, with a total time of around two years. Each B777 refit takes 10 days, and only occurs when the aircraft goes for a full maintenance break. In total 73 aircraft will be refitted, and the new B777-300ER aircraft which will be coming this year will also come fitted with the new First (and a new IFE system – Thales, but that’s another story).
Obviously timing is a tricky thing, with the news of the latest ballot for industrial action for Unite coming in February with possible strike action in March. So why introduce it now? The answer seems to be that BA believes that it wants to be ready for when the worldwide economy does recover, and those individuals flying First want the best now. In addition, although ClubWorld might be seen by many as BA’s archetypal product, it is First which is the flagship.
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