EXCLUSIVE: Business Traveller reviews the new British Airways First seat

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).

Why now?

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.

To see the seat and read the full review, click here. The article is free to view, but you will need to be registered and logged in to view it. If you are currently a guest on the site you will be taken to a login/registration page – once completed you will then be taken directly to the article.

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  • highlife

    The new FIRST really does look truly amazing

  • avessman


  • VintageKrug

    I am impressed; the new windows are innovative, and it looks clean, contemporary and more spacious than previous iterations.

    Are the loos getting a revamp, too? Did you get to see those?

  • azrealjv

    hopefully the washrooms will be re-wamped… i usually end up whacking my elbows, while trying to change in that travesty of personal space being called a “wahroom”… there is a clubworld washroom on the right side of the 747, between the 1st &2nd clubworld which is more spacious… by 1/2 a foot. i can just immagine what the rest of the washrooms after the cw cabins must be like :(.

    but in all honesty, the new first does look simple, classic and elegant.. very british!

  • ihearttravl

    looks good!

  • trekster

    Very Very impressed with this new cabin.
    I flew F last November and the cabin was certainly showing its age, but was nice and comfortable. This cabin, well, WOW.
    Lots more space, with the same amount of seating.
    Very Impressed BA

  • LPPSKrisflyer

    The windows are different, the rest looks like an upgrade of the existing product which was innovative but is now tired and out of date. Others still have a far superior offering in First. The roll out time is also unacceptable.

  • nevereconomy

    BA First has never been for the flashy gimic lover. The new cabin keeps that same low-key approach, which is what I and many others prefer. The cabin-with-doors
    is not for me on a long journey and i can manage 12 hours without a shower. I don’t need an in-seat mini-bar because BA crew will bring me a drink with a smile any time I choose. Good work BA – can’t wait to try it.

  • VintageKrug

    BA stated “we don’t do bling” in the context of the new First design.

    I think that says it all. Good stuff!

    Ground handling improvement next on the list, and we will have a genuinely premium experience once again.


    I am booked on the BA 10 Syd to Lhr on 16 Dec 2011 which is a 747-400. I normally fly J class but wanna treat myself in F. Maybe I should rebook the BA16 which is a 777. Has anyone flown this route? Is the new FIRST cabin configured?

  • VintageKrug

    Interesting “inside track” photos here.

    To be clear this is a completely re-designed and brand new seat, which has no parts common to the previous iteration as evidenced by the patent filing by BA for this new offering: