British Airways confirms First on B787-9 Dreamliner

British Airways has confirmed that its B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, the first of which will arrive next year, will be fitted with its next generation First cabin.

The announcement makes BA the first European airline to install first class on a Dreamliner. China Southern was the first airline worldwide to have first on the Dreamliner.

The carrier’s current B787-8 is fitted with three cabins — Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller.

But its forthcoming B787-9, which is slightly larger and can fly longer sectors, will with the addition of First have a four-class configuration.

BA B787-9 First seat number

Details of the cabin will not be revealed until the aircraft’s arrival next year.

Frank van der Post, BA’s managing director of brands and customer experience, said: “Suffice to say immense attention has been paid to developing our award-winning First cabin, ensuring our signature style is maintained.

“We’ve also concentrated on the materials and technology used, the space around the seat and the comfort of the bed.”

He added: “We introduced an updated First cabin on the A380 when we launched that in September, which offers customers 30 per cent more personal space and 60 per cent more personal stowage and we’re getting great feedback.

“The new cabin on the 787-900 is a further development, which we think our customers will love. It will feel exceptionally elegant and beautifully British — exactly what our customers ask of us.”

BA B787-9 First table

BA has 24 Dreamliners on order – eight B787-8s and 16 B787-9s. Four of the B787-8s have already been delivered.

Last year, the airline’s parent company IAG confirmed that it was converting a further 18 existing B787s options into firm orders, taking the total to 42 (see news, April 2013).

To read a review of Club World on BA’s B787-8 click here.

Michelle Harbi

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  • Frank van der Post needs to explain why BA is still using its 15 year old business class product on these new planes. All of BA’s main competitors have raised the bar and gone with direct aisle access in biz class.

    BA must know it’s been left behind when EVEN American Airlines has a better biz class offering than you.

    BA might have great crew, but that isn’t going to be good enough anymore

  • Actually the first airline to install first class on a Dreamliner is China Southern Airlines who currently have first class on the smaller B787-8. Minor detail, but still looking forward to see what British Airways has to offer!

  • @Speedybird

    It may be 15 or so years old. But it’s still popular and continually busy. Must be doing something right since they never declared chapter 11.
    All aisle access!? Having 4 inches of space to squeeze out of a seat isn’t my idea of ‘all aisle access’ still don’t mind hopping over the odd foot stool in Club

  • @ John_Door

    While you might not “mind hopping over the odd foot stool in club”. I’m sure the person you have to perform this gazelle graced hop over, might.

    As for the four inch space squeeze, I take it you are referring to the herringbone layout adopted by Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand (both of which flip to offer a dedicated mattress sleeping surface). I don’t think Club offers much more than four inches to squeeze through from the window or central seats, and there is no mattress to sleep on.

    I think the real competition comes in the form of the newer revers herringbone layout pioneered by Cathay Pacific or the staggered layouts seen on many A380 services. Both of these seat layouts offer direct aisle access without the “squeeze” as you call it.

    In fact, the Cathay biz class seat has now formed the bases for a number of airlines new biz offering, from American Airlines (Chapter 11 seems to have done them well as they have really raised their game with this seat), Air Canada (it’s new B787), Qatar Airways (B787 again and it’s upcoming A380) and Air France’s up coming new biz class seat, which I believe is launching this May. It also forms the bases from which BA have developed this First Class seat (with some extra bells and whistles of course).

    Club might be busy now, but that shouldn’t lead you to automatically believe that’s vote of confidence in this 15 year old layout. In fact I think that is exactly what BA is doing, and if they are not careful, they could end up in trouble (there is no chapter 11 in the UK after all).

    BA had the perfect opportunity to revitalise Club World with the launch of its A380 and B787 planes last year and they missed it. Sad to see a company that was once so innovative, now resting on its laurels.

    As I said, this layout was revolutionary 15 years ago when BA was the first to bring lay flat seats to biz class. The market has moved on since then, and they are being left behind.

  • If you can walk up stairs, you can hop over the footstool in Club. It really isn’t that difficult.

    Club World offers considerably more than “four inches” to access the aisle, and over 50% of seats have direct aisle access at all times. I use the padded duvet as a mattress; it’s just as effective as the bedding you get on Virgin.

    A revitalised Club World may be timely come the A350 in 2017, but to spend tens of millions to launch a new product when the current offering is just five years into its life, still earns plaudits from customers, and is consistent across the longhaul fleet, would be premature at this stage.

    BA has a joint venture with American to its main market, the USA, and so AA’s new product (driven by BA’s demand for fully flat beds as a condition of the JV) cannot be called a competitor.

    BA can hardly be accused of lacking innovation; indeed they won an award for innovation in 2012.

  • @ SergantMajor

    “when the current offering is just five years into its life”

    BA launched this forward/backwards Club World layout in 1999 and was the first airline to offer fully flat seats in biz class with this seat. It’s been refreshed over the years, most recently with the launch of the A380 and B787, but basically it’s the same product 15 years later, not 5.

    It was revolutionary when it was launched, and for many years most airlines couldn’t match it. My point is that the market has changed in the last 15 years, and now most top tier airlines are offering a superior product.

    The fact that BA’s First Class seat is based on the same seat Cathay Pacific uses for its business class product speaks volumes about how BA are not as innovative as they used to be.

    They missed an excellent opportunity with the launch of their B787 and A380 aircraft last year to bring to market a fresh new biz class product. Most airlines who have launched these aircraft have done just that (Air Canada being the latest).

    BA are taking their biz class passengers for granted, and anyone who knows anything about the service industry, knows that spells trouble.

  • There is no getting away from it, BA has the worst business class seating in the world, if is so good how come no one has copied it like Virgin, Emirates and Singapore have been, they do have good cabin crews but they do not make up for a terrible seating layout. Hate it!!!

  • It’s not the same product, speedybird. The current Club World seat, which is also patented, is around 5 years old. The only commonality with old seat (still seen on Open Skies 757s) is the fact that it changes into a flat bed. The motors, materials and substructure is completely different, and considerably lighter than the old seat.

    RonBrown, BA’s ying/yang configuration is patented, which is why no other airline has that layout, and has to make to with less efficient use of space.

  • I’m sure BA is well aware of the advantages offered by the seats being rolled out by some other airlines and has made a conscious decision not to follow suit at this stage. There is a trade-off to be made between capacity and direct aisle access. For example AA’s new business cabin seats 44 people on a 777-300ER in the same space that BA Club World seats 56.

    As we can see from the comments here whether the step-over is a problem or not is a matter of personal opinion. Clearly some people hate it, and presumably those that do will choose to fly with other airlines or will make sure they get one of the seats that are not affected by the issue…. unless of course those concerns are overridden by price or other factors.

    I’m sure we will see a change to the layout at some point, when BA feels it is in their commercial interests to change. When they do we may well see prices being driven up / reward availability reduced on some routes through a reduction in capacity.

    Personally speaking I would prefer not to have to do it, but I don’t feel it is a huge issue. I find the seat itself very comfortable though.

  • Having just flown new first class GRU LHR, the product is poor, looks cheap, and the silly little lights, plastic shaded, get in the way. The cabin is cramped compared with old first which is not surprising squashing in bigger seats into the same space. Why the person in charge at BA does not go and look at Cathay’s offering to learn how to do it properly or is it too big a job?

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