Closeup With BA’s New Club World Seat

British Airways, Seats

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to “the British Airways Club World Experience” being hosted at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Not having flown BA’s Club World (their fancy name for Business Class) since 2003, I was certainly interested to hear about their enhancements. This was especially interesting to me since I had just “experienced” the Air New Zealand (Virgin Atlantic) seat, so I could really judge the seats side by side.

The event was last night, so what were my thoughts? Similar to what I’ve heard others say. The NZ/Virgin seat seems better for sleeping but the BA seat is better for relaxing. So for my westbound late afternoon flight, the BA seat probably would have been better, but for a flight over to Europe, I’d prefer NZ.

07_10_31 4seasonsroomI headed over to the swanky Four Seasons to find a very nice spread. They had all kinds of food lining both walls of the room with a variety of exhibits scattered around the floor. One featured the new kitchen option which replaces the old “Raid the Larder.” Now you can get a variety of light meals instead of just snacks throughout the flight whenever you’d like. They also showcased the new Elemis toiletries which replace the old Moulton Brown ones.

I know, boring stuff. Let’s get to what really matters. The seat. I spoke with one of the “ambassadors” who also happened to be a flight attendant. She said there were really two big changes in the seat on which passengers commented most often.

07_10_31 privacy screenFirst, they’ve changed the divider between the seats. Before, it was a flimsy fan-type device that folded out and attempted to give you privacy. It was not nearly as effective as you might hope. (Click here to see a picture of the old seat.)

They’ve now replaced this with an electronically-operated panel that slides up and down. The panel, as you can see, has a unique quality in that it’s only opaque from some angles. So when you’re sitting in the seat, you cannot see the person next to you. But if you’re a flight attendant and you’re looking down into the divider, you can see if the person on the other side needs any attention without having to lean over the person on the aisle. That’s nice.

07_10_31 zpositionSecond, and definitely the best enhancement, is the new Z position. This is what the NZ seat was really missing when I flew. It’s a seat position unsurprisingly in the shape of a Z which is perfect for relaxing. Take a look at the picture to see what I mean. It would be nice if the head didn’t have to recline as far as it does, but since the screen is elevated, it’s actually in the perfect position to watch a movie.

The bed itself also seems more comfortable, but it doesn’t have as much width as the NZ seat when you’re fully reclined. I liked the room of the NZ bed and it would have been welcome on an overnight flight, but for a daytime trip, the BA seat probably has the advantage.

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2 comments on “Closeup With BA’s New Club World Seat

  1. I’ve done the Club World seat a few times and thought I’d start a controversy **cough cough** I mean comment. Okay, let me put it straight: I really don’t like the Club World Seat. I am not a big guy. I am 5’10” and 140 pounds. And this seat is just too narrow, I mean I can’t move except lay on my side. I have debated it over and over again in my head (so with myself), I’d rather have CX’s old lie-flat angled business class than Club World. Why? Because I sleep better, plain and simple. Another major problem with the Club World seat is your seat partner, aka that guy facing you who, whenever he so much as breathes the entire seat pod-thing shakes. Every single Club World seat I think is attached to the seat that’s facing it, which makes you stuck to whatever the whims are of the person across from you.

    As for that plastic flimsy divider thing, “electronic” hardly describes it. You have to fiddle with it half the time to make it do what you want, and I’ve had two flights with it where it just wouldn’t go up. A great embarrassing situation with the person across from you like “hey, I don’t like you, but *$*@(, I can’t make it go up so this is awkward” type of moment.

    Another problem: you’re practically lying in the aisle if you have an aisle seat (on the contrary, window seats are pretty nice and secluded). Flight attendants bump you, pax disturb you, etc. because you’re lying there by their feet. Go for SQ, CX (yea, I live in Asia), Lufthansa, I’ve heard UA’s new J class is a big hit…but I try to avoid Club World if possible. They do a heck of a job marketing it…and it’s just downhill from there.

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