How to tell if your British Airways has the new Club Suite
British Airways is finally flying its new business class, called Club Suite, to the US. The first Boeing 777 refurbished with the much-needed update to the biz cabin began flying on Wednesday between London Heathrow and JFK.
The new product took to the skies in August from London Heathrow to Madrid aboard BA's new Airbus A350-1000, to familiarize crews with the brand-new aircraft. The A350 with Club Suite is now flying to Dubai and Toronto and will be rolled out to Bangalore and Tel Aviv as BA takes delivery of additional A350s. You can read a full review of the BA A350 Club Suite experience here.
It will be a while before the new biz class, a vast improvement over the previous product, makes its way to all of British Airways' long-haul fleet. US passengers have only one option to try it — the lone 777 with Club Suite flying between LHR and JFK. The aircraft, registered G-RAES, spent the past six weeks in BA's maintenance base in Cardiff undergoing the cabin refurbishment.
While the older Club World seat will be flying until 2023 when the last Boeing 747 is retired from the BA fleet, the airline is starting to update existing aircraft in the fleet — starting with the Boeing 777 and eventually making its way to other long-haul aircraft like the 787 and A380. Such an upgrade program is no easy task for the airline, which has nearly 150 long-haul aircraft.
In the meantime, there are a number of ways of finding out if any of your upcoming flights has the new Club Suite product installed.
First, you could check the seat map on ba.com or ExpertFlyer. If the Club World cabin is in a 1-2-1 layout, you are in luck and will have the new seat. Second, you could check the list of published routes of where BA expects to deploy the A350 and refurbished 777s in due course. Finally, there's a way to tell from the outside if your Boeing 777 has been refurbished or not.
As was the case when British Airways previously updated its cabins, such changes mean that some windows cannot be used in the new layout. With the refurbishment of the 777, this is particularly the case, as the first-class cabin is shrinking from 14 seats over four rows to just eight seats over two rows.
The below photo is a BA 777 prior to the refurbishment. Note how there are single whitened-out windows after the first four and then every third window.
The below is G-RAES, the first refurbished 777. Note that it has four whitened-out windows after four normal windows. Presumably, that's where the smaller first-class cabin ends and the forward mini-cabin of Club Suite starts.
Doing homework on routes, schedules and seat maps in advance will help you score a seat in the new Club Suite. In particular on the 777 routes, there will likely be last-minute swaps and changes. Spotting those windows above means the 777 has been refurbished and even if you don't end up flying on it, it's a fun game for AvGeeks to play — "Spot the refurbished Triple Seven!"
And if you're flying an A350, there's no window-spotting involved. All British Airways A350s will have the new Club Suite installed, and spotting an A350 is relatively simple — just look out for the distinctive cockpit windows and the beautiful upward wingtips.