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On Monday my newsfeed showed more coverage of the new British Airways Club World seats than Brexit. I saw many AvGeek love letters to the new product praising the all-seat aisle access, the privacy, or the fact that BA finally will have a business class up to the times. But I was left wondering: What about the families who pretty much love those otherwise dreaded middle seats in Club World’s current iteration?
As a family that brings preschoolers and babies into business class, we sometimes hush our voices for fear of a heated discussion about kids in business class, I was struck by how all of the BA promotional materials about the new Club Suite did not make any real mention of families. (Obviously we aren’t the target market for business class suites, but many families in this hobby know how to occasionally use points to find their way up front.) In fact, families may be the one group that isn’t excited about the new British Airways business class suites.
While many business class travelers don’t like the current Club World seats, the TPG assessment of the best business class seats for families currently includes British Airways Club World precisely due to its middle seats that are great for young families.
Sure, it’s not the QSuites center double bed. But you also don’t have to fly via Doha to get where you are going. The larger “child seat” (aka not a bassinet) has saved me thousands by not having to purchase a seat for my sons until they each turned two. Using a Companion Pass in the UK, or the Travel Together Ticket available via the British Airways Visa Signature Card, two people can fly for the mileage cost of one (plus taxes and fees) and the infant flies for 10% of the mileage, taxes and fuel charges. It’s not the cheapest way to fly as a young family, but it is a very nice balance of price and convenience if you want to lie-flat.
Especially on the A380 and 747, the center seats are currently right together, which has created the perfect space for us to travel. With two growing boys, we planned on having the center four seats of the 2-4-2 configuration with the boys in the middle and one parent on each of the alternating aisle seats that face them. That is pretty much what Mommy Points did with her two young daughters in these very seats.
When flying alone with a baby when flights aren’t full, you also may often have the seat next to you left unoccupied, giving you a flat bed next to you for your baby and basically a suite for you both.
As you may have seen, British Airways has completely redesigned Club World and its new Club Suite product. The new design features enclosed suites with doors, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration so every seat has aisle access. Because the airline was concerned with passenger privacy, it also added a divider between the two center seats. (You can keep the divider closed for the entire flight or open and close it manually.) The other major improvements include more storage space per passenger and gate-to-gate entertainment instead of the old system that had to be stowed during takeoff and landing.
Club Suites will roll out on the soon-to-be-delivered Airbus A350-1000 sometime this July. By the end of 2019, the airline will also retrofit two Boeing 777s with the new business class product, then other long-haul aircraft in 2020 and beyond.
So What Is the Family View on the New Product?
The door, extra storage space and new screen are all very family-friendly elements of the forthcoming new BA Club World seat. What family doesn’t like more access to screens, stuff and the ability to close your children into an area safely? I found that a door wasn’t strictly necessary in the interior BA Club World seats because you’re mostly blocked in by the aisle seats. (However, I once had an awkward moment when someone next to me lowered his window and was suddenly facing me while I was busy with some in-flight breastfeeding.)
The real negative for families in the new version is the full separation between the seats without the ability to lower them like on Singapore Airlines’ new-in-2017 A380s. All that new BA privacy is great for individuals who used to have to crawl over strangers, but not as positive for parents who need to be close to their little kids.
British Airways has said there will be three bassinet-friendly seats in each new Club World cabin. This means parents with an under-two-year old can trade off seats and duties, but will no longer have the option of sitting in facing seats like they can with the single bassinet seat upstairs on the A380 in the current iteration of Club World. Things will be a bit trickier still when you have a young child in his or her own seat.
The bassinet-friendly seats in the new Club World cabin will be available in 1K, 15A, and 15K. I would recommend couples traveling with a baby take 1K and 1F, or even grab window views in 1K and 2K then trade off who sits in the bassinet seat.
New Kid Lounges (Finally!)
While the new fancier seating arrangements may not be an improvement for young families, British Airways seems determined to make some real improvements for them in other ways. Last week it unveiled improvements to its previously neglected family areas, called “Kidszones.” Seven Heathrow and Gatwick lounges were redesigned by the British kidswear company My 1st Years, which added some of its bestselling items including play kitchens, rocking chairs and ukuleles. The newly designed “My 1st Years Kids Zones” have a clean aesthetic, which comes as a great relief to this mum who has been extremely disappointed with the old Kidzones.
The Kidzones I have visited in the past generally housed a few broken chairs around an old television and PlayStation4, none of which suited my young children or me. My boys will be especially excited for the ride-on airplanes that are now available for use in the lounges. To promote the improvements, My 1st Years will be giving away posh limited-edition British Airways backpacks in the lounges at a to-be-announced date later this spring or summer. Fingers crossed the Kidzones are kept up to a higher standard going forward.
Don’t get me wrong, the new Club World suites are a big step forward for British Airways. If I am lucky enough to fly them solo at some point, I’m sure it will be a great experience. However, when crossing the pond and beyond with my two little kids, I’ll be sad to see the current arrangement depart. Families like mine benefited from four-across seats and may be the only group that isn’t cheering loudly over the new and more private suites.
Looking for more British Airways info? Here are some stories you may find interesting:
- How Club World Was Born: A History of British Airways’ Business-Class Seat
- Best Options for Booking British Airways’ Excellent New Business Class Suites
- Has British Airways Solved the Club World Problem With the Club Suite?
- British Airways Reveals New Business Class With Enclosed Suites
- A Look at British Airways Kids Meals
- Booking a Lap Infant on British Airways
- Why Families Should Use British Airways’ Avios Points for a Beach Vacation
Featured photo by Nick Morrish/British Airways.
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