Which is Better — British Airways' New Club World Suite or First Class?
The new and much improved Club Suite, the new business class on British Airways, has garnered a lot of attention and just debuted on the airline's new Airbus A350 last week. British also plans to install the new product on some of its Boeing 777s. While the Club Suite will be the highest (and best) class of service on BA's A350s, the 777s will also feature a slightly refurbished and smaller first class, which will be quite similar to the existing product.
But with such an improved business-class product in Club Suite, will first still be worth it?
You can read our review of first class on the 777 and our initial impressions of the Club Suite cabin on the A350 for a deeper look — a full review of the A350 will come when the aircraft begins long-haul service — but we already know that the similarities between the products are substantial. Both feature:
- A 1-2-1 seating arrangement in a reverse herringbone layout, meaning each seat angles into either the window or the center of the plane
- Direct aisle access, so no climbing over a neighbor to get to the aisle
- Cabin with dedicated crew, though the Club Suite cabin is significantly larger than the first cabin.
The big X factor of the Club Suite product and the biggest benefit it has over first class is that each Suite has a sliding door. This provides far more privacy than any other class on British Airways.
So, why pay more for first? The difference is in the soft product (i.e. the food, drinks, bedding and service), which was updated earlier this year. TPG reached out to BA directly to ask about the specific differences, and the airline provided the following list:
- Speedier check-in and security at Heathrow Terminal 5 thanks to the new First Wing (vs. Fast Track for Club)
- Three-bag luggage allowance (vs. two bags in Club)
- Concorde Room lounge access at London Heathrow Airport with an la carte menu and spa treatments (vs. limited buffet in Club)
- Temperly London loungewear, slippers and amenity bag with Elemis skin care products (vs. basic amenity kits in Club)
- Meridian headphones (vs. basic non-noise-cancelling headphones in Club)
- A much smaller cabin
- Dine on demand (vs. fixed meal times in Club)
- Higher-standard dining and fine wines with crockery, cutlery and glassware from William Edwards, Studio William and Dartington
- A larger bed with a foam mattress and microfiber mattress topper and 400-thread count bedding (vs. a basic flat-bed with basic bedding in Club)
British Airways insists that all these elements combined mean that the first experience is significantly better than the Club Suite experience, and therefore justifies the higher price tag, whether in cash or Avios. While British Airways does not currently have the best reputation in either class against the likes of Qatar and Cathay Pacific, the carrier continues to invest in its soft product to bring the quality up to that of other world-class carriers.
BA offers first on many long-haul routes, while the Club Suite will be slowly introduced on some routes beginning with Madrid, then Dubai, Toronto, Bangalore and others to follow. Ultimately, whether Club Suite or first is better is up to you and what you value most.