Revealed: British Airways' Airbus A350 Club World business class seat?

Revealed: British Airways' Airbus A350 Club World business class seat?

British Airways has opted for evolution rather than revolution when it comes to the new Club World business class seat for its forthcoming Airbus A350 fleet.

Designs for what the airline describes as its Club World Mark III seat – detailed in leaked internal BA documentation seen by Australian Business Traveller – indicate the British flag-carrier will keep the alternating foward-backward layout of its current business class.

However, improvements to key aspects of the seat should boost its appeal to high flyers.

Foremost among them: all passengers will now enjoy direct access to the aisle, instead of having to gingerly step over or around their neighbour.

Australian Business Traveller understands that the seats convert into a fully flat bed measuring from 6'1" (185cm) to 6'4" (193cm) depending on if they are located at a window, aisle or middle pair, with a press-button recline into a relaxing 'lazy Z' position.

A new storage cubby lurks beneath the armrest of each seat, in addition to a slightly larger storage drawer, while manually-operated screens provide privacy or sociability between seat pairs.

The inflight video screen is almost 50% larger, having been upsized from 10.4 inches to a high-definition 15.3 inch display.

The new seat design, which plays up BA's palette of blue and silver, is both more stylish and spacious than the current second-gen Club World seat (shown below).

The leaked design matches up against a UK patent application lodged by British Airways and credited to BA Design Lead Peter Cooke and Paul Grader from London design firm Forpeople, which most recently worked on British Airways' Boeing 787-9 first class cabin and suites (seen below).

Video, photos: British Airways' new Boeing 787-9 first class

Mockup illustrations and diagrams from that patent application – while based on an earlier, less-refined seat concept  – give a better idea of how this all comes together in the cabin of the Airbus A350.

British Airways is also retaining a 2-4-2 'high density' layout, although this benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350.

BA's patent application also illustrates two possible ClubWorld layouts for the A350's business class cabin...

... using a different mix of orientations for the paired seats.

British Airways will begin flying the long-range Airbus A350-1000 from 2018, with 18 of the advanced jets on order and options for 18 more.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a British Airways spokesperson said “we regularly see speculation around what the next generation of our seats will look like, as we develop a lot of ideas with a range of design agencies. We often patent these ideas which is one driver of that speculation."

"As and when we’re ready to announce the seats for the A350s, which are not due to arrive until 2018, we’ll do so."

Earlier this year British Airways CEO Alex Cruz began tamping down expectations for the A350's Club World seat, saying it is not "ultra-revolutionary" and the design would focus more on incremental changes.

Speaking with UK media, Cruz added the seat would not be retrofitted across BA's long-range international fleet – such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER and 787 Dreamliner fleets – because "it doesn't appear to be sufficiently revolutionary."

Also read:

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT



  • Martin  Slobodnik

    Martin Slobodnik

    19 Aug, 2016 05:11 pm

    Would be nice to see BA launch the A350-1000 on the LHR - SIN - SYD Route. It would make for a strong argument on the Kangaroo Route :-)

    No member give thanks

  • jrfsp


    19 Aug, 2016 05:30 pm

    I wouldnt actually be surprised if it is..following crew training. Frees up less efficient 77Ws to operate shorter routes to North America.

    No member give thanks

  • Martin  Slobodnik

    Martin Slobodnik

    19 Aug, 2016 05:33 pm

    agreed. Lets face it, the B747 is nice but would rater fly LHR - JFK on a B777 

    No member give thanks

  • aldrigsomandre


    19 Aug, 2016 05:33 pm

    Obviously it is unfair to comment on just drawings from a patent application, but, doesn't that look... rather congested? Personally, when I fly business, I do enjoy the exclusive aspect of it. Also, I'm not a fan of flying backwards.

    No member give thanks

  • Martin  Slobodnik

    Martin Slobodnik

    19 Aug, 2016 05:35 pm

    When UA used to fly the B777 to Sydney I didnt mind flying backwards. Didnt notice any difference only when taking off and landing. 

    No member give thanks

  • aldrigsomandre


    19 Aug, 2016 05:38 pm

    I guess people react to it differently. Sadly, I can't even travel on a train without sitting facing the direction of the journey :(

    No member give thanks

  • spudseamus


    19 Aug, 2016 06:03 pm

    That makes two of us! 

    No member give thanks

  • Alex Arora

    Alex Arora

    20 Aug, 2016 02:26 am

    i cant travel on a train unless facing forward but when i was the EY A380 rear facing seat did not feel a thing it was really comfortable and i love it and would do it again! you dont feel any different when flying that fast. 

    No member give thanks

  • Jason Bird

    Jason Bird

    20 Aug, 2016 03:19 am

    It's actually safer to fly backwards as you are less likely to get neck injuries during a crash or aborted take off / landing

    No member give thanks

  • jurassic_6


    19 Aug, 2016 06:21 pm

    A pity that BA went with this design, just as other airlines are moving to suite-style J. This is really premium economy plus.

    On another note, impressive editorial independence from AusBT - running BA promo spreads one day and publicising leaks the next!

    No member give thanks

  • GoldenClub


    19 Aug, 2016 06:44 pm

    Oh dear more awfulness from BA!

    What a lost opportunity, they could have made their First seats their business seats and then introduced a true First Class. 

    No member give thanks

  • Arcanum


    20 Aug, 2016 07:29 am

    BA has so much captive premium traffic out of London that they don't really need to be competitive.  They know business travellers will take a non-stop with a bad product over a connection with a good one.  Of course, if Brexit destroys the UK financial sector that may all come to an end.

    No member give thanks

  • Eli


    20 Aug, 2016 11:00 am

    The UK financial sector does not exist because of the EU!  The global financial sector is based in London, IS LONDON...

    BREXIT is destroying nothing.

    No member give thanks

  • Rishi Kataria

    Rishi Kataria

    21 Aug, 2016 06:53 pm

    Yeah we need to stop panicking, the most that will happen is a small two-year recession then the UK will be back in business as it will have new agreements with the likes of US, China and Australia.

    No one in the EU is gonna halt trade with the UK, they would be dumb to do so.

    No member give thanks

  • vantage03


    19 Aug, 2016 07:35 pm

    Just dreadful.

    No member give thanks

  • flightdeck


    20 Aug, 2016 08:03 pm

    I could not agree more  Vantage03

    No member give thanks

  • Libertyscott


    19 Aug, 2016 08:48 pm

    "British Airways is also retaining a 2-4-2 'high density' layout, although this benefits from the wider cabin footprint of the A350'

    Wider than what?  The A380, 747 and 777 all have 2-4-2 on BA and all have wider cabins than the A350.  The 787 is 2-3-2 and is narrower than the A350, so the A350 has the narrowest cabin of any with a 2-4-2 layout.

    It's an improvement as it addresses the biggest objection to the product, but it is designed to make money on the Atlantic, as it probably will still do for some time.

    No member give thanks

  • StudiodeKadent


    20 Aug, 2016 02:20 am

    So... more bed length, more width, more privacy and direct aisle access for all seats.

    A great improvement! Good work BA! Please bring this upgraded product to Australia ASAP!

    No member give thanks

  • traveller99


    20 Aug, 2016 06:49 am

    Have there ever been any designs with seats facing sideways?  I think that could be a good design.

    No member give thanks

  • patrickk


    20 Aug, 2016 11:39 am

     traveller99 there are planes with herringbone arrangements (I think Cathay is one) which is about as sideways as you can get before haivng no space for aisles.

    No member give thanks

  • Alvin Tse

    Alvin Tse

    20 Aug, 2016 11:58 am

    This has potential to be a forwards-backwards Apex suite of sorts (Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Oman Air etc.), let's hope that they get those partitions up!!

    No member give thanks

  • ajstubbs


    20 Aug, 2016 04:42 pm

    What's with airlines opting for backwards facing seats? It doesn't sound hugely progressive. True, they don't feel different in the air but people still won't naturally gravitate to them. JAL, I think it is, do a 2-2-2 configuration with all seats getting aisle access - its perfectly possible to do with all seats forward and still fitting lots in. Credit to BA for good seat width and, I hear from those who've flown their latest J and F, comfortable cushion but i'd love to see an end to this 2-4-2 melarky. Still, between the UK and US, BA would always be my first choice on their B787 or A380, they still beat the American products on service, seating, plane and food.

    No member give thanks

  • flightdeck


    20 Aug, 2016 07:53 pm

    Hey, greed is good at 8 across,maybe they should try Boeings patented 12 across!Then you could travel from a shoe box into a sardine tin, all for the price of a business class ticket.  I much prefer to travel with airlines that think about me,instead of their shareholders and travel business class just 4 abreast.

    No member give thanks

  • Mikana


    22 Aug, 2016 12:40 pm

    Backwards or forwards, who cares? But BA's J config is rubbish, even though the seat itself ain't bad at all. It's just too congested and one can usually feel a person exiting behind one's pod: bump, bump, rumble, rumble. Window seats are bearable but the rest are like flying in a Japanese capsule hotel only for about 500 times the cost. And the soft product is always, always very iffy, not much better than a Japanese convenience store (to extend the simile) at its worst, like DJ's food hall at best.

    No member give thanks

  • emailboy


    23 Aug, 2016 03:23 pm

    Nice to see the biggest problems addressed (climb-over or be-climbed-over, lack of storage). It'll still be a tight squeeze, but the worst is that it won't be retrofitted to existing planes. 

    No member give thanks

  • emailboy


    23 Aug, 2016 03:25 pm

    Personally, I'm fine with backwards-facing seats. I get nauseous riding backwards in trains, or in a car looking inside or reading, or in a bus in the back, but never a problem flying backwards, aside from taxiing. 

    Member who gave thanks

    1 guest

  • zoomzoom


    24 Aug, 2016 06:00 pm

    Much prefer the herringbone config used by other carriers.......BA is going to be last choice for me.

    No member give thanks

  • lyndall


    25 Aug, 2016 01:48 pm

    I travelled on BA A380 in business class from Hong Kong to London and London to Singapore earlier this year. I chose BA over other airlines because I like the A380 configuration on other airlines. I will NEVER travel BA again except on short hauls to Europe. It was a 2/3/2 configuration meaning 7 seats across so it felt cramped and quite claustrophobic. 

    My husband who is over 6ft was on the window and because of the bulk head struggled to get past the feet of the sleeper in front as he had to bend down very low and then lift his legs over - it was ridiculous and unacceptable for a full paying customer. 

    I am pleased to hear that they are reconfiguring the seats but from what I can tell on the plans it doesn't look any less congested.

    I repeat - I am never flying BA on a long haul. 

    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt


    25 Aug, 2016 10:15 pm

    Which seats would be at 193cm and which seats would be at 185cm? You dont really say, other than "depending ...". What would be the guess ... window and cramped middle two at 193cm?

    No member give thanks


24 Oct, 2016 07:44 pm


Forgot Password

If you’ve forgotten your password, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email to re-activate your account and enter a new password.