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There’s been a huge amount of attention given to British Airways’ new — and much improved — Club Suite, which debuted on its new Airbus A350 aircraft last week. BA 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, smaller first class, which will be quite similar to the existing first product.
But with such an improved Club World product in Club Suite, which product will be better?
First of all, the similarities between the products are substantial. Both products feature:
- A 1-2-1 layout seating in a reverse herringbone layout, meaning each seat angles into either the window or the centre of the plane
- Direct aisle access, so no climbing over a neighbour to get to the aisle
- Smaller, intimate 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)
- Increased privacy because of 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 microfibre 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.
Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy
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