British Airways’ New 777 First Class Suite With Door

British Airways is in the process of overhauling its long haul fleet, as the airline installs its impressive new Club Suites business class product on most long haul aircraft.

In late 2020, British Airways also introduced a marginally improved first class product, featuring a door. However, there’s a bit of confusion about which planes feature this, so I wanted to take a closer look at that in this post (especially as I’m hoping to fly this product on my upcoming review trip).

British Airways’ strange premium cabin evolution

Historically British Airways’ first and business class seats haven’t exactly been industry-leading. First class was nothing special, and more like a great business class product. Seats were in a 1-2-1 configuration, and a bit more spacious than typical business class reverse herringbone seats.

British Airway’s old 777 first class

However, British Airways’ business class was significantly worse, and on 777s in a 2-4-2 configuration. There wasn’t direct aisle access from every seat, which is otherwise becoming an industry standard.

British Airway’s old 777 business class

By comparison first class was better than business class.

That all kind of changed in 2019, when British Airways rolled out its new Club Suites business class product. With this, British Airways’ business class now consists of reverse herringbone seats with doors.

British Airways’ new A350 business class
British Airways’ new A350 business class

This was a massive improvement for British Airways, but still a bit strange:

  • British Airways introduced a new business class, but not a new first class
  • British Airways wasn’t eliminating first class, but rather was reducing the size of the first class cabin on some 777s (all reconfigured 777s have eight first class seats, even if the seats are the same as before)
  • This created a situation where business class seats had doors, while first class seats didn’t, which sure seems backwards

So British Airways has been working on slowly changing that trend, at least on some planes.

British Airways’ “new” first class with doors

As of late 2020, British Airways began introducing an updated first class product. Unfortunately the seat isn’t being redesigned from scratch. Rather British Airways is updating its existing seat, with the most significant change being the addition of doors.

It’s essentially the same product you’ll find on the Boeing 787, except it has a door, and it also has a seatbelt with a shoulder strap (which I wouldn’t necessarily consider to be an improvement, but…).

Below you can see a picture of what British Airways’ “new” first class looks like.

British Airways’ new first class suite with door
British Airways’ new first class suite with door
British Airways’ new first class suite with door
British Airways’ new first class suite with door

Admittedly this is a minor difference, but still, it’s something. Some people really like doors. Some people think doors are stupid (and oddly think people who like doors are stupid…). But perhaps more importantly, this reflects the 787 version of the seat, which has a larger television screen, and some other benefit.

Note that British Airways also has 18 Boeing 777-9s on order, which should be delivered eventually (the aircraft has been delayed until 2025 at the earliest). These planes are expected to feature all new first class suites, so it’s anyone’s guess what they will look like. Hopefully it’s a fully redesigned product, rather than just modified seats.

Rendering of British Airways’ Boeing 777-9

Which planes have British Airways’ new first class suites?

British Airways exclusively offers doors at first class seats on select Boeing 777-300ERs. Specifically, the Boeing 777-300ERs with the Club Suites in business class also feature the refreshed first class. As it stands, nine out of 16 Boeing 777-300ERs feature these new seats.

Looking at seatmaps, you can expect that Boeing 777-300ERs with eight seats in first class, and business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, will feature these new first class seats.

A few things to note:

  • All other planes, including newly delivered Boeing 787-10s, as well as 777-200ERs reconfigured with the new Club Suites, don’t feature these seats; that’s right, these planes have doors in business class, but not in first class
  • British Airways does a lot of aircraft swaps for 777-300ERs; for example, looking at the London to New York market, currently BA113 and BA179 are consistently scheduled to be operated by this aircraft, yet as you’ll see at those links, the flights are frequently swapped for 777-200ERs (which feature Club Suites, but don’t have doors in first class)
British Airways 777-200ERs don’t have the new first class

Bottom line

While not nearly as exciting as the carrier’s improvements in business class, British Airways has introduced a modified first class on some of its Boeing 777s. This new product has a door for added privacy, which makes sense when you consider that business class seats also have a door.

Unfortunately this product is only available on few planes — only 777-300ERs with Club Suites have these seats, while other 777s don’t, and there are no plans (as of now) to reconfigure other planes with these seats. Furthermore, keep in mind that last minute aircraft swaps are common, even on prime routes like London to New York.

I’m hoping to fly this new product soon, but who knows, it seems like odds are pretty high of there being an aircraft swap…

What do you make of British Airways’ modified first class seat?

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