British Airways A350 Club Suite Review
It's been long overdue, long-awaited and frankly needed. The Last time British airways upgraded its business class hard product was 2000 and at that time, it was revolutionary with Club World having the first lie-flat bed in Business class. In that time, however, Club World has lost its charm, whilst other carriers jumped on the lie-flat bandwagon and even added extra improvements like privacy from every seat, BA stuck with its yin and yang styled business class, that is, until now.
The new Club Suite isn't revolutionary, Qatar already made huge leaps in terms of Business Class with the introduction of Q-Suite. It does, however, finally make British Airways competitive against other carriers. Gone is the yin and yang style layout, which itself is infuriating, replaced by the spacious 1-2-1 cabin only seen in first on BA until now! Even the privacy is better, each seat has a door and even with it open, the privacy is the best I've experienced on British Airways.
The 1-2-1 cabin layout, however, in my opinion, gives the biggest improvement which is direct aisle access to each seat. Something not just beneficial for all passengers, especially as the current Club World layout means climbing over the person in the aisle if in the window seats, but also because for the first time in twenty years on British Airways, PRMs (Passengers with reduced mobility) can finally have a window seat in long-haul business class on British Airways and the privacy that comes with it!
Other features of the suite also contain huge improvements. The table is a great size and the layout of the sideboard means that even with meal service underway, you can still keep the laptop out and work whilst you eat. The table also moves back and forth enough that it doesn't interfere with getting in and out of your seat, and it also lowers enough to be used when the seat it partially reclined. The seat controls are also relatively easy to use and are in a position where I found them easy to get to, but not so bad that you could accidentally knock the controls out.
Another improvement is the storage. There's storage under the footrest, as well as a cubby hole by the safety card, and two small storage areas in the sideboard too. There's also two USB sockets as well as a standard plug socket in the suite, something I found extremely useful as it enabled me to charge several devices at the same time.
The IFE is super responsive and I felt was easy to use both when seated and when laying down thanks to a remote control that comes out of the sideboard if you don't want to use the touchscreen. You can also change the language to that of destination on the IFE, and the IFE also gives you information on flight progress, Wi-Fi availability etc.
However, there are two things I'm not happy about. The first one being that the Wi-Fi is now done on MB and the biggest package is £17.99 for only 150mb. I managed to use that up just doing work on my laptop in under half an hour. On other aircraft within BA's fleet, it's not data specific but time-specific, and I'm slightly annoyed that BA has changed it to be data specific. The other thing on Wi-Fi which I find cheeky is the fact that BA doesn't offer any discount let alone free Wi-Fi to its elite status members or those travelling in First or Club. This is something that could cause people to choose a different airline if they intend to make their flight productive.
The second one is design, overall it's a neat layout, with a nice seat however, most of the facias to the left of the seat seem to be plastic in contrast to the nicer materials used in more noticeable areas of the suite and frankly, could look tacky to some people especially if you're one for detail, which most passengers in Club Suite will be as the A350 doesn't currently have the first cabin onboard (the second batch apparently will).
Overall, I like the Club Suite. The improvements are huge and it seems will help all passengers using this cabin and not just some. I'm particularly pleased with the fact that all seats have direct aisle access and the shoulder strap actually does something in terms of helping you not go forward on landing, something which will help PRMs who don't have full upper-body strength massively. However, BA seriously needs to rethink the Wi-Fi if they are going to remain competitive in their soft products offerings when it comes to business, especially as their Wi-Fi is one of the most expensive in the air.