In April of this year, British Airways announced a £400m investment to revitalize their Club World product. This investment includes upgraded onboard amenities with a focus on dining, sleep services, amenity kits, and Wi-Fi. Other improvements geared toward enhancing the pre-flight experience include updated lounge services and expedited check-in/boarding procedures.
Additionally, BA has also reported a highly anticipated change: a potential new seat development that would provide direct aisle access to Club World in 2019.
Table of Contents
- On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Sleep & Personal Care
- On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Dining
- On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Wi-Fi
- On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Direct Aisle Access (2019)
- Pre-Flight Upgrades — Lounge Services
- Pre-Flight Upgrades — Check-in, Security, & Boarding
- Will These Changes Be Enough?
On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Sleep & Personal Care
Yesterday, British Airways announced an exclusive partnership with luxury lifestyle brand The White Company. In an effort to provide a great night’s sleep in the sky, passengers will now receive:
- A day cushion that doubles as a lumbar support cushion
- Large, custom sleep pillow with white cotton pillowcase
- A super soft woven day-blanket with satin trim
- A specially developed luxury duvet
- New padded mattress topper
This new bedding will be introduced on routes between London Heathrow (LHR) and New York (JFK) first, then rolled out across long haul routes throughout 2018.
“Partnering with The White Company, another quintessentially British brand renowned for quality and style, is the first step in a multi-million pound investment for our premium customers,” said British Airways Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz.
BA will also be debuting The White Company amenity kits. These refined bags will contain products from the retailer’s “Restore & Relax Spa Collection” and a jersey eye mask.
Chrissie Rucker MBE, founder of The White Company, stated: “We are passionate about creating the best night’s sleep for all our customers and I’m truly delighted to now be working with British Airways to ‘sleep well in the sky’.”
In another effort to improve passengers’ sleep experience, BA will be providing a “breakfast card.” This card allows travelers to select whether they would like to be woken up for breakfast (and what they would prefer to eat), or left to catch a few extra minutes of shut-eye.
On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Dining
In an effort to provide a “boutique culinary experience,” British Airways is also making changes to their Club World Dining Services.
Starting in September, British Airways plans to roll out a new restaurant-style premium dining service. This includes display trolleys, which will allow customers to select from dishes that have been freshly prepared and presented seat-side. There are reports that these trolleys may be removed on night flights in an effort to improve sleep quality.
Furthermore, BA states new menus will focus more closely on the length and time of day of the flight. Additionally, preparation and plating will be enhanced for a more upscale feel. Travelers will also see new table settings with upgraded crockery and glassware for a more contemporary touch.
Reports confirm that these changes in service style will also eventually roll-out in Club Europe on short-haul flights.
On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Wi-Fi
In April, British Airways announced customers would soon have the option to utilize the latest generation of Wi-Fi on long-haul routes, with short-haul routes following soon after. BA aims to become the first airline to offer connectivity via Europe’s first ever 4G high-speed inflight network, with the ultimate goal of 90% of the total BA fleet connected by 2019.
One of the most notable improvements will allow passengers to live-stream video content from popular sites like Netflix and YouTube. This could make the pesky task of pre-downloading entertainment obsolete.
BA reports there will be a choice of 2 internet options. Simply Connect will start from £4.99 and will include basic web browsing and e-mail. Connect Plus will start from £7.99 and will provide a faster connection speed with support for video streaming.
On-Board Upgrades to Club World — Direct Aisle Access (2019)
BA has stated they are developing options for a new Club World seating arrangement that would provide direct aisle access for all passengers. However, this is not set to be released until 2019.
Details have yet to be released on whether the arrangement will take a 1-2-1 or a 2-2-2 configuration.
Pre-Flight Upgrades — Lounge Services
British Airways plans to invest $110 million on lounge facilities in the U.S. Almost 60% of this investment will be dedicated to refurbishing New York’s JFK Terminal 7, the airline’s flagship U.S. airport. BA’s new Club World lounge at Gatwick boasts a 40% larger floorplan, and the new lounge in Boston has just opened with a 30% larger floorplan.
Additionally, facelifts to lounges next year include Aberdeen, Rome, and Geneva with further investment plans in Chicago, Johannesburg, Manchester, and San Francisco. Of course, Heathrow Terminal 5 can’t be overlooked; refurbishment of the flagship Concorde Room began in April, and additional lounge improvements will take place over the next few years.
Pre-Flight Upgrades — Check-in, Security, & Boarding
BA is also working to enhance customer satisfaction concerning the overall airport experience. The company hopes to use technology to speed up the usual time-consuming processes via a roll out of additional self-service check-in, bag drop kiosks, security lanes, and biometric boarding operations.
This would leave travelers with more time to relax pre-flight, ideally in a newly updated lounge.
Lastly, while this does not apply to Club World customers (unless they are also Gold Executive Club members), in April BA launched their new “First Wing” check-in area at Heathrow Terminal 5. This area is for First & Gold Executive Club customers and includes a combined check-in with dedicated “Fast Track” 2-lane security channel. It also provides direct access to the Galleries First Lounge and Concorde Room.
Will These Changes Be Enough?
Reviews from passengers reveal they’ve been awaiting BA Business Class changes for quite some time now. Will these new upgrades be enough to satisfy them?
Cruz hopes so. He states, “It’s simple really – we need to deliver what our customers value most, where they value it most. We need to focus on enhancing premium – offering contemporary service, improved catering and lounges and a consistent experience. In economy, where we know that price is the driver, we need to focus our efforts on delivering more seats at the lowest fares and giving customers choices.”