Club World Update

Thu Jan 06, 2000 5:35 am

I thought this article, from the online UK edition of Business Traveller (accessible thru, may be of interest to some of you:

British Airways’ first "flat bed" business class seat is due to take off from London to New York sometime in the next three months. The carrier won’t reveal the exact date for the Club World seat’s maiden flight, but says it will be on a 747-400.

Rival Virgin Atlantic is also promising to put its fully reclinable business class seats into service in the first quarter of this year. Virgin has already installed its new business class cabins.

With BA’s final product still tightly under wraps, Business Traveller is one of the few to have had a peek at the mock-up – and, if you can afford it, it looks pretty good.

The seat reclines fully into a six-foot bed and comes with a moveable footstool, an 8.6 inch TV monitor, cocktail table and personal reading light. It features a four-way, electronically-powered lumbar support with the cushions moving up, down and sideways and has a cubby hole underneath, to safeguard your important papers while you sleep.

However, its biggest selling point is the personal space it provides. The seats come in lounge-style pairs, with one facing forwards and one backwards, but you can adjust a privacy screen to shield you from your neighbour. And once you’re lying down you feel as if you’re in your own little world.

"Our brief has been to create the most comfortable seat," says Neal Stone, BA’s design manager. "It had to be like an armchair at home, but at the same time it also had to be a flat bed with lots of personal space. You can only achieve real sleep if you are lying flat."

Leg room or seat pitch will be 72 inches.

Because of the lounge-style layout, some passengers will be flying backwards. However, BA claims its research proves that only 3% of passengers feel uncomfortable doing so.

The carrier is not taking any chances, though. Customers can book forward-facing seats and the carrier will hold back a few seats for those with last-minute objections.