21 March 2007

Another BA post... this time a nice one - BA's new Club Class Seat

Well Done BA – a much better product. You are now officially… still not quite there... but it’s a very good effort. This impression is based on a window 747 upper deck seat DXB-LHR BA 106 19 March.

What’s new and what’s good?

The seat itself is much better. Same width(who said it was wider?) it looks like the extra padding really does make it feel better. No more boarding school back when you reach your destination. The controls are better and simpler. The mechanism for reclining seems also to be a lot smoother and more robust. I suspect that this one will last longer too. The new head firmer thingie seems to be pretty useless. The armrests rise and fall well and are pretty good design. I am not sure how robust they are. Perhaps the nice people from IKEA should send their test engineers on the job.

The access is much better but still uses the head to toe rather than the herringbone pattern offered by other airlines. And while it’s a bit better for ingress egress it’s still a tussle.

The bins are still there on the upper deck (thank god BA didn’t remove them). Although I still have to wonder what the zipper bag lining every now and then is for.

The electric powered divider is pretty darn good. Gone is that crappy fan affair.

110 Volt power US and EU – very good and in a reasonable place as well.

AND THE STUPID GLASS tablette is gone – YEAH!!!!

What’s not so good….

A much better footrest. But WHY oh WHY does it have to be not a seat? Other airlines have figured this out. So now we have an even bigger boat anchor than the other one. On my particular seat the mechanism was not working fully and took 3 crew members (oh yes then my superior approach!!!) to resolve it. I had accidently taken the wrong seat. The guy who I usurped got really mad and wanted his seat back when he couldn’t figure it out. We nearly had an international incident. I believe this is going to cause problems later and not just because the crew was unfamiliar with it.

I actually like the LH and QF seat massagers. Well we cant have everything.

IFE system – much better. VOD works a heck of a lot better but the UI/UE engineering is still somewhat quirky and stupid. For example you cannot navigate backwards through the list. You have to go back to the beginning each time you cancel the selected choice. Noise cancelling phones are good. Still it’s not quite state of the art. Cathay’s new system (shhhhh) is way better. QF and SQ’s systems also much better. I believe a software upgrade will be in order before the roll out goes much further. They didn’t change the design of the control keypad. I am surprised at this. Simple changes would have been smart. The light switch didn’t do anything on mine. Why do they persist with a 2 prong headset jack is one of life’s mysteries.

Subtle lights are a very good implementation. I am quite impressed with that part. BUT I would like to have one big light. This is going to annoy people who like to work during the night in their seats.

The new table – great design poor execution. Like almost every other folding table it just won’t go 180 degrees. This is also an area where BA’s engineers and the seat designer should spend some time.

The hard sidewinders protecting your head could do with padding. It’s just not very nice in the full upright position.

Overall impression.

A simple and good design but not category leading. SQ and EK’s new J class seats are easily better in almost every category. (just make sure you don’t fly EK’s old and stupid Z configured seat still extant on the A340-500s. The new lie flat on the 777s is way better. (Worth going via Hamburg rather than the nonstops at this point). VS of course is still the all time champ if you count it as a J seat rather than F/P. The seat and facilities put BA behind the leaders and I suspect will continue not to be the best across the board. In the current generation BA is ahead of the European carriers (like LH and AF) but behind the class leaders – SQ, EK and VS – well ahead of the current Americans. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the New DL seat.

I rate this a B+

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