Business class today is the first class of yesterday but where does that leave BA’s new first class?
I was at the launch of British Airways’ new first class recently, as you can see from this picture shows me sitting in a mock-up of the seat.
If you haven’t flown it or read about it, BA’s new first class seat is 21 inches wide and has a pitch of 78 inches and you will find either 13 or 14 seats on your plane depending on whether you are on a Boeing 747 or 777. The screen for the in-flight entertainment is 15 inches across.
You also get access to the Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and at New York . JFK and access to a Quintessentially concierge 14 days either side of your flight.
The new first class made its debut on the London-Chicago route in February. First is due to be rolled out across the BA fleet by the end of 2011.
The launch was a swanky affair; it was held at a Mayfair art gallery, there was plenty of Champagne sloshing about and there was even a little celeb glitz through the presence of actor and badger fan Bill Nighy.
It felt strange to be looking at such a product in such surroundings just a few weeks after the Coalition Government swept to power and warned the country that austerity was the new watch-word.
This had me wondering, not for the first time, about the future of first class.
First class, as you would expect, is an expensive luxury. This summer, a fully flexible one-way, first class ticket from Heathrow to New York is £4,268 including taxes. That compares with £2,780 in business class, £961 in premium economy, £608 in economy (all fully flexible and including taxes) and £164 including taxes in discounted economy.
Intense competition from the likes of Emirates - UAE, Etihad - Abu Dhabi and Singapore - Sling Airlines means that airlines are constantly upgrading their onboard product. What passes as business class today would have been first class (or beyond) 10 to 20 years ago. Similarly, what is termed as premium economy today would have been business class back then.