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Travel8 new things coming to British Airways including lounge changes

8 new things coming to British Airways including lounge changes

British Airways has long been the largest European carrier serving the U.S., and now, the airline wants to make itself even more relevant to your travel plans.

The London-based carrier earlier this year announced a sweeping $9 billion transformation that touches basically every aspect of the travel experience. From new lounges to overhauled cabins to improved operations, the airline’s transformation is a massive undertaking that will guide it through the 2020s and beyond.

As part of the effort, British Airways unveiled on Monday a few more details about what you can expect in the months and years ahead. TPG was at the airline’s special showcase event in New York. Here are the key takeaways from that event and what you need to know about these improvements.

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New first-class cabins

Ever since British Airways introduced a new business-class product, dubbed Club Suites, many industry insiders have questioned whether the airline is committed to first class. After all, the new business-class product is in many ways more modern and more comfortable than the existing first-class offering.

The good news is that first class is here to stay on British Airways — and it’s getting even better, said Calum Laming, British Airways’ chief commercial officer, in an interview with TPG.

According to Laming, the airline will debut an all-new first-class product on board the Airbus A380 at the end of next year.

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Laming wasn’t ready to divulge more details, but his eagerness to reply to TPG’s question seemed to indicate he was very excited about the product.

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The airline expects the new seat to debut at the end of 2025 or early 2026 as part of its A380 aircraft refurbishment.

Revamped first-class amenities

While flyers may need to wait a little bit longer for the new first-class experience, elements of the overhauled service are already debuting.

This includes a new flight attendant training program for crew serving the first-class cabin. This program is designed to result in more personalized first-class service, with a particular emphasis being placed on teaching more about the airline’s wine program.

Other enhancements include the introduction of new menus and modernized entertainment systems.

More Club Suites are coming


British Airways went from having one of the worst business-class products in the sky to one of the best. The new Club Suites are a night-and-day improvement compared to the old forward- and rear-facing lie-flat seats that even included a dreaded middle seat in business class.

The new Club Suites feature direct aisle access for every passenger, as well as sliding doors for additional privacy. They’re based on the incredibly popular Collins Super Diamond business-class suite.

While the new Club Suites offer a stellar experience, they’re not nearly as ubiquitous as one might’ve hoped. That’s about to change, though, Laming said.

Right now, just over 60% of the wide-body fleet is outfitted with this product. But on June 14, the airline will debut its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with the new Club Suites, followed in the months ahead by more Dreamliners and then, next year, the Airbus A380.

Just three Boeing 777s are yet to get the new Club Suites, and that’s due to “supply chain shortages,” Laming added.

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New website, mobile app

If you’ve ever tried to log on to the British Airways website, odds are you’ve run into some technical difficulties. British Airways knows this.

“We just have to ask for that little bit of patience from our customers for a little bit longer because I can promise you what you will get … transformation is not even the word. It’s much more than that,” Laming said.

Fortunately, an entirely revamped mobile and web experience is debuting later this year. Laming stressed that there would be some short-term pain, including the inability to log into your Executive Club account at times, but he stressed that the company believes it will be well worth it.

As for me, I just want to know how many Avios I have before they expire.

In fact, British Airways’ goal is for “a hundred percent serviceability” directly from the web, freeing up call center agents to work on other things.

Revamped operational tools


British Airways is also spending $125 million on tools to streamline and modernize the operation.

This includes investments in machine learning, automation and AI, which the airline says are being done with a focus on improving punctuality.

Of course, we’ll have to wait to see how these improvements translate to on-time percentages, but at least the airline recognizes that it needs to do better, especially if so much of its transatlantic traffic is connecting onward beyond London.

New lounges


British Airways is also investing significantly in its lounge network. Not only is it expanding its footprint, but it is also improving the experience once you enter the Club lounge.

In terms of footprint, the airline is bringing an all-new design to its clubs at Miami International Airport (MIA) and Dubai International Airport (DXB) early next year. At the showcase event on Monday, the airline shared the first renderings of the new design at MIA, and based on the look, there’s a lot for British Airways loyalists to get excited about.

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The airline is also refreshing its lounges at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, D.C., this year following recently completed renovations in terminals 3 and 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), as well as at Edinburgh Airport (EDI) in Scotland and Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) in Lagos, Nigeria.

Updated lounge experience

Once you enter the lounge, British Airways is hoping to exceed your expectations.

One subtle way it’s doing this is by debuting a new service provider for the lounge’s food and beverage offerings in the U.S.

Laming has already seen double-digit increases in customer satisfaction scores, which he said is only the beginning of more investments in this space.

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New short-haul seats

The airline isn’t just focused on the long-haul experience. In fact, the upcoming deliveries of new narrow-body Airbus aircraft will feature all-new seats.

These new short-haul cabins feature USB-A and USB-C charging ports, middle seat trays in business class and more.

Aside from the physical improvements, Laming is excited that “we’ve really got a British seat there.”

“The leather comes from Scotland, the stitching on the curtains comes from England, the carpets come from the Republic or Ireland. The seat itself is manufactured in Northern Ireland,” he added.

Bottom line

British Airways flies to 26 destinations in the U.S., making it the largest European airline serving the country.

Whether your travel plans include a stop in London or a connection to another destination, you can be reassured that the airline is investing in your experience.

I’m particularly excited about what the new first class will bring, especially as premium products become even more in demand.

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