As we predicted back in 2013, while British Airways’ B787-8 Dreamliners do not feature first class, its B787-9s soon will, as will its B787-10s.
The airline’s 22 B787-9s on order, the first of which is due for delivery in September, is 20ft longer (206ft) that its B787-8 sister (of which the airline has eight), so the 216-seat aircraft, as well as offering World Traveller (economy), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and Club World (business class), also has room for a First cabin.
Above: We are interested to see how the B787-9 First suite will differ from the latest version, designed for the A380
The first class cabin will offer eight suites, created specifically for the B787-9 by the airline’s in-house design team as well as the Forpeople design agency in London. The airline says the team has designed the suites based on feedback from regular first class customers, “to put comfort at the heart of the experience”.
A British Airways official told Aircraft Interiors International that images of the suite will be available once the build is completed. However, we expect the new suite will be an evolution of the current offer rather than a bold departure, with a few touches to ensure the best use is made of a relatively small cabin.
Above: Expect similar trim and finish to the airline’s latest A380 cabin designs
Among the details we can share, are that the suites include new storage areas:
• A new ottoman next to the adjustable footstool, which will have enough room for shoes, handbags and personal items, while the personal suiter for jackets and coats is now accessible without the customer having to move from their seat
• A locker positioned at eye level, which will handy for stowing for smaller personal items such as tablets, spectacles, passport and wash-bags. A mirror has also been fitted to the inside of the locker door for personal grooming
• A discreet stowage area next to the armrest, which is ideal for holding electronic devices as they charge via in-seat power.
The design team has also considered how customers use the suites, and ensured that each function is controlled by simple, intuitive touch mechanisms. For example, one of the best known and loved elements of BA’s first class suites is the smart ‘jog-dial’, which looks great and delivers haptic pleasure when operated. While the knob controls the seat recline in current seats, for the B787-9 suites it will manage five additional functions including headrest and lumbar inflation, as well as a ‘global’ lighting control to set both ambient and reading lighting. The lighting schemes have been designed in conjunction with London-based experts Pritchard Themis.
The seat and IFE console has also been updated. According to BA, a new IFE handset will be integrated into the seat, which will resemble a smartphone. This clearly marks the airline moving on from the Thales i-8000 IFE system used in the B787-8s, to the latest TopSeries Avant system. The handset will feature a small display, which is ideal for viewing second-screen entertainment such as the moving map while a movie plays on the 23in main display.
Passengers can book now to be among the first to fly the airline’s first B787-9 Dreamliner, and indeed its new first class cabin. The aircraft will start flying the London to Delhi route from October 25.
Below: British Airways isn’t the first to offer first class in a Dreamliner: that honor went to Etihad Airways