The one thing I really don’t like about the British Airways Club World seat

I’ve just landed in London, after traveling from Los Angeles. I flew on a British Airways A380 seated in Club World. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience, a good mixed-fleet crew, and a decent seat/product/service.

There’s one thing I really don’t like about the Club World seat, though. It’s a huge design flaw, and something that I think British Airways should have taken into account when designing the seat.

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For those that don’t know, British Airways Club World seats are staggered, with those on the window facing backwards, and those on the aisle facing forwards. What this does is cause you to stare into your neighbors eyes when your privacy screen is down.

The privacy screen must be kept down for taxi, takeoff and landing, and is often lowered by the cabin crew during meal service, in order for them to easily access your seating compartment. When it’s down, you awkwardly have to make eye contact with the person across from you. If you’re seated across from a loved one, of course there would be no issue, but for a solo traveler, I think this is a very odd concept.

With the gentlemen across from me, I found several thoughts going through our heads:

  • Who was going to close the privacy first. No one wanted to seem to push the button first.
  • I felt as if I was bothering him during meal service, as the cabin crew needed to pass plates and drinks through.
  • When the screen was lowered for take-off and landing, there was a clear attempt by me to stare out the window, and him to stare at the aisle, to avoid looking at each other.
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With the screen lowered, and meal service beginning, you can see the angle which you’d be looking at. Again, very awkward.


Fortunately, the screen can be kept up at all other times, so it does work when it’s allowed, and does provide some considerable privacy.


While I know the Club World seat was specifically designed for business travelers, or couples, I think British Airways could have taken into account that a large market of their travelers will be flying solo, and that they wouldn’t prefer to have a starring competition with the person across from them.

Other than that, it was a decent product and service, and one I would certainly fly again. I’ll have a full review soon, but for now, that’s my initial thoughts.

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  1. says

    The seat is built like that to maximize space. It has to be staggered in order to be wide enough above the waste.

    The screen does not have to be down for anything, except the safety announcement (look at your picture what it says)

    I fly BA Club very often and I close the screen immediately when I sit down, it automatically drops down for the safety announcement. I then immediately press the button to put it back up. Nothing awkward about that at all.

    If the screen is up, the crew might lower it for handing you stuff during the service, but the immediately after pull it back up.

    IMHO, this is the most private and by far best seat across the pond. I absolutely love the privacy, how flat and wide the seat is, the drawer for storage, the charging options, the AVOD and also the service.

  2. NYBanker says

    The backwards-facing J seats on BA are the top J seats in the air. The seats don’t require you to put your feet in a little box as staggered J and reverse herringbone do. Most importantly, because planes fly with their nose several degrees above 0, when you go flat, your head is slightly above your feet. This compares to forward facing seats where your head is slightly below your feet. The difference in sleep quality is tremendous.

    The window seats are indeed the most private J seats.

    For those who lament climbing over another pax (how big of a deal is this really?), take the last seat in any of the J cabins (ideally on the upper deck) and you can pass without any climb.

    These seats are are limited in storage space compared to staggered J and reverse herringbone, as the small bin by your feet isn’t that big. That said, knowledgable pax know that a window seat on the upper deck will give you access to the generous below-the window storage lockers.

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