Sitting in the cabin of luxury

Be jealous reader! I spent lunch today lounging in a brand new British Airways business class seat and feasting on a steak prepared by an...

Be jealous reader! I spent lunch today lounging in a brand new British Airways business class seat and feasting on a steak prepared by an executive chef. True, I never left Manhattan, but that's neither here or there.

The experience was a New York launch event for the new business class accommodations in BA's Club World, which began rolling out in November 2006 in London. (PRWeek reports (sub req'd) this week on the airline's selection of Porter Novelli as its first North American AOR. The firm will be helping with the Club World launch.) BA was the first to introduce the flat-bed seats for business travelers in 2000. Competition has compelled them to upgrade.

The new business class cabin includes seats that are 25% wider, a grab-what-you-like Club Kitchen, and on-demand entertainment with up to 100 movies and TV programs to choose from. I plugged in some dates and it looks like the price for flying at this level of comfort from JFK to London Heathrow will run about $8,000 round-trip.

During the Q&A with Robin Hayes, BA's EVP, Americas, many talked about the inconvenience of a one carry-on allowance, the timetable for upgrading first class seating, and the chunk of business that the Eurostar had taken from BA's London/Paris route. I wondered if BA has ever had to deal with anything similar to the continued meltdown at JetBlue. John Lampl, the VP of corporate communications for the Americas, simply crossed his fingers to ward off anything that unfortunate.

"We have a lot more recovery," said Lisa Lam, VP of corporate communications Americas. She called the problem that JetBlue and other "no frills carriers" would have in this situation a "knock-on effect" where very tight schedules and a lack of resources cause a ripple effect of delays and cancellations. In other words, it wouldn't happen to them. But, if you are delayed in the BA terminal and you're a business class customer (what one flight attendant at the event called their "bread & butter" business), they can offer you a meal in their lounge and you can take a shower or have a massage in Heathrow or JFK where the spa is available. That would definitely take the edge off that pesky delay.

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