British Airways Vs American Airlines: Which Has The Best Business Class?


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American Airlines has recently launched new Business Class suites or seats. British Airways is also about to launch a new Club Class seat. These improved Business Class offerings include upgraded Business Class soft and hard products, with improved seats, food, and service. If your ticket price is comparable, and you want to travel on one of these Oneworld Alliance airlines, either British Airways or American Airlines, this review should help you to choose which airline has the best new (and old) Business Class seat and overall experience.

British Airways and American Airlines are the two main airlines that fly transatlantic between London and New York along with United, Delta, and Virgin. We’ve already compared the best airline for transatlantic, British Airways vs. Virgin Atlantic. In addition, we’ve looked at which offers the best Business Class; American Airlines vs. Delta vs. United.

American Airlines new Super Diamond Business Class seats are the new American Business Class seat. They incorporate an outward-facing herringbone layout and are a huge improvement on their older Business Class seats as they recline into a fully flat position. This replaces the dated angled partially lie-flat design, which is still installed in many of American’s international fleet. American also currently offers a very good lie-flat seat which you can read about in our review. You can also read our latest trip reports of American Airlines Business Class to see what the current experience is like. We have reviewed the American Airlines Super Diamond Business Class in more detail and you may also be interested in a trip review of American Airlines in First.

We have published a large number of trip reports from flights on on British Airways in Business or Club World. These all outline experiences of the current rather than the new Club World Business Class seat:

It is worth noting that British Airways is launching a new seat in Club World which will have direct aisle access.

Are British Airways or American Airlines Seats More Widely Available?

In terms of fleetwide consistency, American Airlines have just begun to roll out their new Super Diamond Business Class seats. You will experience an improved soft product across all their planes. Still, you must be careful which flights you book to experience the new hard product, i.e., the new Super Diamond Business Class cabin and seats.

The Super Diamond seat will be installed on the new American Airlines 787-9 and A350 planes. From this year through 2018, the airline should receive an additional 27 aircraft. Additionally, American will receive around 22 Airbus A350s in 2017. 777-200 retrofits will also be ongoing, although it is not clear exactly when the new seats will be fitted.

British Airways have not yet launched their new Club Class. This seat will debut on both its Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 jets in 2019, and British Airways may retrofit the seat to some of its existing fleet. This means that you will not currently experience the new Club Class seat and will instead only be able to book the older seat and experience outlined in the reviews above.

Is British Airways Club World Better Than American Airlines Business Class?

In short, no, British Airways Club World is not better than American Airlines Business Class. They both have their merits, and you can see the reasoning below:

1. Ambiance – The British Airways cabin offers an air of sophisticated and contemporary well-being. I prefer the look to the rather grey American cabin, so British Airways wins.

2. Seat layout – Both American and British Airways win this category depending on your personal preference. The British Airways seats are arranged in the so-called “ying/yang” layout, where the seat next to you faces the opposite direction affording more privacy and space. This also means that some seats face backward, which I am not keen on. In fact, all the window seats face backward.

American Airlines goes with the outward-facing herringbone seats where seats are angled outwards but face forward. American’s seats offer more privacy, but for couples, the American seat can prove problematic. The problem is even more accentuated with young kids because you cannot see what anyone else is doing. The middle seats in BA Club World are a perfect playground for a pair of children, with the parents sat on either side to keep an eye on them.

3. Lie flat vs. angled seats – American Airlines wins in this category unless you book into one of their older partially lie-flat seats. British Airways Club World seats are currently lie-flat but thin, which means less privacy when you are trying to sleep to the point that you can feel quite vulnerable to passing traffic on these seats. Of course, if you have a non-aisle seat, you will feel less vulnerable, but you do not currently get aisle access from a non-aisle seat, so you have to climb over neighbors to get out.

American Airlines has a number of Business Class seats in their fleet, including a dated angled partially lie-flat design, which is still installed in many of American’s international planes. American also currently offers a very good lie-flat seat on their B777 which we have reviewed in a trip report about American Airlines Business Class. If you get either the current lie-flat seat or book into the new Super Diamond seat, you will be very happy on American as this seat is far superior to the British Airways Club Class. If you get an old AA seat, you may prefer the British Airways flatbed, consistent across all BA’s Club World cabins.

4. Aisle Access – Both new seats offer direct aisle access but you cannot book the new Club World seat yet. British Airways’ current Club World seats do not have aisle access making American the choice for aisle access on the majority of their planes.

5. Amenity Kits – American has also revamped their amenity kits. They offer different kits depending on whether you’re flying a transcon, business class, or first class, and with each kit, they partner with a different skincare provider. Their kits have discount codes for buying the skincare products from Cole Haan and the skincare partners, but as you never know what you are getting. BA offers a luxury amenity kit with Elemis skincare products and accessories in Business Class which is not noteworthy. Both kits are similarly good.

Find out which airlines I think offer the best Business Class amenity kits in the skies.

6. Pyjamas – American Airlines pajamas are grey and blue (grey top, blue bottoms), usually with a V-neck. On British Airways, you get pajamas in First, not in Business Class. American wins!

7. Lounges – Are British Airways or American Airlines Airport Lounges best? American Airlines is improving its lounges. The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK has had an overhaul, and the airline has introduced brand-new lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Philadelphia. These lounges will be accessible by all long-haul international and transcon domestic First and Business-Class passengers. The airline is also updating its Admirals Clubs.

I prefer the look and slick finish of the British Airways Lounges. If you are flying out of London Heathrow, Business or Club World passengers only get access to the two Galleries Club Lounges in Heathrow Terminal 5 or the Galleries Club Lounge in Terminal 3. These lounges are huge and pleasant, with decent buffet food. They have everything you need but are not noteworthy and can be busy with entire fleets worth of Club World and Club Europe passengers coming and going. In Business Class, you get fast-track through security but still have to navigate through the Heathrow shopping area to get to the entrance of the lounges. You do not get to use the “First Wing” private corridor direct to the lounges or the Galleries First (exclusively for First customers and Gold Executive Club members) and the Concorde Room (First Customers only). From JFK, you get access to the British Airways JFK airport lounge which is, again, good but not great.

8. Food – Is British Airways or American Airlines food best? Neither American Airlines nor BA offers the best food in the sky; you can read our various BA reviews for a detailed run down, same for American. IMHO, there is little to choose between these airlines with regards to food.

Which Is Best?

So to answer my original question, British Airways vs. American Airlines: Which Is The Best Business Class? There is not much to choose between them. I love the British Airways chatty pilots and the stylish cabins, but I don’t like the current thin Business Class seats with no aisle access. American has better seats for sleeping unless you get unlucky and book onto their partially lie-flat seats, which are not so good.

Given a choice between American Airlines vs. British Airways Business Class, American has the edge as long as you get their lie-flat seats. Book into the angled seats, and you will probably leave disappointed. The new Club World seats may be a game-changer when they launch and may turn the tables. Until then, American has my heart (just).

It is worth noting that United airlines have also launched its swish and rounded United Polaris Business Class Pods which are worth considering when booking a route that United covers. Delta has also has launched a new Delta One Business Class which is a walled cocoon which can currently be experienced on its Airbus A350.

You may be interested in our Delta vs. American, which has the best Premium Economy and United vs. American best Business Class. It is also worth reading tips on how to find cheap First or Business Class flight tickets to and from North America for a way to save money on your next First, Business and even Premium Economy flight booking.

Note: Benefits & upgrades subject to availability. Benefits offered correct at the time of writing. Terms & conditions apply. Enquire for more information. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.