What we know about the new British Airways 787-9 fleet

British Airways is about to take delivery of the first of a huge order for 22 Boeing 787-9 aircraft.  Because this is simply a slightly longer version of the original 787-8 Dreamliner it is a fairly low profile event, but the new fleet will herald some major changes.

As it happens, I am scheduled to fly one of these down to Abu Dhabi next Easter so I will able to take a look for myself.

British Airways has a dedicated webpage for the new aircraft which you can find here.

The first flight is due to take place to Delhi on October 25th.  Abu Dhabi / Muscat and Kuala Lumpur will follow.

British Airways BA 787

An article in the British Airways staff magazine, which I will not reproduce for copyright reasons, has added some extra information to what we already know.  This is what you can expect to find:

These will be four class aircraft, unlike the original 787-8 order which did not have First Class

The aircraft are 20 feet longer than the 787-8

Initial route selection is being driven partly by cargo considerations as these are very fuel efficient aircraft …..

…. apart from Abu Dhabi, which was chosen because Etihad is (and I paraphrase) wiping the floor with BA due to its far superior product offering and ‘all A380’ service from Heathrow

The seating configuration will be:

First Class : 8 seats

Club World : 42 seats

World Traveller Plus:  39 seats

World Traveller:  127 seats

With only eight seats, the First Class cabin will be smaller than the 14 seats found on the Boeing 777 aircraft it is replacing.  This is likely to impact Avios reward availability.  

The number of Club World seats is slightly smaller (48 seats down to 42) with little change elsewhere on the aircraft.

World Traveller seats will be half an inch wider than those on the 787-8

Whilst not mentioned in the article, a piece in ‘The Times’ yesterday said that seat pitch was also being increased, by one inch

There will be no change to the World Traveller Plus or Club World product

The First Class seat will utilise the same footprint as the A380 seat but with a different layout.  The TV will be substantially larger at 23 inches, the tray table will be in a different place and there are more stowage compartments for glasses etc.

In total, British Airways has ordered:

8 x Boeing 787-8

22 x Boeing 787-9

12 x Boeing 787-10 (still in development – this will be a longer plane that the 787-9 but will not be able to fly as far)

The official 787-9 page on ba.com is here.

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Comments

  1. The only aircraft I can get excited about is the a380, will be a disaster if it goes. If, as it seems likely, there will be no change to LHRs two runways, then BA are clearly backing the wrong horse. An updated version of a380 with improved services and products onboard along with more competitive fares was their best hopes of staying in the race and providing increased capacity. Instead it looks like they have already conceded defeat, opting for smaller aircraft and failing to even signal the arrival of anything better going forward. I think it’s time they ditched their CEO and hired somebody with greater vision and ambition. I like to follow skytrax reviews and from those, I have never seen a more criticised aircraft in economy than the 787 so passebgers travellu g that cabin should think twice before choosing their airline. Will be interesting to see how the a350 compares.IAG have even more of those on order I believe but I think it remains unclear which airline they will go to in which numbers.

    • I second that. A380 are quiet, stable and spacious even with a crowd on board in Economy.

      Going for a jammed version of 777, which is what the reviews of 787 tell us, is a signal form BA about nothing better to come in terms of the product.

      • I agree insofar as if I had to travel long haul economy I would go out of my way not to travel in a 787 with 9 abreast seating. However, BA is no different from any other commercial airline in trying to cram in as many economy seats as possible. Indeed, many seat 10 abreast on a 777 which BA does not (yet!).

        The A380 is not a simple magic answer when it comes to capacity. There are various reasons, including:

        * Cargo: As Rob alludes to this is an important source of revenue on many routes; an A380 full of passengers and their checked luggage does not leave much room for much additional cargo;
        * They can only be used on routes where the demand is there. Over capacity will simply drive down seat prices and/or result in empty seats;
        * Reducing frequencies on shorter trunk routes (e.g. JFK) will drive business to competitors;
        * They can only be used on routes to airports and terminals that are A380 ready (which many still are not);
        * IAG’s wider strategy also very much plays into this. The Aer Lingus acquisition and plans to develop Dublin as a transatlantic hub will likely see some connecting traffic encouraged away from Heathrow over time through more attractive pricing.

  2. I am sure that BA will open up F availability on the 787-9. BA has also the A350 on order.

    With all these new planes arriving, ground facilities must also be upgraded.Hopefully the Concorde Room will get a similar make over to BA’s new F lounge in Singapore.

    What will be interesting will be the CW upgrade when it comes. The recent pictures of various patented seating, have given us small snippets of what might be in the pipline. I’m hoping they bring in direct isle access for all their CW seating, with passengers able to look directly out the windows.

    Ronster

    • You will see some F availability. Logic means that when you cut down the cabin size, redemptions option will shrink though. As these F seats are better than those they are replacing, demand for paid F should pick up at the same time as supply goes down.

      • I’d never seen more than 5 seats, available in F, until recently.

      • Logic has never been a factor in redemption availability. It’s a black art and always will be.

  3. Austin will also have the 787-9 from February, making San Jose the fifth route to be announced. I have an F redemption on the outbound (booked when it was scheduled to be a 777) so looking forward to trying it.

  4. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    Why are BA still holding on to their club world seat design? It’s a rubbish seat and for a new aircraft is a poor attempt. BA really need to up their game when it comes to hard product. They had an opportunity with the a380 and now the 787 and both times they failed.

    • And yet they still manage to fill them, apparently profitably so based on IAG’s results. Indeed, they are fitting even more to the majority of the remaining 747s – an additional 16 seats at the expense of 40 economy seats (275 seats on a 747-400 must be a record low…).

      We all know that other airlines have a better product, but to the average traveller this almost certainly less of a factor than we think it is. The fact is, despite the lack of storage and the need to step over someone else’s feet / be stepped over, it is still a comfortable flat-bed seat (IMO).

      That is not to say it won’t become more of an issue over time as competitors improve their products further. We will see a new seat; it is simply a matter of time.

      • Eshaq Choudhury says:

        They seem to fill them but IMO if I had a choice between two business class products both at the same price, I wouldn’t be choosing BA. They aren’t exactly cheaper which doesn’t help the fact that it’s an inferior product. The fact that they seem to fill them is crazy but is probably more to do with other factors eg demand, routes, timings rather than people’s love for club world.

        • So from BA’s perspective…. they can sell more seats at a generally higher price with a relatively compact footprint (so they can fit more in the same space) without spending the money on new seats and fitting costs….

          If you were running that business would you really say “we need to change this”?

          I realise the position will change and I’m sure BA management does too, but it’s not likely to be a priority issue.

    • A lot of people don’t realise that not all business class products are created equally, on recent BA 777 in CW I had to laugh at the comment of the businessman who’s company had booked him CW. He was sat at the window (probably as requested, and thinking lucky), facing backwards and wasn’t happy, and wanted to know what his company had done booking him into a toilet cubicle! He then asked me how much I had paid and I mumbled something about using up some ‘airmiles’. His company could have paid the same amount of cash and put him in Business on a competitors A380.

      • As a standalone product, and not comparing to others, I find the seat to be surprisingly comfortable although narrow. I also like the separate foot rest as it gives more comfortable sloping seat position. It’s also one of the few seats that I has given me a good sleep. I say all this more in surprise than a defence of it!

    • BA are currently still hold (a nearly expired) patent for the ying yang layout. That is why (currently) no other airline uses such a layout. BA are currently suing a seat manufacturer for creating a dying yang seat before the patent has expired.

      It is desirable for airlines due to the seating density it provides.

      • The Etihad Business Studio seat by any chance?

        It always struck me that would have been the logical next generation BA seat design, especially on the narrower 787 and A380 upper desk it must be as compact whilst offering direct aisle access to every seat.

  5. It seems that Virgin has been flying 787-9 since the tail end of last year to New York, Newark, Los Angeles, Delhi, Shanghai and Boston. HK, SFO and Johannesburg this year!

    • Jon Connell says:

      Ah, that goes part of the way to explain why VA economy to Boston was more comfortable than BA’s 787s.

  6. The_Real_A says:

    I still struggle to understand how running so many different versions of planes can be cost effective.

    • Jordan D says:

      787-8 and 787-9 are effectively the same plane to maintain and run, with common cockpits and crew layouts. By operating the right plane for the right route, as well as en route costs (lower fuel burn for a lighter plane) there are big operational savings in landing fees (which are calculated on the weight of the aircraft).

      It’s extremely cost effective to run different versions of the same plane – hence BA operating the A319, A320 & A321 aircraft.

  7. “Initial route selection is being driven partly by cargo considerations as these are very fuel efficient aircraft”

    surely all route selection is partly driven by cargo considerations ?

    how does the fuel efficiency of the aircraft impact whether cargo opportunities are considered ?

    • Perhaps the point is that the fuel efficiency benefits will be disproportionately higher where the aircraft is more heavily loaded. The extra initial weight of fuel in the 777 for the same journey makes it difficult to compare, but it’s possible that it works out better to use the newer aircraft where they will carry a heavier non-fuel load and I would have thought especially on longer routes.

      It is also true the 787-9 has slightly less passenger space that the 777-200, it has slightly more hold capacity. The difference is small though.

  8. BA is profitable as they are based in the affluent area of Western Europe at an airport that is full and over which they hold a majority of slot. Their strategy to stay at LHR and eliminate competition either through takeover or alliances has been successful for them but a disaster for customers. Choice is reduced, products have stagnated and prices are high. For time conscious business travellers there is no other option. Simple. For those costs conscious premium leisure travellers, like myself AA QR and BA Ex the EU are the one world options and there are many others if you are not status conscious.
    The UK needs a new 24/7 airport with the sort of capacity that will allow the likes of CX QR and others to operate any route and for there to be multiple frequent flyer options to UK consumers.
    BA club is 3rd rate, and last night I flew KLM in world business class. A great seat but ropey service delivery that still left BA looking amateur. CX and QR and to a lesser extent AA are simply in a league of their own and one BA can only dream off. The 787 in BAs hands is just another plane with dated cramped products backed by hyped marketing.

  9. Willie Walsh as CEO of IAG is very succesful. I do lament the passing of BMI but lets face it they didnt make any profits. The purchase of Aer Lingus means Dublin can become a hub from flights to North America from the regions and any option to avoid the chore of LHR security is a bonus.

    In terms of planes i do still have a like for upstairs on the 747 but like BMI its days are numbered unfirtunately. I would agree that the current BA 787 flights in economy are worth avoiding.