British Airways deals with 'old First' by closing the F cabin on four routes

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I wrote in December about how British Airways was offering 50,000 Avios as compensation to anyone who flew in First Class and was unlucky enough to get the old First Class seat, like this one:

British Airways old First Class seat

British Airways has now come up with a plan to deal with the remaining planes with ‘old First’ without paying to refurbish them.  These are planes which are due to be retired in the medium term.

From the start of the Winter timetable in late October, First Class tickets will no longer be available for sale on the following flights:

Cape Town (BA43 and BA42 Winter, BA59 and BA58 Summer)

Vancouver (BA85 and BA84)

Phoenix (BA289 and BA288)

Las Vegas (BA275 and BA274)

The Boeing 747’s with ‘old First’ will become a dedicated mini-fleet which will only be used on these four services.  The strategy is:

When less than 52 Club World seats are sold, close off the First Class cabin

When more than 52 Club World seats are sold, open First Class and upgrade passengers based on BA status

What is not clear is if the seating plan would automatically open when 52 seats are sold, with only BA status passengers being able to select seats in First, or if BA will process all upgrades themselves.  It is possible that, if a flight has a lot of last minute cancellations, First could be closed at short notice and passengers moved back to Club World.

This seems like a sensible move for British Airways with, in general, other flight alternatives available for a passenger who wants to fly in First.

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  1. i havent read anywhere that these will be offered to status passengers…i imagine they will do what they do when they use a 62J 777

  2. I am effected by this. If they contact me and say I am getting downgraded to J then they will have a fight on their hands. Downgrade is payable under EU261 by 75% of the First class return ticket. It doesn’t matter how far out it is, there is no mention in the regs of a time limit like there is for cancelations.
    BA made me an offer of a first class seat for x amount of money, I accepted that offer, I paid the asking price, I have a ticket (actually 2) for it.
    Now they are cancelling that offer. I can see that this isn’t even an EU261 issue. I could go down the offer and acceptance route, pure and simple a consumer protection act issue.

  3. I just got reassigned seats at check in at Bangkok, when I asked about the change they told me it was an aircraft change and I had been upgraded to old first with business class service. I’m only a BA bronze so happy.

  4. lupek says:

    Confused. The YVR winter flights are once a day each way, sometimes new First, sometimes old First. Will there now be no First at all?

  5. lupek says:

    And I don’t see how there are “other flight alternatives available for a passenger who wants to fly in First.” No-one in their right mind is going to route to Vancouver via Dallas, for example, just so they can fly First when they can fly Club World direct.

  6. Matthew says:

    Just booked two reward flights in Club for June 2015 – Cape Town to London – the BA site says this when I choose a seat::
    ” Club world – Front cabin
    You are selecting a flatbed seat at the front of the aircraft which was previously our First cabin and is now sold as Club World. Some elements of the product and service may differ between the First and Club World cabins.”
    I’m able to go in and reserve any seats (as a Silver) except row 1. Just wondering if I should trade the certainty of upper deck seats with booking in “1st” and then risk being bumped back into the Club cabin with limited seat choice at a later stage because they introduce a policy? If reserving a seat is possible are they likely to change it?

    • Take it. They won’t throw you out later.

      The downside is that, for a couple, you need to sit in the middle (no window) or sit behind each other on the windows.

      • Matthew says:

        Thanks – that’s exactly what I’ve just done – row 4 for us on both in and out flights, and hope they leave me there! I may not still be a Silver by that time, but assume that this won’t impact what they do…?

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