Bits: Emirates to fly Larnaca-Athens, Lufty boosts short-haul business legroom – will BA follow?

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News in brief:

Emirates to launch Larnaca to Athens service!

Emirates has announced that it will be launching a service from Athens to Larnaca in Cyprus from 1st March.  This is a tag to the new Dubai to Larnaca service.

If you’ve ever wanted to try the Emirates First Class Suite, this may be an interesting opportunity.  It will presumably be a relatively cheap Emirates Skywards redemption and you could use Reward Flight Saver with Avios to get to/from Athens and Larnaca.  Cash tickets should also be good value although tickets are not yet available for purchase.

As the aircraft will be a Boeing 777-300ER, you won’t get the on-board bar or First Class showers.  It is the same First Class Suite as used on the A380, I think.


Lufthansa announces interesting legroom changes on short-haul

When British Airways slashed the leg room on its short-haul aircraft last year, it wasn’t setting a precedent.  Lufthansa led the way here, including the use of a super-slim (and not hugely comfy) seat to increase density.  The photo above was taken by me on my last Lufthansa business class flight.

Lufthansa also beat BA in the race to be the first to slash Business Class legroom to the same as Economy.

Now, however, it has changed its mind.

100 A320 neo (‘neo’ stands for ‘new engine option’, a more fuel efficient version of the aircraft) are arriving over the next few years – the first will be officially handed over at the end of this month.

According to Business Traveller, on these aircraft Lufthansa is increasing seat pitch in Business Class from the current 76cm – the same as BA – to 81 cm.

Worryingly, however, it is reduced the seat pitch in Economy even further to just 74 cm.  This will put Lufthansa below even Ryanair in the legroom stakes.  It is possible that the last three rows, if they follow the Brussels Airlines model, will be as tight as 71 cm.

The move may put some pressure on British Airways to reverse the leg-room cut in Club Europe, one of the most unpopular moves it has made in recent years.  If there is any sign of long-haul passengers choosing to connect in Frankfurt rather than Heathrow because they know they will have a more comfortable connection, BA may need to react.

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  1. Any idea when in the month Business Traveller UK updates its monthly mag? I have a subscription but nothing for Jan 2016 as yet?

  2. James67 says:

    It is beyond my comprehension why the EU and other appropriate organisations do not regulate on seating. It is clearly a health and safety issue but many airlines have already gone too far and are showing no signs of abating. I am only 171cm tall but already find legroom too tight on many of my shorthaul flights, particularly when the seat in front of me is reclined so it is not too difficult to imagine how bad things must be for passengers who are only a few cm taller than me let alone those approaching six foot, or more. Legroom alone is increasingly all the justification some may need to persist with our miles hobby.

    • James, I am only one cm taller than you and it is not so much the legroom that bothers me. Instead, I feel increasingly claustrophobic with the backrest in front of me so close to my face. Reading a newspaper is a challenge, especially when your seat neighbour(s) want(s) to do the same. I do notice though that most people seem to keep their seats in an upright position – as a courtesy to the passenger behind them?

      • I’m only 174cm and a couple of years ago I took the most uncomfortable flight in my life with Monarch. It was a 2 hour flight to Spain in Economy and my knees were pressed against the seat in front the whole time. It wouldn’t be the case that someone that’s 6 foot would be more uncomfortable; they simply wouldn’t have fit. I now avoid Economy where possible (and Monarch!)

        • I am 173cm tall and I find it okay in terms of legroom in both Domestic and Club Europe…?

          • Although remember folk of the same overall height will have different body:leg proportions so those with longer legs may find it problematic.

            I’m 180cm and found Easyjet CPH-EDI (not an especially long flight) really quite uncomfortable after an hour or so. With BA I select exit row seats in economy as I find them more comfortable, but they have an annoying habit of changing aircraft and the exit row moving about!

    • Whilst I’m also amazed that the EU hasn’t found another aspect of our life to stick its nose into, I think the answer is quite simply that these things are left to the market. Airlines are locked in a competitive race to the bottom and every extra seat squeezed into the aircraft equals extra revenue. Have people stopped fly BA Club Europe because of the 30 inch pitch? No, I don’t think so. If they all did stop, would BA reverse its decision and increase seat pitch again? Definitely yes.

      • RIccati says:

        Yes, we did stop buying CE. Not enticing.

        As said, CE is tagged to the long-haul international flights, this is where the customers are coming from. Otherwise, seeing “Economy” on the European leg will put off customers from buying the whole trip.

    • Andreas says:

      I totally agree that EU should do something about this. I am 193 cm tall so it’s always quite a struggle to sit in those (nowadays always shrinking) seats. I tend to choose aisle seats if possible – that way I can stretch my legs at least a little bit to the aisle once everyone is seated. But for the rest of the flight my legs are cramped against the seat in front of me.

  3. Cheshire Pete says:

    Not sure it’s been mentioned but I had to log a complaint with BA, as an annoying side effect of their seat pitch changes is the loss of air vents on rows 6 & 9 & another row which slips my mind! Now I know this I avoid these seats. I asked to be moved when I inadvertently had such a row as it just felt uncomfortable , depending on the ambient cabin temperature I guess.

    Anyway the complaint ended up being logged as a maintenance issue, so as usual BA customer service logged it and responded in completely the wrong way! After various escalations I got 5000 avios ex-gratis for my troubles.

    Point being across their fleet they installed those new seats and changed the pitch without doing a proper job to the overhead technical bits, which I think is so poor.

    • Lady London says:

      Problem is, they have a greater chance of getting away with in Y as more people there are not frequent flyers, and don’t know the things that might matter to them.

      In J BA focuses really hard on keeping corporates onside who will require their flyers to ‘choose’ BA.

      So legroom will worsen until someone brings Health & Safety case or till the [corporate] pips squeak.

  4. I would have assumed from the cost of converting all of the business class seats to the same as economy that we were stuck with it for years to come.

    I know a lot of people will not agree with me on this, but seeing that I only started flying BA short-haul in J in the first place due to needing extra leg room (seeing that we’re all discussing heights here, I’m 189cm), it has lost a significant amount of its value. Since they changed all the seats to be the same, I prefer to fly a budget airliner and pay ~£20 extra to sit in the first row, with all the legroom I need. This is all the better now that Stansted has a decent lounge that is accessible via Priority Pass. The only way BA will win my business back, is if they put the old seats back – or a newer, more comfortable seat with extra the same legroom.

    • The seats could be switched overnight.

      Jet2 converts many aircraft into freighters EVERY NIGHT for the Post Office – the seats are back in by 6am. They just slide out.

      • I think on some routes they do it during the day too – very impressive seeing the side of the plane lift open and seats slide out! Very efficient aircraft use!

        • RIccati says:

          I certainly don’t want the aircraft on which I am flying being opened up on daily basis!

      • Wow, impressive. So there is some hope then. Although it is BA, so it’s the hope that kills you. Or something.

    • +1
      On European flights no more J for me. I use Priority Pass and pay ~£20 for extra legroom. I’m 6ft tall.

  5. The Dubai-Larnaca isn’t a new service – it’s been going for at least several years as a stopover on Dubai-Malta. This has been operated by A330/772/773 over the years. I know quite a few people have taken advantage of the LCA-MLA flight. I believe with this change, the Malta service now goes via Tunis instead.

    • Andrew H says:

      I was going to say, Emirates already did LCA-MLA – so now there will be two fifth freedom flights instead of one?

    • flyforfun says:

      There used to be a Dubai- Larnaca-Athens flight maybe between 5 to 10 years ago. I know people that used to fly this route from Australia. Then Emirates introduced a direct link to Athens.

      Looking at the departure time from Athens the one via Larnaca is only 50 minutes later, but arrives in Dubai around 4 hours later. I can see this might be the “cheaper” option to fill seats on that route. Shame it’s not at a different time of the day to give choice to the route. Still, I suppose it means Emirates only has to to have ground staff there once in the day.

  6. Personally, I don’t see the problem with reduced leg room on short-haul flights, unless you’re REALLY tall. Firstly, the flights are only a couple of hours. Secondly, you just get an aisle seat, if you can’t get the exit row seats. That way, you can stick your legs out if necessary. Simple!

  7. Last 3 CE flights I have always been able to get row 1 and I have no status!

    • But then have to move for: food trolley, rubbish trolley, Duty Free Trolley, passsengers going to loo…

      • Eh? I generally sit in row 1 and NEVER have to move for any of those. You don’t sit in the aisle, do you??

  8. When the new BA CE seats were introduced I remember when they were commented about on HFP. It was thought, and I posted, that some ‘idiot’ focus group had probably been involved and I have no reason to disagree now. Luckily, whenever I’ve flown CE in the past year or so, I’ve managed to bag a Row 1 seat and pitch/legroom wasn’t really an issue, but I completely understand and agree with those problems elsewhere in the cabin. However, what I really hate though, are the ‘skinny’ seats. If, like me, you have any lower back issues, they are a nightmare! They are no better than the average public seat in departures. As we all know, they are exactly the same as in Euro Traveller. IMHO, forget the slightly better pitch allegedly being brought in by Lufthansa, and add a bit more padding for my coccyx! 🙂

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