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Some more cheerless news about the new ‘densified’ British Airways short-haul aircraft

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We have known for some time that British Airways is moving at speed to add even more seats to its short-haul Airbus fleet.  The exact details are only starting to emerge now as cabin crew are sent for retraining.

A few weeks I reported how duty free is being dropped from British Airways short-haul flights.  This is because a rear toilet in Euro Traveller (economy) is being removed to fit in more seats, and replaced by a loo built into the back wall of the galley.  The loo will take up part of the space formerly occupied by the duty free trolley. The Club Europe loo at the front remains.

A member of BA cabin crew posted the following additional information on Flyertalk over the weekend, some of which is new.  This only applies to Heathrow services for now, as the A319 aircraft will be moved over to Gatwick:

The first twelve rows of seating (A320) or fourteen rows (A321) will retain the current seats.  USB and standard power sockets will be added.

Seats in the rest of the aircraft will be replaced by ultra-thin seats with a 29 inch pitch.  From March, there will be a substantial benefit in being seated in the first 12 or 14 rows.

The ultra-thin seats will not recline (fine by me, to be honest)

The ultra-thin seats will have USB sockets but no standard plugs.

Sales of Club Europe tickets will be capped on longer flights as there will no longer be enough galley space to store meal trays beyond a certain point.  This is not an issue on shorter flights as the meal is served on one tray.

The new aircraft being received by BA from March will not have drop down monitors.  This means that cabin crew will do manual safety demonstrations and there will be no ‘moving map’ to watch.  This is a fuel saving measure due to weight.

There will be no waste facilities or potable water supply at the rear of the plane, again due to the need to free up space to fit in the loo.  This means that all waste will be carried through Club Europe for disposal at the front, and all requests for free tap water will require a trip to the Club Europe galley.

The Club Europe wardrobe will remain but will also be used for general storage and may not be available for coats – the crew member quoted was not sure

Very little of this is enticing, but apparently we only have ourselves to blame for refusing to spend 1p more than a low cost carrier for our flights.  Even though BA will always cost 1p more than a low cost carrier due to the £19.30 per person Heathrow Passenger Service Charge …..

Here is a picture of a Recaro ultra-slim seat which is possibly the one BA is installing:

In other news ….

There are two more cheerful bits of BA short haul news.

The Qatar Airways planes are coming back!  There is a rumour that six Qatar Airways short haul aircraft will be returning to the fleet for February, March and April.  This is to provide cover whilst the A320 and A321 aircraft are refurbished as well as helping BA meet its obligations to use the Monarch slots at Gatwick it just purchased, but must ‘use or lose’.

The Flyertalk post mentioned above also reiterated – as has been said before – that Club Europe catering will receive (another) relaunch in April.  Let’s hope it is more successful than the last one, which was seemingly designed by a 50-year old ex-public schoolboy who believed that the modern business traveller jetting in from Milan wants a ploughmans lunch.  I am slightly surprised that the crew don’t pass around a jar of pickled eggs.  Just to keep it very simple for BA …. Pret had sales of £776m last year.  They have already done the market research. If Pret don’t sell it, let’s just assume that no-one wants it and move on ….

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Comments (180)

  • Alan says:

    Did BA have to redo the “time taken to safely evacuate the aircraft” test?

    I’m presuming they did and it all went OK.

    Removing a toilet really does seem a bit of a bad idea. Whilst I don’t use toilets in SH planes, I’m concerned about sitting in seats after other people that usually do use the toilets but were unable to due to lack of availability!

  • Chris H says:

    Hi all – OT question re. Etihad Guest. I am stuck in an endless loop trying to get my account unlocked and every response boils down to “computer says no”. Does anyone have a contact there who’s senior enough to get something sorted? Thanks.

  • Anthony Burns says:

    How I hate reclining seats. So no issue with that at all.
    BA are at last meeting the competition head on because if they don’t they will be done for.

    • Alex W says:

      Night flight to/from one of the longer short haul destinations without reclining seat would not be fun.

  • wyvern says:

    To be expected from BA but pretty poor. Not bothered about loss of duty free but cutting the toilets from 3 to 2 is going to cause issues if one toilet goes out of service. I had just got used to the new seats which are not that bad actually, and the magazine slot behind the headrest keeping the pocket free is useful, so it would be a shame to see a switch to a less comfortable seat. It looks like standards are progressively going downhill.

  • bill says:

    OT – in the dim and distant past I think I read somewhere that BA Executive Club would migrate to the platform. Is this correct ?

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Yes was in their most recent investor pack I think.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, this year – but they said that last year!

        Logically though it only works if they go to a common tier points structure across all the airlines too, like Miles & More. Otherwise you will be checking your tier points on and your miles on

  • Cate says:

    Good news on Qatar coming back to LGW. Don’t forget they have a 777 route kicking off this year DOH-LGW/LGW-DOH so filling these these slots may not be so temporary as suggested?

  • George says:

    It looks like BA is now saying that the Qatar wet lease is no longer necessary… Not sure why!

  • Cheshire Pete says:

    Thumbs up for the USBs! Flying from Heathrow on Saturday the CSM we were chatting to was saying he was about to start training in the new plane layouts. We smirked and he smirked back! Actually mostly sitting in CE it would concern me if having only 1 toilet at the back means there will be long queue of people for the front toilets. The ambience of CE needs to be maintained I think. The only way this could possibly happen if queuing was only allowed behind the curtain….

    • Peter Taysum says:

      AA quoted federal law to state only use the rest-rooms of your class. SEA to PHL.

    • shd says:

      The toilet at the front actually defined as a benefit of CE, is it?

      • Cheshire Pete says:

        No and that’s not what I said. But CE is described as having a quieter ambience. So queuing down the CE section shouldn’t be permitted, as it isn’t now. But how BA manage that reducing to 1 toilet for the great majority of passengers is their issue. Be interesting to monitor anyhow!