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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.

Club Europe British Airways

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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There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

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Comments (180)

  • Peter Taysum says:

    Restricting CE seats due to lack of space for food seems a particularly stupid business model. Surely they could just give the bread out to CE PAX on entering the plane, with the extra bread. That would allow them to give out MORE bread to go with the bread and could allow the whole plane to be CE if the demand is there. How about a panini within a panini with a bread roll and bread pudding? Perhaps a flat bread starter?

    • Cate says:

      LoL that made me chuckle 🙂

      Alas this year coming back on an 767 they even ran out of panini and we were only in second row of biz.

  • Will Avery says:

    Am I missing something? What is the difference in seat pitch? At 6ft 3 how much more crushed will my knees be compared to the existing? What is the difference between the other airlines? Obviously the glorious Qatar state airline of free and democratic Qatar can do no wrong but, apart from a bag of Walkers & a water, I noticed no difference. I don’t really care if the seat is thinner tbh – more concerned about the point my knee bone hits the seat in front.

    • Simon S says:

      I’m 6 foot 4 so I feel your pain. Assuming the seats are similar/the same as the new EasyJet seats then we should be fine. More knee room that the current BA seats as the seats are thinner, also the magazine holder thing is a bit lower which also helps.

      • Rob says:

        Doctor told us last week that my 6 year old is going to be 6’6′ …. heaven knows what he’s going to do!

        My daughter is now confirmed to be, following bone density scans, 6’1′ by the time she stops.

        • Pangolin says:

          But how do you know when the growth is going to stop?

          My elder brother is 6’3 and I was the same height as him at every age but for some reason I stopped growing at 16 and ended up several inches shorter than he is.

          • Rob says:

            You stop growing when your bones reach a certain density. This density can be checked by x-ray. My daughter has the bone density of a 12-year old at age 10, so – whilst she is VERY tall – it is not as extreme as it seems (assuming you don’t find 6’1′ for a girl extreme) because she will stop before most other girls.

        • Will says:

          Jeepers Rob! Good luck. There is an incentive to fly business or not fly!

        • Leo says:

          Some of us already have to deal with that!

    • the_real_a says:

      There is plenty of usable space with these seats on vueling, the issue is people not sitting with their backside pushed up to the back of the seat 🙂 If you slouch then your knees will hurt. The backs are ergonomic and I’m quite comfortable for a few hours (i have a bad back). The design flaw i find is lack of padding on the base. You go numb very quickly.

  • mark says:

    With regards to the seats, my understanding is that this means nothing in terms of comfort or seat pitch and simply takes up less space and weight.

    Nothing to see here folks…

    • Doug M says:

      Do you really think the thinner seat will lose nothing in terms of comfort. Do you also think the pitch will decrease exactly by the seat reduction. If the seat truly offered the same comfort level why would they not install them in CE and allow the reduced seat width to provide a little more knee room.
      This is a means to differentiate CE by making ET worse. Speak to people that have flown these seats on other airlines. It might be fine for Paris or Amsterdam, but 2+ hours on these will be no fun.

      • Rob says:

        If the seat is so comfy, why are they not putting it throughout the whole plane?!

        • Will says:

          I actually think this *could* be a winning move. If I can gain something with the pitch I.e. clever design, re-positioning of the table, fixed seat position then it could be a positive.

        • LondonFoodie says:

          I think this is because they want to be able to have 11 rows of CE on busy business routes so need to keep the old seats.

    • Brexit will be bad for Britain for ever says:

      Do you work for the Trump PR firm? The lack of recline ability is a HUGE difference.

      It’s fine for a short hop not to recline, but if I’m on anything over 90 mins I like recline a bit, either to get some sleep or because the upright position of the seats can get very painful for some with back issues. I’ve had to fly sleazy and liar air to the med as they were my only choices. 3.5 to 4 hrs onboard was achingly painful even with my lumbar support pillows.

      Those airlines also have no moveable headrests or wings. Are they going too?

      • Will_2 says:

        There is no space in Economy to recline without ending up in the persons lap behind you.
        I’m glad they are taking it away.

      • Will says:

        No, not acceptable to recline in these sardine planes. Unless passenger behind is happy. Always think of the impact of the recline from the person in front.

        I actually like enforcing no recline as it evens controls choppers who insist on doing it!

        • Alex W says:

          I am 6 feet tall. I have no problems if anyone in front of me wants to recline. It causes me no inconvenience whatsoever, it pivots around the knee area which means my legroom is unaffected. I don’t see what the problem is with reclining.

  • will says:

    There are no other LCC’s operating from LHR. Given the passenger charges at LHR surely BA should consider the fact that they’ll never be price competitive from that airport and if they want to go LCC then they should roll out those changes at Gatwick or even opening services at luton or stanstead as a test before spending money refitting the LHR fleet.

    Resizeable business class, buy on board, different seats depending on where you sit in economy and only one toilet for upwards of 180 economy passengers.
    They’ve created a very strange short haul product I’ll give them that.

    At least with Ryanair and Easyjet everyone gets the same seat and economy passengers have access to 3 toilets.

    • shd says:

      Nothing to do with passenger charges, everything to do with what the competition are doing that affects the base fares that BA pull out of their hat.

      Gatwick’s passenger charge is only ~£6 less than LHR, but thanks to Easyjet being there, by some *miracle* BA can manage to offer us a £60 r/t to Malaga – but only from LGW.

      If that’s possible on a 1000mi LGW route, where are BA’s £66 r/t fares from LHR for much much shorter routes?

      • will says:

        To my astonishment there are actually £59 return fares LHR-AGP showing for this feb!

        £6 may not sound like much but it is a 30+% reduction in a specific cost.
        Trawling through landing fees is a bit of a mine field but I could easily imagine that increased aircraft landing fees at LHR could add several pounds and £10 for one leg of a short haul journey is quite a large portion of an airlines costs.

        You’re point is correct in any case, the lack of competition for IAG at LHR really cripples any chance of lower fares or better service. (it’s incredible that it’s allowed when you consider their revenue share agreements at that airport with other oneworld airlines)

        • shd says:

          Can you post dates for this £59 ex-LHR round-trip or a screenshot? I can’t see anything even close to that price.

          I see a *half round trip fare* of £52 for the outbound (eg LHR-AGP on Wed 7 Feb, in Basic; also on Wed 14 Feb)

  • Scallder says:

    OT (but BA related at least) – As a data point, last week, we cancelled a flight booking that was using a 2 for 1 voucher earned in July 2016, and we got rid of the BAPP it was earned on fairly shortly after that. The voucher was returned to the account shortly after the Avios was returned, and the expiry date has stayed the same. Therefore it appears as well as not having to pay on the BAPP, you don’t have to worry about losing the voucher if you cancel the booking you originally use it for.

    • Polly says:

      Same here in Dec we just ‘re used it again now for next week..card gone last March! So yes it’s all bs from the amex agents who tell you you must keep the card to preserve the 241 voucher. We cancelled my oh bacc last week but we are using another 241 from it this year too. Good news for us all.

  • Alex Jones says:

    The person going on about Qatar being undemocratic and all that… rather than using excuses oh behalf of BA how about your democratic EU neighbours airlines that offer a better service than BA? How about Germany and Lufthansa that just earned 5 stars? Oh wait they are funded by the undemocratic fascist German state too?

    Im really sick of racist indirect comments motivated often by jealousy sadly. Qatar is no democracy so is most of the world but don’t blame your problems on others.

    Please keep politics jealousy and racism out of this wonderful blog! Its about airlines flying and how to make most of it. Peace to everyone ✌

  • Scottydoggiom says:

    Im flying CE from Gatwick to Venice at the end of February , do you still get the free middle seat in CE ? or is that a thing of the past now ? is listed as an A320 or A319
    Also , is there enough breakfast options in the Gatwick lounge to be able to skip the hotel breakfast and eat at the airport ?

    • Simon S says:

      CE has a fold out table instead of a middle seat, yes. The exception seems to be Row 1, last time I was in 1A it was just a spare seat next to me.

      Breakfast at the lounge is OK in my opinion, not quite a full English buffet but the bacon rolls are quite nice. Yogurt and cereal are also there along with some fruit juice. Depends on how good your hotel is to be honest. At least the BA breakfast is ‘free’!

    • simon says:

      if you have a priority pass, at gatwick you can use it at Grain Store and get £15 per person off the bill. We find this is the best option by far when we fly from there…..

      • Will says:

        Agreed though I think it is well overpriced if you paid for the menu. Last time we went they weren’t even entertaining letting anyone into lounge. And why bother when you get properly cooked food and coffee (well probably from the microwave still) and it was v quiet when we went.

  • Gavin says:

    off topic – any credit card experts here?

    Trying to balance transfer an Amex balance to Virgin Money. Virgin say they need a 16 digit card number which they claim Amex can provide to me. Amex say there is no such thing and Virgin money should be able to do it. The person I spoke to Amex seemed far less knowledgeable than the Virgin representative.

    Is it as a simple as a leading zero or do I HUACA?

    • David says:

      When I had a virgin card the upshot was that no, you can’t do an amex balance tranfer.

      • Gavin says:

        Thanks, upon some googling it appears that only a few card issuers are set up to do this. Nationwide, Post Office and Tesco are amongst them. Off to cancel the Virgin card.

        • Steve says:

          MBNA can definitely handle balance transfers from AmEx cards.

          I seem to recall Capital One can too.

        • Lumma says:

          Barclaycard wouldn’t let me transfer a balance from an amex charge card but could for amex credit cards

    • the_real_a says:

      Does this still happen? The trick was to balance trasnfer from AMEX to MBNA/Barclaycard (no balance transfer fee cards) and then a second Balance transfer to where you wanted it to end up. Since a balance trasnfer is just a BACs transfer you initiated both balance transfers at the same time to avoid interest.

      e.g. AMEX – MBNA/Barclays – Virgin Money

      • Gavin says:

        In the end, opted for a Tesco balance transfer, it gave me the right amount and a decent length. My interest free period doesn’t end until May, but looking to get a long term solution sorted prior to remortgaging.

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