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Will you be the first today to fly the new British Airways A321 with the tiny loos?

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The first ‘densified’ British Airways A321 – G-MEDN – is back from the hanger and is ready to fly.

If you are travelling on Thursday, keep an eye on the following flights:

LHR-GLA BA1474 0740
GLA-LHR BA1479 0955
LHR-NCL BA1332 1215
NCL-LHR BA1333 1425
LHR-GLA BA1488 1655
GLA-LHR BA1495 1915

BA A319

This list only applies to Thursday.  The plane is likely to be flying to entirely different cities on Friday.

It turns out this aircraft has NOT been fitted with the new super-thin seats.  This will only be installed on new deliveries.

USB and standard power sockets have been added.  That is the good news.

Here’s the bad news, as per cabin crew rumours online:

Total A321 seating goes up from 205 to 218 (I’m not sure exactly how that works with 13 extra seats instead of 12 but I quote directly from BA’s Investor Day presentation)

The rear toilets have been moved.  Smaller, thinner toilets have been built into the back wall of the aircraft.

Two additional rows of seating are added

No duty free, as there is no space for the trolley (although today the aircraft is on domestic routes)

There will be no waste facilities or potable water supply at the rear of the plane, 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 of medical equipment and may not be available for coats

If you find yourself on this aircraft today (registration G-MEDN) please take some photos and send them over.


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Comments (77)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Stu R says:

    The prospect of flying with BA becomes less and less appealing by the week …. if only there was a half decent alternative to collecting Avios + 2-4-1!

  • Clive says:

    “Tap water” on a plane is probably best avoided anyway.

  • Nick says:

    Just looking at those seats sends a shiver up my spine!

    • Frenske says:

      Why? To be honest I find those faux leather flat seat and flat back seats not particular comfortable. They don’t support the weight at all.

  • Comeflywithv says:

    I think G-MEDM was actually previously in mid-haul configuration as it was a former BMI a/c, therefore had 23J flat beds and 131 Y seats all with personal IFE. So sad to see these go, they were a rare treat on short-haul.

  • Frankie says:

    I thought a toilet was being removed to leave only one toilet. Are there still two toilets, though smaller?

    • Rob says:

      Could be, might explain the 13 extra seats.

      • Lumma says:

        The A321s in the current configuration have two “exit rows”. The front ones have a rear facing crew seat where the window seat is on that row, I’d guess the extra 13th seat is getting added to one of these rows.

        It’s a shame if they’re changing the exit rows on the A321 as the row behind was easily the best short haul economy seat on BA with enough space to get out from the window seat without disturbing the other 2 people. The row with just the 2 seats had no extra room at all as far as I could see though.

  • Clive says:

    Numb bum comes to mind looking at those photos.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      I travelled recently on easyJet with seats that looked like this and I didn’t find it comfortable at all. It made me think at the time, although the difference is getting smaller, there’s still some advantage in flying BA (it was work who bought the tickets, over 2 hours in those seats was not fun).

      Fortunately with BA I don’t think I’ll often have to sit in those seats, I rarely travel for work (fortunately), most of my personal travel I will be either in CE (using Avios or if the price is right) or with gold be able to select the front rows of economy.

  • Paul says:

    This would not be happening if BA faced genuinee competition in the U.K. but the don’t so the customer, and notably domestic customers in particular, get this rubbish.

    • Genghis says:

      I’m no aviation expert but recent FT articles have indicated the SH market is (was at least) too competitive (resulting in the demise of a number of airlines). Competition on SH is on price, not quality.

    • callum says:

      Well no…. The only reason why this is happening is precisely because BA faces fierce competition in the UK.

      Obviously people on here tend to hate it, but the fact is that the LCCs are far more successful in attracting passengers than BA which is precisely why BA is copying them.

      • Rob says:

        …. but it is the failure of BA to deliver a product that people will pay a premium for that is the issue.

        And the logic of doing this is nil. Supply does not create demand. These new seats must therefore be sold at below the current lowest price so they bring in very little extra £. At the same time, everyone else (at least from Row 14) gets a degraded experience and many of those people are paying very high fares.

        Think about a flight which has 170 passengers on average – still a good load factor. Adding these extra 12 seats makes no difference because it wasn’t full before and it isn’t full now. BUT the majority of those 170 people will have a worse trip now because they are in less comfy seat with less legroom and have to use a mini-toilet. Where is the logic there?

        • ebungle says:

          I am reserving judgment until I get one of these planes, but for me the power supply and lack of reclining makes up for the densification.

          I have never used a plane toilet (Except for on overnight flights when I am in business) don’t buy duty free and hate having my legs crushed by reclining seats.

          Obviously it is just me but my needs on a plane are a seat and a way to make sure my phone battery doesn’t die before my movies have finished on Netflix.

          It may not work for everyone but for this customer at least they, on paper at least, are giving an improvement (or is enhancement the go to phrase)

        • Dale says:

          you’re absolutely right – there is no logic.
          aircraft out for weeks at a time to Singapore for a refit to accomodate customers that do not exist at the detriment of those who do… perhaps you need to be an IAG shareholder/member of the Magic Circle to have the mysteries unveiled!

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          I agree. There’s always people prepared to pay more for a nicer experience otherwise hotels would have probably standardised around the Holiday Inn level and just competed on price. I guess it’s easier in the short term to cut prices, add more seats and show the investors they’re growing. The fact is Heathrow is expensive to operate from, BA have high pension liabilities, higher aircraft operating costs and so their overheads aren’t ever going to be as low as EZY or FR. If BA removes all the ‘frills’ and is a clone of a LCC then people won’t pay the extra.

        • callum says:

          Obviously the logic is that sometimes those planes ARE full, and the management believe that the revenue from selling those extra seats on full flights will be higher than the revenue lost from people supposedly refusing to fly because of them.

          I don’t know whether they’re right, but you’re so heavily biased on this subject (you insist on premium travel whilst the vast majority do not) I’m not sure I can accept you’re right.

        • Marcw says:

          You’re making two wrong assumptions: people would pay a premium, and 2) demand is constant. Nowadays, price dominates the maket – and not the product (I wonder why!). And demand to fly grows year after year – so IAG won’t have problems filling those extra seats, while increasing the fare. I think we can all agree, during low seasons you can fly very cheap. The problem is during school holidays, Christmas, Easter and Summer: those are the key dates when the revenue of these extra seats will make a difference.

          • Rob says:

            Obviously the demand curve is constant – get thee to a GCSE economics textbook!

            To fill more seats you must reduce price as you are moving along the demand curve.

            On new routes supply does create demand (people will go to somewhere if the flight is direct they may avoid otherwise) but that is it.

            I would be surprised if even 20% of pax on a typical BA short haul had picked on price alone. Schedule is more important for corporates. And price is a function of other things too eg cost of getting to the airport. I pass thro’ Liverpool St daily and see plenty of Stansted pax paying £20 for a train ticket when the tube to LHR is £5.

        • Andrew says:

          Everyone on here seems to believe that BA are completely clueless. I’m sure someone at Waterside has run the numbers and figured out that enough planes are full such that any extra seats will be revenue positive.

          Short haul 95% of passengers at least just want the cheapest ticket possible. A large proportion of the rest will either pay for club europe or have status enabling them to get exit row seats.

          Rather than pointing out how bad all of the changes are ask yourself what state BA would be in if their service and prices were of a similar standard to 10 years ago. Your typical hfp reader would be happy but BA would be almost empty in economy and hemorrhaging money since the huge majority would be unwilling to pay the massive premium over LCCs.

        • Edgar says:

          I do sometimes get tired of this BA bashing. There are so many armchair CEOs who think they know better, but look at BA and IAG’s results over the last 5 years. Compare them with the other legacy airlines and you’ll see who’s performed best. Does that not maybe suggest they know something that we all don’t.

          Of course we want to have more legroom, better seats, free food, but put a £30 return fare in the market and the vast majority of people would go for that. So BA has to play for the many, not the few (and people who read this are very much in the few).

          And if you really want to be segregated from the masses, buy a Club Europe ticket. More seats = lower cost per seat = lower fares. Look at what average fares have done over the past 10 years (hint: they’ve gone down).

          • Rob says:

            BA is not putting £30 fares in the market for ‘the many’. It is putting in a handful.

            That is the other element of all this we never really look at. Flights are not baked beans. There isn’t one price anyway.

        • RIccatti says:

          To the above, crunching the numbers and leveraging ratios is one thing but predictive analytics is completely another. BA’s “accountants approach” to learning from the data shows the limits of corporate groupthink: yes, revenue function increases. But as a result of change such as densification, people might change habits en masse and the very shape of revenue function changes.

          The major risk is that without “a service component” people might reduce their flying, even more so when flying made plain uncomfortable, and when waters are shallow (poor economic conditions, poor FX) the airline might see an exodus.

          The absence of tea/coffee/water service on 2-3 hour flight is already a major detriment, it reminds people to hydrate and an airline fails in the true sense of duty of care.

          As said above too,
          – it is an effort “to accomodate customers that do not exist at the detriment of those who do”
          – “it’s easier in the short term to cut prices, add more seats and show the investors they’re growing”
          – “Heathrow is expensive to operate from, BA have high pension liabilities, higher aircraft operating costs”

          To the latter, the problem is financial and solution must be so. One can’t solve multi-billion deficit (long term liabilities) by cutting water, toilet paper or hours of junior crew. On the other side, IAG reports a billion in profit today — we don’t see them making appropriate billion/hundred millions provisions for pension liabilities or real long-term investment (not the claimed “investment” in CW experience), and reporting a prudent loss.

          I do say that cutting water/toilet space/densification doesn’t benefit crew salaries or pensions. Nether it does customer experience and health. Neither those money are for investment.

  • Chris says:

    I’m not sure how it’ll be possible to change an infants nappy if the toilets are EVEN smaller. Did this on Monday and even in the larger (!) old style loos both myself (185cm) and my baby (80cm) continually bashed heads, arms and shoulders…
    This will mean no BA economy travel as a family.

    • Worzel says:

      Maybe ping an email over to Rob for a re-write?

    • plastikman says:

      au contraire, the only reason I still fly BA is because of my family. AFAIK they are the only airline that offers the “BRITAX” style seats in place of the bassinet boxes, which our twins are too big for. I can choose these seats at point of sale, and the crew are always fab with the kids. For all our travel in the 18 months between 6 months and 2 years, it’s been BA all the way! It’s funny how the small things make a big difference sometimes.

      • Chris says:

        Yet to fly l/h with the little one, and of course then BA give you CW & F options plus big toilets on the 380.

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