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British Airways and the mystery of the missing super-thin seats

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We ran an article last week about the return to service of G-MEDN, the first British Airways A321 aircraft to be ‘densified’ with additional seating This was primarily due to the two loos being moved into the back wall of the aircraft.

The other change was meant to be the introduction of super-thin Recaro seating in two thirds of the aircraft, from row 12 or row 14 depending on aircraft type.

And yet, in an article published late on Friday night, British Airways spoke to Business Traveller to refute this.

This is a summary of what British Airways said:

All of the people writing about the new configuration online are confused

The new A320neo and A321neo aircraft, to be delivered from April, WILL have a mix of the current and super-thin seating

However, the existing A320 and A321 fleet is not changing.  All seats will be the current (‘Pinnacle’) seat, albeit reworked to include USB and power sockets. 

This creates as many questions as it answers.  This is what British Airways told the City:

How can British Airways have the same numbers of seats on an A321 with the current seating and the forthcoming A321neo aircraft with super-thin seating?  Has the seat pitch been reduced even though the seats are the same?

Here is the only picture I have seen so far of the new BA ‘spaceflex’ cabin on G-MEDN.  It doesn’t help much as it is taken from the front where the seats would be the same anyway:

To make things even more confusing, Iberia is definitely retro-fitting its super-thin seats onto its existing Airbus aircraft as well as on its new deliveries.  The article does not, admittedly, imply that BA was planning a retro-fit.

It is all a bit odd.  It is even odder than BA is telling Business Traveller that ourselves, Flyertalk, PPrune and various other sites have been printing incorrect information, when they could have contacted all of us directly.  If we have been sharing incorrect information about the new seats then, BA, we’re sorry ….. but you could just have rung us or even invited the media on the Glasgow flight on Thursday.   It probably didn’t help that the entire travel press, including ourselves, was in Berlin last week for the ITB trade show.

It seems that we may end up with two types of Airbus short-haul planes at Heathrow.  New neo ones with a mix of current and super-thin seats, and the older Airbus aircraft which just have the current seats.  All with have the new thin toilets built into the back wall.  Confusing …. and unhelpful if you want to avoid the new Recaro seats.

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Comments (34)

  • Dave says:

    OT.

    I have 4 seats in CW LGW-MCO late august booked with Avios and 241 voucher.

    How likely is it that the aircraft used for LGW-MCO will be re-fitted with the new seats before then?

    I’m concerened about a possible downgrade, especially with the rumours of avios 241 bookings being targetted. (The seat plan already shows 40 out of 48 seats taken).

  • C77 says:

    Despite the confusion and hype, it does make sense. To me at least. The current Pinnacle seat can only be 3-4 yrs old so makes financial sense for BA to utilise this as it has already been paid for. The additional 12 seats on a A320 / 13 seats on a A321 equates to 2 extra rows. The space for which has been created by moving 2 toilets forward of the rear doors to behind the rear doors as well as to encroach on rear galley space. The 13th seat on the A321 will be an additional seat to a current row of 2 as mentioned further above but not sure which row. You now have to ask yourself whether BA will have paid to reinstate the windows in these newly created rows where the toilets once stood. My guess is highly unlikely.

    • Lumma says:

      I don’t think where the toilets were/are was designed to have a window so I think the last row definitely won’t have a window. Some Vueling planes have the new toilets and the last row is windowless

    • G-MEDK which was originally a midhaul A320 in bmi days never had the window reinstated next to seat 1F (which used to be a wardrobe in the midhaul configuration) what’s worse is the window is there, it’s just the wall panel that’s covering it and when it’s sunny you can see the light shine through the wall.

      Note: it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been on this aircraft so they may have reinstated the window by now. I doubt it though

  • JR says:

    The retrofitted aircraft will have all pinnacle seats and will keep the table in the middle seat in CE. Pretty sure seats in ET on these aircraft will not recline. The NEOs will have the same pitch as the retrofitted aircraft, without the table in CE and Recaro seats in ET. The capping of club has also been vastly overstated as this is only due to the galley configuration on a few planes which be only be put on routes with lower numbers of CE pax – the selling of CE will not be capped.

  • AspirationalFlyer says:

    This doesn’t bother me. I’m hoping to always have OneWorld status and be able to pick my seats well in advance (an exit row if possible) or otherwise avoid the second half of the aircraft. Otherwise, unless it’s an avios redemption or cheap ticket I’m trying to give BA a miss.

  • Matarredondatony says:

    Last week I flew an Easyjet neo with no water available in either the toilets or for tea/coffee. Aircraft had the thin seats which I have encountered before and for flights of up to 3 hours are ok but believe the Norwegian 7 37 max flying the Atlantic in some cases have these and they would be awful.

  • Dwadda says:

    OT: On a 75 min flight on Singapore Airlines, they started a full meal service in economy with 55 minutes left before landing, starting with the special meals that had been ordered beforehand. The seats in the SQ economy legs I’ve flown have been terrific, comfy cushy and roomy. With 8″ IFE systems, usb charging, cup holder, and real leg room. I am 5’10 and there was still a couple inches between my knees and the seat in front. They even give earphones with different sized buds and a 2pin adapter.

    I wasn’t hungry but I had the lamb with rice and veg with chocolate cake because I admired their effort. Amazingly everyone was fed, watered, and everything tidied away 10 minutes before landing. And the crew did it all with smiles on their faces, though they were definitely harried.

    Why does BA have to be so mean to its passengers? Yes, I’m BA Gold because I fly a lot over a year. Not because I’m particularly loyal (I’m also Star Alliance Gold).

    I live in the UK. If BA were more like SQ, I would be more loyal. I have been on BA flights where the crew were friendly and smiled, but my last two BA legs that was not the case.

    Smiling should be part of the job description; it makes a huge difference.

  • Paul says:

    Just landed in Toronto having enjoyed the new BA Club food/service – excellent.