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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.

British Airways A320

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)

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

  • Ian says:

    I wonder if they are keeping these planes for when club Europe is too busy for 8 rows…

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      The limit to 7 rows is due to galley space and these aircraft have limited galley space due to the reduction in the rear galley to fit those new mini toilets.

      I believe the row limitation is only for the longer flights as they have more extensive catering, although this is just as frustrating as the longer the flight the more likely you’re going to want to upgrade.

  • Kiran says:

    Are there any European regional airlines with decent seats anymore? I was on Lufthansa business class flight from FRA to MUC on n A319 and the seat was pretty horrible and cramped.

    • Ian says:

      Yes, Air France refitted its A320s a few years ago with a new seat. It’s quite thin and doesn’t recline (GOOD). I’ve only flown internal flights of 1 hour+ (where at least until recently you were still served a drink and biscuit) and found them quite comfortable. I’d probably choose Air France all the time for Paris-London flights if they didn’t use T4 at LHR.

      • Bob says:

        And Iberia has bought one year ago one Airbus A319 from Air France which had the AF recaro seats.

        Iberia has not refitted anything and this plane is used by Iberia, with the Air France seats, probably not to LHR I guess.

        Just think about this.
        Ryannair said at the time, it will choose non reclining seats.
        And Air France, 10 years ago already now I think, was the launch customer of this recaro non reclining seat.
        Before Ryannair had started any roll-out of its non reclining seats.

        Now on a Orly-Toulouse flight, you have the choice of a 180 recaro seats A320 with Air France or a 180 recaro seats A320 with easyjet.
        Only the color changes.

  • Mikeact says:

    A classic case of the left hand / right hand etc.

  • Dave says:

    For consistency I wonder why they don’t take the back rows from the existing fleet and put them at the front of the new aircraft. Then they’d only be buying the slimlines.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      All the seats on this aircraft are new. It was a bmi midhaul aircraft which had proper lie flat business class seats and the economy seats had seat back screens therefore they needed to replace all the seats on here with the new style. That’s another reason why it’s odd they never added the slimline seats.

  • Harry says:

    Best not to try to avoid the new Recaro seats, just avoid BA!

  • Jane says:

    So does this mean that the pitch will be even less at the back of the refitted planes?

    • Rob says:

      The new planes, definitely. We simply don’t know on the retrofits. Perhaps I try to fly G-MEDN this week, diary is very clear.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        I wanted to fly it this weekend but it doesn’t seem to be operating (or is there a way for BA to hide its movements from Flightradar24?)

  • Mark says:

    What I don’t get is it says there’s 205 seats on the 321. Where’s the odd seat?

    • Nick says:

      Ever flown on rather A321? It has a few rows of 2 seats near the emergency exits (currently – on BA at least – rows 8 and 20). On the left there’s a gap, on the right there’s crew jumpseats by the doors. Add a few of these in and you get an odd number.

      • Lumma says:

        There’s one non exit row which only has two seats too, which makes the odd number.

        On the a321 it’s better to avoid the 2 seat exit rows as they don’t seem to have any extra space than the normal seat. The other exit rows are great as you can get up from the window without disturbing the other two passengers

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