British Airways forced to reduce A320neo seating capacity due to safety concerns

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As if British Airways didn’t have enough to deal with at the moment, it has been forced to reduce the seating capacity on its new A320neo short-haul aircraft due to safety concerns.

BA has kept this quiet so far and I have not seen it reported elsewhere.

I should say upfront that I am not an aerospace engineer and I am guessing that you are not one either.  The situation as I describe it below is very much in laymans terms, but I have included a link to the official EASA notification.

We covered the launch of the new ‘Space Flex’ A320neo aircraft on Head for Points – see here.

These aircraft are not very pleasant to fly if you are down the back:

the toilet was removed from the back of Euro Traveller to fit in an additional row of seats, and replaced with micro-toilets built into the back wall of the galley

the seats behind the emergency exit door were replaced with ‘no recline’ ultra-thin Recaro seats to allow a second additional extra row of seats to be fitted in

duty free sales were dropped, because there was no space in galley for the trolley due to the loo moving there

drop down monitors were removed, along with the tables in Club Europe, to save weight

there are no waste facilities or drinking water at the rear of the plane because of the need to fit in the loo – this means all waste and requests for tap water require a trip through the Club Europe cabin

To summarise a major engineering problem in one line, this has caused a problem.  There is now too much weight at the very back of the aircraft.

During computer testing, it has been discovered that this could lead to problems in certain scenarios, such as during an aborted landing when the nose of the aircraft needs to be raised quickly.

Here is the exact wording of the directive issued by EASA – you can download it here:

Analysis and laboratory testing of the behaviour of the flight control laws of the A320neo identified a reduced efficiency of the angle of attack protection when the aeroplane is set in certain flight configurations and in combination with specific manoeuvres commanded by the flight crew, as described through Section 2 of Airbus Flight Operations Transmission 999.0059/19.

This condition, although never encountered during operations, if not corrected, could lead to excessive pitch attitude, possibly resulting in increased flight crew workload.

To address this potential unsafe condition, Airbus issued the AFM TR, limiting the centre of gravity envelope, which prevents the aforementioned condition, and the Flight Operations Transmission 999.0059/19, providing aeroplane loading recommendations.

There are almost 50 airlines currently flying the A320neo and all of those which have gone with the ‘Space Flex’ interior are facing the same issue.

However, the presence of Club Europe causes an additional problem for BA compared to ‘one class’ airlines flying the same aircraft.  Airlines operating the A320neo have been told to ensure that passengers are seated to ensure an even weight distribution.  However:

in Club Europe, the empty middle seat makes it difficult to move weight to the front of the aircraft

the extra seats squeezed into the second half of the plane vs the front half also lead to additional weight at the back

In order to address this, it appears that BA is often having to block the last one or two rows of the aircraft.  This is dependent on the number of rows of Club Europe and other factors such as cargo and baggage loading.  As well as not allowing passengers to select seats in those rows, cabin crew will also announce that passengers may not move to them after take-off.

This is not just a British Airways problem.  Lufthansa has also had to block seats on its ‘densified’ A320neo aircraft, although this is only one row.  BA is presumably being forced to block an additional row on occasion because it operates with larger business class cabins.  Other airlines with a ‘missing middle seat’ business class will also have to make adjustments.

As well as having a revenue impact, this clearly makes a farce of the entire ‘Space Flex’ programme.  The ultra-thin seats …. no recline …. reduced leg-room …. micro-toilets …. are all in vain unless Airbus can design a fix for the issue.  Let’s hope they can find something.

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Comments

  1. Good. Hopefully this will teach them sometimes there is such a thing as an efficiency too far – glad it has been identified in simulations as well rather than a real incident.

  2. “Let’s hope they”… abandon densification.

  3. Indeed this problem was first identified earlier this year on Lufthansa’s Space Flex A320neo aircraft, where they have 186 seats fitted! EASA has issued this directive to all airlines who have this or similar densified cabins delivered directly from Airbus. A320ceo (current engine option), A321neo/A321ceo and A319 aircraft types are unaffected.
    Perhaps BA should reintroduce the center console in Club Europe to counter this issue with the shift in center of gravity.

    • There is the rub though. LH has more seats than BA because they also crippled legroom in the front, which means they only need to block one row. So one fix for BA would be …

  4. Journeying John says:

    Lets hope airbus can’t “fix” this issue and customers receive some dignity in the form of space to seat and breathe on flights of upto 5 hours. BA should be removing the extra 2 rows of overly dense seating and replacing them with the same (more generous) seat pitch as say RyanAir…

    • My thoughts exactly. I had to do a double take when I read ‘let’s hope they’. Greed over safety, serves them damn right

  5. PrinterElf says:

    Looks like EASA are saying that when there’s a significant aft CofG, then the resulting maximum pitch up rate eats into the control margin Airbus has around AoA limits (i.e. It pitches faster than the system was tuned for), which means the pilots would have to correct for it rather than have the system do it for them.

    It could conceivably be retuned as long as there’s still enough aerodynamic control available, but then you’ll probably compromise performance somewhere else.

  6. Czechoslovakia says:

    So now they can apply the same rules to the MAX-8, without being accused of favouring a local manufacturer…? Just move those engine’s back a few inches, eh Boeing?

  7. BREAKING NEWS: Cattle trucks fail weighbridge test and have to lose a pen!

  8. Bring back the club Europe tables for the middle seat, make them from lead. Issue sorted

    • Shoestring says:

      Or just limit CE to about 5 rows and always upgrade enough people to fill CE 100%.

      Those loos at the back are awful, I’m just an average guy in weight terms, 188cm/ 6’2″ and 86kg or so – but I struggled to turn around in comfort in that middle loo! A porker is really going to find them tight, probably best to reverse in so no need to turn around, which might look slightly unseemly with others in the queue.

  9. LetBAgonesbe says:

    Is this why CE meals have been so fattening recently? (Cheese pasta + cheesecake + cheese course)
    Are they trying to fatten me up to balance weight?
    Outrageous.

  10. Maybe we can have are middle seat table back in club…

  11. I’m an aerospace engineer (but usually for faster pointy ones or things that go bang). Without looking at the civvie regs I would have thought that the design organisation i.e. Airbus was responsible for assessing the C of G implications of all modifications, including seating layout. Therefore it raises a question as to why this issue wasn’t discovered during the certification process.

  12. I just don’t trust BA and whilst this issue is not limited to them, I think BA have a reputational issue with trust.

    And why has this major safety concern not been more widely reported? ( though given this country’s psycho drama with Brexit that’s perhaps no surprise)

    Hopefully a media outlet will pick this up and run with it. People need to know that there may be additional risks flying on this aircraft.

    • letBAgonesbe says:

      Actually BA has an outstanding safety record and one of the safest airline in the world.

      • And as mentioned above I believe it’s Airbus’s fault – BA doesn’t design aircraft.

        • But BA does fit out aircraft with seats etc

          • Not exactly fair to hold BA on the hook for something nobody (not even Airbus!) knew about until recently…

          • @Froggitt. Yes BA has densified existing A320s without any issue with CofG. It’s the newly delivered Neos that have the problem. It’s a more an Airbus issue to resolve than the purchasing airline’s.

    • Head for points is a media outlet.

      There is no safety concern unless BA ignore airbus. Which they won’t.

      If I were a shareholder I’d be cross that they didn’t bottom this out with Airbus prior to the refit. It’s not hard with computer modelling these days.

  13. Perhaps some nice heavy proper business class seats at the front of the plane could help to move the COG forwards. The sort you find in Domestic First in the US. This could also mean that CE was worth paying for.

    • The Original David says:

      Or at least re-install the CE tables!

      • Apparently the CE table also has something to do with the cabling for the new power sockets although I couldn’t work out how when I had a look inflight.

    • When I first read your post I misread “seat” for “passengers” in your sentence. 🙂

      I like the recliner seats that Bangkok Airways has in its business class. But then BA would be limited to the exact number of seats and couldn’t simply move the divider back to increase the CE cabin.

  14. …..when cost cutting and making customer experience more unpleasant finally backfires.

  15. Whilst queuing for the toilets at the back of an airbus320 recently I noted that the back row of seats doesn’t even have a window.

  16. NigelthePensioner says:

    …..which basically means that on “going round” the plane could flip into a backwards somersault! Maybe redundant portly Europhile politicians could be employed to sit in the front few rows to act as ballast after 31st October? It brings a whole new skill to Team Cruz in the “micro” world – micro (ability) management!

    • That wouldn’t work, they are just a bunch of windbags full of hot air and full of themselves. I think instead of receiving seats at the front they should be forced to travel steerage!

      • I see that we still have a few brexiteers around with the brain turned off (or permanently disabled). Maybe they should fly more often with a 737 max with s faulty pitch reading then?

        On that note BA’s decision to take an option to buy a 1940’s aircraft design and call it a safe plane (CEO quote), goes along with that kind of braindead logic that is besitting the country these days…

  17. I had read this elsewhere over the weekend – only for another airline. I’ll try and find it.

    • Michael D says:

      Could be Lufthansa you’re thinking of, I happened to come across it yesterday on OMAAT. Perhaps overshadowed by the Boeing cargo door test news, which was a bit clickbaity.

  18. It’s called ballast!

  19. Or let’s hope they don’t find a fix and BA have to back track on densification…

    • Shoestring says:

      the fix is already in place, see article!

      [To address this potential unsafe condition, Airbus issued the AFM TR, limiting the centre of gravity envelope, which prevents the aforementioned condition, and the Flight Operations Transmission 999.0059/19, providing aeroplane loading recommendations.]

      • So effectively, either the rear hold or the rearmost rows of seats will have to be empty (or have reduced weight in them) thus keeping the centre of gravity within the new approved envelope, until a long term fix can be found.

    • Haha, yeah. There’s another solution involving filling middle seats in the front cabin…

  20. Aerospace Engineer says:

    “I should say upfront that I am not an aerospace engineer and I am guessing that you are not one either”

    Some of us are.

  21. I flew on one of these to Malaga in CE and noticed the lack of table between the seats. I also wondered why there was no on board purchases magazine. Now I know!

    I must say I think the seat is actually quite comfortable and like the no-recline function meaning no backrest in my face. The biggest criticism I have is the location of the power and USB socket on the leg under the seat. You have to be a contortionist to be able to put the power lead into the USB socket as it is really not visible. Why they couldn’t position it on the back of the armrest of the seat in front is beyond me. I also had to ask the cabin crew to switch on the power. They apologised and said they forgot but I think.its a deliberate ploy to save fuel.

    But now from the article my biggest criticism is of BA and Airbus for the potential safety issue.

    • If you were in CE then your seat was the same seat as in all other BA short haul aircraft for past 5 years+ (ie. thicker padding & able to recline). It’s only the seats behind the emergency exit rows (13+ on an A320) that have the slimline, non reclining seats.

      • Sorry, you’re right, there was a recline function in my particular seat in CE. I don’t usually recline on short haul anyway as I think it’s rude to the passenger behind and for 2-4 hours perfectly ok not to. That said I do think the non recline function is good for the reason I stated.

  22. Why on earth didn’t they research this in advance? Pack extra seats in and they block 2 rows because there’s too many seats… what a genius move that was

  23. Let’s hope they can’t solve it, and go back to the slightly less cramped configuration. Don’t you just love karma?

    • flyforfun says:

      Yes! My thoughts exactly! The squeeze has been put on passengers long enough in the game of race to the bottom!!

      It’s time there was a regulatory minimum set for passenger comfort as well as passenger safety.

  24. I’m in Malaga having just flown on an A320 bro that was 3/4 full. The pilot made clear at least 3 times in time flight that passengers must return to their original seat if they got up ‘due to plane weight issues’. Thought it was a little odd at the time but now it makes sense!

    • Lady London says:

      Now I understand why, when I used to fly Ryanair a loooong time ago, Ryanair captains also made similar announcements about not moving from your allocated seat and always returning to it.

      the microtoilets was the final straw for me. Not even sure Ryanair went that far….

  25. Troll Basher says:

    Just put the middle seat divider back into CE, load a few more bottles of Castlenau; bish bosh, sorted… 😁

  26. The issue here is that Airbus aircraft have a set flight envelope that pilots are unable to operate outside (this is possible with a fly by wire system like on an Airbus).

    The forward movement of the centre of gravity of the aircraft due to weight means that when you get unusual situations, the pilots will potentially be unable to control the aircraft as the manoeuvre to do so is outside of the control envelope.

    • So 737 Max type issues now rearing their head on Airbus aircraft due to the quest for money regardless of the interests of safety………………….

      • Troll Basher says:

        No; completely different circumstances leading to “Potential” different issues.

        • The physics might be quite different but the underlying issue that both Boeing and Airbus have now designed and allowed planes to enter service that result in potentially unsafe conditions in flight in the chase for greater revenue efficiency is surely much the same?

          Of course the fix on the Airbus aircraft in terms of just reconfiguring the seating layout is technically simpler to implement and also a lot more certain to work than with the 737 Max control system issues.

          • Shoestring says:

            not at all, balancing weight on flights has to be done on all small to medium commercial aircraft, every flight (not sure if the supersize aircraft get away with it)

            so the instruction from EASA simply formalizes this in a certain way

          • Well they clearly had to formalize this guidance because the airlines had already ignored normal good practice in the name of chasing greater total revenue take per flight and regardless of passenger comfort and/or possible safety issues (all very different from the days of the Pan Am tv series).

            Clearly it wasn’t realised this configuration would have these problems initially (as with extending the 737 design’s capacity further as the 737 Max) or the airlines wouldn’t have spent all this money reconfiguring the aircraft in this way (or having them delivered new in this configuration) only to have to then undo it at significant further cost……………..

        • The end result here is actually very similar to the MAX issue, except that with the MAX the aircraft computers try to fix the problem – with bad results – whereas here it is down to the pilots to fix. The pilots CAN fix it, the warning notice – as I understand it – is that if, for example, you have to do abandon your landing at the last second, the pilots have enough to worry about without needing to worry about the extra maneouvres required to deal with the centre of gravity issue.

          • Troll Basher says:

            Rob, the point is surely that the Airbus issue is a result of cabin densification. The issue has been identified and is being addressed proactively.
            The MAX however could throw you a fatal curve ball whether there were 180 or 8 seats fitted to it.
            Only one type has ended up with a global grounding…

          • Surely the problem with the MAX is that the computers are fed false information from insufficient sensors, and trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist.

          • @TrollBasher

            I think if the 737 Max only had 7 seats fitted to it its flight control issue would never occur as it would have so much power in reserve to handle any possible centre of gravity issue.

            All the issues with the 737Max arise out of trying to extend an aircraft design only originally intended to carry as few as 85 passengers in its first incarnation to carry as many as 210 passengers over a far longer range than the original aircraft was ever designed for. They should have started again with a clean sheet of paper as the 797 or whatever but the financial savings of not having to fully certify and retrain pilots for an entirely new aircraft type got the better of the money focused members of the Boeing Board.

    • Lady London says:

      Sorry, but which idiot thought that up ?

    • You can still fly the aircraft outside it’s CoG limits, to some extent, but the handling characteristics, stall speed etc will be degraded.

  27. Richard M says:

    Other than price, BA are little different from Ryanair. This looks like another Alex Cruz Special: Save a sprat and lose a mackerel……

    • Steven Jack says:

      Wow Richard, you only need to compare the two airlines baggage policy to see BA are streets ahead of Ryanair, 2 bags of up to 23KG in the cabin at no extra charge, plus checked baggage is typically chewier and more generous in the allowance. BA have their faults but they are going up against the low cost operators , personally they win hands down for me.

      • Shoestring says:

        got my Summer Hols outward tickets last week – peak July 2020 – got them on Avios + Money but cash was similar – about £80 each incl 23kg checked bag

        LCC don’t come close plus you can’t book Ryanair/ EasyJet beyond March 2020 – you can book July on Wizz but it’s far more expensive with the checked bag

      • Why the hell would you need to take 2 x 23kg bags in cabin as hand baggage? Totally unnecessary! How many of those 23 kg bags actually get in the cabin before being taken off you and placed into the hold due to no space in lockers??

        • Shoestring says:

          when I carry my gold bars out to hide them at our place in the sun, I don’t fancy checking them in

      • Lady London says:

        + 1. Gotta be fair on BA here.

    • Basically other than flying out of Heathrow (much lower rail fares on the tube and nicer lounges and more convenient for those to the west of London etc) any discernible differences over Easyjet in particular (with Ryanair you are stuck mainly with Stansted and annoying promotional messages etc plus more trickery with checking in hold luggage) has been eliminated. So Cruz has succeeded in completely trashing the previous feeling that you were superior by travelling with BA in Economy. As long as you got a free sandwich and G&T and you got a 23kg hold bag included then you felt special travelling on BA.

      As Cruz only seems to understand the world of Vueling type short haul operations he unfortunately doesn’t seem to get this at all.

      • To be fair to BA, in my experience they do compete reasonably well with easyJet on price and if you have status then it sometimes makes sense to pay a little more for BA.

        On routes like London to Amsterdam where BA competes with the budget airlines and KLM, KLM seem to come out way more expensive

      • Lady London says:

        That;s very harsh Julian. See Shoestring’s comments above.

    • I’m struggling to understand what tangible benefits & advantages I get from a BA shorthaul flight versus an easyJet flight (with the easyJet flight costing sometimes half the BA price).

      • If you’re in Club the big ones are obviously included luggage, lounges etc…less so if you’re sitting at the back…

      • I did an easyJet out, BA back last week, with the same seat (1D) on both. BA is a ‘classier’ experience – I know there are many reasons why it isn’t, but the BA ‘way’ of doing things is substantially different to the easyJet way. I’m not saying that everyone prefers that, but it is tailored for the ‘middle aged business traveller’ market.

        I am also fed up of easyJet not using airbridges. At Luton last week we ended up queuing on the stairs to go down to a bus to be driven across to the plane …. it simply isn’t a premium experience. They won’t even pay for airbridges in Amsterdam even though they are on a gate which has them. Again, not classy.

        Of course, my easyJet one-way flight cost £63 (including the extra cost of reserving 1D) which my one-way BA Club Europe ticket back did not.

        • EasyJet use airbridges in Naples

        • Rob,

          On multiple occasions I’ve flown with BA and experienced something far less than this “classier way of doing things” you speak of. Queued on stairs in LHR/LGW, waiting for a super crammed bus, sitting on dirty seats on the plane, only to repeat the exact same upon arrival. Oh, and very shoddy IT issues.

          Oh yes, all of this for 1.5x the price of EasyJet. Only discernable difference? I fly out of LHR because I live close by. Thats it.

          If easyjet flew out of LHR i would not hesitate for one second to always fly with them.

        • Lady London says:

          You flew out of Luton, Rob. What did you expect? 🙂

  28. Funny enough I read last week that LH were having to do the same.

  29. blocking rows is fairly normal – when Ryanair operates flights below a certain occupancy level, they block the front and rear rows to push passengers into the middle.

    i remember flying a particularly empty a330 from HKG-SVO in June 1997 where all the economy passengers had to sit in the business class for landing.

    what would be interesting to know with BA is whether this issue only happens when they have more than X rows of CE, or when CE isn’t full, or under all configurations. devil is in the detail !

    • can’t be OK when CE is full or a free upgrades would solve the problem

      • Shoestring says:

        @jimA – don’t forget the moving curtain divider – so there could be 3 rows of CE or 15, that would make a helluva difference with the blocked middle (weightless)

    • Blocking rows when the flight is lightly loaded is nothing new, and they’re not turning business away.

      But in this case, they’re having to turn business away, with 12 seats unsold.

      • but the question is whether it’s going to be every flight, or just when they have a large business section … or just when they have a large business section that isn’t occupied …

  30. Like the nasty economy seats on the 787 and 777 this all comes down to Boeing and Airbus being pressured by the airlines over cost.
    The amount of things that AC is held responsible for on the net is startling, man at the top I know, but even so.
    I’m surprised BA did this as it’s completely LCC, and despite what others say I find BA a very different airline to Ryanair, EasyJet less so, but then EasyJet in my experience are not inexpensive.

  31. This makes me so happy 🙂 whether it’s BA or not. As some else said, karma.
    In an effort to squeeze as much money as possible from the seating configuration at the expense of passengers BA would appear to have scored an own goal. Less seating, no duty free to sell, tiny rear toilet.

    • It’s not related to the dense configuration. It happens as well in the BA CityFlyer fleet, where it’s quite common to be reseated just for landing and/or take off.

  32. Wonder if they’ll restrict the number of people queuing up for the rear toilets.

  33. nothing like making a nervous flyer even more nervous! I’m booked on one of these to Dublin and wondered why they’d blocked off the last row of seats. 🙁

  34. John Clifford says:

    Let’s hope they can’t find a solution and we all return to a decent work an passenger environment. The space flex concept is just diabolical

  35. Lady London says:

    Well Rob I think this article and the fun in the comments (very “British”) just shows why HfP and its readership are so unique.

    I can’t think of any other blog I’ve come across where there would be such an insightful yet neutrally presented post about information that might escape frequent flyers’ notice, but is highly interesting to them. And there is never another blog which would have had the same set of readers having such fun with the comments, and yet also being so knowledgeable and insightful.

  36. People may not like the new Economy seats on the Neo. I think they are brilliant. I am 6ft 8inch (2m) and knowing that the rude people can’t recline into my already crushed knees is wonderful. I found them perfectly comfortable for a sub four hour flight back from ATH. Toilets were not a problem either and you really don’t want to be drinking tap water on an aircraft in the first place. I will actively seek the Neo over other aircraft from now on for this reason.

    • You do realise those people reclining aren’t being “rude” surely? They almost certainly have no idea what height you are. Doing something out of ignorance doesn’t necessarily mean they are being rude.

  37. Ali Bentley says:

    Has BA (or anyone else) considered the shear amount of ‘hand’ luggage that makes it on to domestic and short haul flights since payment for checked in bags arrived? There is no check on the weight of such luggage or the number of bags taken in board if a passenger self checks in. Some airlines limit the weight of hand luggage, but BA has no idea how much weight there is in passengers’ hand luggage. Scoot, the budget arm of Singapore Airline, only allow 7kg for example. I have seen people on domestic UK flights with two wheeled cabin bags as well as other bags, without any challenge.

    • exactly my thoughts. Add passengers’ weight to the equation and and uncertainty with the weight balance gets even higher – 10 average Americans are 900-1000 kg, 10 Chinese grandmas are 400-500 kg, quite a substantial difference.

    • The 46kg hand luggage limit is why I fly BA.

    • Exactly

  38. if its a question of balance of the aircraft then the further from the centre of gravity the more impact extra weight will make

    So BA need fatter pilots

    • …so they need to earn more to afford even more food – is that what you are alluding to?

  39. BA being so tight that even the laws of Physics have had enough

  40. Stephen Harman says:

    This does feel a bit backward (pardon the pun), clearly airbus computer model is better than mine but I would have guessed that the mostly air volume if space that bathrooms take up in the former galley is lighter than the galley full of food, booze and duty free and that will be the furthest from the COG so have most impact.
    Then make sure Billy, who ate all the pies is not in the back row, bish bosh.

    • But also consider the extra weight of 12 more people plus baggage across the 2 extra rows at the back…. 1000KG?

  41. I was on a BA A321 Neo recently. Luckly I was in row 7, just being CE. The new slim line seats are poor for anything above an hour.

    The new easyjet cabin is much more pleasent than this.

  42. Martin C-C says:

    This should be a wake up call to Airlines and airline manufacturers. The 737 max was really uncomfortable. Is it really worth adding a few seats and compromising safety and passenger comfort? This situation is really due to greed, airlines looking at the potential bottom line rather than travel comfort. I would be interested how often a scheduled service flies completely full and how much more profit is generated over one year. Is this retrogressive step of high density flying worth it?

  43. Anthony Dunn says:

    This recalls the saga decades ago when, as an economy measure, BA specified its BAC Super 1-11s without the inbuilt forward steps that could retract into the aircraft. They then realised that this substantially altered the trim characteristics of the aircraft necessitating the installation of a concrete block to remedy the issue…

    • Lady London says:

      🙂
      Probably the only reason Ryanair keeps them! Oh, wait… they can be needed if the airlines doesn’t pay for airbridges.

  44. On an A320 now- they’ve got all the table trays down in the last 3 rows to “stop” passengers using them (we are crammed in like sardines, no theoretical seating today). In fact they even went as far as to turn the C and D seat cushions upside down to deter pax. Bit of a farce. Oh and announcement by pilot – stick to your seat.

    • That reminds me of a flight last year when the tray tables were down on the last couple of centre rows on BA back from BGI. The horror of flying economy looked a little brighter I thought, maybe nab a couple for a stretch out after take off.
      But no, after flinging a few coffees and teas about….I mean skilfully executing their duties…..a couple of the lovely crew grabbed a blanket, a quick wink to their colleagues and stretched out in the aforementioned rows. Snooze ya loose.

  45. Notaloyalist says:

    ‘This is not just a British Airways problem’ yet the article leads with BA and a BA aircraft. Appreciate most readers are more interested in BA stories than Lufthansa but it’s clearly fashionable to trash BA…

    • Shoestring says:

      heh heh I bet if you were somehow able to know the total of BA vs Lufthansa flights that HfP readers take in a year, the proportion would be something like 95:5 (and that’s probably being generous)

      • Its good there’s not a whole cohort on LH! I’m happy to get a nice clean shower room, a place to nap after a flight and freshly prepared cocktails and barista coffees in the MUC/FRA SEN lounges what BA can barely offer in the so-called CCR and its not even a straight comparison… CCR vs FCT…comical.

        Like the losers on FlyerTalk who think they’re BA’s best customers with their TP manufactured CCR/GGL…there’s a reason BA is cheap and HON is bloody difficult.

        Don’t you think they’d be falling over themselves to defend LH if HON was as easy as CCR cards. Of course they would.

        • Shoestring says:

          yep I’m not saying BA’s better than Lufthansa or anything like that – just that it’s understandable the article/ image references were to BA

    • Lufty is only taking 1 row out. BA is often taking 2 out. EasyJet etc are taking none out because they have no empty middle seats.

      • Lady London says:

        Plus I guess the refinement with Easyjets A320neos would be that higher paying customers choose to put themselves in the first 5 or 6 rows, plus those customers are more likely to have same paid 2 pieces of luggage as well. Rest of the aircraft has mostly 1 hand luggage only.

        With no middle seat kept free that sounds like a nicely-weighted forward-placed load. So no wonder U2 is not having to block rear seats and can sell every seat on the aircraft.

        • The same happens with Vueling, Frontier, SAS,… the solution is to put Club Europe in the back of the plane 🙂

      • “Lufty is only taking 1 row out. BA is often taking 2 out”

        Perhaps a consequence of the added weight associated with containerised luggage.

    • Nope , it’s clearly reasonable to target the story to your target audience in the UK.

  46. Memesweeper says:

    >> Let’s hope they can find something. <<

    No, let’s hope they can’t. If Airbus and Boeing stopped listening to tight-fisted airlines, and listened more to their engineers, pilots and passengers, I suspect we’d be in a much better place.

    The MAX issues have their roots in the same place. If both manufacturers loose a packet on these configurations passengers might be better off in terms of space, comfort and safety as the manufacturers start making better, or just more cautious, decisions.

    And yes, some economy airfares might be a bit higher.

    • Totally agree. Drop the last row, install a proper galley and toilet…
      when BA inherited it’s fi st A320 (G-Busb) it had around 156 seats…..

    • Absolutely agree. Just a question – does anyone know if this will impact the BA A321neo as well? Yesterday I flew in one of these and, when it came to seat selection, I noticed the rear two rows unavailable for selection even though the flight was far from full. Didn’t bother me at all as I’d selected a row (emergency exit in fact) much further forward but I’m assuming the A320neo issue could also apply here; the A321neo is a big aircraft with a lot of weight concentrated towards the rear.

  47. VS:

    I was on the phone to Virgin seeking to clarify the position on using two accounts for a miles booking. Across two accounts we have enough for two pax ANA F redemption, 240k. In our case we have 140k one, 100k another. I was told you cannot use two-but I have read here it is possible?

    I’m not interested in business class, leaving orphan VS miles, or one of us in C and another in F!

    • My understanding is that you can take Mike from multiple accounts, but that you must have sufficient for a whole sector – i.e. If 2 people on a return flight, one person could pay 1/4 and the other 3/4 of the miles

      • So maybe I got a dud agent. She said to book one ways (not possible ANA) or pay transfer fee. Perhaps the first point “sector” is confused with one ways which as I say are not possible on ANA.

    • I manged to book two redemption tickets to JFK using a combination of my points and the wife’s. I also used a 2 x 2 for 1 voucher from each account to upgrade to a premium seat for each leg on both tickets. The tickets were booked for the wife and the daughter. I booked a cash ticket through the Amex travel offer at the time £200 off. I’m not sure if I was lucky with the agent or if this is normally allowed. The only stipulation was the agent required to speak to both of us during the booking process.

      • Thanks. What was the ratio of points between the two accounts?

        • I used 40,000 from my account and 40,000 from the wife’s. I was more surprised I could use my 2 for 1 to upgrade one leg to a Premium seat. As discussed previously I’m still not sure on the actual rules about booking redemption flights using shared points or booking flights for family members. My ticket was booked separately using the Amex travel service so wasn’t connected to the redemption booking for the wife and daughter.

  48. I flew back from Larnaca this weekend just gone….. Seated in 1D and F, asked to move to free seats in row 7/8 as had screaming baby in row 2. Captain denied my request. Had hideous flight home as result and was told I couldn’t move seats for this reason you state. However we flew out to Larnaca 4 days previous and moved seats to sleep for a few hours from 1D and f without any fuss and crew said nothing. Have complained to BA ECH as totally inconsistent and a worry…if there is an issue with this plane then not aok but be consistent and upfront….so far no response from customer services……Steve

    • Shoestring says:

      trim isn’t meant to matter nearly as much at all once the plane is in the air

      • Was it a NEO both ways? How was the Load? Weight balance? Cargo?
        All factors that impact….

        • Shoestring says:

          and was the request to move seats *before* take-off or after?

          • Request to move seats before take off on return as had a crying baby behind me , told had to sit in my seat entire flight so wasn’t just sit still for take off/landing. On o/b flight just moved and nobody blinked an eyelid!

        • Yes it was. Passenger loads similar b/ways. Can’t comment cargo loads. Issue is inconsistency outbound and inbound flight, and really one passenger at 95kgs moving back 4 rows – will that make the aircraft unsafe? If so Houston we do have a problem and BA need to make a statement and people should be aware. Crew were confused and unaware.

    • If the weight of two.people moving back a few rows made any where near a dangerous change to the flying characteristics of a large commercial plane, passengers would not be allowed to even get up to go to the toilet.

      • Exactly….and that’s my beef with them and what I’m asking them to answer….ludicrous…

  49. Most people are blaming greedy airlines, but I think the problem lies with tight fisted passengers who simply want the cheapest possible fare and then complain about the lack of comfort.

    15 years ago, I used to fly AA because they had “more room throughout coach” giving you a 34″ seat pitch in economy. The experiment failed because it didn’t increase load factors. Most passengers (not readers of this site, obviously) don’t have a clue about what sort of aircraft they are flying on, or how the pitch / width compares to other airlines.

    Ryanair have proved that the masses are happy to be treated like cattle if they can fly for a penny.

    Unfortunately, this means its not easy to fly short or even medium haul in comfort in Europe.

    • Shoestring says:

      Ryanair didn’t treat me like cattle! It was perfectly OK, no airbridge to be sure – a small payment (£8?) gets you 2 cabin bags [Passengers with Priority & 2 Cabin Bags, Plus/Flexi ticket or a connecting flight ticket can bring 1 small cabin bag which must fit under the seat in front of them (40cm x 20cm x 25cm). Priority customers can also bring an additional 10kg bag on board which must fit into the baggage sizer (not exceeding 10kg and dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm) and will be stored in the overhead locker.]

      new planes, good punctuality, pleasant youngish crew – perfectly OK experience

  50. BA
    Lol.

  51. You pay Ryanair price, I expect to be treated Ryanair style such as 2 people vomitting after take off (stinking of alcohol) with no sick bags available on our last flight!!!
    However if I am paying BA prices,I am allowed to moan about service or lack of and uncomfortable seats. Thus have stopped flying BA short haul since I do find the new seats uncomfortable beyond about 90 minutes and fly others instead and being outside of London does help.

  52. Let’s not hope they can fix it so people can travel more comfortably

  53. The issue ironically tends to be with large club cabins, as you can have the front half of the aircraft 2/3rds full. Couple that with people standing right at the back queuing for the the loo and the CofG starts to get quite far back.

  54. Pregnant couldn’t even move in those toilets, had to squeeze out backwards……..

  55. I was on a a321 neo yesterday straight after reading this article. Cabin crew were mentioning that sometimes on arrival at the gate the plane rocks back slightly on a full flight, once CE have deplaned!

  56. Tèbra du Plessis says:

    We had the best (worst) BA flight ever!
    We boarded BA040 Heathrow to Durban the 16th of September 2019. We sat in row 38H & K. All well…
    Literally immediately after dinner I developed the worst migraine ever! I had no tablets with me and we were only two hours into an eleven hour flight.
    I couldn’t sleep properly, I couldn’t watch a movie, I couldn’t walk around – I was throwing up and I knew that this wil be a very long flight. It was the most amazing crew on board. They brought me tea, ice cold wet clothes to put on my burning forehead. Their concerns were real – BA040 coach class crew – you made a terrible flight bearable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tèbra du Plessis l

    • Hi Tebra
      Are you happy for me to post this on the BA internal company site, so that your praise can get to the crew that assisted you?
      Thanks

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