What are the best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8?

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This is our guide to picking the best seat on the British Airways Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

This is part of a new series of Head for Points British Airways seat guides.  We will run a new article in this series every few days until we have covered the entire long-haul fleet.  Once all of the articles are live we will go back and cross-reference them.  We welcome your feedback and we will incorporate any relevant comments.  For now, please consider them a ‘work in progress’ which will improve over the next 12 months.

You can find our other British Airways seat maps here (this list will be expanded as future ones are published):

British Airways A350 seat map and ‘best seat’ guide

British Airways A380 seat map and ‘best seat’ guide

For posterity: British Airways Boeing 747 ‘best seat’ guide

You can find out what aircraft is operating your British Airways flight by following the steps in this guide.

Introducing the Boeing 787-8

British Airways has 12 x Boeing 787-8 in its fleet, with the oldest delivered in 2013.  You might recognise the aircraft from its large windows with electronic dimming rather than traditional window shades.

Like the A350, it is one of the latest aircraft types featuring carbon-fibre structures which make it lighter and more fuel efficient.  This also allows for a lower cabin pressurisation altitude which help to reduce the effects of jet lag.

best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8

British Airways Boeing 787-8 seat map

Here is the full seat map for the British Airways Boeing 787-8. We will talk through each individual cabin in detail below. Click to enlarge:

British Airways 787-8 seat map

How do you select a seat on British Airways?

British Airways permits seat selection from the time of booking.

Some Executive Club members get free seat selection via their Silver or Gold status.  However, for everyone else, you have to pay a fee.  This even includes passengers in Club World or Club Suite business class, which is very unusual.  Most airlines which charge for seat selection only charge in their Economy cabins, but not British Airways.  The only cabin where seat selection is free is First Class.

You can read the British Airways seat selection rules in our article here. This guide will help you choose the best seats on BA’s 787-8!

BA 787best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8

What are the best first class seats on the British Airways 787-8?

British Airways does not feature a First cabin on its 787-8.

If you are on a 787 with First, you are likely to be on a Boeing 787-9 – the slightly larger sister aircraft of the 787-8.  We will add a link to our Boeing 787-9 guide when it is published.

Best Club World (business class) seats on a BA Boeing 787-8

In 2019, British Airways revealed a new business class seat called Club Suite.  You’re not getting that!

New aircraft like the British Airways A350 and 787-10 fleets will get Club Suite first.  There were plans to retrofit the 787-8 fleet from 2021 but I would expect this to be put back due to coronavirus.

British Airways 787-8 seat map Club World

That means that, for now, British Airways operates its legacy ‘yin and yang’ Club World product on its Boeing 787-8.

There are 35 business class seats on BA’s 787-8s in a 2-3-2 configuration. 21 are in a larger, forward cabin, whilst the remaining 14 are separated by a galley in a smaller second cabin.

These are VERY small cabins by British Airways standards.  Some versions of the Boeing 777 have 48 Club World seats into a single cabin.  The two cabins of 14 and 21 seats on the 787-8 feel far more intimate.  The cabin itself also benefits from a classier design and colour scheme than you will find on older aircraft.

It is important to note that half the seats face backwards. Whilst this may sound like an odd way to fly, it is hardly noticeable and only becomes evident during take-off and landing. On a 787-8, rows A, E and K are rear-facing whilst B, D, F and J are forward-looking. An easy way to remember is that all seats on an aisle face forward.

Not all the seats have direct aisle access. Whilst all-aisle-access is a common feature on newer business class seats such as the Club Suite, in this configuration passengers sat in rows A, E and K must step over the legs of another passenger to exit.

If you value your privacy and peace and quiet, the best seats are undoubtedly in the forward cabin, rows 1 to 3. You are also likely to get served first in these rows. Be aware that although the business class cabin goes to row 7, rows 4 and 5 are not used. The numbering jumps straight from 3 to 6!

best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8

The middle seat…..

Whilst most solo travellers will probably prefer a window seat, some solo travellers DO like the solo middle seat in row E because it offers a lot of privacy with the dividers raised.  With two ways out of the seat, you have double the chances of having an empty seat next to you on one side which would allow you to get in and out without climbing over anyone.

Note that, unlike the other fleets which have the Club World seat, the Boeing 787-8 does NOT have a ‘double bed’ pair in the centre of the middle block.  It is a solo seat.

3A  and 3K

By far the best seats in Club World on this aircraft are 3A and 3K. These have both a window AND direct aisle access, since they are in the last row. If you are sat in this row you are also one of the first to disembark. The only trade-off is that they are marginally closer to the galley and lavatory.

6A, D, F and J

These are the bulkhead (front row) seats of the smaller second Club World cabin. These four seats come with a few inches of extra legroom, and are also one of the first to disembark the aircraft.

7A and 7K

The last row of Club World seats also have both a window AND direct aisle access. The only trade-off is that they are last to be served and you may not get your first choice.

Best World Traveller Plus (premium economy) seats on a BA 787-8

There are 25 World Traveller Plus seats on a British Airways 787-8.  Which one is the best?

British Airways 787-8 seat map World Traveller Plus

The premium economy seats are situated in a single cabin behind Club World in rows 10 to 13. There are seven seats per row in a 2-3-2 layout.

Each seat is 18.5″ wide with a 38″ seat pitch (the gap between the back of the seat in front and yours) and comes with a 12″ screen in the seatback in front of you and USB charging.

Couples are likely to enjoy the window seats where you can have two seats together.  It makes no sense to take two seats in the middle block.  You might be tempted to pay for a seat reservation in order to guarantee a window pair.

best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8

The best row is row 10 which is the first row of the World Traveller Plus cabin.  This row has the most legroom as there is nobody sitting in front of you. There are also no lavatories or galleys between the Club World and World Traveller Plus cabin to be concerned about.

The snag is that some of these seats are likely to be bassinet seats and may feature a baby!  (Babies sleep a lot though and are generally less disruptive than you might imagine, except during take off and landing when the change in pressure can distress them.)  You will also be the first to receive food if you are in Row 10.  Note that your in flight entertainment screen and tray table will be stored in your armrest.

Best World Traveller (economy) seats on a BA 787-8

There are 154 economy seats on BA’s 787-8 in a 3-3-3 configuration, between rows 20 and 41.

British Airways 787-8 seat map World Traveller Economy

World Traveller (economy) is divided into two cabins behind World Traveller Plus, divided by an emergency exit and toilets.

Each seat has a 17.6″ width, 31″ seat pitch, a 10″ screen in the seat-back in front.

best seats on a British Airways Boeing 787-8

The best seats are likely to be at the front of the cabin, in rows 20 and 21. These are closest to the exit, meaning you would be the first economy passengers to disembark.

Seats 20D, E, F and 21 A, B, C, H, J, K should have additional leg room as there are no seats in front, but be aware that your tray table and inflight entertainment screen are stored in the armrest. You are also likely to get your first choice of food.

Row 30 also gets additional legroom, since it is the first row of the second half of the economy cabin.

The further back down the cabin you go, the worse the seats get. You are closer to the lavatories and galley which may be noisy with cabin crew preparing meals and other passengers frequenting the toilet. You will also be the very last to disembark the plane.

Conclusion

The Boeing 787-8 is a bit of an oddity in the British Airways fleet with no First Class and the 2-3-2 (instead of 2-4-2) layout in Club World.  The later Boeing 787-9 fleet added First Class, whilst the brand new (2020) Boeing 787-10 fleet has both First Class and the brand new Club Suite in business class.

You are, however, getting a modern plane with large windows and improved pressurisation and, in Club World, two surprisingly small and intimate cabins.  Enjoy your flight!

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Comments

  1. In tomorrow’s news: BA to retire all 787 aircraft with immediate effect 😉

    In all seriousness, at least that scenario is unlikely, unlike the B747, sadly.

  2. From an Economy perspective I find the 787 seats to be the tightest in terms of dimensions and the most uncomfortable out of any aircraft in the mainline fleet – fixed recline on shorthaul included.
    I’d actually go out of my way not to fly it and would choose an alternative route/aircraft type, another class of travel or another airline than to experience World Traveller on a 787 again.

    • Nick_C says:

      The 787 should really be 2-4-2 in economy. Sadly, only JAL flies it in that configuration.

      After that, the best 787s for economy are probably TUI UK, who give you a 33″ seat pitch.

      • Doug M says:

        And the 777 should be 9 across in economy, Hard to see that ever returning. Air tickets are now so (relatively) cheap that anything approaching comfort in economy is long gone.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      IMO you get a better all round experience than the old 777 that dominate a large proportion of the BA fleet LH.

      • Doug M says:

        Indeed. The B787 and A350 are really so much kinder on the body than older aircraft. As much as I loved the upper deck of the 747, the reduced jet lag of the cabin pressure is a real win on the newer planes.
        I know it’s a slightly trivial point but J tickets come with free seat selection, it’s the, far more normal to purchase, discounted business tickets that you have to pay for seat selection.

        • When was the last time you bought a fully flex J fare? 🙂

          • Doug M says:

            I’ve never bought one, it would have to be some desperate circumstances. Not sure what that has to do with accuracy of the information.

          • I think free seat selection at time of booking also applies to fully flexible economy Y class bookings. A previous employer used to book these fares due to the flexibility they offer and also because I was often flying out on a Monday and back on a Friday.but also sometimes I had to change to return earlier than planned.

          • flyforfun says:

            When I travelled for work, that’s all we bought. Fully flex to the US was a bit silly as we always travelled back on time, but we were paying fully flex J on my trips to Australia and New Zealand too. I had multiple books at times and was able to change flights so easily. Maybe not just a fully flex perk, but rocked on up to Syd for a shuttle to BNE in 90 mins and they said I could get the one leaving in 20 mins if I wanted to. Said yes and basically got through security, and walked onto the plane and then we left the gate! So nice.

          • Restricted C fare also includes seat assignment. As does the restricted D fare from 3 days out.

    • flyforfun says:

      I haven’t flown the BA787 but an Etihad one, a 4 hour sector followed by a 14 hr one. The 4 hr one was uncomfortable as I was playing (accidently) shoulder wars with the person in the middle seat ( I had the aisle). Eating was annoying. The 14 hr sector I had an infant in a car seat next to me so lost out on the noise and fidget front, but I did have the extra width to make it comfortable.

      I’m not that broad but if it had been 3 broad people sitting there it would have been very uncomfortable.

      I’m seeking out the A350. So comfortable on Cathay.

  3. Julie says:

    Row 39 BC & HJ are good if there are two travelling together. No 3rd stranger in the row and there is extra space at the side by the fuselage to store stuff in flight. H& J are best as the toilet isn’t right behind so you don’t get visitors queuing. You are last off so not good if you have a tight connection and last for food but I think it’s worth it not to have the third person & the extra space.

    • Venturelog says:

      Can you recline in those seats?

    • Andrew says:

      It’s all down to personal preference.

      I find 39BC too close to the cludgees. Daytime 39K is great, but overnight, I’m a side sleeper so like the window seat to twist and prop myself up against the side – that’s missing from 39K

  4. I’m enjoying your take on which are the best seats on the BA aircraft. However, one point worth noting is that in the economy cabins, the front row seats of the cabins, whilst having extra legroom are also where the bassinet tables are for babies!
    In club these are often at the back of the cabin but it varies. Any seats with bassinet positions are shown on the BA seat maps used for selecting your seat.

  5. Jill (Kinkell) says:

    We travelled back from Abu Dhabi on a 787 in PE. Can’t remember which row,( possibly JK row 11/12) but it was the most uncomfortable journey. Horrid seat . The longer outbound flight on an a380 to SIN in PE was a dream in comparison.

  6. Andrew says:

    Notwithstanding my preference to cocoon next to the window when sleeping in economy…

    If travelling with someone else, I tend to like two adjacent aisle seats. The trouble with many seat plans (across most airlines) is that the on-line seat layouts, don’t always reflect the actual seat positioning. So seat XXC and XXD etc aren’t always convenient for a cross aisle conversation.

  7. Don’t write off the very rear economy seats (the only pairs). We flew from Tokyo back to London (took Finnair A350 on the way out) and had a great flight.
    We both have dietary needs so order special meals so no issues with being last to be served (we were first-ish). The seats do feel more roomy and the little ‘area’ next to the window seat is handy during cruise for dumping bags, books etc somewhere out of the way and easy to reach. Being a day flight, being next to the galley was fine and actually advantageous for easy snack bar access and speed-bird refueling 😉 Plus on such a long flight it’s nice to have a chat to the crew.
    Sure, everyone and every flight is different but if you’re a couple traveling in economy do have a think about it if you have the option.

  8. Genghis says:

    “lower cabin pressurisation altitude” is a strange and slightly confusing expression. “Higher cabin pressure” might be easier to understand?

    • marcw says:

      It means: cabin is pressurised at about 6.000 ft in the 787/350 compared to 8.000 ft in older planes. I would write, however, “This allows for a cabin pressurisation at a lower altitude compared to older planes, which help reduce jet lag”

    • Qrfan says:

      “Reduced jet lag” from higher pressure is a far more accepted fact than the research suggests it has any right to be. Try finding scientific evidence that the 2000ft reduction reduces jetlag. Even Boeing’s 787 website claims it reduces “fatigue”, which is not the same thing. Many tourists live at 8000ft for a weeks ski trip with no issues. The idea that 8 hours at 6000ft instead of 8000ft reduces fatigue is questionable.

      • Surely ‘fatigue’ is one element of jet lag 🙂

        • Qrfan says:

          Not really the same thing is it. Jetlag is your circadian rhythm being out of alignment with your current time zone. It often manifests as being awake at night precisely because you *aren’t* tired when you “should” be. I don’t think wanting your NY breakfast at 2am is “fatigue”. Cabin pressurisation isn’t proven to help with that problem.

    • @mkcol says:

      Or lower cabin altitude even easier?

  9. Brusselsprout says:

    3A and 3K are nice seats and you don’t have to climb over anyone, but the back of the front cabin is a noise magnet. In 3A you will get all the noise from the galley and the raid the larder, while in 3K you will get the noise from the lavatory and the galley. For peace and quiet the front and back seats (1/7) are much better. For a solo traveller, the middle seats at the back of the cabin can be good if there is nothing better

  10. Jonathan says:

    When I flew the BA 787-8 for the first time in February last year, I think I was given seat 21A or it might’ve been 30A, and the middle seat was empty!

    Easily one the the best economy seats that the aircraft has too offer!

    Although the flight was 12 hours long, and a nearly all daylight hours flight as well

  11. “The premium economy seats are situated in a single cabin behind Club World in rows 10 to 13. There are seven seats per row in a 2-3-2 layout.”

    Rows 10,11 and 12 have 7 seats across in the 2-3-2 layout.. Row 13 has just the 2 pairs of window seats. There is no middle bank of 3.

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