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What aircraft will replace the Boeing 747 on your next British Airways flight?

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Last month, British Airways made the not-entirely-unexpected announcement that it would retire its Boeing 747 fleet with immediate effect.

This is a big shift in British Airways fleet planning, as the Boeing 747 made up just under 30% of its longhaul fleet before the pandemic. The original plan was for the 747 was to be phased out gradually by 2024. As new aircraft arrived faster than old ones were retired this would have allowed for capacity growth at British Airways.

Whilst new aircraft such as the A350 and 787-10 continue to join BA’s fleet, retiring the 747 fleet now will mean a capacity reduction for the next few years.  With new aircraft arrivals also hit by deferrals and cancellations, it means that British Airways will have to use existing aircraft in its fleet to fly some of the 747 routes.  These often flew to some of BA’s key premium destinations such as New York thanks to their large number of premium seats.

Under the original retirement plan, most of the super-premium 747s would have been replaced by brand new Boeing 777-9 aircraft, an improved (and larger) version of the Boeing 777 already in BA’s fleet. However, with the first not arriving until 2022 at the earliest British Airways will have to re-arrange its plans.

What aircraft will replace the British Airways Boeing 747

British Airways has two variants of the 747. The high premium version has 14 First class seats, 86 in Club World (business class), 30 in World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and 145 in World Traveller (economy). Only the A380 beats it for premium seats.

Newer aircraft, such as the A350 and 787-10 have 56 and 48 Club World seats respectively – almost half of what the 747 had! Of course, with business travel massively down, British Airways appears to be ‘right sizing’ its fleet.

What aircraft have replaced BA’s 747s?

We recently published BA’s preliminary September schedule. Whilst this is clearly subject to change, it does give us an indication of what aircraft British Airways intends to use in place of the 747s that were originally scheduled.

The following is based on information from RoutesOnline from the schedules as filed for later this year.  Remember that these schedules are not set in stone and likely to change significantly over the coming months.

Accra – Boeing 777-200ER, A350
Austin – A350, Boeing 777-300ER
Bahrain – Boeing 777-200ER
Boston – Boeing  777-200ER, A350, Boeing 787-9
Cape Town – Boeing 777-300ER
Chicago – Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 787-9, A350
Dallas Fort Worth – Boeing 787-9, 787-10
Denver – Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 787-9
Dubai – A350
Houston – Boeing  777-200ER
Johannesburg – Boeing 777-300ER
Kuwait City – Boeing  777-200ER
Lagos – Boeing  777-200ER
Las Vegas – Boeing 777-200ER, A380
Los Angeles – Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777-300ER, A380
Miami – Boeing 787-9, Boeing 777-200ER, A380
Nairobi – Boeing 777-200ER
New York JFK – Boeing 777-200ER
Philadelphia – Boeing 787-9, A350
Phoenix – Boeing 787-9
Riyadh – Boeing 777-200ER
San Diego – Boeing 787-9
San Francisco – 777-300ER
Seattle – Boeing 787-10
Vancouver – Boeing 777-200ER, Boeing 787-10
Washington Dulles – Boeing 787-9, A350

What if I paid for seat reservations?

If you had a Boeing 747 flight booked in Club World and paid for a seat reservation, you should think about whether you should request a refund instead of changing your seats.

With the Boeing 747 fleet gone and the A380 fleet grounded for a good while yet, your chances of getting the new Club Suite are much improved.  You will find it on all A350 and Boeing 787-10 aircraft as well as some refurbished Boeing 777.  As we say in our guide to British Airways Club Suite, there are no bad seats, if we’re honest, and you are better off saving your money.

If you paid for an Upper Deck seat reservation on a 747, purely for the novelty, then you may also want to request a refund.

If your only reason for paying for seat reservations was to guarantee that you were next to your partner then you may want to keep them.  However, you would feel a little foolish if you paid up to £500 for seat reservations on a return flight (which is what it can cost in Club World) just to find that there were only a handful of other people in the cabin.  I’d be tempted to take the opportunity to get a refund and take my chances of getting a pair together at check-in.

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Comments (63)

  • Phillip says:

    What I hoped would be one of my last flights on the 747 Upper Deck to Vancouver in March has now been replaced by a 777-200ER.

  • Andrew says:

    When you say request a refund, presumably you mean on the seat reservation element – as an equipment change which still offers the same class of service doesn’t afford a penalty free booking cancellation.

  • Adam says:

    We have 5 of us all in F going to Dubai in March 21. All booked on the 747 out and 777 back. I hope they put on an aircraft with F still and not just the a350.

    • Spursdebs says:

      You could change your flights now loads of 1st availability in March on 777. Don’t know if you would have to pay £35 change fee but would of thought as they are stopping 747 would be a good argument not to pay it.
      I must be only person who doesn’t like flying on 747 and made sure to book First on 777 to DXB.
      Just hope we can go and it’s not cancelled.

    • Spursdebs says:

      Ironically I’ve just had alert my outgoing flight to DXB in January been changed to 787 and my return flight at 2pm cancelled and we are now on the 10am flight also a 787 both flights rebooked into first class.

  • Kevin says:

    Thanks for this. Not checked today but my 747 for April have not changed yet. I suspect that’s because they have only sorted the Winter schedule so far.

    • Tariq says:

      My flights to LAS for March 2021 were changed yesterday – downgraded from F to J.

    • Rhys says:

      Correct – and it’s still showing on some flights this winter still. I imagine some of the changes are still percolating through the system.

  • Erico1875 says:

    We have always checked in T24 and assigned seats have always been together

    • AndyW says:

      Really depends on the route. flying back from New York on a Friday night and you will be put wherever there is space since the whole of business is typically full of status holders. Not that I would pay for seat selection still.

  • TB says:

    Our Boston trip in Feb has changed from 747 to 787. Booked First on the 747 as novelty sitting right in the nose but suppose the 787 is better overall – much nicer seats, newer and only 8 seats – probably the best thing in fairness 🙂

    • DB2020 says:

      The F seat on a BA B787 isn’t that great, to give you a contrary view, unlike what others say. I have been actively avoiding it, opting to fly on the B777 or A380 if available on the route. One just needs to set expectations.

      Of course, it is way better than the club world seats and cramped club world cabin in the BA 787 – 9, so you are still better off!

      • RW says:

        Interested on your thoughts as to why you find older First version better than that in the 787?

        Each to their own obviously, but 787 in my view looks far better, is newer so in better condition, and just feels more intimate and special. IFE far superior too.

  • Green Plastic says:

    My trip to JFK in January has been moved to a 777 with 8 seats in F. It’s been a while since I’ve done F on a 777 but this config seems unfamiliar to me, have the 777s been refitted?

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I’ve just changed my return flight from the US next March (was ATL and now to MIA where I am) as availability opened up. Cost me £20 less and 22.5k Avios to upgrade to 1st (from Business) and in a 8 seat 1st section. Grabbed 1A 🙂

    • Green Plastic says:

      Just seen it is indeed a refurbished (Club Suite) plane

    • Andrew says:

      Even the 777s retrofitted with CS have the same old First seat. It’s basically the same as the 747 one – not like the shiny new 787 one or the spacious 380 one.

  • Anna says:

    Our F seats to JFK next Easter still showing as a 747.

    • Rhys says:

      I doubt BA have sorted the Summer 21 schedule yet. They’ve only just updated the winter one and that’s coming up in 2 months!

      • Anna says:

        I’m clueless about planes compared with a lot of people on here but will be gutted if they downgrade us – I have picked NYC as a connecting airport for our holiday specifically as I could get 3 seats in F and therefore have the services of You First if it all goes wrong again! Though I guess with it being JFK this will give us the best chance of moving to another flight.

        • Rhys says:

          Of all the routes in BA’s network, New York is pretty much guaranteed to see F capacity 🙂

          • Anna says:

            That’s why I picked it, and it has decent connections to GCM. Also it’s a great place for a mini break en route as there’s always something we haven’t done before.