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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Under the original retirement plan, most of the super-premium 747s would have been replaced by brand new Boeing 777-9 aircraft, an improved (and larger) version of the Boeing 777 already in BA’s fleet.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)

  • HM says:

    In place of my UD 744 seats I now have CW seats on a 789 on LHR-ORD-LHR for Christmas.

    If I ring BA (Holidays) do we think they’d be amenable to moving us to the other flight, which is showing as Club Suite 772s?

    • Rhys says:

      No, BA doesn’t consider equipment change reason enough usually. You can always try though – and of course there is the ‘Book with Confidence’ policy depending on when you booked

      • HM says:

        Okay thanks Rhys – might give it a go but hearing the holidays line is very very slow at the mo. Will check on the BWC front too, can’t remember when exactly I booked it but it was around lockdown time. 🙂

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Just checked seat plans on San Diego flights in Dec and Jan and it is now a 787 with eight First seats – so presumably a 789.

    Only annoying thing is that since 1a and k is for status we can’t have window seats one behind the other (yet!)

    • Stagger Lee says:

      I’mm on the San Diego flight in Feb and it has changed to a 789. Was hoping it would be a Club Suite plane but hey ho. Guess i should sort my CW seats now although very tempted to upgrade for the return flight.

  • Jill (Kinkell) says:

    I’ve cancelled our S America trip for late October, and was hoping BA would get round to cancelling our 241 flights to MIA. So far a small time change on both legs and it’s now a 777. …..( bit of a downgrade from UD!). not that we’re going! I may end up forking out the £35pp.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob/Rhys Morning i Can’t see Phoenix on the list I’m guessing it’s because they haven’t done it yet rather than not flying there (i Hope lol) or a typo
    Flying back from Phoenix hopefully 1st next year

    • Rhys says:

      Apologies, Phoenix will go to 787-9. I believe it was only a 747 seasonally any way.

  • Opus says:

    Philadelphia is now an A350 from the Winter btw

  • Robbie says:

    I am booked on a flight from Dubai to London in October, I booked using a 241 redemption so managed to get first class. The flight is currently listed as a B747. If this moves to an A350 any idea what will happen, as there is no first class on an A350 (to my knowledge)?

    • Opus says:

      I believe a downgrade to club suite and some sort of compensation, not sure what it is

      • BlueHorizonuk says:

        They replaced the 747 on my flight to a 787-9 with 8 First seats

  • Andrew says:

    Covid is obviously a disrupter, but is it expected that any airlines will be flying passenger 747s to/from a UK airport either transatlantic or rest of the world in the future?

    • Alex J says:

      Your best bet will probably be Korean Air’s 747-8, I can see it’s scheduled to operate from ICN to LHR next summer. Although of course who knows, anything might happen between now and then!

    • Chrisw says:

      Potentially Air China, we flew from FRA last year but they also go from LHR I believe. Also has business and first class options.

  • Stephen says:

    very sad – I will be flying back from my honeymoon (hopefully) from Miami in early Dec and had bagged prime seats upstairs in CW for the first time. However looks like they have changed plane to a 777-200 🙁 My inbound flight to MIA from Costa Rica isnt due to land until 80mins before their A380 flight from MIA earlier in the day so I think I am stuck with the 777 🙁

    • Anna says:

      Hopefully it will be amazing but have you got a Plan B?! Even nations that opened up to arrivals from the US have started reversing their decisions in recent days (e.g. Bahamas, Dominican Republic), as infection rates in the US are showing no sign of slowing down. I’m mulling over a Plan B for next Easter in case we aren’t allowed to enter GCM from NYC (hence the F booking so we can appeal to You First if it all goes pear-shaped).

      • Stephen says:

        Yes good point. The honeymoon has already been rescheduled once from Apr/May. Originally we were flying back from LIR rather than SJO which isnt a BA codeshare with AA so had to book that separately from the MIA-LON leg with BA. That meant when we rearranged the AA flight now from SJO-MIA it is still separate from the new BA flight. I guess that means if we either couldnt enter US from Costa Rica or couldnt enter UK from US then we might have some trouble (over and above whether we can get into Costa Rica or not). There is actually a direct flight back from SJO operated by BA the same day (which wasnt an option based on our previous plans) but I think we would then lose our £500 flights with AA and have to pay a significant amount extra for the BA flight. Something I better keep my eye on I guess – thanks for highlighting it.
        Has anyone else experienced BA/AA being helpful where the flights with each are on separate bookings? Any recommendations on how best to address this if it needs addressing?

        • Jill (Kinkell) says:

          I had separate AA flights MIA -LIM and UIO to MIA booked last December direct with AA., not via BA. I have since cancelled and have AA flight credit to use by Dec 2021.. it was a non refundable booking, but in these times happy to get the credit…which will be used, all being well

        • Anna says:

          Don’t forget as well that if AA cancels your flights, they are obliged to refund you under Department of Transport regulations. If they refuse you can lodge a complaint via the DOT website – they got my money back from another airline within about 6 weeks.

          • Jill (Kinkell) says:

            Anna….if AA cancel the flights, are you saying we can get a cash refund even though it’s us who have already cancelled ? AA are ‘holding ‘ the flight money and when we want to book, just phone up and it’s applied.

          • Doug M says:

            I don’t think so if you’ve already cancelled. If you were still booked and AA cancelled then you can get a refund. In your situation of having already cancelled I’m assuming you have the cost as credit against a future booking.