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Under the original retirement plan, most of the super-premium 747s would have been replaced by brand new Boeing 777-9 aircraft, an improved (and larger) version of the Boeing 777 already in BA’s fleet.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

Comments (63)

  • Derek Scott says:

    I’m booked to fly First to YVR next June on A380, and have flown in the A380 First suite before. Part of me hopes it stays that way, and part of me hopes it changes to a 787-9 to sample the other First version

  • Richard G says:

    Bah. 787-200 for my December flight. Hopefully there’s a chance that gets changed.

  • Aliks says:

    Just received cancellation notices from BA for flights 01/03/21 LHR-SCL Santiago and Buenos Aires EZE – LHR 21/03/21.

    Those dates are a long way off so presumably this is part of the cut in long haul capacity.

    • Rhys says:

      I wonder if they’re reducing flights to South America from daily to just a couple of times a week.

  • kumar says:

    O/T : I do have a reward booking to Abu Dhabi and it came with 23kgs checked allowance but when the reward flight has been changed to Dubai the baggage allowance has been changed to zero(None).Is it an error or BA made changes to the reward flight conditions.I need to call BA this evening as I couldn’t get through them on the phone.

  • Venturelog says:

    Is there a list of the 777 which have the refurbished CS, and what route they are scheduled?

    • Rhys says:

      Unfortunately there’s no easy way of tracking them apart from following the aircraft registrations or making a dummy booking on ba.com. A lot of them are going on New York, however. These are the completed refurbs currently: G-RAES, G-VIIL, G-VIIK, G-VIIM, G-VIIN, G-VIIB, G-VIIF

  • Leafwarbler says:

    We were travelling to Accra in January – out in first, back on UD. Now appears to be an A350 so doubly disappointed. Ah well, at least we get to try out the Club Suite….

    • Alan says:

      Were F on 747 to SAN, in Dec, but they have cancelled the flight (Avios 2-4-1) due to reduced schedule, so we moved it a day forward to 787-9 as we benefitted from the current’ policy’ on forcing reward availability open.

      But I rate it very doubtful we will be going anyway?

      • Anna says:

        It’s not a current policy – if your flight is cancelled BA has to re-route you regardless of how you paid for the flights, even if there is no award availability on your new flights.

  • Matt says:

    Haven’t seen the 787 to YVR mentioned anywhere else – is this a typo? Quick look on google flights seems to suggest 777 only.

  • Paddy says:

    Has BA cancelled flights to Abu Dhabi? My daughter is working there and was due to fly home with BA for Christmas, but tells me her flight has just been cancelled. Can she change to fly from Dubai instead? Thanks.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, scrapped. Yes, you can switch to Dubai. Did it myself today. You do NOT need Avios availability if it is an Avios seat.

      Good result for us. Gone from 2am in F from AUH (waste of Avios but only option) to 10am from DXB in J.