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What you get when your British Airways Gatwick flight becomes a Titan Airways Boeing 757

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This wasn’t part of any grand plan, but a trip to Venice yesterday accidentally gave me first hand experience of the Boeing 757 which British Airways has leased from Titan Airways.

Titan joins Iberia Express, Vueling and Finnair in providing fully crewed aircraft to operate British Airways short haul flights this Summer.

Ironically, British Airways isn’t short of aircraft – it is only short of crew. The only way it can get crew is by leasing an entire aircraft (known as a ‘wet lease’ in the industry) together with staff, which must lead to an astonishing £ per hour cost for each crew member BA gains.

Titan Airways Boeing 757

There is a 50% chance that the aircraft above is the one I flew, since Titan Airways only has two Boeing 757 aircraft in its fleet. Titan has provided aircraft to British Airways in the past to cover shortages, although its bread and butter business is charter flights – all those Premier League times have to get to their European games somehow …..

HfP readers in their 20s may never have knowingly flown on a Boeing 757, since the last one was manufactured back in 2004. British Airways retired its final Boeing 757 in 2010.

Titan offers to supply the aircraft in various seating configurations. There is one with attractive 2×2 business class seating:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

….. but sadly British Airways did not choose that. It went for the standard 3×3 layout used on its own short haul aircraft.

What was it like to fly?

Here is all you need to know, based on my Club Europe flight yesterday:

You board though the middle set of doors, which is a novelty, although we deplaned via the front as usual. This is the view looking towards the back as you board:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

The legroom by the middle set of doors – which are used for boarding – is ludicrous, well over a metre. See:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

Legroom elsewhere looks acceptable, potentially better than British Airways.

The bulkhead, where I sat, has decent legroom:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

There is no IFE despite the old-style headphone jacks in the arm rests:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

There is a huge galley area – I was in 1D and was probably 15 feet from the cockpit door:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

If you are sat in Row 1, you’re going to be putting your bag above Row 2 or Row 3 as the first couple of bins are taken:

Titan Airways Boeing 757

In terms of food and drink, it was exactly the same as British Airways Club Europe. Standard Club Europe meals are being loaded. I don’t know if Economy passengers were able to order High Life Shop items to be delivered on board, but they did receive the usual drink and snack.

There were some tweaks:

  • a bottle of water was handed out before departure
  • tea and biscuits was served before the meal
  • food orders were taken verbally (there was no printed menu, but you wouldn’t get one on the Venice route normally anyway)
  • food was served from the galley by hand – there was no trolley
  • my English breakfast was the warmest meal I have ever had on a BA flight, which was a good thing
Titan Airways Boeing 757

A standard alcohol service seems to have been available – although I didn’t ask due to the 7.20am departure – because as we were leaving the plane, a man sat a couple of rows behind me was ringing his friend to boast about how drunk he was at 9.45am UK time ……

Overall, I was impressed by the Titan Airways crew (noticeably more experienced than the BA crew I had to Amsterdam recently), the space on the plane (although clearly the seating and interior has seen better days) and the way the crew dealt with heating and serving unfamiliar British Airways meals.

If you find that your Gatwick flight has been swapped to a Titan Airways Boeing 757 (it will show on if you do a dummy booking for a new ticket) then you absolutely have nothing to be concerned about. You certainly shouldn’t be calling BA to exercise your legal right to change flights.


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Comments (93)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • NvT1115 says:

    So after touching down in Malta I can confirm the onboard service was excellent with a very attentive crew. Band 4 so menus handed out and main breakfast order taken at seat and delivered direct from the galley (piping hot not something I normally associate with a Club breakfast).

    One issue which I raised last week came to for again however… It was clear from a lot of seat changing taking place behind that other couples travelling on the same bookings had also been split up when the aircraft change occurred on the system. I managed to grab row 1 when it unblocked but others were not able to and a number had paid for their seats on today’s flight. There is definitely something afoot when the flight is reconfigured by operations to alternative operator

    • meta says:

      Finnair yesterday took orders at seat showing the whole menu on paper (crew sheet) and delivered to seat from the galley on a Band 3. It’s how other airlines do business class, nothing to do with bands. They don’t just say chicken, curry, and pasta, they explain in detail each dish.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks for taking the time for the update on the crew/food service Nv, much appreciated! However, no surprise really, as I’m sure you’d agree! Nick

  • Londonsteve says:

    It’s a sad day when we’re looking forward to a mainline BA service to be substituted by a virtually known charter airline flying obsolete aircraft.

  • modestpointscollector says:

    Sounds like you’re being upgraded with a swap out to Titan, I don’t mind the super thin super hard BA seats for a few hours (famous last words as I’m off to Cyprus in Sept) but I know a few people would definitely prefer this plus the service sounds better for sure.

  • A says:

    Would be a welcomed substitution to experience the 757 take off & sound again.

  • Peter says:

    Was yesterday on Finnairs A321 from Zagreb to Heathrow, much better legroom and tablet holder. Great crew as well. The algorithm split us up to row 8 and 9 but blocked all seats around us, so we had 2 rows.

  • BlueThroughCrimp says:

    Pre-2020, 757s were pretty common on US3 to UK non-London destinations.
    And the age thing is a bit over-blown. There’s 319s in the LHR fleet that are older than Titan’s 757s. Probably higher cycles too.

    • Travel wifie says:

      Still are! I watched United’s 757 land at edinburgh this morning. United are using 757’s from EWR to EDI and Delta are using 767’s from JFK

      • BlueThroughCrimp says:

        Nice one TW! I hadn’t really looked to see what was operating what lately.
        I’ve done the old Delta to JFK from Edinburgh waaay back in 2008 on a former TWA 757.

  • Andy says:

    The 2 B757s are G-ZAPX AND G-POWH. One will be used for BA, the other planned to go to Jet2 at Stansted

  • merlin90 says:

    Turns out the first flight I ever took to the US, LHR-EWR on UA in 2014, was on a 757-200. I had a middle seat in Y. Fair to say my tastes and the level of attention I give my flight bookings have changed a bit since then!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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