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First ‘densified’ BA Cityflyer aircraft starts flying today

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Today is a bad day for anyone who flies with BA Cityflyer, which operates from London City Airport.

According to Flyertalk reports, the first ‘densified’ Embraer 190 aircraft, with eight extra seats rammed in, will begin service on the 9.45am San Sebastian flight today.

It is also due to be used on the 2.55pm Frankfurt flight in the afternoon.

I should say that the ba.com seats maps for these flights still show the standard seating configuration (25 rows, not 27 rows) at the time of writing so this isn’t 100% guaranteed.

BA Cityflyer fleet to gain 8 extra seats

The new seating was meant to have been launched some weeks ago, but we understand that there have been delays in getting the required certifications.

Historically, Cityflyer’s Embraer aircraft fleet has had a generous (by modern standards) 33 inch seat pitch. This is because British Airways deliberately ordered them with 98 seats.

One reason was due to contractual issue with ‘mainline’ pilots. Heathrow pilots agreed to accept a lower paid pilot fleet operating from London City as long as the aircraft had under 100 seats and so offered less competition to Heathrow services.

There was also a cabin crew issue. Regulations require one crew member for every 50 seats installed on an aircraft. This is not OCCUPIED seats, it is INSTALLED seats. A 98 seat aircraft only requires two members of cabin crew.

These two issues have now gone away:

  • Heathrow pilots accepted a new contract as part of the pandemic restructuring which, I believe, removed any ability to influence the size of aircraft at London City. Remember that the new Euroflyer operation at Gatwick also pays pilots less than at Heathrow.
  • I understand that Cityflyer has already been experimenting with having three crew members on some flights for the last few months in an attempt to improve customer service. Three crew members would also potentially allow ‘buy on board’ to be launched in Euro Traveller.

What do the new BA Cityflyer seat maps show?

Here is a map for a future BA Cityflyer service using the old configuration. You will see that it has 25 rows.

Here is the seat map for a different flight. It has 27 rows, reflecting the densification:

What do we know about the new seat?

Officially, nothing.

It is reportedly the Geven Essenza RJ seat which offers:

a touch of those extra essentials able to slightly elevate a normally basic high density economy cabin section, into something with a bit more

Here’s a picture from their website (click to enlarge) albeit without the adjustable headrest that BA has apparently added:

New BA Cityflyer seat

The colour scheme is believed to be the same as the new Club Europe seats recently unveiled for the Heathrow fleet. There will be no at-seat power of any sort and no wi-fi.

What is the legroom on densified aircraft?

It seems that:

  • rows 1-12 will retain a 33 inch pitch
  • rows 13-25 will shrink from 33 inches to 29 inches
  • row 26 (new) will have a 29 inch pitch
  • row 27 (new) will have a 28 inch pitch

Whilst the entire aircraft has been refitted with the new slimmer seats, the exit row remains at Row 12. This is because the position of the emergency exits is fixed, removing the ability to add an extra row in front of it, and BA wants to give Club Europe passengers some extra space.

According to a report on Flyertalk:

“I’ve tried out the new seats and they are certainly much firmer than the old ones, but are taller with better back support and an adjustable headrest. I would say you sit higher off the ground than the current seats, and this along with a thinner back should mean legroom beyond row 12 is acceptable. Tray tables have a lip on the edge so no more meal trays sliding off.”


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Comments (77)

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

  • Jeronimo says:

    I personally hate it when the passenger behind me deliberately rests their knees on my seat back. With that 29 inch pitch, I’ll definitely feel the knees every time even if they are not intentionally resting on it.

    • Simon says:

      Added to that: if BA has to squeeze in more seats, why do they still include a recline feature on them? At over 6’3″ myself, there’s nowhere else for my knees to go if the passenger in front decides they want to recline and the seat allows them to do so…

      • Danny says:

        I’d have to say that the first person who chooses to recline on short haul is an ignorant oaf. If one starts then the one behind has to as well.

    • Danny says:

      Deliberately? What if they are 6ft 6?

      • Simon says:

        Mainly because the design of the seats – unless they have solved it with the latest ones – doesn’t increase the pitch of the seat very much or at all when the seat back is reclined. It just pushes the lower part of the back down onto the knees of the passenger behind. If there’s one 6ft 6 passenger directly in front of another one then it usually ends up with an osteopath bill to add the cost of the flight… unless rows 1-12 are available of course.

      • Jeronimo says:

        Yeah, when I said “deliberate” I really meant it. Occasionally I sat next to one of the kind. Imagine they slouch, put either one foot or both feet on their own seat, then rest the knee(s) on the seat in front.

    • Doug says:

      last ba club europe flight, i sh*t you not , i had the pasendger behind me window seat put their un -shoed foot on MY armrest !?! , put the arm rest up while his foot was still on it !

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Would it have been better if his faeces covered shoes were on the armrest?

  • Paul says:

    “The colour scheme is believed to be the same as the new Club Europe seats recently unveiled for the Heathrow fleet”
    Its the same colour scheme throughout the aircraft, not just Club Europe

  • Richard S says:

    IF BA wanted to give more leg room/ pitch in CE they should do the same on the Airbus fleet and lose row!!

  • Tom R says:

    Even Ryanair’s 737-800s have 29″ pitch (https://www.aerolopa.com/fr-738). So let’s not sugar coat it. Ryanair space at BA premium LCY prices. I’m not sure I’m even aware of any airline that has 27 inch seat pitch per the last row (which the diagram is highly misleading showing it to look more spacious!). Even the ULCC Spirit and Frontier in the US are 28-29″

    • Tom R says:

      My mistake misread row 27 as 27″ – more coffee needed… still 28 is terrible

  • ramsey says:

    29inches is horrific for someone like me who’s 6’2. I had the misfortune of enduring that by flying on a Ryanair 737 Max 8-200 from Ibiza to Liverpool this week and it was VERY uncomfortable and I’ve had back ache for a couple days. The seats are thin and have no give for your knees in the back of the seat in front of you. I looked at the safety card (or back seat sticker as in Ryanair’s case) to see what the aircraft was and guessed they had densified the cabin. Interestingly as aside), Ryanair fail to mention the ‘Max’ in the aircraft model … can’t think why….

    If BA have the same pitch, then I question if the Alex Cruz days are actually over as this isn’t just making things more efficient, it’s making things very uncomfortable. Big difference to BA – my fare with Ryanair was €20.

    • HampshireHog says:

      At least Ryanair seats don’t recline. Is it really the case that these new embraer seats recline? I hope not

    • AirMax says:

      @ramsey are you saying max seats are worse than usual ryanair seats?😟

  • ADS says:

    first report of weight limit offloading

    huge if true!

    https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/36304326-post224.html

  • David Starkie says:

    BA diverted its LCY fleet to Southampton at w/e. But flights very expensive. Nevertheless, the comfort and small numbers on the original configuration had appeal (over Ryanair) out of Bournemouth). With densification forget it! I note also that every seat is at a premium on the reset diagram. Cannot be right. Would conflict with consumer law because the basic flight cost shown when booking would be false.

  • Kwab says:

    Currently on this flight. 2C and 2D seem to have more leg room than before

    • Rob says:

      More?! You could already fit a small car into the space in front of those seats – far more than in front of 1A/C.

      • Kwab says:

        Or maybe it just looks more because of the new seats…I’ve sent you a photo!

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