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Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club Middle seat too narrow to sit in!

  • brassneck 24 posts

    Came back on a BA flight from Dusseldorf yesterday afternoon and were in row 4 but in economy class. Only front three rows set up for club. The middle seat was incredibly narrow (presumably the armrests were positioned where they usually are for the middle table) and I couldn’t even sit in the seat but fortunately my wife could but was uncomfortable. I did draw attention to this to the cabin crew but they said they were permanently set like this – the aircraft was apparently a very old British Midland airbus accordning to them. What would happen if our party couldn’t have physically sat in the seats?

    Is it worth feeding this back to BA? The crew were good and did offer us complimentary refreshments (declined) as they were somewhat embarrassed.

    BA Flyer IHG Stayer 2,062 posts

    The seat width is standard.

    When a table is fitted it fits within the space of the arm rests.

    brassneck 24 posts

    The arm rests were set to take the table so they were the width of the table – probably 4 to 6 inches narrower than a normal seat. I am not particularly overwieght but tall and couldn’t sit in it with a jacket on – definitely not the width of an economy seat. The arm rests were stuck in position for setting up for a middle seat table.

    NorthernLass 7,531 posts

    I’ve had this – we were in the first row of economy which must have been the last CE row on the previous rotation – you just need to move the armrests back into position (or ask crew who should find out how to do it if they can’t), and the seat becomes the normal size again – and the ones either side a bit smaller!

    brassneck 24 posts

    I’ve had this – you just need to move the armrests back into position (or ask crew), and the seat becomes the normal size again – and the ones either side a bit smaller!

    They were stuck or the crew didn’t know how to do it. I definitely discussed it with them for a few minutes and they just said the aircraft was very old and this was the way it was set up. And the plane was late and rammed so not really an option for us to be able to play around with the seat arms without hacking off the rest of the passengers by blocking the aisle.

    I’ve got a video but don’t know how to post it.

    NorthernLass 7,531 posts

    It’s unlikely any aircraft seat would be permanently out of use. I’m betting our VIE-LHR flight was the exact same one as yours, when we encountered this.
    We had a crew member who knew how to disengage the armrests and put them back to their original position – then a short time later the people in the adjacent row had the same issue, and my OH, who had been watching what the crew member did, was able to adjust theirs for them.
    IIRC there was some kind of mechanism underneath the arm rest which needed tinkering with.
    It sounds like your crew couldn’t be bothered tbh, I would have kicked up a right fuss if I’d had to sit with my hips being crushed for 2 hours!

    brassneck 24 posts

    Thanks – I will now make a fuss. The cabin lead did try but was clueless and blamed age of the plane so I will now follow it up. Thought we had lucked out on getting row 4 in economy but sadly didn’t work out that way. The people across from us had the same issue but they they were very slim.

    zapato1060 628 posts

    @brassneck I think God was sending you a signal.

    Contact BA who will sling you over some Avios.

    brassneck 24 posts

    @brassneck I think God was sending you a signal.

    Contact BA who will sling you over some Avios.

    Haha – I’m just well built!

    NorthernLass 7,531 posts

    Good point, @zapato! But seriously, it’s nonsense to say that the seat is fixed like that, if it turned out that the passenger simply could not sit in their seat, the plane would not be able to take off. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if BA’s response would be to simply deplane the unfortunate pax …

    Annie 182 posts

    I had exactly this sometime this year, can’t remember which flight. I’m not large either but it was still unpleasant. I complained on board and was told nothing could be done so then complained to BA and although they didn’t bother to reply they did add Avios to my account and called it Service Recovery. Can’t be sure exactly but I think it was 10k.

    SBIre 160 posts

    You learn something new everyday! I was about to say BA Flyer IHG Stayer was correct – the seat stays a standard width and the arms don’t move, which is correct for the vast majority majority of BA’s aircraft, but apparently there are some where you can “wind the armrest in or out”

    Weirdly though, the article implies it is limited to 767s, but I can only see A319s and A320neos that flew for BA from Dusseldorf to London yesterday (assuming it was London!?)

    Worth a complaint

    Stuart_f 10 posts

    I was on an A319 with the width-adjustable armrests yesterday so definitely not limited to 767s.

    PeteM 714 posts

    This is what happens when the crew’s average time with BA was probably 4-6months…

    marks7389 425 posts

    I recall noticing on a recent CE flight that the arms were positioned to give the occupied window and aisle seats a bit of extra width at the expense of the empty middle seat. I think it must have been on an aircraft without the centre table, so probably an A320/321neo.

    NorthernLass 7,531 posts

    @SBIre, clearly not correct when the armrests could demonstrably be moved on the aircraft I was on!

    I also had to contend with my OH commenting loudly that I must have eaten too much apple strudel during our trip 🙄

    We weren’t on a 767.

    polly 288 posts

    That strudel comment did make me laugh. Can just imagine your consternation. Hope you got some avios too for helping the crew out, fixing seats all over the CE cabin….

    NorthernLass 7,531 posts

    Oh @polly, that was nothing! In October I went to Spain on my own and on the MAN-LHR leg (delayed, obvs) I was in the aisle seat in row 5 and the tray table had been left in place from when that row had been CE. The lady who turned up to sit there couldn’t speak much English; she was also very large and was blocking the entire aisle while I tried and failed to remove the tray!

    I ended up shouting and gesticulating over the seats to the crew who were at the front of the plane and couldn’t understand why boarding had ground to a halt. Finally one of them came to see what was going on, removed the tray and everyone else was then able to get to their seats 😂

    brassneck 24 posts

    Some funny stories here. Thanks for everybody’s comments.

    brassneck 24 posts

    So within an hour of reporting to customer services got apologetic response and 3000 points for me and also for wife so would say that is good customer service and fair.

    Thanks for the advice as I probably wouldn’t have bothered pursuing.


    PeteM 714 posts

    If you push it you should be able to get 7k each…

    Ihar 120 posts

    3k points is derisory. Point out the safety implications of being unable to exit quickly in case of an emergency. The CAA might be interested 😉

    I remember when these were quite standard and the armrests moved out to make the B/E “non-seats” tiny. The main problem was that to take full advantage of the seat width one bum cheek was straddling the gap between 2 seats.

    Supergers49 225 posts

    These were know as Variable Geometry Seats and were the standard deployed by bmi pre-2006 so that it could offer a “Business Class” product but retain flexibility to offer an all Economy flight as well. The problem was the seats were heavy, uncomfortable and unreliable. So when bmi placed an order for new A320s/A319s they selected different seats to replace them. The plan was that all future aircraft delivered would have the new seat and they did intend to retro-fit the rest of the short-haul fleet. I was part of the team that ran the competitive selection process in Q2-2005 (they needed to provide Airbus 12-months notice of the seats that would be fitted so that Airbus would schedule delivery of the aircraft). I left later in 2005, so I don’t know what happened around the decisioning wrt retro-fit but it clearly didn’t happen if there are aircraft still knocking around the BA fleet with VGS.

    For those interested, a full A320 worth of seats cost approx. $200k (list price was c.$250k). The ones we selected (I can’t remember if it was Bradley or Collins) were not the cheapest but were better quality and came with a better warranty (length and generosity – which we used as a proxy for reliability). The cheapest were the Recaro seats but they looked cheap and their warranty was poor at the time. It was a relatively scientific process as we didn’t just factor in the cost of the seats, we also factored in the weight differentials and factored in future fuel burn costs in to the total cost of ownership. Given 8 rotations a day, 360 days per annum, over 10 years the weight differentials ended up being a greater value than the initial cost of the seats themselves.

    PeteM 714 posts

    Interesting, thank you!

    SBIre 160 posts

    @supergers49 That is really interesting, esp the price! Cheers! Any idea how many BA planes still have these seats? I thought I’d experienced all BA had to offer but I’ve never seen these

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