British Airways has confirmed at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company, International Airlines Group, that it is to increase the density of seating on selected long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft from 9 to 10 seats a row in its World Traveller economy cabin.
This move will be implemented on 25 Boeing 777 aircraft which is understood to be all of BA’s Boeing 777s at London Gatwick and selected Boeing 777s at London Heathrow. It will add an additional 36 economy seats to the aircraft.
BA will also reduce the size of the Club World business class cabin from 40 to 32 seats and increase the size of the World Traveller Plus premium economy cabin from 24 to 42 seats on these aircraft.
The reconfigured aircraft are expected to enter service in 2018.
This is in fact not the first time BA has implemented 10-across seating in World Traveller economy as many Gatwick based Boeing 777 aircraft had this configuration in the 1990s.
There are no plans to increase the density on other long-haul aircraft. However, you can be confident that BA will be monitoring closely passenger feedback and the financial performance of routes with the increased seating density.
This is no doubt a competitive response to both the growth of Norwegian at London Gatwick and many other airlines which have similar configurations on Boeing 777 aircraft.
Whilst the airline will no doubt say this is a necessary competitive move, it will mean a more crowded cabin, less overhead baggage space, lower crew-passenger ratios, and more queues for the washrooms.
On a similar note, BA also hints that its long-haul economy product may be “unbundled” with separate charges for items such as checked bags for certain fates, as has happpend on short-haul. If this does happen, it is likely to operate on a trial basis, initially at London Gatwick.
You can view the full slide deck from the Capital Markets Day here.