Some time ago, we wrote of British Airways’ plans to refurbish 18 of its 40-odd fleet Boeing 747 aircraft. Full details of the refurbishment programme are here.
As part of this refurbishment programme, BA is to also reconfigure the capacity of its Club World business class cabin on these aircraft.
Currently, BA has two Club World configurations on the Boeing 747, with either 52 or 70 business class seats.
The former is a relatively unusual arrangement introduced just under ten years ago whereby World Traveller Plus premium economy is located between first and business class. Although many bawked at the idea at the time, it did allow BA to increase its business class capacity by 8%, which was roughly the entire business class capacity of Virgin Atlantic.
On 6 Boeing 747 aircraft the number of business class seats will be reduced from 70 to 52.
On the 18 aircraft earmarked for refurbishment the number of business class seats will increase from 70 to 86, with an additional two rows of Club World seats.
This means there will be 66 business class seats on the main deck (with the remaining 20 seats on the upper deck). This will make for a very large cabin, so it will be interesting to see how this works in practice.
The number of World Traveller economy seats will be reduced to accommodate the extra seats. The number of First class and World Traveller Plus premium economy seats will remain the same.
The new larger cabin is expected to operate on routes with high business class demand such as New York, Boston, Chicago and Lagos.
NB. We should add we receive a lot of search enquiries about the condition of BA’s Boeing 747 aircraft, so it’s clearly a very live issue for passengers.
The good news is BA has today confirmed a refurbishment plan for its Boeing 747 fleet. But for only 18 out of 46 aircraft.
The refurbishment will include the installation of a new Panasonic eX3 (not currently used by the airline) in flight entertainment system which will offer substantially more choice and better reliability than the Rockwell Collins system currently used on the 747, with up to 130 films and 400 TV programmes on a larger TV screen.
The 18 747s will also have “refreshed” interiors which will include new carpets, curtains and seat foam and covers for World Traveller economy and World Traveller Plus premium economy cabins.
On 11 August 2014, flight BA78 arrived at London Heathrow from Accra in Ghana. For the aircraft operating the route, a Boeing 747-400 (registration G-BNLI), this was its last passenger flight after more than 24 years’ service at the airline (Source: The BA Source.)
G-BNLI is the 11th 747 to be withdrawn from service at BA. This marks a continuation of a process that started some five years ago.
The 747s were initially withdrawn in response to the financial crisis, but more recently to be replaced by more efficient Boeing 777-300s and Airbus A380s which have seen the BA 747 removed from routes such as London Heathrow to Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Sydney.