A little over a year ago British Airways laid out their plans to offer a product that’s a close as possible to economy on Norwegian’s Boeing 787s. Their London Gatwick-based 777s would get 10-across seating in coach and in total add 52 seats.
The plan is to offer a product that won’t be better than a low cost carrier, so they don’t appear to be going for a revenue premium. (More seats is hardly the only way they’ve been cost cutting.) Instead they want to push cost per seat as low as possible and just compete on price.
That’s consistent with the plan for intra-Europe flights where they’ll offer less legroom than Ryanair.
- Premium economy gets a new leg and footrest and a six-way adjustable headrest. Premium economy also gets both USB power and an outlet for UK, US and EU plugs.
- Coach seats “a six-way headrest with adjustable ears” and movable middle armrests. It get USB power and not traditional power ports which is insane.
- Both seats get bigger tv screens and more video on demand.
Credit: British Airways
Premium economy has been selling at least based on what joint venture partner American Airlines says. BA is increasing that cabin from 24 to 52 seats and reducing business class from 40 to 32 seats in three cabin aircraft. The four-cabin 777s “will see an additional 12 seats added.”
Six Boeing 777s with business, premium economy and coach are expected to be done this winter, and four-cabin planes that also offer first class are targeted for summer 2019 completion. The planes go to Punta Cana, Cancun and Kingston, Jamaica first and then eventually to all BA long haul routes from Gatwick.
Credit: British Airways
The new premium economy seats will be added to BA’s London Heathrow Boeing 777 fleet starting in fall 2019.
Ironically where British Airways most needs attention is in business class but that’s not where they’re fast tracking a new seat.
And incidentally American Airlines made the argument that joint ventures systematically bias airlines towards growing capacity because their percentage split of total revenue from the partners is based on the number of seats they deploy. They insinuate this means more flights but it can just as easily mean more seats on the same flights which is hardly a customer benefit. British Airways, of course, is also a joint venture partner.