With British Airways’ first Boeing 787-8 and first Airbus A380 respectively only six and eight months away from delivery, the airline has unveiled the seat layouts for its new long-haul fleet types.
From the information British Airways provides, it is clear the airline’s Boeing 787-8 widebodies in particular will not provide the same levels of personal space in their business class cabins as do some of BA’s European rivals in the business class cabins of their long-haul widebodies.
Similarly, British Airways appears to be prepared to squeeze more travelers into each row in the business class cabins of its Airbus A380 superjumbos than do key rivals such as Singapore Airlines.
BA is installing a 2-3-2, seven-abreast seat configuration in the Club World business-class cabins of its eight Boeing 787-8s, with five rows of lie-flat seats providing seating for 35 Club World passengers in all.
However, in the business class cabins of their Airbus A330-300 jets, carriers such as Finnair, SAS and Swiss International Air Lines have configured alternate seat rows in 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 lay-outs, offering a comfortable four-abreast or five-abreast row configuration.
Each BA Boeing 787-8 will also have 25 seats in a 2-3-3, seven-abreast layout in its World Traveller Plus (premium economy class) cabin; and a further 154 World Traveller economy-class seats, arranged in a 3-3-3, nine-abreast configuration.
The two latter configurations are typical for these cabin classes in comparable aircraft operated by competitors, although some carriers offer an eight-abreast, 2-4-2 configuration in their long-haul twin-engine jets.
British Airways says each of its Airbus A380s will have 14 seats in First Class on the main deck, with extra personal and stowage space provided in what will be an enhanced version of its current first-class standard.
Each A380 main deck will also have 44 Club World business-class seats, in what appears to be a tight, 2-4-2, eight-abreast configuration. The BA A380 main deck will also have 199 Club World economy-class seats, arranged in a 3-4-3, 10-abreast row configuration.
Meanwhile, on each British Airways A380 upper deck, a second Club World cabin will feature 53 seats in a seven-abreast, 2-3-2 configuration. This means that each BA A380 will have a total of 97 Club World business-class seats installed.
The upper deck of each British Airways A380 will also have 55 World Traveller Plus premium-economy seats, arranged in a 2-3-2, seven-abreast row layout; and 104 World Traveller economy seats, arranged in a 2-4-2, eight abreast row configuration. Altogether, each British Airways A380 will seat 469 passengers.
In its A380s, Singapore Airlines offers 12 First Class Suites, the First Class cabin – like that in BA’s A380s – being located at the front of the main deck. The remainder of each SIA A380 main deck is dedicated to economy-class seating, in a 3-4-3, 10-abreast row layout.
However, most of SIA’s A380 upper decks are dedicated to Business Class seats, the carrier offering a very comfortable 1-2-1, four-abreast row configuration and 60 Business Class seats in each A380.
Behind the Business Class cabin, SIA’s A380s each feature an upper-deck economy cabin, with seats largely arranged in 2-4-2, eight-abreast row configuration.
British Airways has eight Boeing 787-8s, 16 Boeing 787-9s and 12 A380s on order. Although BA has not yet finalized its seating plans for its Boeing 787-9 jets (which BA says could have either three or four cabin classes), the carrier says all new 36 aircraft will feature the cabin-interior designs installed in its new Boeing 777-300ER widebodies. These have proved hugely popular with customers, according to BA.
According to British Airways, it will be the first European airline to operate both the Boeing 787 and the A380. The airline is due to receive its first Dreamliner in May and its first A380 in July.
“We are investing GBP5bn in British Airways’ new and upgraded aircraft, innovative technologies and customer services,” said Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways’ parent, International Airlines Group, speaking in Seoul.
“We now have six Boeing 777-300ERs, all fitted with our latest cabins,”added Walsh. “Our customer feedback and satisfaction scores show the seat and cabin designs have achieved the highest ratings we have ever seen.”
Walsh continued: “By next spring we will have finished installing our new First cabins. The nine new aircraft we take delivery of in 2013 will feature our latest signature designs to ensure the customer experience maintains the highest standard across our fleet.”
BA’s new 787s and A380s will also feature the airline’s latest Thales in-flight entertainment system.
According to BA, this system offers customers 50 per cent more movies, 200 per cent more TV shows and 200 per cent more audio programs and music than does the Rockwell Collins audio video on-demand system deployed on British Airways long-haul fleets of Boeing 747-400s, 767-300ERs and most of its Boeing 777-200ERs.
BA says customers will also notice new larger screens in all cabins and should find the new IFE system easier to use, offering shortcut buttons as it does. They will also be able to connect personal devices such as laptops and use in-seat power, which is available for the first time in all cabins.
British Airways is due to receive four Boeing 787-8s in 2013. After its first A380 is delivered in July, two more A380s follow in August and October. The airline will also take delivery of two additional 777-300ERs, in September and October.
The carrier says it will announce in spring 2013 the routes the new aircraft will operate.