British Airways Is Making A Negative Change To Its Los Angeles Route In 2019

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I fly between Los Angeles and London a lot so I tend to keep a close watch over what services various airlines are offering on this route. As a fan of the oneworld alliance I keep an especially close eye on what the likes of British Airways and American Airlines have scheduled and I’ve just noticed an unwelcome change.

British Airways has filed a change to its summer schedule and this sees the number of weekly A380 flights between Los Angeles and London decrease from 7 to 3 with the 4 dropped flights being picked up by the airline’s refreshed 747 aircraft. [HT: Routes Online]

If you’re a fan of the upper deck Business Class cabin on the 747 this will probably be good news for you but, overall, this isn’t news that most flyers should want to hear.

The issue here is one of capacity as the British Airways 747 carries a lot fewer passengers than the A380.

Here’s a comparison of the two aircraft:

a table with numbers and symbols

Where the British Airways A380 carries 469 passengers the 747 carries just 275 and that’s a 41% decrease in the number of seats on offer on 4 of BA’s weekly flights between LA and London (8 flights if you count the return journey).

Between 31 March and 26 October 2019 British Airways will be offering 1,552 fewer seats between London and Los Angeles every week and, as American Airlines doesn’t look like it’s going to be picking up the slack, this could have a serious inflationary effect on fares.

As far as I can tell there’s no sign that demand on the LA – London route is on the slide so it looks like we’re going to be faced with fewer seats on offer for 5 months of 2019 without a decrease in the number of passengers wanting to book flights.

As if the fear of increased airfares wasn’t bad enough, this aircraft change will also mean bad news for travelers looking to book premium cabin awards on British Airways.

The 747 may offer the same number of First Class seats as the A380 but it offers 11 fewer Business Class seats and 25 fewer Premium Economy Class seats and these differences could be significant.

I’m no fan of redeeming miles/Avios for BA long-haul flights but I know a lot of people who do just that (especially UK-based flyers looking to use companion vouchers). This group of flyers could find it a lot harder to book Business Class/Premium Economy awards to/from LA in 2019….and it’s not like it has been all that easy up until now!

Here’s what BA is showing right now if you search for 2 Business Class seats between London and Los Angeles for travel in the next 12 months:

a screenshot of a graph

January, February, March and October look ok but the months in between don’t look promising at all – between 1 April and 31 July 2019 there isn’t a single day on which there are 2 Business Class award seats available on the London – Los Angles sector.

Bottom Line

The London – LA route is one of BA’s most popular (and profitable) routes so finding award space on it has never been particularly easy. Now that the airline is shedding a serious amount of capacity for the summer season we can expect things to be even worse.

It will be interesting to see what happens to prices on this route (especially in Premium Economy and Economy class) now that there are significantly fewer seats on offer. When you combine BA’s capacity cuts with the fact that WOW Air has been taken over by Icelandair and the fact that Norwegian is fighting to stay afloat things don’t look good for the bargain hunters out there.

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