British Airways: More Seats, Less Comfort & Definitely No Class

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Note: This blog post’s featured image has not been photoshopped – it has been taken directly from IAG’s presentation. More on that later.

On Friday British Airways’ parent company IAG held its annual “capital markets day” which is essentially the company’s equivalent of the State of the Union speech. It’s a day on which some of the most senior members of the company make a presentation to bondholders outlining how all the airlines under its umbrella have been performing and what the company expects going forward.

For bondholders it’s a good opportunity to see what IAG is doing with their money and for us travelers it’s an opportunity to see what the airlines we fly have in store for us.

Most of the details of the presentation have already been discussed to the nth degree elsewhere so I’ll just summarise some of the major changes to make sure everyone is on the same page before moving on to my main point.

  • British Airways is spending £400m ($500) on improving Club World and this will include:
    • a “radical improvement in quality and presentation” of the food offered
    • an increase in choice of food on offer through pre-orders
    • premium service training for staff
    • better bedding
    • a new seat is in development
    • New lounges at LGW and BOS
    • New “First Wing” at Heathrow


  • Club Europe will be introduced on domestic routes
  • New Technology is on the way to increase “operational efficiencies”:
    • self-service re-booking and upgrades on the BA app
    • 72 self-serve bag-drop desks to be added across LHR/LGW
    • Automated-boarding will be trialled
    • Automated connection gates to be trialled
  • More seats to be added to long-haul aircraft:
    • 25 Boeing 777 aircraft will be fitted out with 10-across seating in the Economy Class cabin. This will include all the 777’s flying out of Gatwick (which includes the new route to Oakland) and some 777s out of Heathrow.
    • The 777s flying out of Gatwick will see the Business Class cabins reduced to just 32 seats (down from 40) and Premium Economy Increased to 48 (up from 24).

british-airways-new-77-layoutNew 777 layouts – click to enlarge in new window

  • More seats to be added to short-haul aircraft bringing British Airways in-line with easyJet:
    • A320 aircraft will have 12 seats added by next winter (180 seats in total)
    • A321 aircraft will have 13 seats added by summer 2018 (218 seats in total)
  • All the various Avios programs will be migrated to the same platform:


In Summary

British Airways aircraft will be even more uncomfortable with narrower seats and possibly even less seat pitch (leg room) than they have now (which on short-haul is already a horrendous 30″).

Not only will the changes to the 777 fleet see customers crammed in tighter than before but there will be fewer facilities for more passengers – 2 lavatories are being stripped out to make room for extra seats.

The short haul fleet aircraft will be as uncomfortable as the low-cost carriers and will make customers pay for food like low-cost carriers but customers will probably still be asked to pay more than the likes of easyJet and Ryanair charge.

The Bigger Point

This was a real slide used during the presentation. As far as I’m aware it has not been altered in any way although this particular slide has now been removed from the pack that you can now download.

I think I’ll show the slide again so you don’t have to scroll up.



Just Wow.

I’m struggling to understand how anyone could think that using a slide like that in a professional presentation would be a good idea. I understand that this was a presentation to Gordon Gekko wannabes but this is a new low for IAG and British Airways.

Crass, tasteless, infantile and moronic are just a few ways I can think of describing the decision to use a slide like that but, more than anything, it shows just how devoid of class IAG (and by extension British Airways) now is.

British Airways is the UK’s flag carrier and, for a very long time, it managed to promote an aura of being an up-market service provider. Since the 1990’s the onboard offering has gradually got worse and worse and worse but, while no one can really deny that BA is now a very poor airline, there has always been at least a remnant of old-school aura about the carrier. And I mean that in a good way.

Slides like this one just go to prove that there’s nothing old-school or up-market left at British Airways. When senior management like Willie Walsh, Steve Gunning and Alex “low-cost” Cruz think it’s ok to use a slide like this in a presentation then we know that we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I’m sure someone will say that IAG was just playing to its audience…but that’s no excuse whatsoever. In a presentation where staff cuts and yet more cost-cutting were mooted having a slide that screams “show me the f*cking money” is inexcusable.

Put simply, if I’d put a slide like this in front of one of my bosses (back in my finance days) I would have been sacked…and I would have deserved it.

I didn’t much like British Airways or IAG  before this (what’s to like about a low-cost carrier that charges full-service carrier fares?) but that feeling of dislike has just moved on to contempt.

Related: British Airways Cabin Crews To Vote On Strike Action


  1. […] We already have just 30″ of seat pitch in short-haul Business Class, the airline has already reduced the second meal on long haul flights to nothing more than a snack, elite status is barely recognised if you purchase a “hand baggage only” fare and now we’re told that BA will be squeezing in more seats to its aircraft to make us all even more uncomfortable. […]

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