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The British Airways A350-1000 may have been the launch aircraft for the airline’s new Club Suite Business Class product but it’s also the aircraft that has been at the center of the recent controversy surrounding how the airline has chosen to equip the latest addition to its fleet.
By design, the Airbus A350-1000 is meant to operate some of the longer routes that British Airways flies but the routes on which the airline has been operating the aircraft so far are far from being its longest (Toronto, New York, Tel Aviv, etc…)
Recent rumors have suggested that the dense way British Airways has fitted out its A350 cabins has restricted the amount of space for meal storage which, in turn, has meant that the aircraft couldn’t operate on the longer routes where two meal services are offered (GSTP had an interesting blog post about this).
British Airways has strongly denied these suggestions but it didn’t exactly help quash the rumor mill when it scheduled its A350 to operate between London and Tokyo earlier this year (one of BA’s longer routes) before reversing that decision just days later.
Well, it looks like BA has had yet another rethink as the Airbus A350-1000 is once again scheduled to operate between Heathrow – Tokyo route later this year and, assuming this isn’t a decision that BA reverses yet again and assuming the aircraft can actually hold enough meals for a full load, this will be a very nice upgrade for most passengers.
From 1 July 2020 (in time for the Tokyo Olympics) British Airways A350-1000 will replace a Boeing 787-9 on the airline’s Heathrow – Tokyo route and, from that date, this is what the schedule looks like:
BA007 LHR 11:35 – 07:10+1 day HND (Daily 777 service)
BA005 LHR 15:30 – 10:55+1 day HND (Daily A350 service)
BA008 HND 08:50 – 13:10 LHR (Daily 777 service)
BA006 HND 13:15 – 17:25 LHR (Daily A350 service)*
*A350 from 2 July 2020
The A350-1000 is currently scheduled to operate this route through 24 October 2020 but, as that’s just the end of the “summer season”, it’s entirely possible that the British Airways A350 will continue operating this route once the winter schedules are updated.
The keen-eyed among you will notice that both of the flights shown above are operating to/from Tokyo’s Haneda airport and that’s because, from 29 March 2020, British Airways is moving its Narita flight across to Haneda (which is a much more convenient airport if you’re staying in the heart of the city).
What Will The Aircraft Change Mean?
The British Airways Boeing 787-9 was the newest long-haul aircraft in the British Airways fleet until the A350 came on the scene and BA is one of the few airlines around that has equipped its 787-9s with a First Class cabin.
The absence of a First Class cabin on the A350 means that British Airways will be offering considerably fewer First Class seats between London and Tokyo from July this year but this should be more than made up for by the improved Business Class cabin that the A350 offers (where the seats are arguably at least as good as BA’s First Class seats) and the increase in the number of Business Class seats that the A350 offers.
Here’s how the two aircraft compare (seat count):
And Here’s how the two aircraft compare from a passenger comfort point of view:
As you can see, the A350 may lack a First Class cabin but it beats the 787-9 in all other aspects:
- Better Business Class seats
- More Business Class seats
- More Premium Economy Seats
- Wider Premium Economy seats
- More Economy Class seats
- Marginally wider Economy Class seats
- More seats overall
Not only should this be good news from a passenger comfort point of view (as well as better seating the A350 cabins also offer a higher level of humidity and better cabin pressurization) but this should also be good news for premium cabin award availability.
[HT: Routes Online for the schedule info]
All in all, this is good news. The A350 offers better passenger comfort across all cabins and Tokyo Haneda will be a considerably more convenient airport than Narita for most passengers traveling from London Heathrow…now let’s hope BA doesn’t remove the A350 from this route for a second time!