British Airways Has Unveiled Its New Tightly-Packed 777 Cabins

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British Airways will be unleashing its refurbished high-density Boeing 777 aircraft on a largely unsuspecting public in the next few months, and the airline has now released images to show what the refurbishment will look like and what passengers can expect…..sort of.

Unsurprisingly the British Airways press release has stayed well clear of mentioning that its refurbished 777 aircraft (based at London Gatwick) will have an extra seat squeezed into every Economy Class row (why mention that your already tight 17.5″ wide seats are about to get a lot tighter if you don’t have to?) and focused on everything else.

The 777 aircraft refresh appears to have left the First and Business Class cabins as they have always been (disappointing and overcrowded/outdated respectively) so the changes are confined to the World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy) cabins.

The highlights appear to be…

  • New seats (narrower than before for Economy Class passengers)
  • 50% larger entertainment screens with “swipe control” (i.e a touchscreen)
  • USB sockets at every seat
  • Six-way adjustable headrests and leg and footrests (Premium Economy only)
  • Premium Economy cabin increases in size from 24 seats to 52 on the 3-class 777s
  • Business Class cabin reduces in size from 40 seats to 32 seats on the 3-class 777s
  • Premium Economy cabin increases in size from 40 seats to 52 seats on the 4-class 777s

The changes to the cabins will be seen as soon as these aircraft start operating at the beginning of May.

The headrests in Economy and Premium Economy as well as the footrests in Premium Economy are, apparently, new and designed with a view to accommodating customers of all heights….and yet not one of the ten images released by British Airways with the press release (seven of which appear to focus on the screens or USB ports) show these new features.

The airline managed to provide a somewhat pointless image of moveable armrests….

a seat in an airplaneImage – British Airways

…because, presumably, passengers have never seen such innovation before (roll-eyes)……but actually showing us three of the positive things about this retrofit was too much.

It makes me wonder just how good these headrests and footrest actually are.

For those who have never seen a USB port (or a USB port under a screen) BA has you covered….

a screen on a planeImage – British Airways

…and if you’re wondering what BA’s new “in-armrest cocktail table” looks like you’re covered too.

a close up of a video game consoleImage – British Airways

Interestingly British Airways is keen to point out that the Premium Economy seats have universal power outlets at every seat…..

a close up of a deviceImage – British Airways

…but as there no mention of the same for the Economy Class cabin I can only assume passengers are expected to make do with a USB port – not great for travelers with laptops.

“Bespoke lighting” has been added to all the cabins of the refitted 777s which can “be set to reflect the time of day, helping to lull travellers to sleep at night and wake them in the morning so customers arrive feeling fresher and the effect of jet-lag is lessened

Do you know what else allows passengers to feel fresher when they arrive? A modicum of personal space…but then who minds sitting in a tight, cramped seat for 10+ hours when they have fancy lights to look at?

There’s a new entertainment system for these aircraft too and I’ll let BA tell you a bit more about it:

The new in-flight Panasonic entertainment system – which has the capacity to offer four times as many films, TV and audio – has been updated with larger HD screens and gesture control to navigate the interface like using a tablet. The screen size will double from six to 12 inches in World Traveller Plus, and increase from six to 10 inches in World Traveller.

Ok, I fully admit that I’m a skeptic (especially when it comes to BA) but isn’t anyone else even mildly curious why BA felt the need to say that the entertainment system “has the capacity” to offer 4x as many films, shows etc… rather than telling us how many more shows it will actually hold?

The New Aircraft Rollout

All these refitted 777 aircraft will be operating out of BA’s Gatwick base (UPDATE: BA’s Heathrow fleet will get 10-across Economy Class seating from Autumn 2019) and there will be ten of these aircraft in total.

  • 6 three-class Boeing 777 aircraft will have their refits completed by winter 2018,
  • 4 four-class Boeing 777 aircraft will have their refits completed by summer 2019.

The first routes to suffer get the new high-density British Airways 777s will be Punta Cana, Cancun, and Kingston but, if you’re traveling long-haul on British Airways out of Gatwick, there will soon be no escape – eventually these aircraft will serve all 22 of BA’s Gatwick long-haul destinations.

Bottom Line

This is British Airways putting lipstick on a pig as far as Economy Class passengers are concerned – less seat width (personal space) and no proper power outlets are supposed to be offset by fancy lighting, a USB port, and a bigger IFE screen. Is anyone falling for that?

In Premium Economy passengers can expect improved headrests and leg rests, proper power outlets (the kind that the likes of American Airlines already offer its Economy Class passengers) and somewhere on their armrest to place a drink…so the airline is slowly dragging its Premium Economy cabin in line with what other airlines have been offering for years.

Essentially what British Airways is building itself at Gatwick is a long-haul fleet to rival low-cost carriers, charter flights, and tour operators – it can call itself a “premium airline” as much as it wants to but the reality is rather different.

You’ll find more details of the routes these aircraft will be flying and the dates you can expect service to commence in this earlier post


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