New British Airways Club Europe Slimline Seats

Intra-Europe business class is too comfortable.

Said no one ever.

While the premium cabins of European airlines are generally better than those of US carriers, that’s not the case when it comes to shorthaul flights. For business class on flights within Europe, most airlines just give you standard economy class seats with the center seat blocked, better food, and (theoretically) more attentive service.

I’d take a domestic first class seat on a US airline any day over what European airlines offer on shorthaul flights.

While British Airways’ Club Europe (business class) has never been all that great, they did at least offer a few extra inches of legroom in their business class section, which was a nice touch. And in fairness to them, this isn’t something that most other airlines offer within Europe.

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British Airways current Club Europe cabin

British Airways recently announced that they’re in the process of “refreshing” their shorthaul fleet, and as part of that they’re installing new slimline seats. They expect the reconfiguration process to take roughly a year, so we can expect that by mid-2015 the shorthaul fleet is reconfigured.

These seats are becoming the norm for shorthaul routes nowadays, given that they take up less space, and therefore the airlines can fit more seats onto a plane. In the case of British Airways, these new seats will result in the following increase of seats:

  • A319s: 132 to 143 seats (increase of 11 seats)
  • A320s: 162 to 168 seats (increase of 6 seats)
  • A321: 188 to 205 seats (increase of 17 seats)

However, as part of this process they’re reducing the seat pitch in Club Europe from 34″ to 30″. That means the business class cabin will have just as much legroom as the economy cabin.

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British Airways refurbished Club Europe cabin

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British Airways refurbished Club Europe cabin

Here’s how they described the Club Europe changes in an internal memo:

What do the changes mean for Club Europe?

Club Europe seat-pitch will change from 34” to 30”. This is the same as business class seat-pitch as Lufthansa.
We’ll be maintaining the 2:2 configuration in Club Europe and the ‘central console’ separating the two seats has been redesigned to be a more useful and functional space, with areas for items such drinks, snacks and devices in addition to the seat-back table.

Our Club Europe customers tell us that what they value most is the additional privacy resulting from the middle seat being empty. That will not change and the new central console will improve how that space can be used.

Club Europe customers will also continue to benefit from use of our lounges, priority boarding and disembarkation, more personalised service and full catering on board.

At the end of the day I do appreciate the extra width, and I mean, British Airways’ Club Europe catering is totally worth paying for in and of itself, so… 😉

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British Airways Club Europe “breakfast”

Bottom line

The intra-Europe airline business is cutthroat, even more so than in the US.

I can’t really blame British Airways for adding slimline seats and even reducing the business class seat pitch. By comparison, even after British Airways adds slimline seats on their A319s, Easyjet’s A319s still have 13 more seats.

Of course that doesn’t mean I’ll be happy about the changes…

Comments

  1. Well, adjustable headrests are a plus. (Though the fixed wing headrests weren’t too bad.) The console looks pretty “premium” even though the seat really isn’t.

  2. I actually enjoyed my lunch on DUB-LHR CE a few months ago.

    On a completely different note, they fly some of these narrow bodies to places like IST and TLV, don’t they? That’s a *tight* squeeze for such a long flight in “business class.” TLV is over 2000 miles away…

  3. Very soon, for short-haul flights we will be standing like on a bus! 😛

    @ Lucky – please bring back comment subscriptions 🙂

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