British Airways’ New High Density 777s Are Coming Next Spring

Last November British Airways announced that they planned to densify much of their fleet. This is hardly surprising for an airline that has been headed in the direction of a low cost carrier, especially in economy.

In many ways I can’t blame them. The airline faces increased competition on transatlantic flights, in particular from Norwegian, which also has a growing London Gatwick hub. Since they’re choosing not to differentiate themselves when it comes to service, they have to compete on price, and they’ll do that largely by cutting costs.

british-airways-fleet

British Airways planned to densify select Gatwick-based 777-200 aircraft. Surprisingly, British Airways’ 777s only have nine seats per row in economy, making them the exception rather than the norm. When the 777 was first introduced, virtually all airlines had nine seats per row, but over the years airlines have switched to a tighter configuration. Given British Airways’ focus on cutting costs, I’m shocked that they haven’t densified their entire fleet earlier.

Anyway, @airlineroute notes that British Airways has now added the high density 777-200s to their schedule, for flights out of Gatwick. The plane will make its debut in May 2018, and will be rolled out to several routes over the following months. Specifically, the following flights are scheduled to feature the denser configurations:

  • London Gatwick to Kingston as of May 7, 2018
  • London Gatwick to Punta Cana as of May 8, 2018
  • London Gatwick to Orlando as of May 11, 2018
  • London Gatwick to Cancun as of May 12, 2018
  • London Gatwick to Tampa as of June 7, 2018
  • London Gatwick to New York JFK as of July 8, 2018
  • London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale as of September 13, 2018


On some of the above routes, the denser 777 will only operate select dates or frequencies, so check the above link for full details.

So, just how many seats are being added to these 777-200s?

  • 777-200s will go from having 280 seats to 336 seats
  • Business class is decreasing from 40 seats to 32 seats
  • Premium economy is increasing from 24 seats to 52 seats
  • Economy is increasing from 216 seats to 252 seats

So as you can see, the plane is picking up a lot of premium economy seats, while most of the economy gains will come in the form of adding an extra seat per row.

British Airways’ biggest competitor with these planes is Norwegian, which has 344 seats on their 787-9s — 35 premium economy seats and 309 economy seats.

So if you’re scheduled to fly on one of the planes in economy, expect your flight to be a bit less comfortable. In the meantime, I’m still surprised that British Airways isn’t going 10-abreast on their Heathrow based 777s.

Comments

  1. “So as you can,”

    Shouldn’t that be “So as you can see,”??

    Sorry to nitpick. It just stuck out to me.

  2. Brazilian LATAM already uses this 777 configuration with 10 seats per row in economy. I flew a few times in intercontinental flights and I felt it very thin. Actually LATAM should fly the highest density 777 in the word, It seams like you`re flying a Cirrus SR22.

  3. What’s interesting is that the Gatwick flights will be getting the new club world seat when they get reconfigured – at least on the image above it does. And they new layout seems to be space saving?

  4. Heathrow is considered the business travel airport and Gatwick is the leisure/vacation airport. That’s gotten distorted given that there aren’t any slots at Heathrow so Gatwick gets any growth, despite it only having one runway.

    Seems BA are going down market at LGW but delaying it for now with LHR. Interesting that a plane with 10 across even has a F class. Something for everyone?

  5. Only three 777s will be re-configured like this in 2018, so your chance of ending up on one in the near term depends on which day of the week you fly – except on the LGW-JFK route, which will have the new config every day, but you can easily avoid that by flying on any of the eight daily flights from LHR-JFK.

  6. @Márcio Lucatelli
    Problem is, LATAM in Y has extremelly poor padding.
    Had to get up every hour. And even that “pillow” didn’t helped at all.
    11h in OS Y = ok
    11h in JJ Y = “please kill me”

  7. anon

    Throw in the other 3 London area airports (City, Luton, Stansted) and you still only have 6 runways between them. ORD has nine, by way of comparison

    But then there is not a lot of space in the UK. The only other 2-runway airport in the UK that I know of is Manchester.

  8. BA tried 10-across on LGW 777s when they first put them in service in the 90s, but then everyone complained because no one else was doing it. Now that EK pioneered it, everyone is willing to do it.

  9. My first long haul flight when I was one was a CZ 777, and also 7 years later were 10 abreast. Didn’t complain since I wasn’t mature yet, but overall better service than most airlines.

  10. @Evan I do. Unfortunately TPA hasn’t seen any Norwegian nor WOW and prices are always high for a one stop to VCE/Europe (often $100-150 more than MCO and $200-300 more than MIA), only competition is LX (well edelweiss) and LH and they don’t fly daily, so prices are high, impossible to upgrade with miles (not worth it anyway for a one class upgrade to WT+, which flying with a kid is less comfortable than WT since you can’t up the armrest so kids won’t be able to lay down and sleep) and never seen a WT+ fare I was willing to pay for the low quality product. Let alone J which is never less than $2500 ( to/from MIA you can find it every once in a while around $1700) which you have to be on someone’s else dime to shell for BA’s CW or 100% insane. Do I want to travel BA’s WT? No! Do I if needed? Yes. Do I like SQ F or JL F better? Indeed.

  11. I have a simple theory about this denser configuration – It makes J fares cheaper and satisfies the penny pinchers that don’t care about comfort. Everyone is happy.

  12. Evan
    Obviously relevant to some people, otherwise they wouldn’t be reading, let alone comment.
    A few things that come to mins:
    1. Mixed class travellers- work vs leisure
    2. Self employed people, whose spending reflects their current income
    3. People who would like to help others with their travel plans: my son and his girlfriend do not fly F
    4. People interested in air travel trends

    One thing Lucky is pretty good at is giving posts very descriptive titles, helping people figure out what does and doesn’t interest them.

  13. I am really dubious about some of your assumptions. Firstly, BA might in a sense compete with Norwegian in that they do have some similar routes, but that’s about where the comparison ends. Norwegian is 100% LCC, BAs product may be pretty poor but it’s not in any definition LCC, and they are certainly not trying to compete with $99 one way fares. So, although I know you absolutely hate them I think this is colouring your analysis.

  14. Frankly BA’s 9 abreast 777s have narrower seats then other 9
    Abreast Operators so the difference won’t be very much. I have recently done some 10 abreast 777s and frankly they were not as bad as I expected. I think it depends on the airline. I flew jet airways recently and frankly found it reasonably comfortable. Sure it isn’t as spacious as SQ or even their 9 abreast 777s but it was quite decent- almost like sitting in a 747 with better legroom. Frankly it’s the 787 economy seats that bother me most. I flew Qatar’s “dream”liner on a 4 hour flight and frankly it’s a nightmare I never want to repeat.

  15. @ Aman

    Five “frankly”s in one para. With just seven sentences, that’s almost one frankly per sentence.

    Just sayin. But frankly it’s a bit much. Still, I guess at least you’re not calling me Surely.

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