BA cut short haul leg room: the reality and Qatar leased aircraft watch out

LONDON, UK: British Airways shorthaul seats, London Heathrow on 28 April 2014 (Picture by: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

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British Airways Short haul seat pitch changes

BA legroom

current leg room at 30″

No doubt you will have read from many sources that BA are reducing leg room on short haul to less than that of Ryanair. You may also have wondered if this will apply to Club Europe since that has the same seat pitch as economy. The headlines suggest that this is something new, but actually BA announced this last November at their Capital Markets shareholder presentation.

  • LHR A320s densified to 180 seats (from 168) Winter 2017
  • LHR A321s densified to 218 seats (from 205) Summer 2018

This means that there will be 2 extra rows per flight which could reduce average leg room for passengers to 29 inches. This would make it the same as easyJet and slightly worse than Ryanair at 30″. Actually, easyJet will be likely to become worse than BA for leg room, as they are due to increase their number of seats to 186.

BA seat pitch

Current 30″ seat pitch is tight for taller people already

What does this mean in reality?

Many other airlines have been doing to same to increase the amount of seats, including Lufthansa. The real question is how BA will achieve the extra seats. Looking at other airlines, there seem to be 2 options. The model that Lufthansa and Vueling used was by relocating the 2 rear toilets to the very back of the cabin and using the available space to add 2 rows of seats. In this scenario only the seats after the overwing exit rows would be reduced to 29″. Since Vueling is where Alex Cruz, the BA CEO, came from, I would say this has to be the most likely model.

The other option, which some crew believe will happen, is to remove the front wardrobe and half of the front galley, adding an additional front row and then reducing the space between all the other rows to get the second extra row in. Obviously the exit row has to remain at a set seat pitch and similar position so there is only so much they can do with the rows up to that point.

The most likely scenarios are that there will be no change to the Club Europe seat pitch and the rows up to the overwing exits. Once the change has happened, if you don’t want to pay for an exit seat, then choose your seat wisely. The best bet would be before the exit row but not too close to the front of the cabin. If you are the front row of economy, you risk getting moved if they need to fit another row of Club Europe in by moving the curtain.

Perhaps Mr Cruz could get some inspiration for the new advertising campaign from BBC’s Come Fly with me!

Qatar leasing LATAM A350s

LATAM A350 business class

Qatar business class review B787 A350

Qatar A350 business class

Qatar Airways is leasing four A350 aircraft from LATAM for up to a year. They have already entered service on 2 March operating the Doha-Munich route. The onboard crews and pilots will still be provided by Qatar. A second LATAM A350 will start on the Doha-Munich route from 1 May 2017. The other 2 aircraft will be used on the Doha – Madrid route starting from April 15, 2017. If you are planning an Ex EU from either of those airports, make sure you are clear what seating you are getting.

The aircraft have a different business class seat and layout to Qatar’s A350 aircraft. They are configured in a 2-2-2 layout which is not ideal for those travelling solo. The seats convert into fully flat beds. The best bet for aisle access would be the middle pair of seats.