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 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.