In November British Airways announced significant seat ‘densification’ — adding a bunch of seats into the current planes, which necessarily means less room for customers than there is today.
And their planes are already plenty dense. British Airways arguably has the worst lie flat business class seat in the industry at 8-abreast on their Boeing 777s.
Their intra-European business class has less legroom at 30 inches of pitch than the median domestic US airline coach seat. That’s because all seats have less space between them than US coach, and there’s no extra legroom in business.
A week and a half ago the CEO told customers to bugger off. I guess we now know what he meant. In order to add seats they’re going to reduce pitch to 29 inches. That’s less legroom than Ryanair or Allegiant.
BA is planning to reduce the gap between seats from 30 inches to 29 on some of its planes, less than Ryanair.
The move, which would make BA’s legroom the same as easyJet’s, will make space for an extra two rows of seats to carry 12 more fliers. Ryanair’s gap is 30 inches.
Here’s the new British Airways business plan:
In January I wrote The Dumb, Stupid, Dull-Witted Way British Airways Has Moved to Buy on Board Food and Drink and concluded,
Charging for water — and especially charging premium passengers connecting domestically for water — seems like a mistake.
And reducing product differentiation between BA and its lower cost competitors seems like a mistake.
Given their higher cost structure, they need to earn a revenue premium. Competing at the low cost game with airlines whose costs are lower seems like a game they’re destined to lose.
And it means that they offer lower service levels than competing European legacy airlines on non-stop routes between London and the rest of Europe.
All These People Will Be Expected to Share One Seat on Their Upcoming Flight to Milan
Offering less legroom than Ryanair might be something they can get away with selling tickets to Heathrow-based travelers, although it makes KLM the preferred carrier London Heathrow – Amsterdam, Lufthansa the preferred carrier London Heathrow – Frankfurt, etc.
Heathrow is already a miserable place to connect for intra-European travel in no small measure because the UK isn’t a Schengen country. They won’t win much connecting traffic this way.
And while they can reduce costs, remember the CEO of British Airways used to run low cost carrier Vueling, they won’t get their costs down to the levels of Ryanair and easyJet. They need to earn more revenue than those airlines do and offering less legroom than the cheapest discounters won’t get them there.