British Airways has been working away at its planned changes for the Gatwick fleet – and the first images are out. These changes focus on the Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) and Economy Cabins (World Traveller).
So, what’s new? There’s a new IFE system – developed by Panasonic with touch control – this is probably a variant of the Pansonic ex3 system which I’ve used with American Airlines and British Airways. The screen is be 50% larger than the current screens installed on the planes (with a 10″ screen in World Traveller, 12″ in World Traveller Plus). The screens will have “swipe touch” control – akin to using a mobile phone (and requires less force to use).
Looking at the World Traveller Plus seat, BA say:
The new seats have been developed by the airline’s in-house design teams, in collaboration with a leading seat supplier. Great attention to detail has also been paid to how the customer uses their seat, with the World Traveller Plus design featuring a new leg and footrest, as well as an improved fully adjustable six-way headrest to suit customers of all heights. The new seat also has a cocktail table at the front and in-arm tray tables. In response to customer demand the size of the World Traveller Plus cabin will double.
Meanwhile in World Traveller:
The World Traveller cabins have also been fitted with the newest, most enhanced seating, which feature a six-way headrest with adjustable ears for added comfort and movable middle arm rests, which is particularly useful for customers travelling with children.
USB Power at seat is available in both classes, and mains power-at-seat will be installed in World Traveller Plus
In terms of deployment, the six three class planes (Club World/World Traveller Plus/World Traveller) will have their interiors refitted by Winter 2018, with the four class variants (First/Club World/World Traveller Plus/World Traveller) to be fitted by summer 2019.
The first routes to carry these new seats will include Punta Cana, Cancun and Kingston (Jamaica). New York JFK is also on the medium term list.
These changes will be rolled out to the ten Boeing 777 aircraft at Gatwick, with Heathrow based aircraft due to get the new World Traveller Plus seats in Winter 2019
However, there’s one hell of a kicker to this change – and it’s in World Traveller. Try as you might -and you’ll only see it on one picture – is the seating layout.
Make no mistake – this will mean narrower seats and thinner aisles.
On the launch, Sean Doyle, British Airways’ director of network and alliances, states
“We are one of the very few global airlines that offers a choice of four cabins for customers to travel in and World Traveller Plus appeals to a broad mix of both leisure and business travellers. In response to demand we’re increasing the size of the cabin so we can offer more of these popular seats to our customers, while keeping the cabin intimate and retaining the expert, attentive service that our travellers love.”
Ten-Across down the back of the plane will introduce you to new levels of intimacy you probably wouldn’t want to share in your life. Whilst more World Traveller Plus is welcome on these lesuire routes (where an upgrade to WTP may make sense), it needs to fill the rest of the plane.
And if British Airways wants to take the fight to Norwegian – it’s chosen to densify.
Will it pay off in the long-term?
Well – there is one fly in the ointment. In the original launch of the 10 across Boeing 777, the airline wanted to densify 25 aircraft. Today’s launch will account for 10 of those frames.
The other 15 can only be at one other airport…
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