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After announcing it will charge for food and drinks on short-haul economy flights next year, British Airways is back with some more unpleasant news: It will be adding more seats in the main cabin, going 10 across on some of its 777 aircraft.

While it has become more common to go 10 across on the 777 (EVA Air, Emirates, Air France, United, and Qatar Airways, among others, all have 3-4-3 configurations, and it seems that Cathay is heading that way), British Airways has thus far maintained its 3-3-3 seating. That will change in early 2018 when the airline reconfigures 25 of the 58 777s in its fleet.

This a pretty big increase in passenger load, since the planes will go from 280 seats to 332 seats. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Club World seats decrease from 40 to 32 seats
  • World Traveller Plus seats increase from 24 to 48 seats
  • World Traveller seats increase from 216 to 252 seats

From the title of the slide below (from BA’s Capital Markets Day presentation), it looks like the carrier’s trying to compete with Norwegian Air. With this new configuration, BA says it will have a lower cost per seat than the low-cost Scandinavian carrier does with its 787.

British Airways' new 3-4-3 configuration.
British Airways’ new 3-4-3 configuration.

It also seems like BA is focusing on its 777s assigned to Gatwick airport, though there are fewer than 25 planes based out of Gatwick (generally more of a leisure airport, and denser planes are more economical for leisure travel); that means the 3-4-3 configuration will have to show up on some flights originating in Heathrow as well.

Going 10 across on a 777 will naturally mean narrower seats in economy. Currently BA has a 31-inch pitch and a 17.5-inch width in its World Traveller cabin. Compare that to what Emirates currently has on a 3-4-3 configured 777: a 32- to 34-inch pitch and a 17-inch width.

With a 10th seat across in economy, BA will naturally have to move seats closer to the cabin walls, and/or aisles will have to get narrower. (Not to mention the fact that now there’s another undesirable middle seat.)

And there are more changes in store: The airline will also reconfigure its A320s from 168 seats to 180 seats starting in winter 2017, and it will add 13 seats (for a total of 218) on its A321s starting in summer 2018.

H/T: Economy Class and Beyond

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.

Would you fly BA’s 777 with 10 seats across in economy?

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