British Airways to Add Seats, Reduce Pitch on Some Short-Haul Aircraft

Mar 7, 2017

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British Airways will soon offer passengers on many short-haul flights less legroom than they’d get on Ryanair. That’s right, next year the legacy carrier is decreasing seat pitch on a couple of aircraft types in its fleet in order to squeeze in more seats.

On its short-haul A320 and A321 aircraft, BA is planning to add two new additional rows of seats. The A320, which currently has 28 rows of seats, will soon increase to 30 and instead of offering 30 inches of pitch, each seat will offer 29. The A321, which currently has 35 rows of seats, will soon increase to 37 and the amount of pitch offered at each seat will also decrease from 30 inches to 29.

As a point of comparison, European low-cost carrier Ryanair offers its economy passengers 30 inches of pitch on its 737-800 aircraft. Another popular European low-cost carrier, easyJet, offers its passengers the same amount of pitch as BA customers will come to expect on short-haul routes — 29 inches of pitch on its entire fleet.

This move is the latest in a trend from BA to make its product more competitive with low-cost carriers in the market. In the past year, the carrier has made such changes as scaling back its meal service on some transatlantic flights and doing away with complimentary snacks and drinks on its short-haul flights from London. In the carrier’s mind, by increasing the number of seats on board and reducing other costs (such as meals), it’ll be able to offer more competitive pricing.

According to The Telegraph, a BA spokesman said that the carrier will be flying to more than 78 short-haul destinations this year, with fares starting as low as £39. The spokesman continued, “So we can keep fares low, from next year we’re making a small increase to the number of seats on our A320 and A321 fleet.”

It’s worth noting that the CEO of BA, Alex Cruz, comes from a background of working with low-cost carriers, so he has the experience of operating in the market. However, for a legacy carrier like BA where customers are used to a certain experience, it’s still to be determined how the moves toward a more low-cost operation will work out for BA. Overall though, shrinking economy pitch will probably not be well received among flyers.

Featured image courtesy of Dan Kitwood via Getty Images.

H/T: The Telegraph

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