Until this year it had been a long time since I had travelled frequently with British Airways, but this year has seen me renew my assoiciation with the national carrier.
It started with the determination to fly on the 737-400 before the type was retired. I had wanted to do this for a while, for one reason or another it wasn’t possible. A trip to Delft was the ideal opportunity to fly on the age old aircraft, flying from Amsterdam to London’s Gatwick Airport.
What you have to remember with the older aircraft is that they were still flying around with the former generation interiors, with large leather seats and the convertable business class at the front – a concept which has since been dropped.
Instead we have a new concept, which has been rolled out over the majority of the Airbus short-haul fleet, and a new seat ‘Pinnacle’.
If you sat the front of the old 737’s you would have noticed the expansive legroom:
Yes, flying short haul in Europe could have given you more legroom than most long haul carriers – a whopping 34 inches. Pure luxury if you ask me, and the airline seems to think so to. The new Airbus interiors have substantially reduced legroom at the front of the bus, and therefore for the Business customers too, to a more normal 30-31 inches.
The seat is OK. Yes, it looks very luxurious in dark blue leather with fine detail stitching with the familiar British Airways wings retaining the previous generation look, but it just isn’t the same. Combined with the reduction in legroom, the thinner seat seems less comfortable and might not be what you would want on a five hour maximum flight to somewhere like Sharm El Sheikh or the Canaries.
However, this is the way of the industry. British Airways has to counter the advances of easyJet and Ryanair by adding more seats to their aircraft in order for them to lower the airfares. }
To an extent it has worked, you still have the premium feel, just with less legroom and for the majority of the routes you fly to in Europe which take no more than a couple of hours it is just fine. When you start pushing the boundaries, that is where the problems are going to start.