It’s hard to argue against the notion that in recent months British Airways short haul service has donned a very “budget” feel. In the airline’s latest development, they’re taking the sensory experience of their brand beyond the abstract, quite literally reducing legroom in their short haul economy cabin. They’re reducing this ever precious pitch below the likes of many of their fiercest competitors. Sadly, we’re not talking about the celebrated legacy carriers you’d expect, like Air France, but rather Ryanair…

A Mere 29” Of Pitch. Seriously?…

British Airways will astonishingly offer less legroom in short haul economy than Ryanair, the budget carrier which occasionally touts $9.99 fares. The changes will move British Airways to 29’’ of pitch, 1’’ below Ryanair and you can expect these devilish new seats to be installed beginning early in the next year, creating two new rows of seats. Air France, an airline you’d expect to be considered a competitor (and not Ryanair) offers a whopping 32” of pitch.

An Existential Identity Crisis…

For now, British Airways is a carrier stuck in a bipolar identity crisis offering fractional legroom (and service) at a multiple price. The airline has reached out to say they’ll offer fares starting at £39, once they’ve gutted the cabins and installed more seats. Customers have watched the things which were once included in their ticket become paid items, even including water and now there’s simply no logical way to justify flying the airline on short trips. There’s none, we’ve checked. Ok, perhaps reliability versus discount carriers, but that’s as far as we can go.

Dreadful Connectivity Choices…

A main issue here is connectivity for the millions of people who rely on short haul connections into London. The metropolis is not the initial starting point for many British Airways customers connecting onto long haul, leaving many flyers with few palatable connection decisions into the long haul hub. Does one take an EasyJet or Ryanair flight to Stansted where they must then make an onward journey to Heathrow, or do they take a British Airways flight at double the price without any differentiations in service, just for the sake of an easy connection?

And More Bad News For Long Haul…

Though it’s become fairly standard amongst competitors, British Airways will also add a 10th seat across their 777 long haul flights. This densification is another squeeze on the passengers who’ve relied on the airline for cheap and cheerful, a proposition which increasingly is become neither. I’m afraid there’s nothing cheerful to report here.

British Airways Has Asked Us To Include A Statement…

“Customers fly with us because we offer quality and value in all areas – from ticket prices to meals on board. 

We fly to and from main airports with good onward transport links at the times of day our customers want to travel. 

On short-haul flights we now have a choice of meals and snacks from Marks & Spencer, a well-known, premium British brand that is respected and trusted.

We will be flying to more than 78 short-haul destinations this year, with fares starting as low as £39.  

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.”

Make of it what you wish….

HT: DailyMail