Consider the feathers ruffled…

Yesterday I wrote a piece about how British Airways Airbus A350-1000 aircraft are struggling to adequately serve true long haul flights, due to decisions made during the procurement process for smaller stowage. The article pissed a few people off, to say the least – but the insider knowledge I’ve been afforded on the subject has been corroborated by too many others inside British Airways, or as passengers, for there not to be truth to it.

Today, British Airways emailed me to categorically deny my comments and effectively call me a liar in response. Coincidentally, I was already updating the initial article with further information, but not the type they may have been hoping for. They even issued statements to other outlets saying my piece was simply untrue.

I stand by every word, and now that I’ve been offered a formal rebuttal and categorical denial, I’ll actually elaborate a lot further on what I’ve learned, which makes the denial more amusing, at least to me.

Here’s British Airways Response

British Airways Press Office hit me up to tell me I’m wrong. That’s fine. Well, actually, they offered this comment to another blog first, stating my piece was incorrect before reaching out to me at all. Ouch. Here’s what they had to say…

​This is not true. Our A350 has sufficient space to accommodate catering for the duration of any of our flights, and has already flown to Dubai, Toronto, Tel Aviv and Bangalore, with more routes planned.  ​

True, the airline has flown to Dubai, Toronto, Tel Aviv and Bangalore with the A350, but that’s almost entirely useless information to offer anyone who actually knows how meals are served on BA, other than the Bangalore bit. None of the other routes receive the long haul meal service, which the A350 doesn’t seem to have enough space for. Worse, Bangalore isn’t actually a great bit to include in their rebuttal either.

Why? Because Bangalore, as of roughly three days ago, is the only double hot meal service the A350 currently flies to, and the airline just had to remove ice cream and other standard items to make room for the second meal. I don’t know about you, but I f**king love ice cream. Is it adequate if something needs to be removed? The issue is causing chaos in World Traveller Plus (premium economy).

But again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the storage capabilities of this plane. Nothing!!!

Wink implied.

And Then There “Was” Tokyo

British Airways has its share of haters, of which I am not one, and apologists, which I am also not one either. I think the airline has gone in a positive trending direction over the last few years and I’m pretty happy with most changes, but some things in life just aren’t true, no matter how much you want them to be.

Many BA insiders chimed in to say “not true, it’s going to Tokyo this summer”, including some with direct knowledge of the procurement process and route mapping of aircraft. There was truth to that, at least briefly.

Passengers booked on summer services, namely to Tokyo 2020 were informed of aircraft changes earlier in the week to the Airbus A350. There’s documentable proof of this, which I’ve seen first hand. Hooray! The British Airways A350-1000 has by far and away British Airways best business class seat and updated cabins, most were overjoyed. It’s a great way to fly!

But, less than a week from the original swap over to the A350, the flights all changed back to either a Boeing 777 or Boeing 787. I guess the A350 wasn’t actually working out so well on those Bangalore sectors, after all? So just to reiterate – at least from BA’s side – they never “officially” announced Tokyo, the plane is perfect and it already flies to Bangalore and there are more routes coming.

Ok…

What is this, a Sean Spicer press conference?

“It was the biggest crowd ever”…

Photographic proof it wasn’t.

“It was the biggest crowd ever”….

Ok then…

While We’re Still Here…

While we’re on the subject of BA’s planes – which I wouldn’t have been on, had I not been accused of making untrue statements – the lengthy Boeing 787-10’s, which British Airways will soon take delivery, have limited route ability as well. Yep, they really do.

Why, you may ask (again)? Because BA’s 787-10s are being retrofitted to remove crew bunks, so it too will be limited in how far it can travel. If crew doesn’t have space to rest, they legally can’t fly past a certain hour limit. This isn’t unique to BA, Singapore Airlines has done it as well, but then Singapore only flies it regionally, to places like Seoul which are 6 hour flights. British Airways has their 787-10 scheduled on 9+ hour routes like Seattle, which won’t prove very popular with crew.

Read as: don’t expect it flying 11 hour flights any time soon, or ever. This too, is fact. For those routes which do receive the 787-10 though, it should actually be BA’s best plane, thanks to the newer first class, club suite and most updated seats in premium and economy.

So, if the A350 is struggling to cope with two full meal services without removing things as simple as ice cream, and the 787-10 doesn’t have the space lawfully required for cabin crew to rest on ultra long flights, then what can passengers on BA’s longest journeys expect to find?

It’s not like the 777X is going to be delivered any time soon; not after the doors blew off during a pressure test observed by the FAA. That’s years away, at best.

As noted in the original article, to some extent, plane interiors are like lego blocks. Snap in, snap out. Problems can be fixed without dismantling a fuselage, easily in fact, and BA may choose to do this, or modify future deliveries. Apparently an overhaul of the “mid galley” is already under discussion.

The entire cabin of one of these British Airways A350-1000’s could be stripped out and turned into a flying palace for an Emirati Prince in just a matter of months. So if that can be done, slightly larger stowage spaces could be retrofitted into these planes, and minus a seat or thing here and there, they could join the ranks of other airlines that have similar seat counts, yet manage to get the stowage right.

Only time will tell, and we’ll only know when they announce ultra long haul routes for the A350 that don’t require modified offerings to cope. I’ll hold my breath on that “you weren’t actually lying, we’ve made a few changes” email.  Until then, I’m gunna’ go ahead and call the bluff. And while I’m spoiling all the good stuff – Boston, Washington DC, Austin and Philly are next for the A350 destinations from August. Hardly ultra long haul, eh?

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