British Airways took delivery of brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft this year, ushering in a new era of seats in all cabins. For the most part, the plane has been extremely well received, but one lesser known fact, is that the full potential of the aircraft has been plagued by a modification chosen by British Airways, and only British Airways.
I may be one of the nutters that thinks British Airways has actually seriously improved in the last two years, but one area I’ve held my breath on has been their insatiable passion for “densification”. While I agree to a certain degree that butts in seats helps drive down prices and more people on each plane journey is actually better for the climate, there’s still the premium element to the airline.
When you’re shuffling politicians, business leaders, celebs, well heeled people and informed consumers around the world, who buy flights after some digging around at the dimensions, too much densification can sometimes come at a cost.
Because British Airways chose to limit the meal stowage areas typically necessary for flights that would require a full scale second service. Despite this, the airline is still apparently sending the A350 to Tokyo from this summer, and claims it’ll all be ok. Perhaps passengers won’t get as hungry? Some say this is down to the size of the food offering growing from the time that the aircraft was designed and signed off by BA.
Update: it appears BA has reversed course and taken the A350-1000 off Tokyo this summer? There’s also been a follow up from BA, and my response to their follow up here.
In any case, BA factually has less space for meals than any other airline flying the A350 as a full service carrier. Again, British Airways still maintains that it’s enough space, so maybe everyone else are idiots…
In other words: mainline destinations which would typically offer a full second meal service, will see less of the BA A350 initially, because there’s nowhere to put the food, even if BA insists there is! The A350 has always been regarded as wonderful from a passenger perspective, but challenging due to space for crew to operate, but BA went a bit further than others.
Numerous sources have stated that the BA configuration is so rammed, there’s hardly anywhere to put… anything, even for one service, so I’ll be really intrigued to see how they manage two…
Speaking with various operators of the Airbus A350-1000, British Airways appears to be the only airline to buck this essential meal service space, in favour of added areas to plonk extra passengers down. If the airlines view was always that it would only service shorter long haul services, that’s no biggie – but believing that they do have higher, longer aspirations, it’s a vital flaw.
The other explainer of course, was that British Airways was perhaps hoping that other airlines would continue the trend of reducing meal service across cabins, which has actually gone the other way in recent years. With a lead time of years from conception to delivery, this is a fair possibility.
The airline maintains that the plane does have the space to actually do a second meal service, but those with more intimate knowledge of service elements and goings on of actual events in the air tend to disagree entirely.
To some extent, the interiors of airplanes are a bit like lego building blocks, and a retrofit of even these current birds into a more sizeable storage and/or galley area could be possible with just a few snaps and pops, but at the moment – it’s not the case. Being that it takes quite a bit of time to snap these lego pieces in and out, and BA is trying to keep these planes flying all day every day, that’s also highly unlikely.
British Airways is expecting imminent delivery of its first stretched out Boeing 787-10 aircraft, which already appears scheduled for select mid-long haul routes, so it’s not out of the question to think that British Airways was entirely pre-meditated in its route mapping of each aircraft, to some extent.
To limit a brand new planes capabilities right out of the factory just seems highly odd, even if that was *potentially* the case that it had more niche expectations than others. It will be fascinating to see how quickly British Airways plug the cabin inconsistencies (and deficiencies) on long haul routes such as Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong as new aircraft roll in. Let’s hope we find out sooner than later.
One thing we likely won’t be seeing sooner than later on most of these routes however, is an Airbus A350-1000, at least not from BA. And if you do, pack some crisps…