British Airways Removes Seat Recline, LegroomOver the past few years, British Airways has been undertaking an intense cost-cutting drive. BA has already removed complimentary snacks and drinks from Economy on its short-haul flights within Europe. Now, the British flag carrier has revealed plans to reduce the legroom on its Airbus A320 fleet. British Airways will also remove the seat recline function from these aircraft.

The changes will affect British Airways A320 and A321 aircraft based at London Heathrow. These planes mostly operate short-haul flights within Europe.

Fortunately, seats in front of the exit rows will retain the current seating with 30 inches of seat pitch and the ability to recline. This includes Club Europe (Business class) and the first few rows of Economy. The forward Economy seats are generally available for selection by BA and Oneworld frequent flyers.

Since J is variable there will often still be some Y seats with greater pitch and recline, from exit rows going forward. And hey, at least they’ll now be able to say that J has more legroom than Y!

The seats behind the exit rows will be replaced with Recaro slimline seats featuring 29 inches of seat pitch. That’s less legroom than on Tigerair or easyJet A320 Economy class. The slimline seats will not recline, but will be fitted with USB ports.

To make space for an extra two rows of seats, a rear toilet will also be moved into the back wall of the aircraft. As a result of the lost galley space, British Airways will stop selling duty-free on short-haul flights. (Qantas already axed duty-free earlier this month for different reasons.)

British Airways is also in the process of reconfiguring some of its long-haul aircraft with narrower seats. Gatwick-based Boeing 777s are being re-fitted with an extra Economy seat per row. These aircraft do not operate to Australia.

British Airways has cited intense low-cost carrier competition in Europe from the likes of Ryanair and easyJet as the reason for their ongoing cost-cutting. Their strategy seems to be reducing airfares, rather than improving service.

Despite the loss of legroom, many of our members would actually be pleased to see the removal of seat recline from short-haul flights…

In theory, I like it, as it should avoid the knee-room crunch associated with people reclining. In practice, the knee-room crunch is worse as invariably they cut down the seat pitch and squeeze more seats in. So instead of having knee crunch only if someone reclines, you have it for the whole flight.

I’m most certainly in the “reclining on short haul Y flights should be a crime” camp.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: British Airways axes seat recline on short-haul flights


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]