BA to remove Club Europe middle seat table in new Airbus A320neo jets

By David Flynn, March 2 2018

British Airways is dropping Club Europe's middle seat shelf on its new Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets, leaving business class flyers with a little less room to spread out their stuff.

The leather-lined shroud – call it a cocktail table, console or whatever else takes your fancy – usually sits astride the middle seat at the pointy end of BA's current fleet.

Shared between passengers on either side of the otherwise-empty seat, it's handy for being able to pop your drink or snack off to one side while you continue working or reading.

However, a spokesman for British Airways has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline's new short-range A320neo fleet won't be fitted with the centre seat table.

He stressed there are no plans to offer that middle seat for sale and effectively boost Club Europe capacity by 50%.

"While the bridge has been removed from the middle seat in Club Europe on the new aircraft, the middle seat itself will remain unoccupied as we know this is incredibly important to our customers."

British Airways has ordered 35 aircraft from Airbus' newest A320neo family for delivery over the next two years to replace its older A319 and A320 jets.

The Oneworld member will pick up the keys to its first A320neo this month, with the first of the larger-model A321neo pulling into Heathrow's hangars in October.

AusBT review: British Airways A320 Club Europe

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

HugoDrax

HugoDrax

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 11

To be picky - and they haven't said that they will do it(!) - but to sell the middle seat increases capacity from four to six seats per row, a 50% increase in capacity.

krisdude

krisdude

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

The cost of the spare middle seat for Business Class for airlines like BA, Air NZ, etc on single aisle aircraft, is incorporated into the cost of the other two seats. BA wont sell that middle seat, as the cost of that middle is covered.

I can see why BA is removing the centre table, it gives them flexibility in charter, leasing or selling their A320's to other carriers as 'one' class configuration.

AB__CD

AB__CD

29 Mar 2014

Total posts 81

You know their A320 is already a one-class aircraft right? That table is adjusted by the crew prior to boarding, not out of the factory. The size of the business cabin changes every time that plane flies. Got 14 passengers on Flight 1 and only 8 on the next? Well the business cabin is gonna be 4 rows on Flight 1 and 2 rows on the next.

krisdude

krisdude

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 160

Course I know that BA's A320's are a one class and the seating for Club Europe is adjusted to passenger demand. BA Club Europe seating configuration is similar to Air NZ Works Deluxe seating configuration on their A320's - Window-Space-Aisle.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 581

BA is a joke...no extra legroom, no extra width and no extra storage. The best euro J I know of is Aegean who give extra 6 inches extra legroom, the arm rest next to the middle seat actually folds to the side to give an extra 2 inches width and I've food them sometimes cheaper than BA Y on the same route. Even in Y they still serve hot meals for free.

MHG

MHG

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 7

Agree that BA Business Club Europe is a joke. Have flown them many times, and the only reason is due to the One World Alliance, otherwise I would give it a complete miss. I have got smart, and always pick row 1, at least there is some leg room and no one pushing back. The service, food and wines are reasonable, but I have found that the staff are embarrassed by this so called business product.

Australians should be careful what they wish for, and stop complaining about our domestic business. I have travelled domestically on many world airlines and Qantas is streets ahead.

If the centre tray is removed, it really then becomes economy, as at least the tray does give you somewhere to put your drink and tray when working. If this happens I will have to forget BA.

As for BA international business, lets not go there.

Selfie

Selfie

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2017

Total posts 12

@krisdude - BA already has this flexibility because the centre table is easily inserted and removed. The ‘business cabin’ on any given short haul flight can range from 3 rows to 12, depending on how many business seats they sell. They just move the curtain divider forward and remove centre tables when they need less rows.

So I can only surmise that this is a weight and cost saving exercise. Shame as the table is handy but it does bring BA into line with Lufthansa and Air France.

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 323

Suspect it's more a space-saving exercise - if many of the consoles are not being used (because only 2 or 3 rows are in J config), the excess consoles are quite bulky and have to be stored somewhere in the cabin.

flychrisfly

flychrisfly

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 78

Plus removing them from every flight will save weight and therefore fuel and $

Selfie

Selfie

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2017

Total posts 12

@MHG - I don’t disagree with your complaints re: BA short haul business, but who else are you going to fly? All short haul euro carriers have the same set up, except for maybe Aeroflot and a Turkish on some planes (useful only if you are travelling to Russia or Turkey!). Air France, Lufthansa, KLM are all the same.

My tip would be to not bother with business - book economy and use your Oneworld sapphire/emerald status to book an exit row seat for free - loads of legroom! Then just eat and drink beforehand in the BA lounge.

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

I'm not sure what is a bigger joke, removing it, or keeping it?! BA certainly on a par, if not, below the standards of the US3 now. And I'm really not sure how they get away with it - must be a very naive frequent flyer base.

Covvers

Covvers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 96

I agree with you Chris. I think it can be safely said that BA is below the standard of the US carriers in terms of the J product (F in US terms) it offers on short-haul flights.

I appreciate that the standard of short-haul J on the US carriers leaves a lot to be desired from an Australian perspective, but it still usually involves proper recliners rather than a Y class seat with a tray slapped in the middle of the row. It must also be said that the US carriers are taking positive steps to improve the quality of the J product they offer.

Selfie

Selfie

British Airways - Executive Club

18 May 2017

Total posts 12

@Chris_PER - they ‘get away with it’ because they are by far the dominant carrier at Heathrow, and their short haul competition is no better (long haul is another story). As a frequent BA flyer I’m certainly not naive - more often than not BA is the most convenient option with more direct flights to European and North American destinations at competitive prices. For example, you can fly direct to many cities in the US on BA that you’d otherwise have to connect via a major hub if on a US3 carrier. course, it’s another story flying to the Middle East, Asia and Australia (hello Qatar Q Suites!).

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 511

Better than the 5 abreast that BA used to have on their A320 family aircraft, but still what is the point of even having 'Club Europe"

I used to live in the UK between 2007 and 2010 and even then it was hardly worth the cost, and I often got survey forms are gave frank feedback along the lines of 200GPB extra for a crap meal. And almost everytime someone would call and I would explain myself. And BTW company was paying and company rules were business class, otherwise would never have paid myself as the meal (and points) were the only difference to what was down the back.

Covvers

Covvers

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 96

I suspect that corporate travel policies and the like are the only real reason that makes it viable for them to continue to differentiate the product.

I appreciate that corporate travel is the lifeblood of any, particularly short haul, J class offerring. I do, however, suspect that is particularly the case with BA.

iM

iM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 50

Just another cost cutting exercise by an airline an embarrassing shadow of its former self (a bit like the UK in general). Having said that I've booked 1A both ways between LHR and Dusseldorf in August/Sep because it's Oneworld and has the best schedule on that route. It will be an interesting experience...

docjames

docjames

14 Sep 2015

Total posts 4

Have they dropped the pre-departure drink or are you just supposed to hold the glass?

Of course, the tray table for the middle seat could always be used instead.....

Copernicus

Copernicus

22 Jul 2017

Total posts 1

BA know that they have an almost inelastic base load from UK domestic shuttles, corporate booked J (and F) travel and a cleverly worked executive club card programme. They are not competitive in any class, but perpetuate the mystique of a world class airline with grand labels for actually hollowed out products. This A32oneo news fits into this mindset of an enterprise driven by cost rather than differentiation or customer service. Fortunately US competitors are now improving and anything eastbound is already in another league.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 150

The european short haul sector is very different to the oz domestic sector. The dominant carriers in europe are the loco's, Ryanair, Easyjet etc. Unlike in OZ where the dominant carriers are the full service airlines.

The only real reason the european flag airlines continue to market a 'business class' on short haul flights is so they can offer through business class longhaul flights from say NYC to Rome via London.


You also have to factor in fares. For example I recently travelled London to Rome on BA. Brought the cheapest possible economy ticket (£69 each way). A week before my flight I was offered an upgrade to Club Europe for £85. Now, depending on your circumstances that can represent decent value. If you are say a couple travelling for a romantic break and hold no frequent flyer status it could be worth it -

blocked middle seat.

free business class meal (which have gotten better at BA)

champagne

lounge access

fast track.

up to 10x the tier points for lowest eco fare.

For me, it's not worth it. Being BA Gold/OneWorld Emerald I get to choose my seat at reservation (exit row thankyou) and get the lounge access and fast track and i'm in no desperate need for extra tier points. But for those that don't hold status I can understand the appeal.

cd1982

cd1982

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 14

Genuinely a poor decision.

They would be better designing a simpler system which can be quickly removed should they need to swap certain rows from club to traveller if demand requires it.

club europe feels fine on very short flights to france or spain but on flights of 4-5 hours, its really poor that this is as good as you can get without getting a private jet!!

What I dont understand is that whilst euro traveller is directly competing with budget carriers like easyjet and ryanair etc as a lot of passengers go for the cheapest deal regardless... but with club europe they are not competing with those airlines, they are trying to entice passengers to pay the extra or to fly with them rather than another flag carrier.. At a time when BA seem to be focussing on improving their long haul offering so significantly, this feels like a strange step!


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