I had the privilege of getting rather boozed up on Monday evening at British Airways Christmas drinks for media personnel, which was a great way to catch up with friends and colleagues in an otherwise rather lonely profession!
What I didn't realise was on its way was an announcement from Alex Cruz himself that BA had ordered twelve Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, with the first being delivered in January 2020 and starting its new route to Atlanta on 1st February 2020.
Of the twelve B787-10s on order, six of them are expected to be delivered in 2020.
The flight times for the new aircraft is as follows:
- BA227 departing London 14:20hr arriving Atlanta 18:50hr
- BA226 departing Atlanta 21:05hr arriving London 10:00hr+1
Similar to the B777s, and unlike the A350s, the new Dreamliners will be a four-class configuration with 8 First Class, 48 Club World, 35 World Traveller Plus and 165 World Traveller, which makes this a very premium cabin intensive load compared to other aircraft.
Below is the seat map.
The newer style of First Class will be featured on this plane, which if you have flown on the B787-9 Dreamliners you will recognise.
Given the massive upgrade to Club World in recent times, it is actually becoming more difficult to identify the added value of the First Class product. For one, the First class seats don't have a door which could sway those seeking a more private experience. The seats are also in a 1-2-1 configuration so everyone has aisle access. The primary differentiation then comes down to soft product.
Club Suites has been slowly rolling out through BA's A350s and B777-200s to New York, with its full schedule in this post.
One of the biggest differences between the A350 and the Dreamliner configurations are the number of rows in front of, and behind, the Club World self-service ‘kitchen'. The B787-10's seatmap is show below again to aid comparison:
The A350 goes for 11 in front then 3 behind which makes a really nice private cabin in rows 15-17:
whereas the B787-10s are more evenly spread at 7 in front and 5 behind the kitchen, so the rear Club World cabin loses a bit of its cosy feeling.
Competition against Delta?
As Alex Cruz made his announcement I was standing beside Rhys and Rob from Head for Points, and our instinctive reaction to the route announcement was a collective “huh?!”.
Atlanta Hartfield Jackson airport is probably the single busiest airport in the world and is also Delta's primary operational hub. Our collective speculation is that BA wants to compete against Delta with an improved product, and rightly so. The current Club World cabin is somewhat aged by now and with Delta launching their Delta One business class, this becomes a significant battle ground for premium products.
Currently the only transatlantic Oneworld route is the sole British Airways flight per day to London. Not even American Airlines offers anything, so any Oneworld representation is based around this product. If passengers want to connect from further west in the US, or from northern Florida then the newer aircraft may end up being a deciding factor.
It's great to see a shift towards newer, more fuel efficient aircraft, both from a passenger comfort and from an environmental sustainability perspective. I'll be looking forward to trying out this slightly-different Club suites configuration in the future.
You can also find out more about the cabins over on British Airways' website.