British Airways are introducing new short haul cabins with the arrival of the new Airbus A320 and A321 NEO aircraft plus existing aircraft will be retrofitted. Despite what you may read, the changes are really no big deal.

In fact, in some cases there are arguably improvements to the passenger experience. Let’s have a look at what is planned and what I think of all of this.

New Seats In The Cabin

Changes to the seating seem to have garnered a lot of attention. Rows 1-12 on the A320 and Rows 1-14 on the A321 will retain the current seats which will gain both USB and standard power sockets for devices. For the rest of the cabin, the Recaro SL3510 will be the new seat.

Recaro’s web site says they’re some of the lightest seats on the market at 9 kilograms. These will feature USB charging at British Airways and no ability to recline.

Having no recline on short haul is a very good thing as far as I am concerned. There is already limited enough space due to the seat pitch and knowing it can’t be decreased further by a reclining person is even better.

IAG ordered these seats for both British Airways and Iberia which shows the beginnings of some harmonisation of the hard product on board the aircraft. BA are keeping existing seats at the front of the cabins for their popular Club Europe cabin.

Rear Galley Changes

Down the back of the aircraft will be the Airbus Space-Flex galleys. These allow an extra row of seats to be installed where the current toilets are. Here’s an example of what the galley looks like.

You can see the crew jump seat is integrated into one of the two toilet doors here. This is the version that Scandinavian Airlines use on their A320 NEO aircraft. It is possible British Airways will use the other version which is on the left in the below image.

The reason I think this is because it has been reported there are no waste bins or potable water being provided down the back. This should be no big deal as BA sell everything in the cabin so water comes in bottles for sale rather than in cups for free.

Smart-Lav Toilets

Airbus offer a toilet configuration called Smart-Lav. These are in the back wall of the aircraft and are quite small in order to maximise cabin space. Below is the version from the Airbus web site.

Where are the hand towels and what not? Well, these are in the wall above the toilet itself. This saves a lot of space, but you do get the issue of dripping hands. These leave water all over the toilet seat while you’re reaching for the hand towels which is not great.

To be fair, who spends a lot of time in the toilet when flying? While you may have to turn around on the spot and take some care, making the space smaller is no show stopper and it brings BA in line with other carriers in Europe.

Other Cabin Changes

Video screens will be removed from the cabins which is probably overdue. Currently the screens are old style and all they do is show the long safety video and the moving map so there isn’t much point to having them, though I do like knowing where I am.

Overall Thoughts

I would argue these changes are an improvement over the current arrangement. The addition of in seat power is long overdue on short haul flights and the fact the current cabins will be retained at the front for Club Europe is quite smart.

British Airways use a flexible Club Europe arrangement which varies depending on demand. This means that Euro Traveller passengers who do not wish to sit in the new style seats will, more often than not, be able to select the current seats if they book early.

Having no recline further down the back is a good thing as I dislike people reclining on short flights as there is no real reason for it. The new tiny toilets at the back are an experience but no show stopper as really, how long do to spend in a toilet on a flight?

What do you think? Storm in a tea cup or will you change your flying patterns based on the changes? Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by RHL images via Wikimedia Commons.
Space-Flex Galley and Smart-Lav Toilet images via Airbus.
Recaro seat image via Recaro.