Is British Airways potentially looking to squeeze more seats onboard its fleet of Embraer 190 regional jets, which operate out of London City Airport under a CityFlyer brand – a wholly owned subsidiary of the mainline airline?
As initially reported by the ‘To Fly, To Travel‘ account on X (formerly Twitter), British Airways was said to be hoping to get as many as eight more seats per plane – a feat that will require reducing the legroom or pitch, that customers currently enjoy.
BA’s fleet of 21 strong Brazilian-made Embrarers are laid out in a two-by-two seating configuration with a seat pitch of approximately 33 inches at most seats but nearly 40 inches at the overwing exits.
In contrast, the airline’s newest single-aisle Airbus aircraft like the A320neo and A321neo, have been configured in a three-by-three configuration with seat pitch range from 30 inches to just 28 inches and up to 35 inches at the emergency exit rows.
By refitting its CityFlyer regional jets with two additional rows of seats, however, British Airways would have to increase the passenger capacity from 98 to 106 seats – which would require hiring additional crew members.
In its current configuration, the Embrarer 190 jet can be operated with just two pilots and two cabin crew, but by going over the 100-passenger seat threshold, BA would have to deploy a minimum of three cabin crew, regardless of how many passengers are onboard.
To offset the extra costs of an additional crew, aside from the additional seat sales, there’s online speculation that British Airways will finally introduce its ‘buy on board’ service on CityFlyer flights.
BA originally introduced the controversial buy-on-board concept in partnership with upscale food retailer Marks & Spencer back in 2017, although it switched back to a complimentary service for a short period during the pandemic to reduce contact between crew and passengers.
Buy on board was, however, never introduced at CityFlyer. In part because the operation was too far-flung in the Docklands for BA’s buy-on-board supplier to bother with, as well as a tight fit in the plane’s galleys.
Instead, Economy Class passengers travelling on BA’s CityFlyer services still get to enjoy a substantial complimentary snack and free drinks, including alcoholic beverages.
That, though, could soon change. If the online rumours are true, then BA plans to start refitting its CityFlyer regional jets early next year. This could, however, just be a rumour – within hours of posting on X, the otherwise reliable ‘To Fly, To Travel‘ account had deleted the post without an explanation.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.