British Airways is adjusting its route network in response to reduced demand and worldwide coronavirus travel restrictions, and there’s bad news for those who fly in BA’s top cabin on flights to India.
BA’s shrinking long-haul network
Last week, BA announced it was permanently suspending a number of its long-haul routes from London for the summer 2021 season, which begins in late March.
The cuts will make a big dent in the airline’s international network, which was already sparse outside of North America. The affected services are:
- Kuala Lumpur
- Seychelles (last service April 24, 2021)
- Abu Dhabi
- Jeddah (short adhoc operation to continue over Hajj period in July 2021)
The following routes are being suspended for the summer 2021 season only, and are expected to resume in November 2021:
- Sydney (SYD)
- Bangkok (BKK)
- San Jose (SJO)
BA cutting first class to Delhi and Mumbai
BA’s schedule changes also appear to include a significant reduction in the availability of first class seats to Delhi and Mumbai (business class continues to be the top cabin on flights to Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru).
According to BA’s website, there are no first seats for sale to Delhi for much of next year:
A follow up search on ITA Matrix, for first class tickets from London to Mumbai and Delhi with BA shows very patchy availability, with eye-watering prices to match:
For many dates I searched next year, there is simply no option to purchase a first class ticket on the BA website:
The bad news keeps coming, because flights to Bengaluru, which were previously operated by a new Airbus A350, thereby guaranteeing the new Club Suite business class product with 1-2-1 seating, are now scheduled to use a Boeing 777.
As of now, the BA website shows Club Suites on 777 flights to Bangalore - though only a minority of BA's Boeing 777s are fitted with the new product. Clearly, there is a good chance you might end up flying BA’s uncompetitive legacy Club World business class cabin, which features seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
That same Club World legacy cabin now appears to be the workhorse of BA’s flights to India, as the old 2-4-2 set up is rostered for many flights to Delhi and Mumbai next year.
British Airways obviously expects to be a much smaller airline after the coronavirus epidemic, and has permanently cut a number of its long-haul services, including flights to Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur and Calgary.
The airline is also reducing the number of first class seats available to India, instead flying three-class Boeing 777s (with business class as the top cabin) to Mumbai and Delhi for much of next year.
At the moment, the best hope of flying BA’s most competitive premium product, the new BA business class Club Suite, is on a flight to Bengaluru - though with so much changing there’s clearly no guarantee what product you’ll end up with.
How do you feel about the new slim-line British Airways? Do you like to fly BA in first or business class to India?