British Airways unveils cabin upgrades, free messaging and route resumptions to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok

5 Mar 2024 by Hannah Brandler
British Airways Showcase short-haul seat (provided by BA press)

British Airways has revealed various initiatives as part of its £7 billion transformation plan over the next two years, including route resumptions, free onboard messaging for Executive Club members and new short-haul seats.

The initiatives were unveiled at a British Airways Showcase event in London on 4 March and attended by the carrier’s Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle.

In a fireside chat, he commented:

“I’ve been running British Airways for three years and the rebuild hasn’t been without its challenges. That’s obvious not just for everyone at British Airways but across the industry. But we are making great progress at fixing the basics.”

He outlined the five focuses for the investment as: drive operational resilience, invest in IT estate, improve the digital experience, improve the colleague experience, embed sustainability at the heart of the business.

“It’s not just chat, it’s backed up by a very, very significant financial commitment.”

For this first news piece, we have focused on the network, cabin upgrades and lounge updates in this news piece, but have written an article on BA’s plans for a new website, refreshed mobile app, enhanced tech services and sustainability operations in a separate piece here.

Route resumptions and launches

The carrier will restart flights from London to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur from October and November respectively. The airline was initially meant to lift the suspension of flights from Heathrow to the Thai capital in October 2022, but this was postponed to 2023 and will now return from 28 October.

A three-times-weekly service between Gatwick and Bangkok will be operated on a on a three-class Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, configured with 32 Club, 48 World Traveller Plus and 252 World Traveller seats.

Return fares start from £699 in economy, £1,297 in premium economy, and £3,257 in Club World. Flight timings are as follows:

BA2231 departs LGW 2100, arrives at BKK at 1555 the following day

BA2230 departs BKK at 2255, arrives at LGW at 0530 the following day

This resumption will be followed by daily flights from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur from 10 November.

These flights will be operated on a four-class Boeing 787-9 aircraft configured with 8 First, 42 Club, 39 World Traveller Plus and 127 World Traveller seats. Return fares start from £620 in economy, £1,338 in premium economy, £3,200 in business and £4,000 in first class. Flight timings are as follows:

BA33 departs LHR at 2045, arrives KUL at 1730 the following day

BA34 departs KUL at 2320, arrives LHR at 0535 the following day

Additionally, the airline will return to Abu Dhabi on 20 April, launch flights to Agadir in Morocco on 31 March and add Izmir in Turkey to its network on 18 May.

British Airways Showcase short-haul seat (provided by BA press)

Cabin upgrades

British Airways also unveiled the look of new short-haul Euro Traveller and Club Europe seats on the next generation of the carrier’s A320neo and A321neos – eight of which are set to arrive from May.

The seats are the same design in both cabins, though those in Club Europe (business class) feature a bespoke leather tray in the empty seat between the aisle and window seat, and will be fitted with USB-A and USB-C (60W) backrest-mounted charging ports – these will be 15W in Euro Traveller (economy class).

The seats have been designed in England, manufactured in Northern Ireland and feature Scottish leather. Eight aircraft are scheduled to arrive from May, with the redesigned cabins also fitted with extra-large bins for overhead luggage.

In further cabin news, BA revealed that it will introduce a new First suite at the end of 2025 as part of its A380 aircraft refurbishment, but remained tight-lipped about the design.

Calum Laming, chief customer officer, commented on the transformation of the customer experience:

“We remain resolutely committed to being a premium airline, proudly British, offering our customers an experience that is unique to BA and delivered by our incredible colleagues who go out of their way each and every day…

“The industry we work in is forever changing and as a brand we really want to push things forward… Nearly 1/3 of the initiatives are focused in the customer and the brand space.”

BA Free Messaging On Board

Free onboard messaging

Customers can also look forward to enhanced connectivity in the air. Members of British Airways’ Executive Club will be rewarded with free messaging on the likes of WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Teams Chat onboard, regardless of the cabin. The service will be available on all wifi-connected aircraft for the full duration of the flight on a single device within two weeks of the rollout date on 3 April.

Executive Club members can access this service by logging into their account, and non-members can sign up onboard or before they travel to secure free messaging.

As it stands, wifi is available on all of the airlines’ Gatwick fleet and more than 80 per cent of its Heathrow fleet. The carrier says that this will roll out to 100 per cent of the fleet by the end of 2025.

British Airways new lounge rendering

Lounge upgrades

The airline also announced that it is set to open a new lounge in Dubai in the first half of 2025, which will replace the existing lounge facility at the airport and be located in a larger space. The lounge will be the first to feature the carrier’s new global lounge design concept and will be followed by the Miami lounge in 2025. Both will be designed by global architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler.

Additional lounge refreshes are set to be unveiled in Lagos and Seattle. These follow the airline’s lounge refurbishment at Heathrow Terminals 5 and 3, as well as at Edinburgh airport.

Find out more in our additional news piece on BA’s website, app and sustainable operations here:

British Airways to launch new website and mobile app

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