BA – old 747s (hate to moan …but)

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  pdwtrip 13 May 2019
at 19:38

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  • Stormin

    We recently traveled to Vegas in Club World and were disappointed by the rickety old 747.

    Generally, we like using BA because of the ease of regional connections, direct Vegas flights and the overall cost. However, this time the plane really showed it age – old IFE (which didn’t work across the whole plane), seating was aged, and generally the cabin was tatty. Even the staff agreed.

    Once again the BA flight staff were great though – I always try to see the positives when flying long haul because its often fraught with annoying little things – so well done BA staff.

    But BA management – the quicker you dump the old 747 fleet, the better !!


    The oldest of the 747 fleet is G-BNLN. Over 28 years old, it arrived at LHR last night from AUS and is heading for CPT tonight.

    The average of that fleet of 34 aircraft is 22 years, and the interiors of many of them look very day of it. Some of them are not just tatty but also dirty, and with broken items such as seat recline and IFE, quite unacceptable specially in premium class.

    They are some of the finest aircraft to grace the skies, and despite their age, I would have no concerns about their safety, but the state of the interiors is very poor and shows BA’s complacent attitude, although one could argue it doesn’t make sense to refurbish aircraft which are going to be scrapped within a few years.

    The state of them is a source of embarrassment to some of the crew, but management don’t seem to care and I suppose the answer is that they are saving money by not refurbishing, and they use them on routes where passengers have little or no choice for the reasons outlined above.


    one could argue it doesn’t make sense to refurbish aircraft which are going to be scrapped within a few years.

    Indeed. The cost of refurbishing a large aircraft like the 747 can be enormous.

    One reason why AF is reducing its A380 fleet size is because the cost of refurbishing each aircraft would be a hefty Euros 45 million.

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    the last time I flew J on a BA 747 the screen was so dim you couldn’t make out whether James Bond was rescuing the world at midday or midnight !!
    If BA’s ageing fleet is not up to the job of delivering a 2019 inflight experience, the cost of the ticket should reflect this.

    Perhaps the BA bean counters might consider a “Jumbo” discount , then again what’s the adage about pigs ?

    Indeed. The cost of refurbishing a large aircraft like the 747 can be enormous.

    I remember when I was younger reading an article in CP’s employee newspaper regarding something called a “D check” .
    The story followed the progress of one of CP’s 747’s going through the check. If I recall correctly, the article mentioned that by the time the aircraft had completed its D check and left the CP hanger at YVR , it was pretty much a different aircraft than he one that left Everett years before ???


    Enjoy the 58.58 minutes of D check Canucklad….

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    I accept that the condition of those aircraft that haven’t had the refurb leaves a lot to be desired. However, credit where it is due, I flew to YVR in First on G-CIVB, at the end of Feb and it was one of the best flights of my life. There were only four or five pax in the cabin and the service was faultless. Flew back in J on one of aircraft that had received the enhanced refurb, bringing it in line with the Super High-J aircraft, and again, it was a great experience.


    I agree that some of the old Mid J aircraft are in a sorry sorry state. The irony being that the refurbished 747’s have some of the highest customer scores of any aircraft – especially in economy, premium economy and UD Club. The old girls are also a firm favourite of the crews. They were designed and built in a day when cramming seats into every spare square inch of floor space wasn’t the priority. The galleys are roomy and spacious as well as the cabins.

    Fast forward to the 787’s and A380’s….whilst great aircraft some economy seats are almost IN the galleys. Not an inch spared, not a row of seats lost.

    Some of the mid J aircraft are being refurbished (I believe two have already) and the majority of the rest will be replaced by the A350’s. Saying that, we will see. I think the 767’s stayed a good ten years after their original ‘retirement’ announcement. And as each extension to their life was two or three years then followed by another two or three years there was never any updating on them and in the end they were basically falling apart in the cabin.

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    I will take the tattiest 747 any day over a brand new 777 ! Actually last BA 747 I flew was like new inside. I guess it is the luck of the draw…

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    There is nothing mechanically wrong with 25 year old planes, provided you look after them.

    If on the other hand you use cheap materials and cut costs then it will always show. Some of BA’s 787s are already tatty inside.


    There might well be a question of spreading its bets with BA´s 747s. Sr. Cruz admitted that the 747 fleet was not up to scratch but if they had to be used for the foreseeable future then they had to be acceptable to the clients. Thus the renovation of the 747s is essensial if their use is to be extended for three, four or even five years down the line. This is understandable with repect to the clients.

    However, the renovation of the 747s is expensive, even for five years. On the other hand if the market developed in such a way so as to need an increase in fleet size to cover any programmed or envisaged route expansion which the manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, could not facilitate then IAG would have an advantage in extending the life of the 747s (a passenger favourite) for another few years.

    If, on the other hand, the situation were that there were a down turn in the market meaning IAG needed to delay deliveries of aircraft or even cancel deliveries, then having these ageing 747s in the fleet would facilitate the process as their retirement from the company would not mean a big right-off.
    Hedging your bets, I believe it is called.


    I’ve flown on a refurbed BA 747 twice in the last two weeks…excellent! I don’t worry about the age of The aircraft.

    While we are discussing aircraft age, I think that Jet2 must take the prize for the oldest fleet. I was looking on PlaneFinderHD yesterday at 5 of their 737/757 aircraft approaching AGP, all over 30 years old, with the oldest, a 757, at 34 years old!


    D-checks will probably drive the retirement decisions. That said, there is no better place in the air than the B747’s upper deck! Long live the Queen!

    P.S.: About the checks, Wikipedia is, once more, rather good:

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    D-checks will probably drive the retirement decisions. That said, there is no better place in the air than the B747’s upper deck! Long live the Queeen!

    My favourite part of the 747 is the nose. It is a bit bumpy there but the out of this world views, especially from the front seats, are worth the bumpy ride. In the old days the upfront closets were much smaller or non-existent and the views even better. Even now, I don’t think there is anything comparable out there and it will be a pity to see them go.


    BA has 34 747’s in it’s fleet at this time. 18 super high J all have been refurbished and have Panasonic entertainment systems. The remaining 14 hulls all Mid J’s, all apart from BNLN (being stood down in July) have received a soft refurbish, new seat covers, carpets and curtains. 6 of these have also received Panasonic IFE, three more will be fitted by the year end. The four left with Rockwell Collins IFE will be retired as the A350 Fleet is delivered.

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    Whilst they are old and battered, I personally prefer them to a lot of the newer aircraft – chiefly down to space…or perception of. (Particularly the BA 787 which I find very cramped indeed). Whilst the cost of a refit may not be worth it given they are approaching end of life, a good deep clean would probably go a long way!

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