British Airways, like many airlines, operates both the Boeing 777 and the newer 787 on its long haul routes. The 787 was promised as a modern aircraft, with improvements to passenger comfort and facilities. While it offers a stylish and upgraded cabin, the race to pack in more seats may mean it is not as comfortable for some. Let’s compare which is the more comfortable at the UK flag carrier.
The Boeing 777 and the 787
The Boeing 777 ranks among the most popular widebodies ever produced. As such, it makes up a large part of many airlines’ long-haul fleets, including British Airways. According to data from ch-aviation.com, it operates 43 Boeing 777-200 aircraft (41 active) and 16 larger (and longer range) 777-300ER aircraft (14 active).
Meanwhile, the Boeing 787 was introduced in 2011 and has proven popular with many airlines. British Airways operates a fleet of 32 of these modern widebodies, with this figure comprising 12 787-8s, 18 787-9s, and two 787-10s.
While it lacks the high passenger capacity of the 777 and offers a lower range than the 777-3000ER, the 787 brings improved fuel efficiency and a more modern cabin. Furthermore, and importantly for airlines, it also costs almost $ 40 million less than the 777 (for the new 787-10 vs. 777-300ER). But what’s it like to fly?
The 777-200ER is BA’s most numerous ‘triple-seven’ family design. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
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The 787 promised passenger comfort
One of the promises of the 787 was improved passenger comfort. There are several improvements in this area, including higher cabin air pressure. The cabin is pressurized at 6,000 feet, as opposed to 8,000 feet on most other aircraft, including the 777. However, the new 777X which will match the 787 in this regard.
This enhancement is possible due to the Boeing 787’s famous composite material fuselage. This should be more comfortable for passengers, helping them feel more rested and suffer less from jet lag. Another key feature is the 787’s quieter cabin, made possible by reduced engine noise and vibration as well as quieter air-con.
In terms of lighting and design, the 787’s cabin has had a significant refresh. It offers innovative cabin lighting, which can be changed for different phases of the flight (and wake passengers up more gradually). The cabin design is also fresher, with an arched open feel, and larger, but tucked away higher overhead bins.
BA’s 787s feature between 35 and 48 Club World seats. Photo: British Airways
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One of the 787’s most famous features is its larger windows with electronic dimming (instead of plastic blinds). If you enjoy the views from the window, this is an excellent feature. It also, of course, gives a much lighter cabin.
Premium seating is a mixed bag
With these cabin improvements, the modern 787 presents itself quite convincingly as the better choice. It is packed with great features, and, on flights that can last up to 12 hours or even longer, any cabin improvement is well received. Unfortunately, the Dreamliner’s cabin at BA is let down somewhat by its seating.
This is because its premium cabins (World Traveler Plus (premium economy), Club World (business), and First) offer a very similar product to the 777. In fact, the older design has seen more new Club World suites installed as of late , with Premium Flights reporting in April 2022 that these were present on 25 777-200ERs and 6 777-300ERs. Contrastingly, no 787-8s or -9s feature this product.
BA’s new Club World suites offer greater privacy and fewer seats per row. Photo: British Airways
While BA does reportedly plan to eventually fit its small and mid-size Dreamlienrs with Club World suites, only the stretched-fuselage 787-10 features them at present. This new cabin offers a far more favorable experience, with the seats laid out four-abreast (1-2-1) compared to seven (2-3-2) on the 787-8 and 787-9.
How does economy class compare?
When it comes to economy class on the 777 and 787 (known at BA as World Traveler), the situation is less similar. Like most airlines, British Airways has opted for a nine-abreast (3-3-3) economy configuration. SeatGuru shows that the 787’s seats are 17.5 inches wide, compared to 18.1 inches on certain 777-200ERs.
However, British Airways’ Dreamliners do, overall, offer a better economy product than the UK flag carrier’s triple-sevens. For example, the larger 777-300ERs all feature more compact (17.5 inches wide) World Traveler seats. Furthermore, British Airways has started to re-fit many 777-200 aircraft with denser ten-abreast seating.
BA’s 787s accommodate between 127 and 165 economy class passengers in their World Traveler cabins. Photo: British Airways
This extra seat can prove to be a key difference in an already packed cabin, making it feel more cramped. Seat pitch is the same 31 inches on both aircraft, although the last few rows on the 787 are lowered to 30 inches.
Japan Airlines, one of British Airways’ oneworld partners, has just eight seats per row in economy class on the 787, and it makes a big difference. These Dreamliners offer a generous seat pitch of 33 inches, and a width of 18.9 inches. In any case, a full rundown of BA’s 777 and 787 configurations (per SeatGuru) reads as follows:
- 777-200ER (three-class, varying configurations) – 203-252 World Traveler, 24-52 World Traveler Plus, 32-48 Club World.
- 777-200ER (four-class) – 122 World Traveler, 40 World Traveler Plus, 48 Club World, 14 First.
- 777-300ER – 185 World Traveler, 44 World Traveler Plus, 56 Club World, 14 First.
- 787-8 – 154 World Traveler, 25 World Traveler Plus, 35 Club World.
- 787-9 – 127 World Traveler, 39 World Traveler Plus, 42 Club World, 8 First.
- 787-10 – 165 World Traveler, 35 World Traveler Plus, 48 Club World, 8 First.
Japan Airlines’ 787s are widely revered as having one of the type’s nicest economy class cabins. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
So which aircraft is best?
Overall, most people would probably find the 787 a more comfortable experience. The general cabin improvements and newer technology are an excellent addition. Of course, if you are flying on a route with an older Boeing 777-200ER, however, the extra space in the World Traveler cabin is a good option.
However, with these quickly changing to a 10-abreast layout, such an option may not exist for much longer. Another exception would be if you are flying on a route offering the new Club Suite product, as this is more common on the 777 than on the 787. Routes offering this much-improved offering are currently quite limited, but as it rolls out over time , there will be more and more options.
Which aircraft do you prefer when it comes to British Airways’ cabins? Have you ever flown on either type? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Source: Premium Flights