Here’s Why British Airways Block Out Some Windows On Aircraft

Upon looking at certain British Airways aircraft, you may have noticed that, on occasion, some of the windows are blocked out. Instinctively, you might think that this contradicts the requirement for window shades to be open at certain flight stages. However, there is a reason behind this. Let’s find out why and how BA chooses where to do this, and what happens when it wants a window back.

British Airways Boeing 777-336(ER) G-STBA
British Airways blocks out some windows onboard its widebody aircraft Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Many will have gazed through an airport window and noticed a white circle on an aircraft’s fuselage where, ordinarily, a window would be. If this has prompted you to question why, then you’re not alone. Thanks to a reader’s suggestion, Simple Flying delved into the issue.

All about the aircraft’s layout

The reason some windows are blocked out is all to do with the layout of the aircraft. You can see these gaps towards the front of the Boeing 777 in the photograph above. Specifically, aircraft only really need windows where there are passengers to look outside. This is exactly why most of British Airways’ long-haul aircraft have windows blocked at the front of the fuselage.

On aircraft that have it, British Airways places its First cabin at the front of the plane. Each first class seat has two windows allocated to it, with the remaining windows on either side blocked out as unnecessary. This is because, as you can see from the image below, the space where these windows would be is not occupied by a passenger, but by the structure of the seat itself.

British Airways, Blocked Windows,
This interior shot of the first-class cabin helps to gauge the blocked out windows from a passenger perspective. Photo: British Airways

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Instead of just placing a piece of paneling over the window on the inside, the airline fills the window’s space with a white plug. However, windows can also be filled in order to facilitate a toilet or galley.

Which aircraft have the blocked windows?

You can find onboard most of British Airways’ long-haul fleet. For example, its Boeing 777 and 787 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft all have this feature, alongside its stored Airbus A380s.

BA’s Airbus A350 aircraft also have blocked out windows at the front. This is despite the fact that these aircraft do not have a first class cabin. In this case, these are blocked out to provide galley space at the front of the aircraft as the middle galley, known as the Club Kitchen, is used as more of an area where passengers grab a snack.

British Airways Boeing 747 Los Angeles
British Airways’ Boeing 747s also had blocked windows towards the front of the plane. BA retired the last of these iconic aircraft last year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

What if BA wants the windows back?

So what happens if British Airways decides it needs the window back? One may worry that any future refurbishments will be constrained to the current configuration of an aircraft’s windows. However, passengers and aircraft planners needn’t worry.

Simple Flying spoke to the airline about the configuration of windows on its aircraft. A spokesperson for the British flag carrier told us that the windows can be replaced if needed. Perhaps this option will be needed if and when British Airways decides to introduce a new hard product in First!

Have you noticed blocked out windows on aircraft before? Did you know the reason behind the missing windows? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!