BA Relaxes Lounge Access Rules For Christmas

British Airways has relaxed lounge access rules for selected members of the Executive Club from Friday 14 December to Sunday 6 January 2019.

London Air Travel

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has once again relaxed its lounge access rules for the Christmas and New Year period.

One of the biggest irritations for Executive Club members when travelling with their family on holiday is that cannot bring their whole family as guests into the lounges.

BA has sought to address last Christmas by allowing Gold cardholders to bring up to five guests into the Galleries Club lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow. It has now become a regular occurrence over Easter and the summer holidays.

BA has, once again, relaxed access lounge access rules for all BA lounges from Friday 14 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.

However, unlike last Christmas, the rules appear to have been relaxed for selected members on an invitation only basis. This is most likely for Gold cardholders with a very high number of annual tier points.

If you are a Gold member of the Executive Club it’s worth checking your e-mails to see whether this applies to you.

Unfortunately, if you have not received an invitation, then normal lounge guesting rules will apply.

A gentle reminder that it is not within the control of the lounge staff to flex the rules. Please do not pressure staff into doing so.

easyJet launches Gatwick – Jerez de la Frontera & Zadar

easyJet will fly from Gatwick to Jerez de la Frontera and Zadar from April 2019.

London Air Travel

easyJet Airbus aircraft
easyJet Airbus aircraft (Image Credit: easyJet)

easyJet is to launch another two new routes from London Gatwick to Jerez de la Frontera and Zadar.

easyJet will fly to Jerez de la Frontera in the Andalusia region of Spain three times weekly from Tuesday 2 April 2019. Flights operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

It will also fly to the coastal city of Zadar in Croatia twice weekly from Tuesday 30 April 2019. Flights operate on Tuesday and Saturday.

Flights are on sale now at easyJet.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Flying over the North Atlantic - August 2018
The North Atlantic – August 2018 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 12 December 2018.

This is our last update for 2018. The Atlantic Update will return on Wednesday 16 January 2019.

A look to 2019

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2019.

At Heathrow, BA will launch new direct routes to Pittsburgh and Charleston. We should also at least some indication of BA’s plans for long-haul growth at Gatwick, where transatlantic routes are likely to feature.

American and BA may also announce a significant reshaping of their joint-venture, both in terms of allocation of routes and Heathrow operations.

Delta will combine its transatlantic joint-ventures with Air France-KLM and Virgin into one.

JetBlue may also announce plans for transatlantic flights to London.

In New York, BA will complete its refurbishment of New York JFK Terminal 7. BA’s San Francisco lounge will also receive a long awaited refurbishment.

We’re also looking forward to the planned opening of the TWA Hotel at New York JFK. This will radically upgrade JFK’s hotel options, both in terms of convenience and quality. This week it was announced that chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will run a lounge and restaurant, to be known as the Lisbon Lounge and Paris Cafe, in the hotel. (New York Times)

Another New York hotel opening we’re looking forward to is the Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards. Equinox operates a number of very well-appointed gyms in the city, so this should impress.

Finally, in Los Angeles, we’re looking forward to the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 12 December 2018”

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 11 December 2018

The latest developments in media and technology, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

“Santa’s Little Helpers” by John Cuneo for The New Yorker

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin, published every Tuesday at 06:00 GMT.

This is our last bulletin for 2018. It will return on Tuesday 15 January 2019.

Spotify’s 2018 Wrapped

Unless you’ve been on a social media blackout over the past week, you couldn’t have failed to notice Spotify’s 2018 wrapped.

With services like Spotify there’s a fine line between using data effectively to create personalised experiences and giving customers the impression they’re just one entry in a massive database to be mined for someone else’s benefit.

Spotify stays on the right side of the line. Check out your most played artists, songs and genres at Spotify 2018 Wrapped.

BBC iPlayer Boxsets

In preparation for the Christmas holidays, the BBC has added over 100 TV drama, comedy and documentary “box sets” to the BBC iPlayer. (BBC)

Box sets of audio podcasts and mixes will also be available on the BBC Sounds app. (BBC)

Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 11 December 2018”

Monday Briefing – 10 December 2018

Welcome to our weekly briefing on air travel in London and around the world, published every Monday at 06:00 GMT.

London Air Travel

Monday Briefing Montage

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 10 December 2018.

At the risk of being proved wrong, news tends to thin out in the run up to Christmas so this is our last Monday Briefing for 2018. It will return on Monday 14 January 2019.

2018 has been a tough year for the industry.

The oil price remains volatile. Primera Air and Cobalt Air have failed. Flybe is searching for a buyer. WOW air is scrambling to secure new financing. Etihad is shedding itself of aircraft, lounges and routes.

There are still questions over Norwegian. Last week, it reported a fall in its load factor from 83.7% to 78.8% year on year as revenue growth did not keep up with capacity expansion of more than a third.

Alitalia somehow stumbles on regardless.

2019 will be no less an eventful year.

Indeed, before it has even begun we know to expect:

– BA’s Centenary Celebrations

– BA and Virgin Atlantic both introducing the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and new Club World and Upper Class cabins respectively.

– easyJet launching a new frequent flyer currency.

– JetBlue possibly announcing new transatlantic routes from Boston and New York to London.

– Qantas confirming whether it will launch non-stop flights from London to Sydney.

– Virgin, subject to regulatory approval, launching a new combined transatlantic joint-venture with Air France-KLM; and relaunching its frequent flyer programme.

– WestJet introducing the Boeing 787 with its first international business class cabin at Gatwick.

The one thing you won’t be seeing is Crossrail as this is now expected to be delayed until 2020.

Buckle up, it’s going to be quite a ride!

Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 10 December 2018”

British Airways Trials Sofitel Heathrow Check-In

British Airways is trialling a dedicated check-in facility at the Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5.

London Air Travel

Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Accor Hotels)

Long time BA flyers may recall there was once a time where you could check-in for your flights before heading to the airport at either London Paddington or Victoria railway stations.

This form of pre-airport check-in is making a comeback at Heathrow of sorts, as BA is now trialling a check-in at the Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 5.

This hotel is of course connected directly to Terminal 5.   If you’re staying at the hotel you can now check-in for any BA Heathrow flight between 05:00 and 13:00.

The one downside is that whilst your luggage will be tagged at the Sofitel you have to take itself to the terminal!

This does sort of defeat the object but direct luggage transfers may be added if it becomes permanent.

As this is a trial, it is a case of “use it or lose it”.  If you value it do make your views known in post-flight surveys.

In any event, we would always recommend checking in online as soon as practicable when online check-in opens.   It’s an extremely rare occurrence, but if there’s a problem with your booking which means you can’t check-in, you do have 24 hours to address the issue, rather than a fraught couple of hours at the airport.

British Airways Is Giving Away One Million Avios

You can win up to 250,000 Avios when shopping online through the Avios eStore up to 21 December.

London Air Travel

Selfridges Rocks Christmas 2018
Selfridges Rocks Christmas 2018 (Image Credit: Selfridges)

The Avios eStore has long been one of the most popular and easiest ways to earn Avios without actually stepping foot on board an aircraft.

There’s even more incentive to use the Avios eStore when shopping online before Christmas as BA is giving away one million Avios to members of the BA Executive Club.

All you need to do is spend more than £50 through the Avios eStore up to Friday 21 December 2018.

You could win one of three prizes of 250,000 Avios or 10 prizes of 25,000 Avios.

The offer is open to all members of the BA Executive Club resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle Of Man and the US. Remember you must make sure that you are logged in to your Executive Club account and “click through” the Avios eStore before starting your online orders.  You will be entered only once, and there will be only one winner per household.

The winners will be selected by Friday 15 February 2019.

Bonus Avios

In addition, the following online retailers are offering bonus Avios up to Sunday 23 December 2018:

One of the most generous offers is Selfridges which is offering 12 Avios per £1 spent. Note that some retailers may exclude specific product categories from Avios.

Apple – 6 Avios per £1, instead of 3.
Debenhams – 6 Avios per £1, instead of 3.
Fortnum & Mason – 10 Avios per £1, instead of 5.
Lego – 10 Avios per £1, instead of 5.
NET-A-PORTER – 12 Avios per £1, instead of 6.
Selfridges – 12 Avios per £1, instead of up to 6.

In addition, the following online retailers are offering bonus Avios up to Sunday 9 December 2018:

Etsy – 9 Avios per £1, instead of 2.
Very.co.uk – 3 Avios per £1, instead of 1.

BA Club World to Club Europe Downgrades

Selected BA medium-haul flights will operate with a Club Europe, rather than Club World cabin, from late January.

London Air Travel
BA Club Europe Seating
BA Club Europe Seating (Image Credit: British Airways)

A number of British Airways medium-haul flights from London Heathrow which ordinarily operate with BA’s Club World cabin will operate with a Club Europe cabin on selected dates in late January and early February 2019.

No specific reason has been given. However, it’s a safe assumption that aircraft shortages are the cause.

These flights are usually operated with Airbus A321 aircraft with a unique 23 seat business class cabin in an alternating 1-2 and 2-1 configuration. BA has been progressively converting these aircraft into its standard short-haul configuration.

BA Airbus A321 Business Class

This means that Club passengers will not have the benefit of a fully flat bed with in-flight entertainment. Leg room will be reduced very significantly. The meal service routine will also follow the standard of Club Europe.

Affected passengers do have the option of changing their flight to an alternative date. Moscow does also have an alternative daily flight: BA235 / BA234. However, full or partial refunds are not available.

BA is likely to resist any claims for downgrade compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The disrupted flights are as follows. Note this is subject to change. Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

Amman

Flight BA147 / BA146 – Thursday 24, Thursday 31 January, Saturday 2 February 2019

Beirut

Flight BA149 / BA148 – Sunday 27 January, Sunday 3 February 2019

Moscow Domodedevo

Flight BA237 / BA236 – Tuesday 22, Tuesday 29 January 2019

Update: Tuesday 11 December 2018

BA has since updated its guidance to advise that Club passengers who travel on a downgraded service will be entitled to claim a proportion of the fare as a refund by request after travel has been completed.

Fiji Airways Is Now A Oneworld Connect Partner

Members of the BA Executive Club and now earn Avios and tier points when flying on Fiji Airways.

London Air Travel

Fiji Airways is to be the inaugural member of Oneworld Connect
Fiji Airways is now a member of Oneworld Connect (Image Credit: Oneworld Connect)

Fiji Airways is now operating as a Oneworld Connect partner from today, Wednesday 5 December 2018.

However, not all benefits are immediately available and these will introduced progressively.

Under Oneworld Connect membership, certain benefits are only available to customers of Oneworld airlines that sponsored Fiji Airways’ membership. These are American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Eligible members of any Oneworld frequent flyer programme can now use priority check-in and boarding facilities when flying on Fiji Airways.

However, only eligible customers of British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas can access Fiji Airways lounges and earn miles/Avios and tier points/status credits when flying on Fiji Airways. These should be available to customers of American Airlines in early 2019.

In addition, it is not yet possible for members of the BA Executive Club to redeem Avios on Fiji Airways. This should be introduced shortly. More details are available from Fiji Airways.

It is noteworthy how it has taken a relatively short time, some six months, for Fiji Airways to start operating as Oneworld Connect member, whereas it normally takes substantially longer for an airline to become a full member. This arguably bodes well for attracting more Oneworld Connect partners.

Royal Air Maroc To Join Oneworld Alliance

Royal Air Maroc is to join the Oneworld alliance from mid-2020.

London Air Travel

Royal Air Maroc joins the Oneworld alliance
Royal Air Maroc joins the Oneworld alliance

Royal Air Maroc is to be the next full member of the Oneworld alliance from mid-2020.

The announcement was made today, Wednesday 5 December 2018, at a press conference in New York. Its regional subsidiary Royal Air Maroc Express will also join as a Oneworld affiliate member.

This means that members of Oneworld alliance frequent flyer programmes will be entitled to earn miles and tier points/status credits and receive reciprocal recognition when flying on Royal Air Maroc.

Royal Air Maroc’s principal hub is in Casablanca. The airlines flies to Casablanca from Gatwick and Heathrow daily. From Casablanca, it serves a signifiant number of destinations in West Africa. This includes a number of routes previously suspended by BA including Freetown, Luanda and Monrovia.

It has a fleet of 55 aircraft, with Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 aircraft operating short and medium-haul routes, and Boeing 767 and Boeing 787-8 aircraft operating long-haul routes. The airline does have ambitious plans to grow its fleet and network, and also plans to revamp its brand image and aircraft interiors.

Co-operation between Royal Air Maroc and Oneworld has been expected for some time. It already codeshares with Iberia and Qatar Airways. It was also announced more than two years ago that it was due to adopt the Avios currency. This has not happened yet, possibly due to IT issues.

BA did fly from London Heathrow to Casablanca until October 2012 after it inherited the route from bmi. It may well reinstate the route to offer onward codeshares with Royal Air Maroc.

Earlier this year, Oneworld introduced a new form of membership Oneworld Connect. Fiji Airways is the inaugural Oneworld Connect member. Under Oneworld Connect membership only a limited range of benefits are offered to customers of Oneworld airlines and full Oneworld benefits, such as earning of frequent flyer miles, are offered to sponsoring airlines.

In terms of other prospective members of Oneworld, Alaska Airlines has confirmed it is looking at Oneworld Connect membership. Aer Lingus may also rejoin the alliance after it joins the transatlantic joint-venture with American Airlines, BA, Finnair and Iberia.