Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350-1000

In early 2019, Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of the first of 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

London Air Travel

CGI Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 aircraft
CGI Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 aircraft (Image Credit: Happy Ending / Bolder Creative for Virgin Atlantic)

Next year, Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of the first of 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

These will operate at Gatwick and Heathrow and are intended to replace all of its remaining 8 Boeing 747-400 aircraft which operate principally from Gatwick, and its Airbus A340 aircraft at Heathrow.

The first three Airbus A350-1000 aircraft are currently in production at Airbus in Toulouse. The first aircraft, registration G-VLUX, will be delivered in early 2019 and will operate from London Heathrow. All aircraft are expected to be delivered by the end of 2021.

There will be two configurations for Gatwick and Heathrow. The Gatwick fleet will have seating for up to 410 passengers. The Heathrow fleet will have seating for up to 360 passengers. This compares to a confirmed number of 331 seats for BA’s Airbus A350-1000.

Virgin has not confirmed the first route, but has said it will be a “key” US route. Virgin will be the first operator of the Airbus A350 on direct transatlantic routes from London. An obvious choice is an East Coast destination such as Boston or New York as it’s relatively short and there is back-up if there are operational problems. The inaugural Boeing 787 route in 2014 was Boston. It should be noted that there may be gaps in the first passenger Airbus A350-1000 flights if additional crew familiarisation flights – which operate without passengers – are necessary.

Virgin has promised innovations in all cabins, economy, Premium and Upper Class. It has promised an entirely new Upper Class suite. This will be the first radical redesign since the Upper Class suite was introduced in 2003.

BA is also expected to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-1000 in July 2019 and has also promised a radical redesign of its Club World cabin. This is the first time both airlines are introducing a new aircraft type and a new business class cabin within a matter of months in the same year. Both airlines have long-standing and quite radically different business class configurations, each with their own advantages and trade-offs. It is going to be interesting to see how they compare and how both airlines differentiate themselves – in terms of both actual design and PR. Both airlines have remained tight-lipped about their exact designs.

A combination of improved cabin comfort on the Airbus A350-1000 and the latest seat designs should certainly make it the preferred aircraft for transatlantic flights.

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 14 November 2018

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

London Air Travel

California Wildfire News Coverage
California Wildfire News Coverage (Image Credit: CNN International)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 14 November 2018.

California Wildfires

Attention continues to be focused on the destructive wildfires in Northern and Southern California.

Since the weekend airlines have put in place flexible rebooking policies. Some of these have been extended within the past 24 hours. Transatlantic flights from London are operating normally.

Passengers due to fly on American Airlines or British Airways up to Friday 16 November 2018 to Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco can rebook on an alternative flight from and to the same destination up to Sunday 25 November 2018.

American Airlines passengers should look up their booking online in the first instance.

British Airways passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

United has also announced a travel waiver allowing passengers due to fly to Burbank, Los Angeles and San Francisco to reschedule up to Sunday 25 November 2019.

General Advice

Evacuation orders remain in place and there are warnings about poor air quality in some areas. In terms of general information, general advice on the Camp Fire in North California is available from Butte County.

Advice on the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles is available from the County Of Los Angeles, and the City of Malibu.

Also of note this week:

Delta has announced a new twice daily route from Atlanta to Burbank airport from July 2019. (Delta)

JetBlue has announced new summer seasonal routes from New York La Guardia and Westchester airports to Nantucket Massachusetts from June 2019. This will complement existing services from Boston, New York JFK and Washington Reagan airports. (JetBlue)

Late Post Publication Updates

American Airlines and British Airways have introduced flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to fly to the North East of the US up to Friday 16 November 2018. Passengers can rebook up to Tuesday 20 November 2018.

Delta has issued a weather waiver in advance of expected severe weather in the North East of the US on Thursday 15 November 2019. (Delta)

United has announced it is to progressively introduce the Boeing 787-10 aircraft on select transatlantic routes from Newark, but not Heathrow, from late March 2019. (United)

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT. If you have any comments, suggestions or tips then please drop us a line at mail [@] londonairtravel.com

BA releases 50,000 Club World reward seats

BA has released an additional 50,000 Club World reward seats for members of its Executive Club.

London Air Travel

British Airways Club World Boeing 747 (Picture by: Stuart Bailey / British Airways)

British Airways has released an additional 50,000 Club World reward seats for members of its Executive Club programme.

The additional 50,000 seats are available for travel on direct one-way and return flights from Gatwick and Heathrow from Sunday 16 December 2018 to Sunday 31 March 2019. They must be booked by Sunday 2 December 2018.

To put this into context, BA ordinarily guarantees at least 2 Club World reward seats on every flight. It also operates in excess of 1,000 Club World seats a day between London and New York.

Members can book using their Avios balances at ba.com

The following routes are included:

London Gatwick:

Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Jose (Costa Rica), New York JFK and Mauritius.

London Heathrow:

Abuja, Accra, Amman, Atlanta, Austin, Bahrain, Baltimore, Bangalore, Beijing, Beirut, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Calgary, Cape Town, Chicago, Dallas Fort-Worth, Denver, Dubai, Durban, Houston, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Lagos, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montreal, Moscow, Nairobi, Nashville, New Orleans, New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Rio de Janeiro, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose California, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Seoul, Seychelles, Shanghai, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Tokyo Narita, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington.

The principal exclusions are routes to The Caribbean, Hong Kong, India (except Bangalore) and Sydney.

Continue reading “BA releases 50,000 Club World reward seats”

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 13 November 2018

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

London Air Travel

Uncover Bomb On Board
Uncover Bomb On Board (Image Credit: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

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

CBC’s “Uncover” Investigates Canadian Pacific Flight 21

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Uncover” podcast investigates the unsolved mystery of Canadian Pacific Flight 21.

On 8 July 1965, a bomb exploded on board Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 21 which was bound from Vancouver, via a number of stops, to Whitehorse, Yukon.

The DC6-B aircraft crashed in Cariboo country, 170 miles north east of Vancouver. All 52 people on board the aircraft died, including 6 crew members and 46 passengers.

No one has ever claimed responsibility and whilst four suspects were identified, no charges have ever been made. It remains one of the greatest unsolved mass murders on Canadian soil.

The first two episodes are available online now. (CBC)

Disney Plans Its Own Streaming Service Disney+

Disney has confirmed it is to launch a new streaming service, Disney+

Disney+ will first launch in the US late next year.

Disney, which recently acquired most of Fox in the US but lost out on Sky in Europe to Comcast, is expected to add newly commissioned series and archive films and series from Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Star Wars and National Geographic. It is also expected to withdraw much, if not all, of its content from Netflix. There’s no confirmed launch date for Disney+ in Europe. This may well coincide with the withdrawal of Disney’s content from Sky.

Disney has also hinted that US based streaming service Hulu, which is 60% owned by Disney, may also launch internationally.

If that’s not enough, WarnerMedia which owns Warner Bros and HBO also plans to launch its own streaming service by the end of next year. There has long been talk of the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV launching their own streaming service to rival Netflix, but nothing has come of it.
Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 13 November 2018”

Monday Briefing – 12 November 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

Edward Bair, Home For Christmas
Edward Bair, Home For Christmas (Image Credit: The Mill for Heathrow)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 12 November 2018.

Christmas Films

And so it begins. Heathrow has released its third annual Christmas film, once again featuring Doris and Edward Bair.

You may well be thinking these ads are being released earlier this year. And that’s because they are. Two weeks in fact. With so many concurrent campaigns from consumer brands and retailers it is harder to cut through and easier for viewers to gloss over them all. There are of course only so many variations of the theme of Coming Home For Christmas that can even the brightest minds at the best ad agencies can come up with.

That said, Heathrow has to be given credit for how much it has improved its image that it can even run such a campaign. Consider this news clip from December 2010, which is akin to something from The Day Today. Demonstrating a complete lack of preparedness for winter weather and dysfunctional relationships with airlines, Heathrow was claiming the airport was operating normally after BA cancelled its entire flying programme, just as the airport was on the cusp of closure for days due to snow.

Finnair Celebrates 95 Years

Finnair celebrates its 95th anniversary this month.

The airline was founded as Aero O/Y on 1 November 1923. It has been known as Finnair since 1968. In recent years it has gained a niche as gateway to Asia with nearly 100 flights a week to the region. Taking advantage of its geographical location to offer fast connections between Europe and Asia, it has extensive coverage of China and Japan. It is also known for its close partnerships with Finnish design house Marimekko. Finnair also considers itself the official airline of Santa Claus.

Whilst Finnair has done better than most small European airlines to carve out a niche and remain financially strong, it has indicated a desire to play a part in European consolidation. However, there are no indications that the Finnish Government is willing to sell down its stake which would certainly be a condition of any bid from the likes of IAG.

Finnair’s in-flight magazine “Blue Wings” takes a look back at the airline’s history in the first of a five part series. (Finnair Blue Wings)

On a Christmas theme, Finnair is also offering special direct flights from Gatwick to Ivalo on Thursday and Sunday from Thursday 13 December 2018 until Thursday 28 March 2019 and Kittilä on Tuesday and Sunday from Sunday 16 December 2018 until Tuesday 26 March 2019.
Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 12 November 2018”

British Airways Lounge Change At Tampa

BA has changed its designated lounge at Tampa International airport to the American Airlines Admirals Club.

London Air Travel

Tampa Cityscape
Tampa Cityscape (Image Credit: Visit Tampa Bay)

British Airways has changed its designated lounge for eligible passengers flying from Tampa International Airport to London Gatwick.

BA has previously used a third party lounge on Concourse F of the terminal. However, from 31 October 2018 the designated lounge for BA Club World and Silver and Gold members of the Executive Club is the American Airlines Admirals Club.

Under Oneworld alliance lounge access rules, eligible BA passengers have always had access to this lounge in any event. The lounge is located near to Gate 85 on Concourse F. The lounge is open until 19:15, 10 minutes before BA’s daily flight to Gatwick is currently scheduled to depart.

The lounge offers standard American Airlines Admirals Club fare with complimentary soft drinks and light snack foods. BA passengers should be offered a chit on reception for a “premium beverage” from the bar. There is also a food menu which, in the absence of any information to the contrary, has to be paid for.

On a tangential note, Norwegian has now started flying from London Gatwick to Tampa twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturdays.

California Wildfires – Flexible Rebooking Policies

Details of flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to travel to California.

London Air Travel

California Wildfire News Coverage
California Wildfire News Coverage (Image Credit: CNN International)

Following the destructive wildfires in Northern and Southern California, airlines are putting in place flexible rebooking policies for passengers due to travel to the region in the coming days.

As this is an evolving situation, these policies may be extended or modified in the coming days. Transatlantic flights from London are operating normally.

American Airlines

Passengers due to fly on American Airlines up to Friday 23 November 2018 to Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Francisco can rebook on an alternative flight from and to the same destination up to Sunday 2 December 2018. Passengers should look up their booking online in the first instance.

British Airways

Passengers due to fly on a ticket issued by British Airways (ticket number beginning 125) on flights operated by American Airlines, BA, Finnair and Iberia to any one of Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco airports up to Friday 23 November 2018 can rebook to an alternative flight from and to the same destination free of charge up to Sunday 2 December 2018.

Affected passengers should contact BA or their travel agent.

Delta

Delta has issued a travel waiver allowing passengers due to fly to Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco airports up to Tuesday 13 December to rebook up to Sunday 18 November 2018.

General Advice

General advice on the Camp Fire in North California is available from Butte County.

Advice on the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles is available from the County Of Los Angeles.

Flybe launches London City – Newcastle

Flybe is to launch a new direct route from London City to Newcastle from Monday 7 January 2019, operated by franchise partner Eastern Airways.

London Air Travel

The Angel Of The North
The Angel Of The North (Image Credit: NewcastleGateshead Tourism)

Flybe is to launch a new direct route from London City airport to Newcastle from Monday 7 January 2019.

Flights operate twice daily on weekdays and once a day on Sundays. This will be the only direct air link between London and Newcastle after BA’s service from Heathrow.

The service will be operated by Eastern Airways under Flybe’s livery. Eastern Airways also operates London City – Aberdeen on behalf of Flybe which, from Monday 7 January 2019, will operate via Newcastle.

The flight time is 65 minute from London and 70 minutes from Newcastle. This compares to a journey time of around 2 hours and 50 minutes on the train.

Flights are on sale now at Flybe.

At the moment flights up to Friday 29 March 2019 are only on sale. However, flights beyond Sunday 31 March 2019 should be on sale in the coming weeks.
Continue reading “Flybe launches London City – Newcastle”

Heathrow’s “Home For Christmas” Film

Heathrow has released its third annual Christmas film featuring Doris and Edward Bair.

London Air Travel

Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film
Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Heathrow Airport has released its third annual Christmas film, featuring Doris and Edward Bair.

After last year’s “Love At First Flight” film telling their 50 year relationship, Doris and Edward have retired to the warmer climate of Florida Keys.

However, the prospect of spending Christmas alone together eating a Turkey microwave ready meal in a sparsely decorated air conditioned retirement village does not appeal. They make a last minute getaway to return to the UK to see their extended family.

Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film
Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film (Image Credit: Heathrow)
Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film
Heathrow 2018 Christmas Film (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Once again, the concept was created by the agency Havas London, animated by The Mill, and produced by DOM&NIC at Outsider Productions.

British Airways Trials Access to PressReader

BA is offering selected passengers free access to PressReader on a trial basis.

London Air Travel

British Airways & PressReader
British Airways & PressReader

“Have you been offered a small glass of orange juice and complimentary browse of the Daily Mail?”

There’s now no excuse for complaining about the range of newspapers offered on board British Airways aircraft and in lounges.

BA is offering selected passengers free access to the PressReader digital reading service.

The new service has soft launched on a trial basis in the past few days.

PressReader offers users access to over 7,000 publications in more than 60 languages from over 120 countries. Available publications include The Guardian, The Washington Post, Vogue, GQ, and Bloomberg Businessweek. These are downloaded to the PressReader smartphone and tablet app for reading offline.

Full details of how the service works are on ba.com

BA passengers can access content from PressReader in one of two ways:

1. If you have booked a flight directly through BA you can obtain access to PressReader through a dedicated link when you receive an “It’s Time To Fly” e-mail 24 hours before your outbound flight.

You can then browse and download an unlimited number of titles for three days, and these can be kept on your device for as long as you wish.

Note you will not receive a further e-mail when you take your return flight. Also, if you have booked a flight through a travel agent, you will not receive an e-mail but this may be expanded in the future.

2. When you connect at any time to the WiFi network of a BA operated lounge, such as London Heathrow.

BA does not appear to be offering free access to passengers who connect to its paid-for in-flight WiFi service at the moment.

BA is offering this on a trial basis. It has given warning it may be withdrawn at any time. This suggests that PressReader is allowing BA to test take-up before committing to a long-term contract. Therefore, if you do value this service do make your views known in post-flight surveys.