Disruption expected to TAP Portugal flights due to pilots strike from Friday 1 May to Sunday 10 May 2015

The trade union representing pilots of the airline TAP Portugal has called a ten day strike from Friday 1 May to Sunday 10 May 2015.

As yet, TAP has not yet published of operating flights during the period of industrial action. However, a minimum service will be set by an arbitration tribunal. We’ve no idea whether London is deemed important enough to require a minimum service level!

TAP has published guidance on its website which invites passengers booked on flights during the strike to rebook an alternative date.

TAP flies from London Heathrow to Lisbon, Funchal and Porto and from London Gatwick to Lisbon and Porto.

Alternative options include BA from London Heathrow to Lisbon and Porto and London Gatwick to Funchal, easyJet from London Gatwick to Lisbon, Funchal and Porto, and Monarch from London Gatwick to Funchal.

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United Airlines to introduce complimentary beer and wine on long-haul flights from London Heathrow from 1 June 2015

In a further sign of US airlines continuing to narrow the historical gap in service levels between their European rivals, United Airlines is to provide complimentary beer and wine in economy class on long-haul flights to and from London Heathrow from 1 June 2015.

This is part of a package of service improvements announced by United Airlines. The airline will continue to charge for spirits in economy. Passengers will also have the option to purchase additional snacks in flight.

This move does (if we’re not mistaken!) put United Airlines broadly on a par with Delta and American Airlines. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic continue to offer a full bar service free of charge in economy.

Whilst in the grand scheme of things, this is a very modest change and, in truth, only a reversal of a previous cut, it’s perhaps less likely other airlines will start charging for alcoholic drinks in economy.

United Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to New York Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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London Heathrow Terminal 5 to gain its first paid-for-access lounge as the Aspire lounge opens this summer

Ever since London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened seven years ago, a frequent criticism of the terminal has been the absence of a paid-for-access lounge for those who do not have access to BA’s Galleries lounge complex by virtue of frequent flyer status or travel class.

This summer Terminal 5 will gain its own paid-for-access lounge as an “Aspire” lounge is to open in Terminal 5 near Gate 18.

The exact opening date and pricing are yet to be revealed. Though, Aspire do offer annual lounge passes for £259.99 which may work well for some.

We’re not sure why it has taken so long for a lounge to open but this will be a welcome development for many. The standard of third party lounges has improved markedly over the past few years and it should compare favourable to BA’s Galleries Club lounges.

The one point to note is that many BA long-haul flights do depart from the Terminal 5B and 5C satellite terminals and there won’t be paid-for lounge facilities in these satellite terminals.

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“Better By Design – Shaping The British Airways Brand” by Paul Jarvis

Better By Design - Shaping The British Airways Brand

Better By Design – Shaping The British Airways Brand

Continue reading

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ITV to go behind the scenes at London Heathrow in three part documentary

The behind the scenes documentary shows no signs of running out of steam (we’ve lost count of the number of train companies, hotels and airlines that have opened themselves up to the cameras!) with ITV commissioning a three part documentary series on London Heathrow.

The documentary is being made by independent production company Raw TV. Production has been underway for some time, with the company actively seeking both frequent and nervous flyers late last year.

Of course, this is not the first time Heathrow has opened itself up to the cameras. The BBC ran “Airport Live” in 2013, as well as the long-running docusoap “Airport”.

We’ll provide an update with an expected transmission date as soon as we hear of it.

NB. We did report some time of a planned documentary on Virgin Atlantic. In the absence of any further news, we can only assume this is not going ahead.

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The British Airways lounge at Singapore Changi airport is closed for refurbishment

The BA lounge in Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi airport is currently closed for refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by late summer of this year.

In the interim, eligible passengers (eg those travelling in Club World business class, First Class, and Silver and Gold Executive Club cardholders) will be able to use the highly regarded Qantas Singapore lounge. (There was a time when BA and Qantas jointly operated a business and a first class lounge in Singapore, but for reasons we do not know, the two airlines decided to move to separate lounges.)

For completeness, we should add that, under Oneworld alliance lounge access rules, passengers eligible to use the BA lounge are also eligible to use the Qantas lounge in any event!

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Finnair’s new Airbus A350 aircraft is coming to London Heathrow in October 2015

When an airline introduces a new type of long-haul aircraft into its fleet, it is standard practice to undertake short-haul test flights. This is so pilots can undertake a sufficient number of take-offs and landings to fly the aircraft and cabin crew can become familiar with the layout of the cabins and galleys.

It is for this reason that Finnair will be bringing its brand new Airbus A350 to London Heathrow in October 2015 as part of a series of test flights across Europe.

The Airbus A350 is due to operate on the following flights between London Heathrow and Helsinki and flights can be booked now on Finnair’s website.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Flight AY831 Helsinki – London Heathrow
Flight AY840 London Heathrow –Helsinki

Thursday 15 October 2015

Flight AY995 Helsinki – London Heathrow
Flight AY996 London Heathrow – Helsinki

Friday 16 October 2015

Flight AY995 Helsinki – London Heathrow
Flight AY996 London Heathrow – Helsinki

The aircraft features an entirely new cabin, including a business class cabin with aisle access for all seats. It is due to fly from Helsinki to Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong progressively from 25 October 2015.

We should sound a note of caution that schedules may change at short notice if there are teething issues. It is entirely within Finnair’s discretion to let passengers change flights if this happens, if the rules of your ticket do not allow any changes.

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