Seasonal Christmas & Winter Ski Routes from London

A look at seasonal winter routes from London for visits to Europe’s Christmas markets, Lapland and popular ski resorts.

London Air Travel

Salzburg Landscape
Salzburg Landscape (Image Credit: British Airways)

With summer now over many are planning their annual ski trip or a Christmas trip to Lapland or mainland Europe’s markets, so here’s a quick run through of direct winter seasonal routes from London which operate in addition to scheduled year round services.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com, easyJet, Finnair, and SWISS.

Austria

BA’s formerly winter seasonal service from London Heathrow to Innsbruck now operates year round, including twice daily flights on Saturdays from Saturday 3 November 2018 up to Saturday 30 March 2019. Innsbruck also returns at Gatwick five times weekly from Saturday 8 December 2018 to Sunday 14 April 2019.

easyJet operates a twice weekly seasonal service from London Gatwick to Klagenfurt on Wednesday and Saturday from Saturday 15 December 2018 to Saturday 23 March 2019.

BA is operating a four times weekly winter seasonal flight from London Heathrow to Salzburg on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Sunday 16 December 2018 to Saturday 30 March 2019. This will complement year round services from Gatwick.

easyJet also operates a four times weekly service from London Gatwick to Salzburg from Friday 7 December 2018 to Saturday 23 March 2019.

BA’s seasonal service from London Gatwick to Vienna returns from Sunday 28 October 2018 to Friday 29 March 2019.
Continue reading “Seasonal Christmas & Winter Ski Routes from London”

Report: Emirates in talks to buy Etihad

Bloomberg is reporting that Emirates is in talks to buy loss-making airline Etihad. A deal could substantially increase Emirates’ presence at Heathrow.

London Air Travel

Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow
Emirates Airbus A380 Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The financial woes of Etihad have been well documented.

It pursued what can only be described as an absolutely disastrous strategy of acquiring minority stakes in troubled European airlines that haemorrhaged cash. It has been heavily loss making, having reported a loss before exceptional items of USD$ 1.52 billion for 2017.

Etihad has abandoned its strategy of pursuing aggressive growth. It has been cutting routes such as Dallas Fort Worth, Entebbe, Jaipur, San Francisco, Tehran, and Venice.

It has also been reviewing its expansive aircraft order book which has included 21 Boeing 787-9, 30 Boeing 787-10, 25 Boeing 777X and 62 Airbus A350 wide body aircraft. It had also been seconding pilots to Emirates.

Bloomberg has reported today, Thursday 20 September 2018, that Emirates is in talks to acquire Etihad. It includes an official non-denial denial from Emirates and Etihad spokespersons that neither “comment on speculation”.

There are clear attractions to Emirates in not only eliminating a nearby rival but also having access to its aircraft order book. It could also substantially increase Emirates’ presence in London.

Given the close proximity of Abu Dhabi to Dubai it’s unlikely that Emirates would pursue a “dual hub” strategy (think BA’s unsuccessful dual “hub without the hubbub” strategy at Gatwick in the 1990s) and is likely to be more focused on point-to-point traffic for Abu Dhabi.

Emirates currently operates six Airbus A380 departures from London Heathrow with additional flights from Gatwick and Stansted.

With Etihad having three departures a day from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi and it also owning Alitalia’s slots, which currently operates six daily departures to Italy, a deal could more than double Emirates’ capacity at Heathrow. It goes without saying this would be a major competitive headache for many rival airlines.

Looking further afield, Etihad also owns a stake in Virgin Australia. Given Emirates’ partnership with Qantas, Etihad would have to dispose of its stake in Virgin Australia and its abandon its partnership for competitive reasons.

United “Polaris” at London Heathrow

Here is our guide to which United flights from London Heathrow operate with its new “Polaris” long-haul business class cabin.

London Air Travel

United Polaris Business Class Cabin (Image Credit: United)
United Polaris Business Class Cabin (Image Credit: United)

More than two years have passed since United announced its new “Polaris” long-haul business class. The new brand, encompassing new in-flight service routines, a new seat and lounges officially launched on 1 December 2016.

It was done with the best of intentions to radically upgrade United’s position in the long-haul business class market. In truth, it has in part been a case study in how not to manage expectations.

The new service routines have been long been in place and United is rolling out new lounges in the US to much acclaim. New Polaris lounges are open in Chicago O’Hare, Newark, San Francisco and Houston. Los Angeles will follow shortly.

United was due to open a new Polaris lounge at London Heathrow but no date has been set yet. Given that its existing lounge is relatively new, not much was expected in terms of changes in any event.

The retrofitting of the Polaris cabin to aircraft is taking some time. When flying United from London Heathrow it is more likely than not you will be flying on an aircraft not fitted with the new cabin. Though you have a good chance flying it to Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco and Washington Dulles.

The Polaris Cabin

The plan is to fit the new Polaris business class cabin to 18 new Boeing 777-300 (of which all but one have been delivered) and future deliveries of 14 Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

Only one flight United flight from London Heathrow, to San Francisco (UA949/UA901) is operated with the Boeing 777-300.

It will also be retrofitted to 35 Boeing 767-300 and 55 Boeing 777-200 aircraft. It will not be retrofitted to Boeing 757, Boeing 767-400, Boeing 787-8 nor Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Progress of Retrofit

As at Thursday 20 September 2018, 5 out of 55 Boeing 777-200 aircraft have been retrofitted and 3 of the remaining 50 aircraft are currently in progress.

These retrofitted aircraft registrations N204UA, N223UA, N786UA, N788UA and N796UA. If you are flying on a retrofitted aircraft you will see Version 5 of the United 777-200 seat map.

These aircraft have been operating selected flights between London Heathrow and San Francisco and Washington.

11 out of 35 Boeing 767-300 aircraft have been retrofitted and 2 of the remaining 24 aircraft are currently in progress.

The retrofitted aircraft are N642UA, N643UA, N644UA, N646UA, N647UA, N648UA, N649UA, N651UA, N655UA, N656UA and N659UA. If you are flying on a retrofitted aircraft you will see Version 3 of the Boeing 767-300 seat map.

These aircraft have been operating selected flights between London Heathrow and Chicago O’Hare.

This is according to the United website and the independent United Fleet website. There are some slight inconsistencies between the two, most likely due to timeliness of website updates.

In terms of progress by routes, here is a guide to which types of aircraft operate on United’s routes from London Heathrow which will at least give an indication of the chances of experiencing the new Polaris cabin.

The information below is based on historical information and may be subject to change due to day-to-day operational requirements and seasonal changes.

(On an entirely tangental point, United’s flight number sequencing appears to be all over the place.)
Continue reading “United “Polaris” at London Heathrow”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 2018

The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

London Air Travel

Miami International Airport
Miami International Airport (Copyright 2017 Miami-Dade Aviation Department)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 19 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

Hurricane Florence

The US continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The airport currently most affected is Jacksonville North Carolina which at the time of writing is without power.

American Airlines has restored operations at all but two airports. The airline expects to restore operations at Jacksonville today and Greenville North Carolina tomorrow, Thursday 20 September 2018.

Delta has almost restored operations to normal. A travel waiver remains in place for Jacksonville and Wilmington North Carolina.

United has resumed near normal operations. The one exception is Wilmington which is expected to resume operations on Thursday 20 September 2018.

New Rail Link from Las Vegas to Southern California

Brightline, which operates a privately owned railway in Florida, has acquired the rights to develop a new railway from Las Vegas to Southern California.

It has bought a company called XpressWest which has Government approved rights to develop a railway line between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The first phase will connect Las Vegas to Victorville with future plans to expand to Los Angeles. The 185 mile line will be constructed on land adjacent to Interstate 15. Construction is expected to begin next year and the line will open in 2022.

Brightline is acquiring 38 acres of land adjacent to the Las Vegas strip to construct the railway station and a new mixed use development. From a cursory scan of XpressWest’s history this project has been a long time in the making so it will be interesting to see how it can start construction so quickly.

Brightline currently operates between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand to Orlando.

From European perspective where rail investments are Government funded and operations are subsidised, it is a mystery as to how a new railway line can be constructed and operated entirely with private funding. It seems that the associated property development opportunities that arise as a consequence play a signifiant part.

Given how public US infrastructure projects with even the most blindingly obvious business cases can be mired in toxic federal/state/city politics and be subject to intense corporate lobbying, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 19 September 2018”

BA relaunches Kos at Gatwick

British Airways will fly from London Gatwick to Kos three times weekly from 15 May to 26 October 2019.

London Air Travel

Kos, Greece
Kos, Greece (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to reinstate a summer seasonal route to Kos, Greece at London Gatwick.

BA previously flew to Kos on a summer seasonal basis at Heathrow. However, the route was suspended in 2017.

BA will fly to Kos three times weekly from Wednesday 15 May to Saturday 26 October 2019 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. As is par the course for BA at Gatwick, flight times vary widely by day.

Flights will be operated with a mixture of Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft in the standard two class, EuroTraveller and Club Europe, configuration.

This should just be the start of a number of summer seasonal route announcements both at Heathrow and Gatwick.

In terms of coverage of Greece, this summer BA has flown to Crete, Corfu, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Santorini and Zakynthos from Heathrow. It has also flown to Crete, Rhodes and Thessaloniki from Gatwick and Mykonos and Skiathos from London City.

Flights are available for booking now at ba.com.

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 18 September 2018

Our weekly bulletin on the latest developments in media and technology around the world, as published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

Apple iOS12 (Image Credit: Apple)

Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.

Apple’s iOS12 available for download

The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS12, is now available for download.

New features include group notifications, more Do Not Disturb options, a new Shortcuts app where you automate series of actions suggested by Siri, and “Screen Time” reports. As always, it is advisable to download the new operating system to take advantage of the latest security features.

Initial impressions are that it does make your devices work faster and more responsive.

New Apple iPhones and Apple Watch Series 4

On a related note, as has been widely publicised, Apple announced three new iPhones last week and a new Apple Watch Series 4.

The specification of the new devices has been well documented. The new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are now available for pre-order from £999 and £1,099 respectively, more if you effectively take financing with a pay monthly contract. It has to be said that however technically impressive these products are, an equivalent amount of expenditure on professional photography equipment or a dedicated laptop would yield much more.

Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 18 September 2018”

Monday Briefing – 17 September 2018

Welcome to our weekly Monday Briefing on the main developments in air travel in London and around the world, as published every Monday morning at 06:00 BST.

London Air Travel

CNN Hurricane Florence Typhoon Mangkhut Coverage
CNN Hurricane Florence Typhoon Mangkhut Coverage (Image Credit: CNN International)

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 17 September 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut

Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut have dominated the news over the weekend. Both have caused considerable disruption at a substantial human and environmental cost.

In terms of disruption to flights, Hurricane Florence has now been downgraded to a Tropical Depression. There is still disruption to some coastal airports in the Carolinas due to flooding and infrastructure damage. Transatlantic flights from London seem to have largely escaped disruption.

For US domestic flights, American Airlines has largely resumed operations at its hub in Charlotte. However, some cancellations remain. Delta and United have been progressively resuming flights throughout the region.

BA, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic resumed flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong on Sunday after widespread cancellations on Saturday. Cathay Pacific is now progressively resuming flight operations at Hong Kong. However, there are widespread cancellations today.

BA Catering

BA and catering have long had a troubled relationship.

In December 1997, the airline outsourced its catering operation to Gate Gourmet. Matters flared up in a quite spectacular fashion in the summer of 2005 when an industrial dispute at the company resulted in no catering on BA flights at Heathrow. To make matters worse, some BA ground staff at London Heathrow took wildcat industrial action in support of the workers resulting in days of disruption in the height of summer at a cost to the airline of £40m and negative publicity worldwide.

Given how much the UK’s reputation for food has improved over the past 20 years, for an airline keen to emphasis its Britishness, it has been a source of mystery why BA hasn’t made this more of a point of differentiation.

One answer is that as the catering budget is one of the airline’s few controllable costs, it is an easy target for a repeated cycle of investment and cutbacks.

However, with new Club Europe catering being, by all accounts, well received and Do&Co securing a new contract for the entire Heathrow operation there does seem a genuine desire to improve matters.

If we had one criticism there is still a little too much emphasis on serving what people think Britons eat (eg Full English breakfasts, Afternoon Tea) instead of what Britons actually eat.

Given BA is due to refurbish its London Heathrow lounges in the coming years, a logical progression would be to review catering and service provision in the lounges.

BaxterStorey has been responsible for catering provision in BA’s UK lounges since May 2013. Unlike Qantas, for example, where Sofitel run its international lounges, BA not opted to appoint a premium hospitality brand to run the food and beverage service in its lounges. I would not be surprised to see this reviewed.
Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 17 September 2018”

American Airlines & BA launch the “Altitude Academy”

American Airlines and BA are offering the chance to win flights to the US at the “Altitude Academy” in Canary Wharf on Wednesday 19 – Thursday 20 September.

London Air Travel

American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy - London, September 2018
American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy – London, September 2018 (Image Credit: American Airlines/British Airways)

American Airlines and British Airways are launching, to use marketing speak, an “activation” in Canary Wharf over two days next week.

Called the “Altitude Academy”, the promotion is intended to showcase American Airlines and BA’s joint transatlantic network from London and the respective premium cabins and service of the two airlines.

Across four different zones, passengers will be able to discover their “frequent flyer style” and take part in games and challenges. Of greatest interest will be opportunities to win business class tickets to the United States. Complimentary catering will be supplied by Rhurbab who also cater for American Airlines’ lounges at London Heathrow.

American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy - London, September 2018
American Airlines & British Airways Altitude Academy – London, September 2018 (Image Credit: American Airlines/British Airways)

The Altitude Academy will be located in Jubilee Plaza, in front of Canary Wharf Tube station. It will be open from 11:00 to 19:00 on Wednesday 19 September and 07:00 to 19:00 Thursday 20 September 2018.

easyJet’s “Imagine Where We Can Take You” TV ad campaign

easyJet has launched a new Europe wide multimedia advertising campaign based around the thought “Imagine Where We Can Take You.”

London Air Travel

easyJet
easyJet “Imagine Where We Can Take You” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: VCCP for easyJet)

easyJet has launched a new Europe wide advertising campaign based around the thought “Imagine Where We Can Take You.”

In a TV advertisement we see a passenger gaze out of the window mid-flight. Through the mind of the passenger, the viewer is transported in a dream-like sequence to a range of ski, beach and city destinations, interwoven with easyJet’s signature colour orange.

It is noteworthy this ad does not mention price, traditionally easyJet’s main selling point. It focuses on the emotional appeal of the brand and the strapline “Generation easyJet”. This is a sign of much the easyJet brand has developed and matured in its near 25 year history.

It is also no accident that a close-up of a female pilot is featured as easyJet is actively campaigning to increase the number of female pilots.

The ad was made by the agency VCCP. It was directed by The Sacred Egg of Riff Raff Films. The soundtrack to the advert is Cat Power “Dreams”.

The ad launches on UK TV tonight, Friday 14 September 2018, during “Gogglebox” on Channel 4.

With Virgin Atlantic also launching a “Masterbrand” ad campaign this weekend, we can’t help but notice it is also exactly five years since BA ran a major brand led TV campaign with its “Today Tomorrow” TV ad. A new Masterbrand campaign from BA is long overdue.

Virgin Atlantic’s “Depart The Everyday” TV ad campaign

Virgin Atlantic & Virgin Holidays have launched two new ad campaigns based around the concepts of “Depart The Everyday” and “The World Is Your Playground”.

London Air Travel

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic “Depart The Everyday” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: AMVBDDO for Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has launched a new TV advertising campaign under the banner of “Depart The Everyday”.

Filmed in a mock-up Virgin Atlantic aircraft cabin, you see passengers depart a dreary and overcast UK and enter into a surrealist world in all three cabins at 38,000 feet.

The aircraft hold is a ball pool. Passengers dance on the ceiling. The air vents dispense rainbow ice cream. Of course, no Virgin Atlantic TV advertisement would be complete without a shot of its signature Upper Class bar and suite. It exudes Virgin Atlantic’s characteristic self-confidence.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic “Depart The Everyday” TV advertising campaign September 2018 (Image Credit: AMVBDDO for Virgin Atlantic)

The soundtrack to the ad is Chaka Khan “Like Sugar”. It is directed by Salomon Ligthelm for Stink Films.
Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic’s “Depart The Everyday” TV ad campaign”