The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 28 March 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.

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BA New York JFK Terminal 7
BA New York JFK Terminal 7 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 28 March 2018, providing a weekly bulletin on developments on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America. The Atlantic Update is published every Wednesday morning at 06:00 BST.

BA New York JFK Terminal 7 Refurbishment

We passed through New York JFK Terminal 7 last week and got to see first hand the process of the ongoing refurbishment. Thanks to our driver, we also had an unplanned tour of the rest of New York JFK…

At Terminal 7, the “First Wing” check-in area for First Class passengers and Gold Card holders is complete. The Galleries First lounge is closed for refurbishment. The Galleries Club lounge is as yet untouched. Refurbishment is also underway in the Club World check-in area, the main security screening area and in the gate areas. As such, a number of retail outlets are currently closed.

Whilst the refurbishment is long overdue and will no doubt be a big improvement, it is going to be on a smaller scale to the refurbishment (at least in some respects) first proposed in 2008. Gone are the plans for a “drive through” check-in area for First Class passengers and Gold Card holders.

We also couldn’t help notice the more modern and capacious Terminal 8 which houses BA’s transatlantic joint-venture partner American Airlines and to which former resident of T7 Cathay Pacific has recently decamped.

On a more positive note, the construction of the new TWA Hotel is progressing and we’re hugely excited to be trying out the hotel when it opens in 2019.

New transatlantic route launches

Amongst all the excitement over Qantas’ launch of non-stop services from London to Perth, a few other route launches have been overlooked.

United has launched a summer seasonal route from London Heathrow to Denver. Norwegian has also launched new routes from London Gatwick to Austin and Chicago. Aer Lingus has also launched Philadelphia from Dublin.

Delta’s seasonal route to to Salt Lake City from 2 April 2018 to Saturday 27 October 2018. Portland also returns from Friday 4 May 2018 to Thursday 25 October 2018.

There was much less positive news for Norwegian passengers due to fly from London Gatwick to New York JFK yesterday, Monday 26 March, on flight DI7013.

It was due to take off at 07:45. Passengers were informed at 12:13 that it would not take off until 21:30. The flight was delayed again to 02:00 and 03:30. It didn’t ultimately take off until 04:43. A delay of 21 hours. The same flight today, 27 March 2018, was cancelled.

Global Entry Interviews available in London

Many readers will no doubt be aware of the US Global Entry scheme which, subject to application, allows non-US nationals from eligible countries (which includes the United Kingdom) to go through an expedited immigration screening process on arrival.

The application process for UK citizens includes a pre-credibility check by the United Kingdom Home Office, an online application, and a face to face interview.

Interviews are normally held in the US. However, interviews are available by appointment at the US Embassy in London until Monday 7 May 2018.

The US Embassy has recently located from Grosvenor Square in Mayfair to Nine Elms at 33 Nine Elms Lane, London SW11 7US (near Vauxhall Underground and mainline railway station).

Amtrak secures federal funding for North East Corridor improvements

America is not known for its love affair with the rails.

There are pockets of activity, such as the recently launched Brightline in Florida, the Los Angeles Metro’s 28 by 2028 plan and High Speed Rail in California. However, transport in the country is dominated by road and air.

The one exception is North East Corridor on which the Acela Express operates between Boston and Washington. Amtrak has long had a list of planned capital improvements, most significantly a new tunnel known as Gateway under the Hudson River between Newark and New York.

This had become mired in politics with Amtrak facing the prospect of significant funding cuts and President Trump refusing federal funding for Gateway. However, the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill approved by Congress has provided for increased funding for the North East Corridor. (Amtrak) (New York Times)

Farewell to Virgin America

Virgin America, which was acquired by Alaska Airlines last year, has confirmed that the last flight under its flight code will be VX1948 on 24 April 2018 which will operate from San Francisco to Los Angeles, departing at 21:30 local time.

From 25 April 2018, all flights will operate under the Alaska Airlines (AS) flight code. However, some Virgin America branding may still be present.

BA does have a codeshare relationship with Alaska Airlines and codeshares on a number of routes from West Coast airports. These may well be extended to former Virgin America routes.

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