Ozwald Boateng to design new British Airways uniforms

Ozwald Boateng OBE is to design a new uniform collection for British Airways staff, including pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and ramp workers.

London Air Travel

Ozwald Boateng OBE at London Heathrow
Ozwald Boateng OBE at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Neale Haynes for British Airways)

For some time, it has been expected that British Airways will introduce a new uniform. Today, Tuesday 26 September 2018, BA confirmed that the renowned designer and Savile Row tailor Oswald Boateng OBE will create a new uniform for all airline staff.

This includes pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and ramp workers. It will replace the current uniform designed by Julien Macdonald in 2004.

BA has not said exactly when the new uniform will be introduced, other than it will form a part of the airline’s centenary celebrations in 2019.

Realistically, given the number of individual items that need to be designed and the time it will take to provide these to tens of thousands of staff, it will be some time before most passengers will see it.

There are also a huge number of factors before any final design can be approved. Aside from its aesthetics, cost will be a consideration as will many practicalities. It has to be suitable for working in cold and hot climates, meet safety requirements and withstand whatever working in a cabin environment can (literally) throw at staff.

Whilst the current Julien Macdonald design has stood the test of time, it is fair to say that how it is worn does vary widely and at times it can be unflattering – particularly for male members of staff.

Oswald Boateng has a distinguished career in fashion of more than 30 years. He has designed clothes for many well known names including Will Smith and Jamie Foxx. It can be said with confidence that the final design will look very sharp, very contemporary, and probably not afraid to use colour.
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The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 26 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

Manhattan at Sunrise
Manhattan at Sunrise (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 26 September 2018, our weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel between Europe and North America.

The pleasure of the transatlantic day flight

It was 30 years ago this year BA launched the Club World brand. Its long-haul business class was previously known as “Super Club”.

To mark the launch Saatchi & Saatchi created one of the most 1980s BA advertisements of the 1980s “Red Eye”.

In a game of naked one-upmanship, it features London based executives attempting to set up a fellow male colleague heading straight to the office from a flight from New York. Denied travel in First Class, he was “like a lamb to the slaughter”.

Alas, the plot was foiled. He flew Club World. He was thus able to have dinner, incorporate the latest figures into his report, and get a decent nights sleep for the day of boardroom politics ahead.

In reality, this is of course implausible. These flights are short and possibly one of the least pleasurable aspects of long-haul travel, regardless of where you are seated in the aircraft. There’s the uncertainty of how restful your fellow passengers will be. Sometimes there’s tangible tension between those desperate to go to sleep as soon as the wheels of the aircraft leave the runway and those happy to enjoy the full service of the flight.

There is of course another option. The transatlantic day flight. There are a small number of flights that leave the US and Canada in the morning and arrive at Heathrow in the evening.

The main downsides are that you do need to get to the airport very early which means either staying at the airport or doing battle with rush hour traffic. And if you miss your flight there won’t be another one for around 10 hours!

However, there’s markedly more relaxed atmosphere on board. Due to timings all passengers are flying direct so all are fresh from a night’s sleep and have little to think about on arrival. The most significant difference of all is vastly reduced jet lag.

Why don’t we have more of these flights? Its partly due to scheduling inefficiencies as it necessitates leaving an aircraft at the airport overnight and they are reliant on passengers travelling direct.

Here are the main transatlantic day flights from the US and Canada. Timings are indicative and some vary by day, as well as season.

Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 26 September 2018”

British Airways launches London City – Munich

British Airways will fly from London City to Munich up to three times daily from 16 February 2019.

London Air Travel

St. Maximilian Church and River Isar, Munich
St. Maximilian Church and River Isar, Munich (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to launch a new route from London City to Munich.

The airline will fly to Munich up to three times daily from Saturday 16 February 2019. Flights will be operated with Embraer E190 aircraft.

This will be the only direct flight from London City to Munich. The BA press release specifically refers to one BA corporate client Siemens welcoming the route, which suggests they may have provided guarantees to secure the route.

BA is also due to launch a new route from London City to Rome from November. These new routes are enabled by the addition of four new Embraer aircraft and further route announcements are expected. Full details of BA’s route network at London City is available at ba.com

Here is the timetable. As BA also flies from Heathrow to Munich up to 7 times daily it is of course possible to “mix and match” London departure and arrival airports, if that is convenient.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London City – Munich

Flight BA3291 Depart London City 08:10 – Arrive Munich 10:55 (Monday – Saturday)
Flight BA3293 Depart London City 13:50 – Arrive Munich 16:35 (Monday – Friday, Sunday)
Flight BA3295 Depart London City 18:40 – Arrive Munich 21:25 (Monday – Friday, Sunday)

Munich – London City

Flight BA3292 Depart Munich 06:45 – Arrive London City 07:40 (Monday – Saturday)
Flight BA3294 Depart Munich 12:20 – Arrive London City 13:25 (Monday – Friday, Sunday)
Flight BA3296 Depart Munich 17:15 – Arrive London City 18:10 (Monday – Friday, Sunday)

British Airways relaunches London Heathrow – Osaka

British Airways is to return to Osaka, Japan launcing a direct flight from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Kansai International Airport from 31 March 2019.

London Air Travel

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle (Image Credit: Japan National Tourism Organization)

British Airways is to return to Osaka after a near 20 year absence.

BA will fly from London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Kansai International Airport four times weekly from Sunday 31 March 2019.

Flights will be operated with a three class Boeing 787-8 aircraft. The flight operates from London Heathrow on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. It operates from Kansai International Airport on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

BA used to fly to Osaka via Tokyo Narita. However, the route was suspended in October 1998. Japan Airlines also used to fly direct from Heathrow to Osaka.

Kansai International Airport has only just restored operations to normal following more than two weeks of disruption after its facilities were flooded following Typhoon Jebi.

The route will be codeshared with Japan Airlines which, along with Finnair and Iberia, operates a joint-business with BA between Europe and Japan. It will also be possible to combine direct flights between Heathrow and Osaka with indirect flights via Helsinki on Finnair and Tokyo Haneda on Japan Airlines.

BA has also prepared a short PDF summary of the new route.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

London Heathrow – Osaka

Flight BA19 Depart London Heathrow 14:20 – Arrive Kansai International Airport 09:50 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
Flight BA20 Depart Kansai International Airport 11:30 – Arrive London Heathrow 15:50 (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 25 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

Time Out 50 (Image Credit: Time Out)

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.

50 Years Of Time Out

Time Out magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.

It was founded in 1968 by Tony Elliott. The first issue was produced on his kitchen table.

Along with Rough Guide and Lonely Planet it became an indispensable and globally renowned guide to discovering the world’s cities. Time Out London survives as a weekly printed publication, but has been distributed free of charge for many years.

With the rise of the Internet, in particular Google and social media, city guides have become heavily commoditised. However, Time Out still has impact through its covers and many a promoter places a lot of cachet on securing a recommendation in Time Out.

Time Out will be celebrating with a special birthday party in Granary Square Kings Cross on Saturday 29 September 2018. Tickets are on sale at Time Out.

It will also be supported by a book and special exhibition “Time Out 50: 50 Years, 50 Covers” at the Museum of Brands, Packing and Advertising.
Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 25 September 2018”

Monday Briefing – 24 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

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

Welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 24 September 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week.

Emirates and Etihad

For a time it seemed that the future of air travel have pivoted permanently towards the Middle East.

With favourable Government support, geographic advantages, relatively unrestricted operating conditions and seemingly unlimited budgets, all the Big Three Middle Eastern airlines had to do was announce blockbuster aircraft orders at air shows, launch ever more capacious First and business class cabins, run celebrity endorsed ad campaigns and the traffic would just come its way. European and US airlines seemed positively pedestrian and spartan by comparison.

However, reality did not quite work out like that.

Etihad pursued a disastrous strategy of acquiring minority stakes in troubled European airlines such as Air Berlin and Alitalia that haemorrhaged cash. It has been heavily loss making, having reported a loss before exceptional items of USD$ 1.52 billion for 2017. The airline has also suspended routes, significantly curtailed its growth plans, and put aircraft orders under review.

Bloomberg, a traditionally cautious and reliable news outlet, reported last week that Emirates is in talks to acquire Etihad. Leaving aisle the regional politics of such a merger, in which we are not well versed, this deal will not escape the attention of regulators in both Europe and Australia.

Etihad codeshares with Air France and KLM on flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi and from their respective hubs. Etihad has similar agreements with Lufthansa from its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. Surprisingly, there’s no such relationship with Virgin Atlantic.

It owns just over 20% of Virgin Australia and has an extensive codeshare relationship. Qantas and Emirates also have their own joint-venture covering Australia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

It is implausible that the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (or indeed Qantas or Virgin Australia) would allow both joint-ventures to continue under single ownership. Given Virgin Australia’s complex shareholding structure shared between rival airlines with conflicting priorities, it is likely that a combined Emirates and Etihad would let this fall by the wayside.

Closer to home, Etihad currently operates three departures a day from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi. It also owns Alitalia’s Heathrow slots, which currently operates six daily departures to Italy. As such, a deal could more than double Emirates’ capacity at Heathrow of six daily flights.
Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 24 September 2018”

BA’s 10 abreast economy Boeing 777 September Update

An update on the progress of the refurbishment of British Airways Boeing 777 fleet at Gatwick and the routes on which refurbished aircraft are expected to operate.

London Air Travel

BA World Traveller cabin on LGW based Boeing 777 aircraft
BA World Traveller cabin on LGW based Boeing 777 aircraft (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is now more than a third of its way through the refurbishment of its fleet of Boeing 777-200 aircraft at London Gatwick.

The main reason for the refurbishment is to increase the number of seats in the World Traveller economy cabin from 9 to 10 a row.

At the moment three class Boeing 777-200 are being refurbishment. For these aircraft, BA has also installed a new World Traveller Plus premium economy seat and increased the number of seats in this cabin. It has decreased the number of Club World business class seats. The in-flight entertainment system has also been upgraded. Four class Boeing 777-200 aircraft will also be refurbished, but the overall change in seating configuration is much more modest.

As at October 2018, five Boeing 777-200 aircraft, registrations G-VIIO, G-VIIP, G-VIIR, G-VIIT and G-VIIX have been refurbished. A sixth aircraft, G-VIIU, flew to Singapore on 7 October 2018 for refurbishment. Each refurbishment takes around four to six weeks.

Refurbished British Airways Boeing 777 World Traveller Cabin
Refurbished British Airways Boeing 777 World Traveller Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

The initial plan was that up to 25 Boeing 777s will be subject to “densification”. Given, from anecdotal evidence, there appears to be no adverse customer reaction, it is highly likely that this will be extended to many more aircraft. Heathrow based Boeing 777s are expected to be refurbished in 2019.

Seat maps for 3 class Boeing 777 aircraft

If you are flying on a non-refurbished 9 abreast 3 class Boeing 777 you should see the following seat map (pictured left below) for your flight in the Manage My Booking tool:

Club World – Rows 1 – 11 (48 seats)
World Traveller Plus – Rows 12 – 14 (24 seats)
World Traveller – Rows 16 – 40 (3-3-3 configuration)

If you are flying on a refurbished 10 abreast 3 class Boeing 777 you should see the following seat map (pictured right below) for your flight in the Manage My Booking tool:

Club World – Rows 1 – 4 (32 seats)
World Traveller Plus – Rows 10 – 16 (52 seats)
World Traveller – Rows 20 – 46 (3-4-3 configuration)

For passengers travelling with infants it is important to note that the refurbishment of aircraft does change the location of bassinet seats.
Continue reading “BA’s 10 abreast economy Boeing 777 September Update”

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”