British Airways orders 3 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft

British Airways has ordered 3 new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which will join its 12 strong fleet at London Heathrow.

London Air Travel

British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

Boeing has today, Thursday 19 July 2018, announced that British Airways has committed to ordering an additional 3 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The announcement was made to coincide with the Farnborough Air Show. These aircraft will be leased from an undisclosed third party lessor. They will join BA’s 12 strong fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft at London Heathrow. These were delivered to the airline from 2010 to 2014. 3 of these aircraft are leased and 9 are owned by BA.

Based on plans published by BA’s parent company International Airlines Group at its Capital Markets Day late last year, it is expected that these three aircraft will replace three of BA’s oldest Boeing 777-200 aircraft. These were delivered to the airline in 1995 and operate principally to the US East Coast and the Middle East.

BA has not made any comment on the announcement. The planned configuration of the aircraft is not known. The current fleet of Boeing 777-300 aircraft all operate in a four class configuration. BA is in the process of “densifying” its existing Boeing 777 fleet so these aircraft could well arrive with 3-4-3 seating in World Traveller economy. The delivery dates are also not known.

The BA Boeing 777-300ER currently operates from London Heathrow to Beijing, San Diego, Sao Paulo, Singapore-Sydney and Tokyo Haneda. It also operates selected frequencies to Boston and Hong Kong. It has also previously operated to Rio de Janeiro. Please see here for our full guide to BA’s fleet.

Road Testing A Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic

London Air Travel

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic
Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

When Gordon Ramsay’s “Plane Food” restaurant opened at London Heathrow Terminal 5 a little over ten years ago, the arrival of an airport restaurant bearing the name of a well known chef wasn’t the only innovation.

Plane Food also introduced the concept of the dedicated onboard “picnic”.

That wasn’t the first time the concept of bring your own catering entered into the consciousness of the travelling public. Readers may recall industrial action at BA’s Heathrow catering provider Gate Gourmet in the summer of 2005 which resulted in months of very limited catering on short-haul flights. Retailers at Heathrow did a roaring trade as passengers spent their free meal vouchers in the terminals. As free catering offerings in the air have diminished over the past ten years, it also proved to be a prescient move.

Having never been a great fan of the second meal service in any cabin on BA long-haul flights, which is usually some variant of Afternoon Tea, it was high time to try out a Plane Food picnic. So here we’ve road tested a picnic on a transatlantic flight from London Heathrow in World Traveller Plus.

Ordering A Picnic

You can’t miss Gordon Ramsay Plane Food as you exit the South security lanes at Terminal 5.

You can order a picnic at the counter which is immediately at the entrance. Here is the current menu. You can choose from one of three starters, mains, and desserts that are displayed in cabinets behind the counter. You also have a choice of a bottle of still or sparkling water. There is one set price of £18.50. Don’t forget to pick-up cutlery!

Only if you are Victoria Beckham can you acquire one before even entering the terminal.

The Picnic

Your picnic is encased in an insulated zip-up case about 30cms by 23cms in size.

Each item is plated separately with a plastic casing. As on this flight, I was seated in an exit row it had to go in the overhead bin for take off, where you need to make sure it packed appropriately to survive being thrown about whilst the aircraft hurtles towards 38,000 feet.

Here is the picnic in the air:

– A starter of potted salt beef brisket with grain mustard, prosciutto ham, piccalilli and rocket
– A main of poached chicken breast, basil pesto, grilled portabello mushroom
– A dessert of fruit salad

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic
Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Continue reading “Road Testing A Gordon Ramsay Plane Food Picnic”

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 18 July 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

Airbus A220-300 Aircraft (Image Credit: Airbus)
Airbus A220-300 Aircraft (Image Credit: Airbus)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 18 July 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.

New US Airline Commits To 60 Airbus A220-300 Aircraft

When Virgin America was folded into Alaska Airlines earlier this year, many passengers mourned the passing of a young upstart and continued consolidation in the US airline industry.

There now appears to be firm plans for a new US airline start-up. Airbus has confirmed that an as yet unnamed airline has committed to 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft (formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries) for delivery from 2021. Last week JetBlue also announced that it had ordered 60 of the Airbus A220-300 aircraft.

The new airline will be founded by a group of investors led by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue. It should be noted that at this stage there is only a Memorandum Of Understanding, and not a firm order.

Breaking into the US domestic market is not easy. Readers may recall the launch of Virgin America was subject to intensive lobbying efforts which delayed its launch. There were also competitive responses to new route launches with incumbent airlines aggressively adding capacity on matching routes to dilute fares.

United Fleet Order

On a more cautious note, United has announced it has ordered 25 Embraer E-175 aircraft and 4 new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

The new Embraer aircraft will be delivered in 2019 and will replace an equivalent number of CRJ-700 aircraft operated by United Express. The Boeing 787-9 aircraft will be delivered in 2020 and will also act as replacement aircraft, but no further detail has been provided.

Primera Air confirms Winter transatlantic schedule

Primera Air’s launch of transatlantic routes from the UK did not get off to the best start.

It cancelled the planned launch of transatlantic routes from Birmingham to Newark and Toronto. The launch of Stansted to Toronto was delayed. It had to wet lease aircraft to cover Stansted – Newark and this route has been beset by delays and cancellations.

However, Primera Air is soldiering on into the winter. Routes from Stansted to Newark, Toronto and Washington will continue throughout the winter. Stansted to Boston will end in early December. Primera Air has yet to confirm schedules for Summer 2019.

US “Big Three” Airlines Release Q2 Results

All of the “Big Three” US airlines have now released their Q2 financial results.

Some performed better than expectations, notably United. There is less positive news at Delta which is seen as the industry leader. It reported a fall in net profit. A key theme is increasing fuel prices which airlines will seek to pass on to passengers through higher ticket prices. No doubt this will be a similar theme in Europe as well.

Also Of Note This Week

Air Canada is to open a refurbished Maple Leaf Lounge in St John’s International Airport this autumn. (Air Canada)

Alaska Airlines launches its new summer menu which will be available until 15 November 2018. (Alaska Airlines)

Late Post Publication Updates:

[Reseved for updates during the day.]

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

BA launches winter seasonal London Gatwick – Cologne

British Airways has launched a new winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Cologne from Friday 16 November 2018 to Friday 29 March 2019.

London Air Travel

Cologne Cathedral (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Cologne Cathedral (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

British Airways has launched a new winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Cologne.

The airline will fly to Cologne four times weekly on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from Friday 16 November 2018 to Friday 29 March 2019. The exact flight times vary widely by day. This will be the only direct route between London Gatwick and Cologne.

It’s worth noting that Cologne is very easily reached by train from Dusseldorf airport. Therefore, it should be easy to “mix and match” this route with BA’s six daily flights between London Heathrow and Dusseldorf, if convenient.

BA also serves Friedrichshafen and Nuremburg on a winter seasonal basis at Gatwick. Please see here for BA’s Gatwick winter schedule. Further route announcements may be made over the next few weeks.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 17 July 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

BA First WiFi
(Image Credit: British Airways)

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.

Twitter Cleans Up

If you’ve logged on to Twitter recently you may have noticed that some accounts you follow have experienced large drops in follower numbers.

There has long been a common practice of “buying” followers on Twitter, and other platforms such as Instagram, from bot accounts. The biggest clues are sharp rises in follower counts and relatively low levels of responses to tweets. A Twitter user with followers in the tens of thousands should have a signifiant response to every tweet. It’s a very short term and self-destructive move as it destroys a user’s credibility.

Twitter has previously responded to this by locking accounts that exhibit the behaviour of bots. Twitter is now in the process of removing locked accounts from follower counts. As a consequence some users, including some aviation commentators it has to be said, have experienced sharp falls in their followers.

On a related note, given events in Helsinki this week, NPR reports on how the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg set up “sleeper” accounts to build trust in users ahead of its influence campaign during the 2016 US Presidential Election.

BBC Under Fire

Brexit continues to dominate the political climate in the UK and, barring some shock event, will continue to do for at least the next 9 months.

Despite two years having passed since the referendum result, attitudes towards the UK’s departure from the European Union have barely shifted.

There has been very deep frustration, particularly those who supported Remain, at the BBC’s coverage. Notably its failure to carry out original investigative journalism which other outlets such as Channel 4 and The Observer have done. Also, under fire is its painstaking pursuit of “balance” giving all sides of every argument equal weight which has arguably given the likes of Tim Martin of Wetherspoon and hardcore Conservative Eurosceptics more air time than they merit.

Traditionally supportive voices such as former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger are raising the alarm. The Observer columnist Nick Cohen has also penned a polemic for The New York Review of Books “How The BBC Lost The Plot On Brexit” to which the BBC has issued a rebuttal.
Continue reading “Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 17 July 2018”

Monday Briefing – 16 July 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

Iberia Airbus A350-900 (Image Credit: Airbus)
Iberia Airbus A350-900 (Image Credit: Airbus)

Hello and welcome to our Monday Briefing for the week beginning 16 July 2018, summarising the main developments in air travel over the past week, and a look to the week ahead.

Farnborough Air Show

The Biennial Farnborough Air Show gets under way this week.

Historically, this been the stage for muscular displays of headline grabbing aircraft orders, notably from Middle Eastern airlines. With Emirates parking aircraft and Etihad downsizing its route network, some of the blockbuster orders of the past are unlikely to be repeated.

Judging by news coverage over the past few days, the UK press has clearly been briefed in advance about possible Government announcements to reinforce its commitment to aviation and space technology after the UK leaves the European Union. It has already announced on Sunday funding for horizontal and vertical spaceports around the UK. However, this will not make the very real issues surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU, such as pan-European supply chains, regulation and traffic rights, go away.

As far as aircraft orders are concerned, commentators will tally up the relative numbers of orders for Airbus and Boeing. Last week Airbus officially launched the Airbus A220, which is effectively the Bombardier C-Series rebranded, and it will no doubt be keen to announce more orders in addition to JetBlue’s order last week.

BA has never been one to announce orders at aircraft shows. That said, it is known that its parent company IAG is in discussions with Airbus and Boeing on an aircraft order, so you never know.

Iberia’s A350-900 comes to London Heathrow this Friday

Iberia’s first A350-900 aircraft will be operating selected flights on the London Heathrow – Madrid route from this Friday 20 July 2018 until Friday 3 August 2018:

Flight BA7058 / IB3166 Depart Madrid 15:55 – Arrive London Heathrow 17:20
Flight BA522 / IB3167 Depart London Heathrow 18:50 – Arrive Madrid 22:15

It will then resume from Monday 23 August to Tuesday 31 August 2018. This is to allow pilots and cabin crew to become familiar with the aircraft before it begins long-haul operations. Note this may be subject to change at short notice.

Iberia has yet to unveil images of the A350 cabin interior. When Iberia does so, it should provide some clues to what to expect when BA takes delivery of the Airbus A350-1000 next year. This is at least as far as economy, premium economy and in-flight entertainment are concerned. However, BA is expected to have a different business class cabin.
Continue reading “Monday Briefing – 16 July 2018”

BA relaxes lounge access rules for summer holidays

Members of the Gold Guest List can take up to five guests into BA lounges from Saturday 14 July to Sunday 3 September 2018.

London Air Travel

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

For as long as we can remember one of the biggest complaints about the BA Executive Club is the rule that allows Silver and Gold Executive Club members to bring only one guest into the lounges.

The biggest irritation is when an Executive Club member is travelling on their family holiday and cannot bring their whole family into the lounge.

BA has sought to address this in the past 12 months by allowing Gold cardholders to bring up to five guests into the Galleries Club lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow over Christmas and Easter.

BA has, once again, relaxed access lounge access rules from today, Saturday 14 July, to Sunday 2 September 2018.

However, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the rules appear to have been relaxed for all BA lounges.

The bad news is that rules have been relaxed only for members of the “Gold Guest List”.

The Gold Guest List is an Executive Club tier above Gold introduced a little over ten years ago. It is not that widely publicised. You have to earn 5,000 tier points in one year to become a member and 3,000 tier points in consecutive years to retain membership. Its benefits include access to a dedicated customer service telephone line, additional Avios redemption benefits, additional lounge guests, and a Hilton Honors Diamond membership.

Given the change of policy for the summer it’s not certain how this will be applied over Christmas.

This is one of a number of measures BA has introduced for families including “status hold” for new parents. If you’ve travelled through Terminal 5 recently you may have noticed a new family check-in area at the North side of the terminal. Certainly from anecdotal experience, even for the most frequent flyers, it is the experience when travelling with their own family that has the greatest influence on their perception of the airline.

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee on BA: The Verdict

What’s our verdict on Union Hand-Roasted coffee in British Airways’ lounges and Club World cabin?

London Air Travel

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee - BA Lounge Heathrow
Union Hand-Roasted Coffee – BA Lounge Heathrow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

This is a topic that may be considered by some to be a bit “niche”, but please allow us a moment of self-indulgence.

A little over a month ago, BA started serving Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in its UK lounges and in First and Club World.

Having tried it on flights and in the lounges at Heathrow, what’s the verdict?

There is marked difference in the taste of the coffee on the ground and it is a huge improvement.

In the air, there is a difference, but it much less marked. If you didn’t know the coffee had changed, I doubt you’d notice. This may be due to the limitations of making coffee in the air more than anything else.

In both the lounges and the aircraft, the actual coffee making equipment hasn’t changed. The lounges use the same self-service bean-to-cup machines. In Club World, BA still serves only one choice of filter coffee.

Arguably, this should change. BA could never get away with offering only one white or one red wine in the air. Given how much tastes have changed, as evidenced by the huge number of independent coffee chains in London, it is absurd that you have to fly First Class to get an espresso or cappuccino.

Also bear in mind that in the Qantas lounge at Heathrow you can have coffee made for you by a barista, and on Qantas long-haul business class you are offered coffee in a cafetière.

Given BA will be introducing with the Airbus A350-1000 next year with an entirely new Club World cabin and it is also due to refurbish its lounges at Heathrow in the coming years, this should an area for attention.

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee - BA Lounge Heathrow
Union Hand-Roasted Coffee – BA Lounge Heathrow (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 July 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

jetBlue Airbus A220-300 aircraft
jetBlue Airbus A220-300 aircraft (Image Credit: Airbus)

Hello and welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 11 July 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.

JetBlue to order the Airbus A220-300

Airbus held a press event yesterday, Tuesday 10 July 2018, to mark the launch of the Airbus A220-100 and A220-300.

These aircraft were formerly known as the Bombardier C-Series CS100 and CS300. SWISS operate the A220-300 on selected flights between London Heathrow and Geneva.

JetBlue has announced it has ordered 60 A220-300 aircraft which will be delivered from 2020. It also has options for a further 60 aircraft which, if exercised, would be delivered from 2025. The aircraft will be used to replace JetBlue’s existing fleet of 60 Embraer E190 aircraft from 2020 to 2025.

JetBlue has also converted an existing order 25 Airbus A320neo to Airbus A321neo aircraft.

It is interesting to note that the JetBlue press release makes no mention of any orders for the Airbus A321 Long Range which, if ordered, could be used to launch services to Europe.

Virgin Atlantic adds flights for Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show

Last year Virgin Atlantic added special flights from London Heathrow to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show.

These will return in 2019. Virgin Atlantic will add additional flights from London Heathrow to Las Vegas on Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Monday 7 and Thursday 10 January 2019. Return flights from Las Vegas operate on Saturday 5, Sunday 6, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 January 2019.

This is in advance of Virgin permanently moving the route from Gatwick to Heathrow from Sunday 31 March 2019.

Virgin Atlantic’s transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta will also operate special flights between Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Las Vegas along with Air France and KLM.
Continue reading “The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 11 July 2018”

Travel Media & Technology Bulletin – Tuesday 10 July 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

BA First WiFi
(Image Credit: British Airways)

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.

HBO And Chill

The American cable network HBO has long been world renowned for high quality TV series such as “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos”.

Something that it is not widely know to those who don’t have access to the channel itself is that these shows make up only a very small amount of HBO’s scheduled programming.

HBO has long favoured quality over quantity. It may not produce many shows a year, but when it does, they are critically acclaimed hits. This is in contrast to Netflix which throws of billions of dollars at new shows, far beyond what most can keep up with, and with varying degrees of success.

HBO’s parent company Time Warner has recently been acquired by AT&T. Based on account of internal meeting reported by The New York Times, HBO is to be tasked with increasing both the quantity of programmes it produces and subscriber numbers, with unease over the impact on quality. (New York Times)

A Tribute to The Guardian from an unlikely corner

A memorial service was held last week for the late former editor of The Guardian, Peter Preston.

Although The Daily Mail and The Guardian share little in common in terms of political views, its respective journalists still have a grudging admiration for the technical quality of each other’s publications.

Paul Dacre, the much revered and feared editor of the Daily Mail, delivered a tribute to Peter Preston, that is as much a tribute to the end of the printed newspaper.

“The reason, of course, was that he was quite simply, a print man. He loved that magical symbiosis of newsprint, pictures, headlines, fonts and beautiful words that at their best can make a paper a functioning part of society rather than a commentary at its edges.

“Inevitably, sadly, those Fleet Street skills needed for that magic symbiosis are dying in an internet age which seems to have a voracious need for free, somewhat crudely expressed, round-the-clock information and gratification.

“Yes, of course, journalism will survive and may, one day, flourish again. But it will be different. Whether it will, in future, have the creative beauty and sheer power of Peter’s Guardian, I don’t know.

Dacre who in the 1999 remarked “A lot of people say that the internet is the future for newspapers. Well, I say to that: bullshit.com” has always had a very difficult relationship with technology. He effectively disowns the Daily Mail’s online presence. Dacre is due to retire as editor of the Daily Mail in November which is likely to presage a decline in the Daily Mail’s political influence as a print product.

Also of note this week:

A great scoop by BuzzFeed: How The Times sacked a reporter for posting fake reviews on its website to secure free tickets. (BuzzFeed)

Sacha Baron Cohen returns to television with a 7 part series “Who Is America?”. Produced by the American network Showtime it will premier in the UK on Channel 4 on Monday 16 July. (Channel 4)

Previous editions of the Travel Media & Technology Bulletin

Here are the latest editions of the Travel Media & Technology Bulletin:

Our weekly Travel Media & Technology Bulletin is published every Tuesday morning at 06:00 BST. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail us at mail [at] londonairtravel.com