BA set to maintain “yin-yang” Club World on Boeing 787-10 & Airbus A350 aircraft

London Air Travel » Page 79

Club World on Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Club World on Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Some time ago we wrote about a patent application by British Airways in respect of a new business class seat which would afford all business class passengers direct aisle access.

With American Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and others introducing new business class seats which provide all passengers with direct aisle access, British Airways has maintained its typically eight across “yin-yang” business class cabin on all recent deliveries of new aircraft.

The reason for this is the efficiency of the cabin layout and that BA flies a number of routes with very high business class demand (such that some 747s are to have business class seating increased from 70 to 86 seats and its A380s have 97 business class seats).

The patent application did prompt speculation that BA would abandon the “ying yang” layout on future deliveries of Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

However, IAG CEO Willie Walsh was asked about whether there were any plans to introduce an entirely new seat at a recent investor update and this is what he had to say:
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BA offers the chance to win free flights at London Victoria

London Air Travel » Page 79

British Airways London Victoria
British Airways London Victoria

British Airways is once again offering the chance to win free flights to destinations from London Gatwick to the Caribbean at London Victoria railway station this week.

25 pairs of tickets are available each day.

The BA stand is located towards platforms 15-19 and is open from 8am to 8pm. As you can see from the above picture flights to Barbados were on offer on Tuesday.  

Flights to St Kitts were on offer yesterday (Wednesday) and flights to Grenada are on offer today (Thursday). The stand is likely to be very busy at peak commuter times, so be prepared for queues.

Full details of BA’s network at London Gatwick are available here.

easyJet to add an extra row of seats to Airbus A320 aircraft

London Air Travel » Page 79

Just as British Airways finishes retro-fitting extra rows of its seats to its much of its London Heathrow short-haul fleet, the quest for ever more dense seating configurations on short-haul flights in Europe continues.

easyJet has today announced that it is to add an extra row of seats to all of its Airbus A320 aircraft.

This will increase the number of seats from 180 to 186. It is understood that the amount of leg room will remain the same and the extra seats will be accommodated through reconfigured galley and toilet spaces. By way of a comparison, BA has 162 seats on an equivalent sized aircraft.

The new configuration will apply to deliveries of new aircraft from May 2016. It will be retrofitted to existing A320 aircraft from late 2016. The programme should be complete by 2018. In the interim, easyJet will continue to take delivery of new aircraft with 180 seats. It is due to receive 20 new Airbus A320s this year.

The Airbus A320 aircraft represents approximately one third (81 of 230 aircraft) of easyJet’s fleet, with the remainder being smaller Airbus A319 aircraft.

What is perhaps most noteworthy is what easyJet hasn’t done. The airline has introduced a number of measures to increase its appeal to business and premium leisure travellers by introducing allocated seating, flexible tickets and fast-track ground facilities. However, it has stopped short of introducing a fully dedicated business class cabin to compete directly with BA Club Europe and equivalent products from other European airlines – including fellow low cost airlines Vueling and Germanwings.

BA launches London Heathrow – Reykjavik & Salzburg

London Air Travel » Page 79

Iceland (Image Credit: British Airways)
Iceland (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to launch two new routes from London Heathrow to Reykjavik in Iceland, and Salzburg in Austria.

BA will fly to Reykjavik three times a week from Sunday 25 October 2015 and to Salzberg twice weekly from Saturday 5 December 2015.

In the case of Reykjavik this marks a return by the airline to Iceland after a hiatus of over seven years. The Heathrow – Salzburg route will complement an existing BA service from London Gatwick.

Flights will be operated by two class Airbus A320 aircraft and are on sale now on
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Virgin Atlantic opens new Los Angeles Clubhouse

London Air Travel » Page 79

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles (Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has long been known for its distinctive, if relatively few in number, Clubhouse lounges. The flagship being of course its London Heathrow Clubhouse, with other Clubhouses in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Washington.

One notable absentee has been Los Angeles, in spite of it being one of Virgin Atlantic’s most important routes after New York.

Today, 28 April 2015, Virgin Atlantic has opened a new Clubhouse at Terminal 2. The lounge has been designed by Slade Architecture who also worked on the airline’s Newark and JFK clubhouses.

The 4,000 sq ft triangular shaped Los Angeles clubhouse offers views of the airport’s apron and Hollywood Hills. The colour palette is relatively toned down compared to other Virgin lounges, with extensive use of white. It is clearly inspired by the Californian outdoor lifestyle and climate.

The lounge is lined by a sculpted Corian and copper Flow Wall that features a copper lined bar. Lounge furniture includes Swan chairs by Arne Jacobsen, Walter Knoll Turtle chairs, classic Eames chairs, and a custom fabricated surfboard inspired counter by the windows that is sculpted from layers of bamboo.

At the apex of the lounge is a pre-flight dining area offering dishes from Hinoki & The Bird. The walls are lined with bamboo and the space features a video insulation by artist Diana Reichenbach.
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BA to introduce paid-for economy meal options on long-haul flights

London Air Travel » Page 79

BA World Traveller Paid For "Gourmet" Meals
BA World Traveller Paid For “Gourmet” Meals (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has announced that passengers travelling on selected flights in its World Traveller long-haul economy cabin from 12 May 2015 will have the option of purchasing an alternative three course meal tray, in lieu of the standard “Chicken Or Beef?” meal offered to all passengers.

The alternative meals will cost from £15 to £18 and will be available for passengers to pre-order in advance. The trays on offer are “Gourmet Dining”, “Taste of Britain”, “Great British Breakfast”, “Healthy Choice” and “Vegetarian Kitchen”.

Passengers will be able to purchase a meal between 30 days and 24 hours before departure. Full details are on the BA website.

BA has also published a PDF list of frequently asked questions.
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BA to increase Club World seats on some Boeing 747 aircraft

London Air Travel » Page 79

BA Club World 2006
BA Club World Cabin – 2006 (Image Credit: British Airways)

Some time ago, we wrote of British Airways’ plans to refurbish 18 of its 40-odd fleet Boeing 747 aircraft. Full details of the refurbishment programme are here.

As part of this refurbishment programme, BA is to also reconfigure the capacity of its Club World business class cabin on these aircraft.

Currently, BA has two Club World configurations on the Boeing 747, with either 52 or 70 business class seats.

The former is a relatively unusual arrangement introduced just under ten years ago whereby World Traveller Plus premium economy is located between first and business class. Although many bawked at the idea at the time, it did allow BA to increase its business class capacity by 8%, which was roughly the entire business class capacity of Virgin Atlantic.

On 6 Boeing 747 aircraft the number of business class seats will be reduced from 70 to 52.

On the 18 aircraft earmarked for refurbishment the number of business class seats will increase from 70 to 86, with an additional two rows of Club World seats.

This means there will be 66 business class seats on the main deck (with the remaining 20 seats on the upper deck). This will make for a very large cabin, so it will be interesting to see how this works in practice.

The number of World Traveller economy seats will be reduced to accommodate the extra seats. The number of First class and World Traveller Plus premium economy seats will remain the same.

The new larger cabin is expected to operate on routes with high business class demand such as New York, Boston, Chicago and Lagos.

NB. We should add we receive a lot of search enquiries about the condition of BA’s Boeing 747 aircraft, so it’s clearly a very live issue for passengers.

Disruption to TAP due to pilot strike from Friday 1 – Sunday 10 May 2015

London Air Travel » Page 79

TAP Portugal Airbus A319
TAP Portugal Airbus A319 (Image Credit: TAP Portugal)

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 invited passengers booked on flights during the strike to rebook onto another TAP flight on an alternative date. TAP has not indicated whether affected passengers will be accommodated on other partner/rival airlines.

Update: TAP has published a list of minimum services that will be operated during the strike This includes a daily return service between London Heathrow and Lisbon:

Flight TP356 Depart Lisbon 15:00 – Arrive London Heathrow 17:40
Flight TP369 Depart London eathrow 18:45 – Arrive Lisbon 21:25

Other scheduled flights may still operate. However, the situation is likely to quite fluid. TAP has also published a list of flights over the next three days that are guaranteed not to operate.

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

For those wishing to make their own alternative plans, alternative options include British Airways from London Heathrow to Lisbon and Porto and London Gatwick to Funchal, easyJet from London Gatwick to Lisbon, Funchal and Porto.

United Airlines to introduce free beer & wine on long-haul flights

London Air Travel » Page 79

United Airlines at London Heathrow
United Airlines at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

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.

London Heathrow Terminal 5 to gain first paid-for-access lounge

London Air Travel » Page 79

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: British Airways)

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.

Update: The opening date of the lounge is Tuesday 4 August 2015 and the cost of lounge access is from £34.99.