It’s not often you hear of first class being added to BA’s London Heathrow routes. Indeed, it wasn’t long ago BA announced it was withdrawing first class from Cape Town, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Vancouver from later this month.
However, BA will be upgrading its single daily flight to Denver, Colorado (BA 219 and BA 218 return) from a three class Boeing 777 to a four class Boeing 747 from Sunday 29 March 2015.
This means that BA’s first class cabin will be available on this route and travellers in Club World business class will have the option of the popular 20 seat cabin in the “bubble” of the 747.
We’re not quite sure what has prompted this decision, other than that BA is the sole operator of the London Heathrow – Denver route and transatlantic traffic is buoyant at the moment.
Virgin Atlantic has announced the closure of “Little Red” short-haul flights from London Heathrow. Flights to Manchester will cease on Saturday 28 March 2015 and flights to Aberdeen and Edinburgh will cease on Saturday 26 September 2015.
British Airways completed its inaugural Airbus A380 flight from London Heathrow to Washington today, 2 October 2014, as flight BA217 arrived in Washington Dulles airport early this afternoon.
The launch of A380 services also coincides with the opening of a new “Galleries” lounge for business and first class passengers in Washington.
The lounge features a private dining area for First Class customers, pre-flight dining for Club World passengers, a bar with views of the airfield and shower suites.
Washington is the 2nd US city to be served by BA’s A380. San Francisco will be the next US city. BA also flies the A380 to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Johannesburg. The A380 will also fly to Singapore from the end of October 2014.
We’ve seen speculation online recently, much of it completely unfounded it has to be said, regarding whether British Airways will follow other airlines (such as Delta) in changing its frequent flyer programme whereby points/miles are awarded solely by reference to the absolute amount of money spent with the airline, rather than the distance flown on eligible flights.
A quick wrap up of some recent BA related developments:
1. London Heathrow Terminal 3 Bussing
After some six and a half years, the use of bus gates for passengers travelling on short-haul flights from Terminal 3 should have now largely come to an end. All short-haul flights should ordinarily be boarded from a gate with a jetty attached.
2. New BA lounge at Washington Dulles
BA is due to open a new lounge at Washington Dulles airport on Friday 26 September. The refurbished facility extends to 10,000 square feet. Passengers travelling in first flass will have access to a waiter service diner area and private bar. All eligible passengers will also be able to enjoy a deli style dining area, a deli bar, rain showers, a business suite. BA also promises power points at almost every seat in the lounge. The new lounge launches in advance of A380 operations at the airport starting on 2 October 2014.
3. Special Meals
BA has withdrawn four special meals with effect from 1 October 2014. These are fruit platter, bland meal, jain meal and seafood meal. Any existing bookings will be honoured.
British Airways has today, 17 September 2014, announced it is to return to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur from 27 May 2015.
BA will operate a daily flight from London Heathrow Terminal 5, initially with a four class Boeing 777. This may change to Boeing 787).
Here is the initial timetable:
Flight BA33 Depart London Heathrow 20:15 – Arrive Kuala Lumpur 16:00
Flight BA34 Depart Kuala Lumpur 23:05 – Arrive London Heathrow 05:25
The flight timings work well for the business traveller. BA and others have long argued that expansion at Heathrow will open up routes to the East, so it is good to evidence of this in action.
It’s noteworthy that BA has allocated a peak early arrival slot to this route, traditionally reserved for long-standing “trunk” routes such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Johannesburg, so it’s clearly expected to an important route.
BA previously flew to Kuala Lumpur until March 2001, when flights were suspended as part of wide-ranging review of BA’s route network. BA’s predecessor airlines first served Malaysia in 1933.
Kuala Lumpur is of course currently served twice daily by fellow Oneworld alliance partner Malaysian Airlines which has had some well documented problems of late and is currently undergoing a restructuring. There is no news yet on whether Malaysian Airlinesis to reduce capacity from London Heathrow. As BA and Malaysian do not have anti-trust immunity they would be prohibited from discussing/co-ordinating capacity and scheduling decisions on this route.
There is also no news yet on any codeshares with Malaysian Airlines on regional routes from Malaysia which we expect will be important to sustain the route.
At Kuala Lumpur airport, eligible passengers will have access to the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge. BA flights will depart from Satellite Terminal A.
Finally, for various reasons, new routes to Asia tend to take a while to grow passenger traffic and BA has in the past offered special fares for new route launches such as Chengdu and Seoul, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any special fares when launch date approaches.
Update May 2015: Contrary to our suggestions above, forward bookings have been described by IAG CEO Willie Walsh as being very strong, so we do not expect any downgrading of capacity by BA on this route.