– Seating for 455 passengers across 15 different types of seats including the Polaris seat which features a privacy divider, an integrated table and personal lamp
– No less than 570 power outlets and 450 USB ports
– 10 private day beds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding
– 10 shower suites with Cowshed bath & body products
– A private dining area with table service for 48 guests
– Self-service buffet
– A staffed bar with a dedicated cocktail menu
The lounge officially opens to passengers on Monday 4 June 2018. It follows a recent Polaris lounge opening in San Francisco. New Polaris lounges are due to open in Houston and Los Angeles later this year. United will open a new Polaris lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 2 in the next couple of years.
Under United lounge access rules passengers must be travelling in business or first class on an international flight on United Airlines or a Star Alliance member airline to be eligible to access the lounge.
The lounge does make United a much stronger competitor on the London – New York route. It is relatively weak in terms of frequency with 5 flights a day versus 16 joint American Airlines & BA flights, and 9 joint Delta & Virgin Atlantic flights.
It certainly raises the bar for BA at New York JFK Terminal 7, where it is due to open new lounges later this year. Many readers may recall United once had a lounge at JFK Terminal 7 which was dimly lit with terrible coffee.
Today, the airline has provided further information of what, and what isn’t, happening with the planned development of the terminal which is to be completed over the next two years.
BA has confirmed that the development will include redeveloped general check-in areas, a new premium check-in area, a new food court post security, redeveloped First and Club World lounges and pre-flight dining facilities, and refurbished gate areas.
Passengers of other airlines which also use JFK Terminal 7, such as ANA, Icelandair, and Qantas, will also benefit from many of these improvements.
The Concorde Room which is for use by passengers travelling in First Class and Concorde Room Cardholders will receive, to use BA lexicon, a “refresh” after being refurbished a few years ago.
The airline has today issued images of the planned check-in and post security areas, but not the new lounges. A cynic might wonder whether BA has rushed out this announcement in order to maintain momentum after a recent PR event for its new London Gatwick lounges and First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
There is also no mention of redeveloping the immigration hall which can become extremely congested and is ill-suited to manage queues for both self-service kiosks and manned immigration desks.
“Storm Stella” is expected to cause very severe disruption across the East Coast of the United States on Tuesday 14 March 2017.
As a consequence, a large number of transatlantic flights from London’s airports are cancelled on Tuesday 14 March. Flights to New York, Boston and Philadelphia are most affected with widespread cancellations. There are delays and cancellations to Baltimore and Washington as well.
Airlines have also implemented flexible rebooking policies for those who are due to travel to the East Coast of the USA this week.
If your flight is cancelled you should be entitled to a full refund or a rebooking to an alternative date.
Here is the latest information from airlines operating transatlantic flights from London on Tuesday 14 March.
As at 23:00 GMT Tuesday 14 March, transatlantic operations from London’s airports should return to normal on Wednesday 15 March.
In 2017, there will be a significant reorganisation at London Gatwick. easyJet will consolidate its operations into a single terminal at the airport, with all flights operating from the North Terminal.
In order to facilitate this move, British Airways from the North Terminal to the South Terminal. Virgin Atlantic will move from the South Terminal to the North Terminal. BA will move to the South Terminal on Wednesday 25 January 2017.
BA has of course learned the hard way that terminal moves can be fraught with difficulty. It is for this reason the airline has already begun trial flights from the South Terminal.
In advance of the full move the following routes will move to the South Terminal on a permanent basis in January 2017:
London Gatwick – New York JFK
Flight BA2273 London Gatwick – New York JFK (from Wednesday 11 January 2017)
Flight BA2272 New York JFK – London Gatwick (from Thursday 12 January 2017)
On 21 May 2008, British Airways held a press conference at Terminal 7 of New York JFK airport. The then Chief Executive of the airline Willie Walsh outlined ambitious plans for a $30 million revamp of the terminal. The plans included a “drive through” check-in for First Class class passengers and Gold Executive Club card holders, revamped check-in and security zones, and refurbished lounges and travel spa.
What happened to the global financial system and the world economy shortly afterwards is well documented. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and state bail-outs of banks such as RBS and HBOS led to a dramatic fall in business and first class traffic, particularly from passengers who buy highly profitable flexible fares.
The plans for a revamp were put on hold and have remained on the drawing board ever since.
British Airways is to relaunch a daily service from London Gatwick to New York JFK from Sunday 1 May 2016.
The airline last flew between the two airports for a short period in 2008-2009 and the service was then ostensibly a “slot-sitting” exercise pending the launch of BA’s London City – New York JFK service.
The route will be operated with a three class Boeing 777-200 aircraft with Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy cabins.
BA will be competing head on against Norwegian Air Shuttle which has a growing transatlantic network at London Gatwick including routes such as Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles.
The flight is being accommodated by the cancellation of BA’s thrice weekly London Gatwick – Las Vegas service and frequency adjustments on other routes.
The route will also be bookable as a codeshare with American Airlines, Iberia and Finnair.
Passsengers should also be aware that from January 2016 BA will have limited lounge facilities at Gatwick as its lounges will be closed pending its move to the South terminal in November 2016.
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.
It was a little under ten years ago that the concept of the all business class airline gained traction in the UK.
In October 2005, Eos Airlines launched all business class flights to New York JFK from London Stansted using 48 seat Boeing 757 aircraft. Silverjet launched all business class flights from London Luton (using a private terminal) to New York Newark using Boeing 767 aircraft, later adding Dubai.
Whilst both airlines received very positive reviews and many industry accolades, Eos collapsed in April 2008 after an additional round of financing fell through at the last minute. Silverjet fell victim to rising oil prices shortly afterwards.
Both airlines did have a lasting impact.
British Airways launched an (almost) all business class operation from Paris to New York under the name OpenSkies. In 2009, BA also launched a twice daily all business class service from London City to New York JFK (via Shannon). Whilst there was talk of additional routes being added, none have materialised. Unsurprisingly, claims by Virgin Atlantic that it was looking into launching all business class flights never came to fruition.
KLM have released a short series of “Cockpit Tales” videos showing the work its pilots undertake on a day to day basis to ensure flights operate safely and according to plan.
Filmed using “fixed rig” cameras in the cockpit of KLM aircraft, the first video “Autopilot in Action” shows Captain van Dorst planning a flight from Amsterdam to London Heathrow, how the flight is programmed using flight management software and the use of autopilot, and communications with Air Traffic Control from takeoff through to landing.
In the second video, “Highways In The Sky”, Captain de Vries on a flight from Amsterdam to New York JFK airport shows how the airline plans a flight across the atlantic ocean, where for a large part of the journey the crew and aircraft will have no radar communication with Air Traffic Control.
Finally in “Big plane, short runway”, at just 2,300 metres, Princess Juliana International Airport on the island of Saint Martin has one of the most challenging runways in the world. Captain ten Velde shows how KLM ensures it lands a Boeing 747 jumbo safely on the island.
We like these videos. There’s a huge amount that gets taken for granted in aviation and anything that increases understanding of aviation should be welcomed.
Virgin Atlantic has announced a significant over-haul of its network, suspending a number of non-US routes. Mumbai & Tokyo are suspended from 31 January 2015. Seasonal flights to Vancouver & Cape Town are suspended from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015.