British Airways to open dedicated First Class check-in/security channel at London Heathrow Terminal 5

Ever since Terminal 5 opened at London Heathrow in March 2008 a familiar complaint has been the circuitous route passengers have to take from the South Security area (via an often crowded set of escalators and past numerous shops and restaurants) to the Galleries South lounge complex.

This is in spite of the fact that the lounges are immediately adjacent to the security area!

Indeed, only passengers with access to the Concorde Room lounge (First Class passengers and Concorde Room card holders) have the privilege of avoiding this via a special door (once rumoured to have cost BA many millions of pounds).

Next April, some nine years after Terminal 5 opened, all this will change for passengers travelling in First Class and British Airways Executive Club Gold card holders (and Emerald members of Oneworld frequent flyer programmes) who will have access to a dedicated security channel near to the existing First Class check-in area at the south end of the terminal. This security channel will also provide direct access to the Galleries First lounge.

BA is confident that this new security channel will also reduce queuing at the existing North & South security zones.

It is obviously encouraging to see investment to improve the experience for passengers at Terminal 5, particularly when so many other airlines are investing in their ground experience at London Heathrow. BA has released some computer generated images to preview the new area which are below.
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British Airways delays launch of London Heathrow – Tehran route to Thursday 1 September 2016

British Airways has delayed the relaunch of its route from London Heathrow to Tehran, Iran from Thursday 14 July to Thursday 1 September 2016.

No specific reason has been given for the delay.  However, we surmise that the delay is either due to a shortage of suitable long-haul aircraft or operational and regulatory delays in establishing operations in Tehran.

Affected passengers have the option of an indirect reroute on the following airlines: Lufthansa (via Frankfurt/Munich), Alitalia (via Rome Fiumicino), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul), or Aegean Airlines (via Athens).  Connections to the aforementioned airlines flights will be via British Airways operated flights from London Heathrow.

Full details are available on BA’s trade website.

BA has also revised its schedule for London Heathrow – Tehran which is now as follows:

London Heathow – Tehran

Flight BA153 Depart London Heathrow 20:30 –  Arrive Tehran 05:45 (Daily, except Sundays)

Tehran – London Heathrow

Flight BA152 Depart Tehran 08:35 – Arrive London Heathrow 11:10 (Daily, except Mondays)

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British Airways launches new route from London Heathrow to Innsbruck, Austria from Sunday 4 December 2016

British Airways is to launch a new route from London Heathrow to Innsbruck Austria from Sunday 4 December 2016.

The airline will fly to Inssbruck all year round. Flights will operate four times weekly (Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) for the winter season and twice weekly for the summer season (Wednesdays and Sundays).

Flights will be operate from London Heathrow Terminal 5 using an Airbus A320 aircraft in a two class, Club Europe business and EuroTraveller economy configuration.

BA also flies to Innsbruck from London Gatwick and it will be possible to “mix and match” flights if convenient.

Passengers travelling with ski equipment should be mindful that the “basic” EuroTraveller economy fare does not include any checked baggage allowance and the “plus” EuroTraveller economy fare should be selected for checked baggage.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

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United Airlines to introduce new “Polaris” business class flat beds on London Heathrow transatlantic flights

United Airlines has today announced it is to introduce a new business class seat called “Polaris” on its fleet of long-haul aircraft.

The new seat is a bespoke patented design for United Airlines by London based Acumen Design Associates and PriestmanGoode and is manufactured by Zodiac Seats.

The seat offers a fully flat 6′ 6″ bed and, in common with many other long-haul airlines, all seats will have direct access to the aisle in a 1-2-1 configuration. However, United will maintain the same seating density by combining inline and angled seats in the cabin.

All seats are forward-facing and each customer’s seat will feature a “Do Not Disturb” sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, and a 16″ high-definition entertainment screen.

United Airlines also promises significant improvements to in-flight amenities and dining. The Polaris cabin will also feature a walk-up bar for in flight snacks.

The Polaris business class seat will be first installed in December 2016 on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and subsequently on Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. It will also be retrofitted to Boeing 767-300 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft. It will not be fitted to Boeing 787-8, 787-9, Boeing 747 nor Boeing 757 aircraft (which currently operate on a number of London Heathrow flights). United is yet to specify which London Heathrow routes will operate with the Polaris cabin.

United Airlines is also rolling out nine Polaris business class lounges worldwide.  These lounges will feature daybeds and pre-flight dining.  A Polaris lounge will be fitted out at London Heathrow Terminal 2 in 2017.

Other locations will include Chicago O’Hare airport, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita and Hong Kong.

This latest development does mean that all-aisle access business class seating is now becoming standard on most long-haul transatlantic airlines. The one exception being British Airways which seems intent on maintaining its primarily 8-across “yin-yang” seating in its Club World business class cabin.

There’s more online on a dedicated a microsite. There’s also more insight behind the design from Acumen Design Associates and and PriestmanGoode.

United Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to New York Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Delta Air Lines to launch new route from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon from 26 May 2017

Delta Air Lines has announced it is to launch a new direct route from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon from Sunday 26 May 2017.

The route will operate four times a week on a summer seasonal basis to Portland International Airport using a Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

Flights will operate from London Heathrow Terminal 4 and will be codeshared with Delta’s UK transatlantic joint-venture partner Virgin Atlantic.

This route will be the only direct flight between London and Portland.   At the time of writing, flights do not appear to be on sale, but should on sale shortly online at the websites of both Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

This is also a route that had been a likely contender for a new direct service by British Airways with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Delta’s announcement may prompt a rethink on BA’s part.  BA may either launch this with a near daily year round service route, or choose another US city that is not already served from London.

London Heathrow – Portland

Flight DL37 Depart London Heathrow 12:30 – Arrive Portland 15:15

Portland – London Heathrow

Flight DL36 Depart Portland 17:00 – Arrive London Heathrow 11:05

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Virgin Atlantic to fly from London Heathrow to Seattle from 26 March 2017

Virgin Atlantic has announced it is to fly to Seattle from 26 March 2017.

Flights will be operated from London Heathrow Terminal 3 using a Boeing 787-900 aircraft offering economy, premium economy and Upper Class cabins.

Strictly speaking, this is not a new route as Virgin is merely replacing its transatlantic joint-venture partner Delta on this route.

In turn Delta will also replace Virgin Atlantic on one of the daily frequencies it operates from London Heathrow to Atlanta and Detroit. Full details of the aircraft swaps, which also include changes to services from Manchester, are contained in this Delta press release.

Delta has also today announced that it is to fly from London Heathrow to Portland, Oregon from 26 May 2017.

London Heathrow – Seattle

Flight VS105 Depart London Heathrow 11:00 – Arrive Seattle 13:20

Seattle – London Heathrow

Flight VS106 Depart Seattle 19:10 – Arrive London Heathrow 13:00

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Norwegian Air Shuttle launches new route from London Gatwick to Las Vegas from Monday 31 October 2016

Norwegian Air Shuttle continues its rapid expansion at London Gatwick with the launch of new direct flights to Las Vegas.

The airline will fly to Las Vegas twice weekly (Monday & Thursday) from Monday 31 October 2016.

This will be Norwegian’s 8th long-haul route from London Gatwick after New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico.

Norwegian will be competing against direct flights by Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick and British Airways from London Heathrow.

On that note, the very rapid growth by Norwegian is not going unnoticed by either British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic.  We have already seen British Airways reinstate its London Gatwick – New York JFK route as an apparent competitive response.  We would not be surprised to see further activity by either airlines which both depend very heavily on transatlantic traffic for profitability.

Flights are on sale now at Norwegian.com and an initial scan of fares shows return trips being available for less than £399.

London Gatwick – Las Vegas

Flight DY7107 Depart London Gatwick 12:10 – Arrive Las Vegas 16:00 (Monday, Thursday)

Las Vegas – London Gatwick

Flight DY7108 Depart Las Vegas 18:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 10:50

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