Iberia unveils its new long-haul Premium Economy cabin and service

Iberia has taken another step in its renewal and modernisation by unveiling a new premium economy cabin on selected long-haul aircraft and routes from Madrid from the summer of 2017.

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British Airways to launch new route from London Heathrow to New Orleans, Louisiana from 27 March 2017

British Airways is to launch a new direct route from London Heathrow to New Orleans in Louisiana (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) from 27 March 2017.

This will be the only direct scheduled flight from New Orleans to London.

Flights will be operated from London Heathrow Terminal 5 using a three class Boeing 787 aircraft (Club World Business Class, World Traveller Plus Premium Economy and World Traveller Economy).

Flights will intially operate four times weekly on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. However, we would not be surprised to see the route upgraded to a daily service in the future.

New Orleans is the third transatlantic route to be launched by BA using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, after Austin and San Jose, California.

The prospects of success for the route are strong. New Orleans is a popular tourist destination (notably for its Mardi Gras) as well as a popular choice for conventions.

Further transatlantic route announcements from BA are likely to come (albeit at a steady pace). And BA is likely to continue the trend of launching routes from cities that are not served by direct flights to London and/or Europe.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

BA has also produced a short PDF profile of the new route.


Flight BA225 Depart London Heathrow 15:40 – Arrive New Orleans 19:40

Flight BA224 Depart New Orleans 21:10 – Arrive London Heathrow 12:00

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British Airways to suspend London Heathrow – Chengdu route from 12 January 2017

British Airways has confirmed it is to suspend its London Heathrow – Chengdu route from Tuesday 12 January 2017.

The last outbound flight from London Heathrow (Flight BA88) will operate on Tuesday 12 January, and the last inbound flight to London Heathrow (Flight BA89) will operate on Wednesday 13 January.

Whilst airlines regularly review their route networks and suspend under-performing routes and it has been known for some time that the Chengdu route is underperforming, the announcement is significant.

China has long been a target market for BA. However, after Chengdu, it serves just two cities in mainland China (Beijing and Shanghai). This is significantly fewer than many European airlines.

BA has been stymied by the lack of local Chinese airline in the Oneworld alliance. Heathrow is too far west to attract connecting traffic to China from mainland Europe. BA has also long complained that the UK visa regime has deterred visitors from China to the UK.

The suspension is also politically significant in that a key argument for the expansion of London Heathrow by adding a third runway is to allow airlines to open new routes to emerging markets in Asia.

This announcement also comes just days after the UK government announced a relaxation of bilaterial agreements between the UK and China which increase the number of permitted flights between the UK and China from 40 to 100 a week.

On a more positive note, BA has recently announced a codeshare arrangement with China Eastern airlines and is now offering connections to Kunming, Xi’an, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Chongqing from Shanghai.

Rebooking Options

BA has announced initial rebooking options for connecting passengers.

Affected passengers have the option of travelling directly to Chengdu on British Airways on an alternative date prior to the route being cancelled, travelling to another BA destination in mainland China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, with any onward travel at your expense) or flying on a British Airways flight to Abu Dhabi and connecting on to an Etihad flight to Chengdu, or flying on a British Airways flight to Hong Kong and connecting on to a Hong Kong Airlines flight to Chengdu.

Full details are available on BA’s trade website.

When a route is suspended it usually takes a couple of weeks for BA to agree rebooking options with other airlines and it is highly likely that additional options will become available in the coming days, so we would advise affected passengers to wait until all rebooking options have been announced.

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British Airways to introduce Buy On Board catering on London Heathrow & Gatwick U.K. Domestic and EuroTraveller economy routes from 11 January 2017

After months of speculation and rumour, British Airways has today confirmed it is to introduce Buy On Board catering all U.K. Domestic and EuroTraveller economy routes from 11 January 2017.

The menu will be supplied by Marks & Spencer. 

This will replace all complimentary food & drink in these cabins.

Food & drink can only be paid for by debit or credit card or the Executive Club frequent flyer currency Avios via the BA app.  Cash will not be accepted.

At present, only cold items are for sale. No hot items will be available for sale.

Food & drink remains complimentary in Club Europe business class and on long-haul flights. In addition, Buy On Board will not be introduced at London City and London Stansted until the summer of 2017.  BA also promises to revamp its Ckub Europe catering in the spring of 2017.

We’re fairly sanguine about these changes.  Anyone who has flown BA over the years could not fail to notice the diminishing complimentary offer and the inconsistencies between London Heathrow & Gatwick flights.

That said, the removal of complimentary alcoholic drinks and breakfast on early morning flights is unlikely to be popular.

In addition, it is perhaps surprising that BA does not offer complimentary items for passengers travelling on the most expensive fares or those with Silver/Gold frequent flyer status.

You can be confident that customer feedback will be monitored closely and, after the changes are introduced, we would encourage any feedback (positive and negative) to be made known.

Full details are available in the  BA press release and on ba.com

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British Airways and Qatar Airways to establish joint-venture on flights between Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia via Doha

British Airways and Qatar Airways have today announced the formation of a joint-venture on the airlines’ respective flights to UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia via their respective hubs in Doha and London Heathrow.

The joint-venture will take effect from 30 October 2016.

The two airlines will codeshare on all their respective flights between the UK and Doha. This will include Qatar Airways flights from both London Heathrow and UK regional airports.

Qatar Airways will codeshare on selected British Airways operated flights from London Heathrow to the UK and mainland Europe.

British Airways will codeshare on selected Qatar Airways routes from Doha to the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The exact routes have not yet been announced and new codeshare flights are not yet on sale. However, there appear to be some exclusions. For example, Qatar Airways flights to Australia (which BA serves with its own aircraft and codeshares with Qantas Airways and Cathay Pactific) are not mentioned. Nor are BA flights to North America included, where the growth of Middle Eastern airlines has been politically contentious.

Qatar Airways will not codeshare on British Airways routes from London Heathrow to the UK and mainland Europe which it serves directly from Doha. Similarly, British Airways will not codeshare on Qatar Airways routes from Doha which it serves directly from London Heathrow.

The two airlines will also seek to co-ordinate schedules and fare pricing.

The two airlines have been working more closely in recent years. However, codesharing has been limited to a small number of routes and has not been helped by the fact that, until the end of October, BA flies to Doha via Bahrain and its flights were not well timed for onward connections. BA will fly to Doha non-stop from 30 October 2016.

For BA, this deal enlarges its route network to cover a number of destinations it does not serve from London Heathrow such as routes it has withdrawn from in Pakistan and Africa. Qatar Airways gains access to BA’s distribution network and frequent flyer base in the UK to help it compete more effectively against Etihad Airways and Emirates.

Qatar Airways now owns 20% of BA’s parent company International Airlines Group. Qatar Airways has also announced a codeshare arrangement with fellow IAG member airline Vueling.

More details are available in the IAG press release.

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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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