The Atlantic Update – Wednesday 5 December 2018

The Atlantic Update is a weekly bulletin on transatlantic travel, published every Wednesday at 06:00 GMT.

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American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow
American Airlines Aircraft at London Heathrow (Image Credit: Heathrow)

Welcome to the The Atlantic Update for Wednesday 5 December 2018.

Could American Airlines move to Heathrow Terminal 5?

Interest was piqued this week following comments by Rhett Workman of American Airlines on its “Tell Me Why” employee podcast that it may one day move into Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

American Airlines and BA are at a disadvantage compared to Delta and Virgin Atlantic in that they do not share terminals at Heathrow, nor many other US airports such as New York JFK.

This partially defeats the object of operating a “clock-face” timetable on routes such as Chicago O’Hare and New York JFK.

It also means passengers connecting from American Airlines, some 50% of them, on to most of BA’s short-haul network have to change terminals at Heathrow.

Given the size of American’s operation at Heathrow it is hard to see this happening without an expansion of Terminal 5.

There are also many issues beyond capacity. Terminal 5 was originally intended for the exclusive use of BA and all of its systems and processes were designed around the airline. Consider that Iberia has operated from Terminal 5 for several years, but it was only this year their flights actually operated under Iberia flight numbers.

If this ever comes to fruition, it is certainly a long-term goal. In the interim, BA did issue a rather vague press release earlier this year referring to “big plans” for Terminal 3 in conjunction with American Airlines. The podcast also means increased co-operation behind the scenes such as staff secondments between the two airlines.

There is also the possibility that some transatlantic routes shared between American and BA may ultimately be operated by only one airline. There is some credence to this as in the US market American seems to be focusing more on its traditional strongholds such as Dallas Fort-Worth and it may leave other Heathrow transatlantic routes to BA.

United Begins Selling Premium Economy

United Premium Plus Cabin
United Premium Plus Cabin (Image Credit: United)

United has started selling tickets for travel in its premium economy cabin “United Premium Plus”.

The United Premium Plus cabin will be progressively retrofitted to Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft and fitted onto newly delivered Boeing 787-10 aircraft.

It is now available for sale on select international routes for travel from 30 March 2019. In the first few months, it will be available on just one return flight between London Heathrow and San Francisco, flights UA900 and UA901, from Tuesday 30 April 2019.

New Concourse Opens At LaGuardia

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge LaGuardia Terminal B
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge LaGuardia Terminal B (Image Credit: Air Canada)

A new concourse has opened at Terminal B of the famously awful New York LaGuardia airport.

11 new gates have opened for use by Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United. The 55ft high concourse is filled with natural light by floor to ceiling windows. It features an indoor park, ample charging facilities and retailers such as McNally Jackson. Air Canada has also opened a new Maple Leaf lounge on the concourse.

Concourse A in Terminal B is no longer use. Concourses C and D are still in use. The refurbishment, which effectively involves rebuilding the airport whilst keeping it in use, still has some way to go and Terminal B will not be complete until 2022.

Full details are available on a dedicated website of the developer of Terminal B.

TSA PreCheck® Enabled For BA Mobile Boarding Passes

Since May of this year BA has been officially participating in the TSA PreCheck® programme, which allows eligible passengers to undergo expedited security screening at certain US airports.

TSA PreCheck® was initially only available with printed boarding passes. However, it is now available with mobile boarding passes.

BA New York JFK Elemis Travel Spa Closure

The Elemis travel spa and showers at New York JFK Terminal 7 have closed on Tuesday 4 December 2018 due to the refurbishment of the Galleries Club lounge.

There are no alternative shower facilities available in the terminal. The refurbishment of the lounge is expected to complete in 2019

Also of note this week:

American Airlines celebrates five years since its merger with US Airways. (American Airlines)

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