Expected disruption due to Air Traffic Controllers’ strike in Italy on Sunday 28 May 2017

Air Traffic Controllers in Italy are due to take industrial action on Sunday 28 May 2017, which is likely to cause disruption to flights.

Air Traffic Controllers in some regions of Italy are due to take industrial action on the afternoon of Sunday 28 May 2017, the weekend of the late May bank holiday in the UK.

The strike will take place between 1pm and 5pm local time. This is likely to cause disruption with delays and cancellations, albeit on a smaller scale than originally thought.  As a consequence the following airlines have issued guidance for affected passengers.

Please note that this page does not provide live flight information so any cancellations that will be listed are proactive cancellations made in advance, and do not necessarily include any delays/cancellations made on the day.

You can check live flight information on the websites of Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports.
Continue reading “Expected disruption due to Air Traffic Controllers’ strike in Italy on Sunday 28 May 2017”

Changes to British Airways and LATAM flights between London and Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil

Here are few changes to both British Airways and LATAM flights between London and Brazil that have emerged recently.

BA appears to have taken First Class off sale for flights between London Heathrow and Rio de Janeiro from Monday 30 October 2017.

This suggests that the route has been downgraded from a four class Boeing 777 to a three class Boeing 777.  It was upgraded to first class in 2013.  The route continues to operate five times weekly.

BA is now codesharing with LATAM on a number of domestic routes from Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport.

These include routes operated by BA’s fellow Oneworld alliance partner between Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Foz do Iguaçu, Goiana, Porto Alegre, Recife, Salvador da Bahia and Vitoria.

Note that these can only be booked as part of a connecting international itinerary. BA and LATAM are currently securing regulatory approval for a joint-venture between Latin America and Europe so expect further co-operation in the coming years.

Finally, as first reported by Routes Online LATAM is to increase its London Heathrow – Sao Paulo service from daily to 9 times weekly for a little over a month from Sunday 9 July 2017 to Friday 18 August 2017.

The additional flight operates from London on Monday and Friday and from Sao Paulo on Sunday and Thursday.

Your children can fly for free on select British Airways short-haul flights this summer

Your children can fly for free on selected BA flights between London & Belfast, Edinburgh, Inverness, Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle and Billund this summer.

British Airways “Kids Fly Free” Summer Promotion

Your children can fly for free on BA between select short-haul destinations and London Heathrow this summer

BA first ran this promotion last year and it has relaunched it for summer 2017. Up to two children to the age of twelve can fly for free with an adult on flights between London Heathrow and Belfast, Edinburgh, Inverness, Leeds-Bradford, Newcastle in the UK and Billund in mainland Europe.

The promotion only applies to flights to/from London Heathrow and bookings in EuroTraveller economy. It does not apply to flights to/from London Gatwick or London City.

The offer is valid for travel from Thursday 1 June 2017 to Tuesday 31 October 2017 and flights must be booked by Saturday 30 September 2017.

There are no particular downsides or catches to this promotion. Other than that availability is restricted and some destinations, notably Edinburgh, have significantly more flights a day to choose from than others.

Note this offer is only open to residents of the UK, the Republic Of Ireland and Denmark. Full terms and conditions and more information is available on ba.com

British Airways Executive Club: BA reinstates free seat selection for Bronze, Silver and Gold cardholders on “basic” short-haul economy fares

British Airways Short Haul Economy Cabin (Credit: British Airways)

A little over two years ago BA removed the right of its Bronze, Silver and Gold Executive Club cardholders to select a seat for free when booking its “basic” (formerly known as “Hand Baggage Only”) short-haul economy fares, “Basic” is one of two types of short-haul economy fares on BA. The other is known as “Plus” which includes the option to check-in a bag for free.

The only option to select a seat at the time of booking was to pay for a seat assignment, as all other passengers are required to do, thus removing a valuable benefit of the Executive Club.

No doubt this was also to encourage Executive Club members to buy more expensive “Plus” short-haul economy fares. However, there was considerable criticism that many travellers are bound by their corporate travel policy to book the cheapest available fare. Therefore they had no option to buy “basic” fares and were not able to utilise all of the benefits of their Executive Club membership.

This benefit will be reinstated for all basic fares on short-haul flights from Wednesday 14 June 2017.

Clearly, this is good news. It at least, in part, reverses the trend of cuts by BA to its short-haul economy product. It also suggests that BA will not be following the trend of US airlines of stripping more benefits from its cheapest short-haul economy fares, such as lounge access or the ability to earn miles.

There’s more detail on the changes on ba.com

British Airways Executive Club: BA introduces “status hold” for members taking maternity, paternity and adoption leave

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

British Airways announced two major changes to its Executive Club frequent flyer programme today.

The first is the introduction of the option for members to put their account “on hold” for up to a year if they take maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

What this means is that if a member has Bronze, Silver or Gold status they do not need to earn the requisite number of tier points (eg 300, 600, or 1,500 tier points) in their membership year in order to renew their status for another year. However, tier points and Avios will still be earned if flights are taken whilst the account is on hold.
Continue reading “British Airways Executive Club: BA introduces “status hold” for members taking maternity, paternity and adoption leave”

Uncertainty over Alitalia’s routes from London Heathrow as it enters administration

Alitalia Airbus A320
Alitalia Airbus A320

As has been widely reported, today (Tuesday 2 May 2017) the shareholders of Alitalia (one of whom is Etihad) decided to put the airline into a formal administration process with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.

This follows a decision by members of Alitalia’s trade unions not to accept a restructuring proposal which would have involved, inter alia, cuts to jobs and staff salaries and a restructuring of its short-haul operations. Had the restructuring plan been approved the shareholders would have provided new finance to the airline.

Under the administration process, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development will appoint a Commissioner which will manage the airline whilst it is in administration.

The Italian Government has approved the provision of a bridge loan which will allow Alitalia to continue operations for the foreseeable future.

If a buyer for Alitalia is found then Alitalia could continue in some form. However, a question will remain over its London Heathrow slots.

When Etihad acquired a stake in Alitalia in 2014, it bought all of its London Heathrow slots. These were valued at €60m. These are currently leased to Alitalia which uses them to operate five flights from London Heathrow to Milan Linate and Rome Fiumicino. (By comparison BA flies to Milan and Rome up to 10 and 6 times a day.) Whilst the precise terms are obviously commercially confidential it seems likely that these will revert back to Etihad at some point after Alitalia enters into administration.

Given that Scandinavian Airlines recently sold two London Heathrow slot pairs to American Airlines for $75million, Etihad could recoup some of its losses by selling them to other airlines or to expand its own network from London to Abu Dhabi. Either way, it is unlikely they will remain with Alitalia.

For further news on Alitalia’s situation we recommend checking Alitalia’s corporate website and the English language website of Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

British Airways upgrades its smartphone apps to include automatic rebooking during disruption

British Airways iPad App
British Airways iPad App

One of the many perennial criticisms of British Airways is its handling of disruption at its hub at London Heathrow.  The airport is full, so when there is severe weather, the airline is forced to cancel flights, with short-haul flights always bearing the brunt.  What usually follows is long queues at ticketing desks to be rebooked.

BA announced at the annual Capital Markets Day of its parent company International Airlines Group last year that it was working on automatic rebooking tools during disruption.

BA has today released an update for its smartphone app which includes the option to rebook on to alternative flights during disruption. However, this will initially only be for selected customers. We presume this is for testing purposes.

In addition, most if not all customers should now have a “timeline” feature for each booking on the app which provides a countdown for future bookings and services that are available in connection with that booking.

If you haven’t already done so, we do recommend that all travelers (whether a frequent or once a year BA flyer) download the BA smartphone app. It is the easiest way to keep track of flights both before the day of travel and at the airport. From experience we find it is often ahead of other sources for learning of delays.

It is also an easy way to keep on track of fixed price upgrade offers for existing bookings and being able to book flights without tripping over adverts for hotels and car hire as you do on ba.com!

We also recommend that for security reasons software updates for apps are downloaded as soon as they become available.