British Airways is the largest airline at London City and London Heathrow airports. It also has a substantial presence at London Gatwick.
It is a subsidiary of International Airlines Group which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling who all have a presence in London.
BA is also a member of the Oneworld alliance and many of its fellow members such as American Airlines and Cathay Pacific have a substantial presence in London. BA therefore features very heavily on this site.
British Airways has launched a new winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Cologne.
The airline will fly to Cologne four times weekly on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from Friday 16 November 2018 to Friday 29 March 2019. The exact flight times vary widely by day. This will be the only direct route between London Gatwick and Cologne.
It’s worth noting that Cologne is very easily reached by train from Dusseldorf airport. Therefore, it should be easy to “mix and match” this route with BA’s six daily flights between London Heathrow and Dusseldorf, if convenient.
BA also serves Friedrichshafen and Nuremburg on a winter seasonal basis at Gatwick. Please see here for BA’s Gatwick winter schedule. Further route announcements may be made over the next few weeks.
The Gold Guest List is an Executive Club tier above Gold introduced a little over ten years ago. It is not that widely publicised. You have to earn 5,000 tier points in one year to become a member and 3,000 tier points in consecutive years to retain membership. Its benefits include access to a dedicated customer service telephone line, additional Avios redemption benefits, additional lounge guests, and a Hilton Honors Diamond membership.
Given the change of policy for the summer it’s not certain how this will be applied over Christmas.
This is one of a number of measures BA has introduced for families including “status hold” for new parents. If you’ve travelled through Terminal 5 recently you may have noticed a new family check-in area at the North side of the terminal. Certainly from anecdotal experience, even for the most frequent flyers, it is the experience when travelling with their own family that has the greatest influence on their perception of the airline.
Having tried it on flights and in the lounges at Heathrow, what’s the verdict?
There is marked difference in the taste of the coffee on the ground and it is a huge improvement.
In the air, there is a difference, but it much less marked. If you didn’t know the coffee had changed, I doubt you’d notice. This may be due to the limitations of making coffee in the air more than anything else.
In both the lounges and the aircraft, the actual coffee making equipment hasn’t changed. The lounges use the same self-service bean-to-cup machines. In Club World, BA still serves only one choice of filter coffee.
Arguably, this should change. BA could never get away with offering only one white or one red wine in the air. Given how much tastes have changed, as evidenced by the huge number of independent coffee chains in London, it is absurd that you have to fly First Class to get an espresso or cappuccino.
Also bear in mind that in the Qantas lounge at Heathrow you can have coffee made for you by a barista, and on Qantas long-haul business class you are offered coffee in a cafetière.
Given BA will be introducing with the Airbus A350-1000 next year with an entirely new Club World cabin and it is also due to refurbish its lounges at Heathrow in the coming years, this should an area for attention.
Let’s take a look. But first, a quick primer on the lounge:
Lounge Location and Access Eligibility
The lounge is located on the first floor of the arrivals area of Terminal 5.
When you have collected your luggage and cleared customs, look for the signs to the lounge and take a lift to the first floor and then follow the signs.
The lounge is open from 05:00 to 14:00 daily.
Passengers arriving from a BA long-haul flight in Club World or First Class are eligible to access the lounge, as well as Gold Executive Club cardholders if arriving from a long-haul flight. (I understand American Airlines Advantage Executive Platinum cardholders should also be able to access the lounge if travelling on a flight covered by the American Airlines & BA transatlantic joint-venture.)
The lounge does not fall within Oneworld alliance lounge access rules and no guests can be brought into the lounge.
Note if you are arriving on a BA long-haul flight at Terminal 3 you can use the American Airlines arrivals lounge.
If you’re not eligible to access either lounges, Plaza Premium also offer paid-for arrivals lounges at Terminals 2, 3, and 4 (though I’d skip the lounge at Terminal 3).
Lounge facilities include:
– Staffed luggage storage area
– Breakfast buffet offering a Full English and continental breakfast
– A wide range of seating at tables and benches, and armchairs.
– Private shower rooms with Elemis toiletries
– Elemis Travel Spa
– Business centre with PCs, printer and photocopier
– Concorde Breakfast Room with table service for First Class passengers
It’s a short overnight flight from Montreal, typically leaving at around 21:30 with a flight time of around 6.5 hours.
By comparison to the rest of the airport, particularly the queues at check-in for Air Transat and Royal Air Maroc, the BA check-in desks are a haven of calm.
Regardless of what cabin you are travelling in you should find check-in by the local BA team relatively quick.
Turning to security screening, there is an expansive security screening area. There is a dedicated priority security line. However, you would be forgiven for not noticing if you didn’t know it was there. As you head from check-in security you need to walk right to the very far end of the entrance to security.
Salon Banque Nationale Lounge
BA has long used a third party lounge facility at Montréal.
With just one flight a day, and very little else by way of Oneworld alliance presence, this is not surprising. If you’ve flown BA from this airport before March 2017 you may have used what was known as the TD First Class lounge which faced into the airport. This has now closed and BA now uses a new Salon Banque Nationale / National Bank lounge at Gate 53.
Note that the pictures of this lounge on the airport website are dated. The purple chairs were not in evidence and the vast majority of seats are grey armchairs.
If you don’t have access to this lounge by virtue of cabin or frequent flyer status, the lounge can also be booked via Swissport. Again, note that the pictures on this site are of the old lounge which has closed.
I was fully prepared to write damning review of this lounge facility. Not only that, I wasn’t sure whether it would be possible to get into the lounge in the first place!
On two occasions last year there were long queues to get into the lounge. Many BA passengers were turned away due to overcrowding. This is not what any passenger needs before a long-haul flight.
However, based on signage at the entrance, measures have been taken to reduce overcrowding. There was little difficulty finding a seat. However, the lounge may be much busier when Qatar Airways are flying to Doha (on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) or when Turkish Airlines are flying to Istanbul (on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday).
If you visited this lounge in its opening months you may have been handed a voucher at check-in because it didn’t have an alcohol licence. However, there is now a staffed bar offering beer, wines and cocktails. There is a dedicated family area of the lounge where, presumably due to licensing restrictions, you can only consume alcohol with a meal.
There is also a buffet offering hot dishes such as chicken and rice which, to be honest, did not look particularly appetising. There are also cold salads, fruit, breads, and snacks such as pretzels. Sadly, there are no showers.
The lounge does benefit from floor to ceiling views of the airport apron. It is much brighter, but the old lounge was preferable for having a much wider range of seating and generally a much calmer atmosphere.
Who can resist the French Canadian charms of Montreal?
Its heady cocktail of European joie de vivre and North America minus the bad bits of its next door neighbour all has instant appeal.
So here’s our review of a flight in BA Club World to Montreal. This was also an opportunity for a third take of BA’s new Club World Service after Philadelphia and New York JFK.
Our second review was different from the first review. And this review is different again! Whether this is by accident or design is unknown.
First, a quick primer on the Montreal route for BA:
BA Club World to Montreal
This route is ordinarily operated once a day with a three class Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
However, as BA has been grappling with engine issues on its Boeing 787 fleet this route has been regularly substituted with a four class Boeing 787-9 aircraft, as it was on this flight.
The first indication was about a week before departure as an e-mail was received from BA advising of a seat assignment change. Sadly, the First cabin was closed and not available for Club World passengers.
The Club World cabin is largely the same on both Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9 aircraft with two “demi” cabins separated by the galley in a 2-3-2 configuration. On the Boeing 787-8 it is three plus two rows. On the Boeing 787-9 it is two plus four rows. Generally, the further forward in the aircraft you are, the better.
The 2-3-2 configuration, also found on the upper deck of the Airbus A380, is unique in that there is a single rear-facing middle seat which is both wider than other seats and very private. Having experienced it on a different flight, I did not like being not able to see out of the windows on take off and landing.
In general, Club World on this route is busy but rarely full/oversold, given the relative lack of business links between the UK and Quebec. If you are Silver or Gold Executive Club cardholder you have a good chance of being upgraded from World Traveller Plus as this cabin is often oversold. Fixed price one-way upgrades from World Traveller Plus are often offered in the Manage My Booking tool and the BA smartphone app at around £400+.
This particular seat, 7A, benefits from both being by the window and having direct access to the aisle.
Now we are half way through the year, it’s a good time as any to look back at what has happened so far, what to expect, what may have to wait until 2019, and a good measure of speculation and guesswork.
Here we take a look at the route network, fleet, in-flight service and airport facilities.
New Long-Haul Routes
Long-haul routes that have launched, or are due to, include:
London Gatwick to Las Vegas launched three times weekly on Tuesday 27 March 2018.
London Gatwick to Toronto launched three times weekly on Tuesday 1 May 2018 until Friday 19 October 2018.
London Heathrow to Durban three times weekly from Monday 29 October 2018.
London Heathrow to Nashville, Tennessee launched five times weekly on Friday 4 May 2018.
Just under a year ago, having long eschewed the concept of the viral airline safety video, BA finally relented and gave in.
It updated its near ten year old safety video with a new film. It featured the likes Rowan Atkinson, Gordon Ramsay, Gillian Anderson and Sir Ian McKellen auditioning in front of comedian Chabuddy G for a part in the airline’s new safety video.
The video also serves to promote BA’s “Flying Start” charity partnership with Comic Relief.
Having seen fellow passengers watch it, the reaction in the cabin could be described as “varied”. However, it did win industry acclaim including a Bronze Film Lion for Screens & Events at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
A second video has now been released. It features Joanna Lumley, Sir Michael Caine, Olivia Colman, Jourdan Dunn, David Williams, and Naomie Harris and the return Chabuddy G. It is once again directed by Becky Martin of 2am films.
At around a minute shorter than the current film, it will be rolled out across short-haul flights during July 2018 and on long-haul flights from Wednesday 1 August 2018.
Here are details of two temporary lounge changes affecting BA passengers flying out of Miami and New York JFK in July 2018:
BA’s designated lounge at Miami airport is the Premium Lounge which it shares with other Oneworld alliance members such as Iberia, Finnair and Qatar Airways.
This is located on the fifth floor of Concourse E in the Central Terminal. This lounge is temporarily closed for repairs from Monday 2 July 2018 for approximately five weeks.
If you’ve ever visited the lounge you would know that whilst it is certainly spacious, the decor does scream “1980s office lobby”. I was told well over a year ago by a member of staff that the lounge was due to be refurbished, but there seems to be no sign of this happening yet.
Whilst the lounge is closed, BA passengers can use the American Airlines Flagship® lounge near Gate 30 of Concourse D in the North Terminal.
This is a relatively new lounge. By any measure, it will be a significant improvement with much more modern decor and a better choice of food and beverage more suited to pre-departure on an international flight. Like the Premium Lounge, it does have showers. Under Oneworld alliance lounge access rules, eligible BA passengers have access to this lounge in any event.
Whilst Concourses D and E are interlinked, it will be much longer walk from the lounge to the BA departure gates. Note that if the BA flight is departing from Gates E20-E33 there is a train to these gates on level four of Concourse E, as per this official map.
(From experience of flying into and out of Miami many times over the years, the only thing that can be said with any certainty is that each time it’s different so the best advice is just be prepared for it not to be the same as before.)
As part of this, the Elemis travel spa and showers in the Galleries Club lounge are closed from Saturday 7 July 2018 to Monday 30 July 2018 for refurbishment, so there will be no pre-flight showers available.
The Galleries First lounge appears to be still closed for refurbishment and there are no showers in the remaining BA lounge at JFK Terminal 7, the Concorde Room, which is for First Class passengers and Concorde Room cardholders only.
British Airways Boeing 787 flights continue to disrupted by additional maintenance to the Rolls-Royce engines of its Boeing 787 fleet.
Here is a summary of the issue as of Sunday 17 June 2018.
Operators of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are required to comply with an Air Worthiness Directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States.
It limits the scope of the ETOPS (“Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standard”). ETOPS allows twin-engined aircraft like the Boeing 787 to operate between 60 and 330 minutes’ away from the nearest airport that can handle a diversion of the aircraft.
This affects aircraft with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 “Package C” engines. Rolls-Royce has also issued a statement on Monday 11 June 2018 advising that additional checks may be required on “Package B” engines. BA has not commented on the issue since the latest Rolls-Royce statement.