BA to open new lounges in Gatwick’s South Terminal on 25 January 2017

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British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

In January 2017 there will be a significant re-organisation at London Gatwick. easyJet will consolidate all of its operations in London Gatwick’s North Terminal. In order to faciliate this move both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will swap terminals. BA will move the from North to South terminal, and Virgin Atlantic vice versa.

BA’s lounges in the North Terminal have long been closed due to construction work with passengers being required to use the No 1 lounges as an interim measure.

Details of what BA lounge arrangements there will be in the South Terminal for business and first class passengers and Silver and Gold Executive Club cardholders have long been anticipated.

BA has now confirmed some initial information, short of releasing final images of the lounge, for both check-in and lounge facilities.

Check-in and security

  • There will be dedicated premium check- in area in Zone A of the terminal for Club Europe, Club World, First Class and Silver & Gold Executive Cardholders.  This will feature dedicated seating, power outlets and bespoke furnishing.
  • There will be a dedicated premium security facility on Level 3 of the South terminal.

Lounges

  • Capacity for 477 passengers, which BA say is 40% larger than the former North terminal lounge
  • A separate First Class lounge with upgraded seating, finishes and lighting. It is assumed that Gold cardholders will have access to this lounge as some recent BA lounge developments in Dubai and Singapore feature a “Concorde Bar” for passengers ticketed in First Class only
  • Floor to ceiling windows with views of the runway
  • A “beautifully curved” staircase overlooking the main lounge
  • Full kitchen facilities in both lounges giving an upgraded food & beverage offering. Details of menus are to confirmed
  • A ‘kidszone’ room for children
  • Shower facilities

We will post images of the lounges as soon as they are released.

It is also worth mentioning that prior to the formal switch of flights on 25 January 2017 some flights will move in advance on a trial basis.

Update 25 January 2017

Whilst the Terminal switch has taken place today, 25 January, the opening of the lounges has been delayed.  In the interim, passengers travelling in Club Europe, Club World and Silver Executive Club card holders can use s temporary “Speedbird” lounge. Passengers travelling in First Class and Gold Executive Club cardholders can use the third party No 1 lounges.

Update 7 February 2017

It is understood that both of the lounges have now undergone a “soft” opening. However, not all facilities and amenities may be available at all times.

The new Club lounge is open from 05:15 until the last flight has departed. Passengers travelling in Club World on any long-haul flight and Club Europe to Jersey, and all British Airways Executive Club Silver cardholders travelling on long-haul flights or to Jersey are eligible to use the lounge.

The new First lounge is open from 07:00 until 20:00 and all passengers travelling in First Class and all British Airways Executive Club Gold cardholders are eligible to use the lounge. If there capacity constraints passengers will be invited to use the No 1 Club rooms.

All other passengers, e.g. those travelling in Club Europe to other than Jersey and on Business U.K. tickets and British Airways Executive Club Silver cardholders travelling on short-haul flights other than Jersey will be invited to use the temporary Speedbird lounge.

Update 20 February

It is understood that the new lounges are now fully open and operational and therefore the temporary lounge arrangements have been withdrawn.

BA Heathrow Cabin Crew Strike Christmas Day & Boxing Day

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British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Tailfin (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Unite, the Union which represents BA’s “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew at London Heathrow has called industrial action on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Update 22 December 2016: The industrial action has been called off and all flights are scheduled to operate as normal.

Update 3 January 2017: A new set of strike dates has been announced for Tuesday 10 & Wednesday 11 January 2017. Please see here for further information.

Continue reading “BA Heathrow Cabin Crew Strike Christmas Day & Boxing Day”

BA prepares for move to Gatwick’s South Terminal with trial flights

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British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Logo (Image Credit: British Airways)

In 2017, there will be a significant reorganisation at London Gatwick. easyJet will consolidate its operations into a single terminal at the airport, with all flights operating from the North Terminal.

In order to facilitate this move, British Airways from the North Terminal to the South Terminal. Virgin Atlantic will move from the South Terminal to the North Terminal. BA will move to the South Terminal on Wednesday 25 January 2017.

BA has of course learned the hard way that terminal moves can be fraught with difficulty. It is for this reason the airline has already begun trial flights from the South Terminal.

In advance of the full move the following routes will move to the South Terminal on a permanent basis in January 2017:

London Gatwick – New York JFK

Flight BA2273 London Gatwick – New York JFK (from Wednesday 11 January 2017)
Flight BA2272 New York JFK – London Gatwick (from Thursday 12 January 2017)

London Gatwick – Naples

Flight BA2612 London Gatwick – Naples (from Thursday 19 January 2017)
Flight BA2613 Naples – London (from Thursday 19 January 2017)
Continue reading “BA prepares for move to Gatwick’s South Terminal with trial flights”

BA launches seasonal London Gatwick – Limoges from May 2017

British Airways will fly from London Gatwick to Limoges up to four times weekly from May 2017.

London Air Travel » British Airways » Page 37

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

British Airways has launched a new summer seasonal route from London Gatwick to Limoges, France from May 2017.

Officially, the route from London Gatwick to Limoges (Limoges Airport) launches on 28 May 2017. However, we have found flights operating earlier in May.

The route will operate up to four times weekly with flights on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

As is par the course for BA short-haul routes from London Gatwick, the timing of the flights varies widely by day with departure times ranging from very early in the morning to late evening.

The route is scheduled to operate until early September 2017. It will then resume on Friday 25 May 2018 and operate until Sunday 2 September 2017.

The frequency and duration of this route may be varied at short notice depending on its commercial performance. Again, this is par the course for BA at Gatwick.

This route addition does join a growing list of seasonal BA routes to France including seasonal flights from Heathrow to Biaritz, Montpellier and Nantes.

Flights are on sale now at ba.com

Do you have a bmi Diamond Club account? Your miles expire on 30 November 2016!

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bmi British Midland Aircraft
bmi British Midland Aircraft

It’s nearly five years since the parent company of British Airways, International Airlines Group, acquired bmi British Midland from Lufthansa.

The bmi name was long disappeared from London Heathrow. Its regional arm bmi regional is still flying having been acquired by independent investors.

However, bmi’s frequent flyer programme Diamond Club has remained in operation.

Whilst it hasn’t been possible earn Diamond Club miles from flights, it was possible to earn miles through Diamond Club credit cards issued by MBNA Ltd until 30 September of this year.

Any remaining miles in all Diamond Club accounts will expire in perpetuity on Wednesday 30 November 2016.

However, it is possible to transfer any remaining miles in your account on a 1:1 basis to Avios in a British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer account. This must be done before 30 November 2016.

In order to do this you will need to be able to access your Diamond Club account online (to retrieve your membership number and miles balance) and have an active British Airways Executive Club account.

BA has a dedicated tool on its website called Combine My Avios. You can use this to transfer however many Diamond Club miles you have to your Executive Club account.

A transfer of miles should only take a few minutes to do and should then appear in your Executive Club account shortly afterwards.

On a related note, here’s our analysis, albeit superseded by recent events, of what happened shortly after the merger of bmi into BA.

Update

The Diamond Club website has now closed and it is no longer possible to access Diamond Club accounts. Any mileage balances that have not been transferred or used are now forfeited.

BA promises a $60million revamp of New York JFK Terminal 7

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British Airways, New York JFK Terminal 7, May 2008
British Airways, New York JFK Terminal 7, May 2008

On 21 May 2008, British Airways held a press conference at Terminal 7 of New York JFK airport. The then Chief Executive of the airline Willie Walsh outlined ambitious plans for a $30 million revamp of the terminal. The plans included a “drive through” check-in for First Class class passengers and Gold Executive Club card holders, revamped check-in and security zones, and refurbished lounges and travel spa.

What happened to the global financial system and the world economy shortly afterwards is well documented. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and state bail-outs of banks such as RBS and HBOS led to a dramatic fall in business and first class traffic, particularly from passengers who buy highly profitable flexible fares.

The plans for a revamp were put on hold and have remained on the drawing board ever since.

That is until today when British Airways CEO Alex Cruz announced a $60 million revamp of New York JFK Terminal 7 and a refurbishment of lounges in Boston, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Houston and Seattle over the next five years.
Continue reading “BA promises a $60million revamp of New York JFK Terminal 7”

BA to codeshare with Alaska Airlines on flights in North America

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British Airways is to begin codesharing with Alaska Airlines on selected flights from the West Coast of the USA (Seattle, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco) to destinations in North America with effect from 23 November 2016.

Whilst BA already has an extensive codeshare agreement with American Airlines across North America, these additional codeshares do provide additional one-stop options, especially where American Airlines has a relatively small presence.

The routes covered by the codeshare are as follows:

San Diego

San Diego to Portland and Salt Lake City.

San Francisco

San Francisco to Anchorage, Portland and Salt Lake City.

San Jose

San Jose to Portland, Santa Ana;

Seattle

Seattle to Honolulu, Kona, Kahului in Hawaii; Portland, Salt Lake City, Boise, Fairbanks and Spokane.

Note that due to regulatory restrictions, these codeshare flights can only be booked when connecting from a British Airways operated flight to and from London. They cannot be booked individually.

Further codeshare routes may be announced in due course, particularly in light of the fact that Alaska Airlines is in the process of merging with Virgin America, and codeshare flights are on sale now at ba.com

A summary of BA news at IAG’s 2016 Capital Markets Day

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International Airlines Group - Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling
International Airlines Group – Aer Lingus, BA, Iberia, Vueling

International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling, held its annual Capital Markets Day on Friday 4 November 2016.

Whilst the event is very much aimed at investors with industrial quantities of Powerpoint, there are number of announcements of interests to passengers. You can view the full side deck here.

Here is quick race through some of the announcements and general themes of the day, and some things that were not announced:
Continue reading “A summary of BA news at IAG’s 2016 Capital Markets Day”

BA promises major investment in Club World

British Airways has outlined its initial plans to invest in its long-haul business class cabin, Club World. These include radical changes to food & beverage, new bedding and new service routines designed to maximise the available time for sleeping on flights.

London Air Travel » British Airways » Page 37

British Airways Investment Plan for Club World (Image Credit: International Airlines Group)

BA has announced today (4 November 2016) at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company, International Airlines group, a significant investment in its Club World long-haul business class cabin.

At the outset, we should say this is unlikely to involve BA removing its “yin-yang” 2-4-2 Club World seating configuration from existing long-haul aircraft.

A new Club World seat is planned for the Airbus A350 aircraft which is not due to enter service for some time. However, this is expected to maintain the 2-4-2 configuration, but with modifications to provide direct aisle access for all.

Whilst this is uncompetitive against many airlines which have introduced business class seats with all aisle access, BA favours the density of seating afforded by this configuration.

What BA does promise is a significant improvement in food & beverage through, for example, the ability to pre-order a wider range of meals online in advance of a flight and a complete redesign of the in-flight service.

BA also promises investment in cabin crew training and an improvements to cabin ambience to provide a better environment for sleeping (we’re not quite sure what that will be).

In the interests of expectations management, this investment is unlikely to involve increases in cabin crew numbers in the cabin nor changes to the size of the galleys on the aircraft, so we would not expect anything truly radical.  BA is also not likely to introduce anything that adds significant weight to aircraft or could result in high levels of wastage.

No date has been set for the changes. However, when they are implemented it is likely they will be introduced gradually across the route network.

You can view the full slide deck from the Capital Markets Day here.

More to read on BA Club World:

BA to increase economy seat density on selected Boeing 777s

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British Airways has confirmed at the Capital Markets Day of its parent company, International Airlines Group, that it is to increase the density of seating on selected long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft from 9 to 10 seats a row in its World Traveller economy cabin.

This move will be implemented on 25 Boeing 777 aircraft which is understood to be all of BA’s Boeing 777s at London Gatwick and selected Boeing 777s at London Heathrow. It will add an additional 36 economy seats to the aircraft.

BA will also reduce the size of the Club World business class cabin from 40 to 32 seats and increase the size of the World Traveller Plus premium economy cabin from 24 to 42 seats on these aircraft.

The reconfigured aircraft are expected to enter service in 2018.

This is in fact not the first time BA has implemented  10-across seating in World Traveller economy as many Gatwick based Boeing 777 aircraft had this configuration in the 1990s.

There are no plans to increase the density on other long-haul aircraft. However, you can be confident that BA will be monitoring closely passenger feedback and the financial performance of routes with the increased seating density.

This is no doubt a competitive response to both the growth of Norwegian at London Gatwick and many other airlines which have similar configurations on Boeing 777 aircraft.

Whilst the airline will no doubt say this is a necessary competitive move, it will mean a more crowded cabin, less overhead baggage space, lower crew-passenger ratios, and more queues for the washrooms.

On a similar note, BA also hints that its long-haul economy product may be “unbundled” with separate charges for items such as checked bags for certain fates, as has happpend on short-haul. If this does happen, it is likely to operate on a trial basis, initially at London Gatwick.

You can view the full slide deck from the Capital Markets Day here.

Update February 2018: Here are details of the routes on which the densified Boeing 777s are expected to operate.