The delayed BA lounges at Gatwick are now open

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British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)

There has been a lot of interest in the planned new British Airways lounges at London Gatwick’s South Terminal which, from today, is BA’s new home at Gatwick.

The lounges were planned to open today, Wednesday 25 January 2017. However, this has been delayed.

It is understood that construction work is complete and the official line from BA is that it is hoped that the lounges will open “soon”.

In the interim, passengers travelling in First Class on any flight and Gold Executive Club cardholders can use the third party operated No 1 Clubrooms.

In addition, all passengers travelling to Jersey, New York JFK and Bermuda who are eligible for lounge access can use this lounge.  However, this will be subject to capacity constraints.

All other passengers who are eligible to access lounges (e.g. Club Europe, Club World and Silver Executive Club cardholders) can use a temporary “Speedbird” lounge operated by BA.

If you are flying BA from Gatwick you should be handed a letter at check-in explaining these options.

It is obviously disappointing that the new lounges are not open today. However, the problems associated with its opening do not seem insurmountable.

Update 7 February 2017

It is understood that the new lounges have undergone a “soft” opening ahead of a formal launch.  However, not all facilities 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 2017

It is understood that the new lounges are now fully operational and all other temporary lounge arrangements have been withdrawn.

British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)

Virgin Atlantic unveiles its new London Gatwick Clubhouse

Virgin Atlantic has opened a new Clubhouse lounge in London Gatwick’s North Terminal.

London Air Travel » Page 101

Today, 25 January 2017, sees a significant reorganisation at London Gatwick. easyJet has consolidated its operations in the North Terminal. 

To accommodate this move, British Airways has moved from the North Terminal to the South Terminal. Virgin Atlantic has moved from the South Terminal, its home at Gatwick since the airline first launched in 1984, to the North Terminal.

This move of course means new lounges for both BA and Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Atlantic has today opened its new Clubhouse in the North Terminal.  It is located on level 4 of the terminal, after security.

Lounge features include:

  • A marble bar offering complimentary drinks including bespoke cocktails from East London bar The White Lyan
  • A complimentary to order brunch menu featuring popular staples such as Eggs Benedict
  • Floor to ceiling windows with views of the airport’s apron
  • A woodland themed play area for younger travellers
  • A Clubhouse spa with a selection of complimentary treatments such as facials and paid for treatments such as wet shaves and massages.  The spa is open from 7.00am to 12:30pm

Here is the spa treatment menudining menu and cocktail menu.

First impressions are that the lounge looks bright, spacious and, at least when the weather’s good, the floor-to-ceiling window views should put passengers in the right frame of mind for a holiday.

Here are some official pictures released by Virgin Atlantic:

Passengers travelling in Virgin’s Upper Class cabin and Flying Club gold cardholders are eligible to access the lounge.

Virgin Atlantic flies from London Gatwick to Antigua, Barbados, Cancun, Grenada, Havana, Las Vegas, Montego Bay, Orlando, St Lucia, Tobago and Varadero.

BA adds new amenities to Beijing, Shanghai, & Hong Kong flights

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New amenities for British Airways flights between London Heathrow, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong
New amenities for British Airways flights between London Heathrow, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong

British Airways is to add additional in-flight amenities and services to passengers travelling between London Heathrow, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Passengers travelling in World Traveller Plus and Club World will be offered slippers. Passengers travelling in all cabins will be offered Twinings green tea, the option of chopsticks for eating meals and bilingual menus.

In the grand scheme of things, these are fairly small changes. It’s also not unusual for BA to offer additional in flight amenities on certain routes for cultural reasons. Slippers have long been offered on flights to Tokyo and bilingual menus are common on many routes.

However, it does point to an effort to do better in China where BA has had mixed success. BA’s route from London Heathrow to Chengdu was suspended this month and BA faces very strong competition from Cathay Pacific on the London – Hong Kong route.

CityJet suspends London City – Nantes & Paris Orly from Sunday 27 March 2017

CityJet scales back further at London City as routes to Nantes and Paris Orly are suspended from Sunday 27 March 2017.

London Air Travel » Page 101

CityJet
CityJet (Image Credit: CityJet)

CityJet is to suspend its routes from London City to Nantes and Paris Orly permanently from Sunday 27 March 2017.

CityJet currently flies to Paris Orly and Nantes up to four times daily/weekly respectively.

The airline has scaled back signficantly at London City in recent years. It was once the dominant airline at the airport but has lost out as BA has grown through organic growth with its new fleet of Embraer aircraft and Flybe and KLM have entered the airport.

CityJet will continue to fly to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Dublin, Florence and Rotterdam year round. It will also fly on a summer seasonal basis to Avignon (from 19 May 2017 to 8 September 2017) and Toulon (from 8 April 2017 to 26 October 2017).

CityJet was the only airline to fly to Nantes and Paris Orly from London City. BA operates a summer seasonal service to Nantes from London Heathrow. easyJet also flies to Nantes from London Gatwick. BA flies year round to Paris Orly and transferred the route from Heathrow to London City.

Affected passengers with bookings after 27 March 2017 on these routes should contact either CityJet or their travel agent.

Finnair launches seasonal route from London Gatwick to Ivalo from Thursday 14 December 2017

Finnair is to launch a twice weekly winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Ivalo, Finland from Thursday 14 December 2017.

London Air Travel » Page 101

London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

Finnair is to launch a twice weekly winter seasonal route from London Gatwick to Ivalo, Finland from Thursday 14 December 2017.

The airline will fly from London Gatwick to Ivalo (Ivalo airport) on Thursdays and Sundays until Thursday 22 March 2018. The route then resumes on Thursday 13 December 2018.

Ivalo is the northern most airport in Finland. It is a small airport with just a few flights a day. Ivalo is a popular destination for winter sports, visiting Lapland and witnessing the Northern Lights.

Finnair also flies to Helsinki from London Heathrow, together with its codeshare partner British Airways, up to six times a day. It should be possible to “mix and match” direct flights from London Gatwick with indirect routings if that is more convenient.

Flights are on sale now at Finnair.com However, do note that it is only possible to book flights up to approximately a year in advance.

Finnair also flies from London Gatwick to Kittilä (Kittilä airport) on Tuesdays from 12 December 2017 to Tuesday 20 March 2018. The route then resumes on Tuesday 11 December 2018. Both routes are also codeshared with British Airways.

Here is a more detailed guide to winter seasonal routes from London.

Here is the initial timetable (which may be subject to change):

London Gatwick – Ivalo

Flight AY662 Depart London Gatwick 09:30 – Arrive Ivalo 15:00 (Thursdays)
Flight AY662 Depart London Gatwick 08:25 – Arrive Ivalo 13:55 (Sundays)

Flight AY661 Depart Ivalo 07:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 08:40 (Thursdays)
Flight AY661 Depart Ivalo 06:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 07:40 (Sundays)

The flight time is approximately 3.5 hours.  Ivalo is 2 hours ahead of the UK.

London Gatwick – Kittilä

Flight AY658 Depart London Gatwick 18:10 – Arrive Kittilä 23:35 (Tuesdays)

Flight AY657 Depart Kittilä 15:45 – Arrive London Gatwick 17:15 (Tuesdays)

Virgin Atlantic’s Hong Kong Clubhouse is to close from Sunday 5 February 2017

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse lounge in Hong Kong has closed.

London Air Travel » Page 101

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Hong Kong
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Hong Kong (Image Credit; Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has long been known for its small, but distinctive, portfolio of Clubhouse lounges around the world. That portfolio will be a little smaller shortly as its Clubhouse at Hong Kong International Airport is to close from Sunday 5 February 2017.

The reason for the closure is that the lease on the space occupied by the clubhouse has come up for renewal and Virgin Atlantic has decided not to renew the lease for reasons of cost.

Passengers travelling in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin and Flying Club Gold members will be able to use the third party Plaza Premium lounge.

The Plaza Premium lounge is located near Gate 40 on Level 7, Departures level of Terminal 1. The lounge is open 24 hours a day. Facilities include showers, a bar, and a private resting area.
Continue reading “Virgin Atlantic’s Hong Kong Clubhouse is to close from Sunday 5 February 2017”

BA takes Heathrow – Abuja off sale from Wednesday 8 March -Tuesday 18 April 2017

London Air Travel » Page 101

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

British Airways has suspended sales of flights on its London Heathrow – Abuja route from Wednesday 8 March to Tuesday 18 April 2017.

The reason for this is that Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is to close for essential repairs to its runway which is reported to have pot holes.

The airline has yet to announce how passengers already booked to fly to Abuja during the closure will be accommodated. One option is to allow passengers to change the dates of flights to outside the closure period, or to allow passengers to fly to another destination in Africa (but any onward transport would be at the passenger’s own expense).

According to press reports, the Nigerian Government has instructed airlines to operate flights to an alternative airport in Kaduna (some 200km north of Abuja) with onward road transport provided to Abuja. However, airlines will need to be satisfied that security arrangements for their passengers and crews are sufficiently robust.

There’s more detail on the background to the closure of the runway in this article from the Financial Times (subscription required).

The affected BA flight numbers are BA083 and BA082.

Update: BA has subsequently decided to cancel all flights between London Heathrow and Abuja during the period of the runway closure.

Affected passengers have the option of a refund, rebooking on an alternative flight between London Heathrow and Abuja outside the runway closure (up to Friday 19 May 2017), or rebooking on an alternative flight to/from Accra or Nigeria within 7 days of the date of your original booking. However, if you choose the later option any additional costs such as ground transport or hotels will be at your own expense and will not be reimbursed by the airline.

Affected passengers should contact either BA or their travel agent.

BA suspends London City – Alicante & Madrid

London Air Travel » Page 101

BA CityFlyer Embraer at London City Airport
BA CityFlyer Embraer at London City Airport

British Airways is to suspend its twice daily London City – Madrid route permanently from Sunday 29 January 2017. The airline is to also not proceed with its planned seasonal London City – Alicante service this summer. This was planned to operate from Monday 26 June to Monday 4 September 2017.

No specific reasons have been given for the cancellation. However, it’s a reasonable assumption that poor commercial performance is the cause. BA has yet to announce which routes will operate in their replacement.

Affected passengers have the option of a refund or being accommodated on alternative BA flights to Madrid from London Heathrow (served by some 13 return flights a day) or Alicante from London Gatwick respectively (which operates up to twice daily at various times).

If you have not already been contacted you should contact either BA or your traval agent.

BA Cabin Crew Strike Schedules Thurs 19 – Sat 21 January 2017

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

British Airways has today updated its schedules to account for its contingency plans following planned industrial action by “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew at London Heathrow on Thursday 19, Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January.

All flights from London City, London Gatwick and London Stansted will operate as normal.

All long-haul flights from London Heathrow are scheduled to operate as normal.

BA has cancelled a select number of short-haul flights. BA claims these cancellations represent 1% of its planned schedule. In the event that your flight is cancelled you should be offered an alternative flight on the same route, a rebooking to an alternative destination nearby, or a refund.

In the event the strike is called off (this is probably unlikely as no talks are currently underway) you should not be required to reinstate your original booking if you are rebooked on an alternative flight.

From a PR perspective BA is at pains to emphasise that the strike is having very limited disruption. Therefore, it has not published a list of cancelled flights. You can check whether your flight is cancelled by checking the Manage By Booking.

We have scanned BA’s schedules and we have identified the following cancellations so far. Please note this is not intended to be a definitive list and this may be subject to change. You should always check you booking directly at ba.com before finalising your travel plans.

Cancelled Flights – Thursday 19 January

Continue reading “BA Cabin Crew Strike Schedules Thurs 19 – Sat 21 January 2017”

BA Heathrow cabin crew strike Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 January 2017

London Air Travel » Page 101

Unite, the Union which represents BA’s “Mixed Fleet” cabin crew at London Heathrow has called further industrial action for 72 hours on Thursday 19, Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January 2016. This follows industrial action on Tuesday 10 & Wednesday 11 January 2017.

BA will update its schedules for the days affected by the disruption on Monday 16 January and affected passengers should be notified by the airline.

Continue reading “BA Heathrow cabin crew strike Thursday 19 – Saturday 21 January 2017”