British Airways is marking 80 years of flying to Australia from London (albeit on routings far more convulted than today!) with a special 10% discount on return flights from Australia to the UK and Europe.
The discount is offered in conjunction with BBC First, the BBC’s recently launched commercial TV channel in Australia.
British Airways has today announced it is to upgrade its recently launched London Heathrow – Austin route from a three class Boeing 787 to a four class Boeing 777 from Sunday 25 October 2015.
The announcement has been confirmed in a press release from the city of Austin.
This will increase capacity from 214 to 224 seats on each flight. This may seem a modest increase, but the difference is 14 first class seats, 13 additional business class seats, from 35 to 48, and 15 additional premium economy seats, from 25 to 40. The number of economy seats will actually fall from 154 to 122.
This continues the trend of very successful new transatlantic route launches by BA in recent years. At a recent investor update, International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh said he considered that there are three-five additional US cities BA could serve profitably, so we should expect to hear more new route announcements in the coming years.
With American Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and others introducing new business class seats which provide all passengers with direct aisle access, British Airways has maintained its typically eight across “yin-yang” business class cabin on all recent deliveries of new aircraft.
The reason for this is the efficiency of the cabin layout and that BA flies a number of routes with very high business class demand (such that some 747s are to have business class seating increased from 70 to 86 seats and its A380s have 97 business class seats).
The patent application did prompt speculation that BA would abandon the “ying yang” layout on future deliveries of Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
Just as British Airways finishes retro-fitting extra rows of its seats to its much of its London Heathrow short-haul fleet, the quest for ever more dense seating configurations on short-haul flights in Europe continues.
easyJet has today announced that it is to add an extra row of seats to all of its Airbus A320 aircraft.
This will increase the number of seats from 180 to 186. It is understood that the amount of leg room will remain the same and the extra seats will be accommodated through reconfigured galley and toilet spaces. By way of a comparison, BA has 162 seats on an equivalent sized aircraft.
The new configuration will apply to deliveries of new aircraft from May 2016. It will be retrofitted to existing A320 aircraft from late 2016. The programme should be complete by 2018. In the interim, easyJet will continue to take delivery of new aircraft with 180 seats. It is due to receive 20 new Airbus A320s this year.
The Airbus A320 aircraft represents approximately one third (81 of 230 aircraft) of easyJet’s fleet, with the remainder being smaller Airbus A319 aircraft.
What is perhaps most noteworthy is what easyJet hasn’t done. The airline has introduced a number of measures to increase its appeal to business and premium leisure travellers by introducing allocated seating, flexible tickets and fast-track ground facilities. However, it has stopped short of introducing a fully dedicated business class cabin to compete directly with BA Club Europe and equivalent products from other European airlines – including fellow low cost airlines Vueling and Germanwings.
Virgin Atlantic has long been known for its distinctive, if relatively few in number, Clubhouse lounges. The flagship being of course its London Heathrow Clubhouse, with other Clubhouses in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Washington.
One notable absentee has been Los Angeles, in spite of it being one of Virgin Atlantic’s most important routes after New York.
Today, 28 April 2015, Virgin Atlantic has opened a new Clubhouse at Terminal 2. The lounge has been designed by Slade Architecture who also worked on the airline’s Newark and JFK clubhouses.
The 4,000 sq ft triangular shaped Los Angeles clubhouse offers views of the airport’s apron and Hollywood Hills. The colour palette is relatively toned down compared to other Virgin lounges, with extensive use of white. It is clearly inspired by the Californian outdoor lifestyle and climate.
The lounge is lined by a sculpted Corian and copper Flow Wall that features a copper lined bar. Lounge furniture includes Swan chairs by Arne Jacobsen, Walter Knoll Turtle chairs, classic Eames chairs, and a custom fabricated surfboard inspired counter by the windows that is sculpted from layers of bamboo.
British Airways has announced that passengers travelling on selected flights in its World Traveller long-haul economy cabin from 12 May 2015 will have the option of purchasing an alternative three course meal tray, in lieu of the standard “Chicken Or Beef?” meal offered to all passengers.
The alternative meals will cost from £15 to £18 and will be available for passengers to pre-order in advance. The trays on offer are “Gourmet Dining”, “Taste of Britain”, “Great British Breakfast”, “Healthy Choice” and “Vegetarian Kitchen”.
Passengers will be able to purchase a meal between 30 days and 24 hours before departure. Full details are on the BA website.
Some time ago, we wrote of British Airways’ plans to refurbish 18 of its 40-odd fleet Boeing 747 aircraft. Full details of the refurbishment programme are here.
As part of this refurbishment programme, BA is to also reconfigure the capacity of its Club World business class cabin on these aircraft.
Currently, BA has two Club World configurations on the Boeing 747, with either 52 or 70 business class seats.
The former is a relatively unusual arrangement introduced just under ten years ago whereby World Traveller Plus premium economy is located between first and business class. Although many bawked at the idea at the time, it did allow BA to increase its business class capacity by 8%, which was roughly the entire business class capacity of Virgin Atlantic.
On 6 Boeing 747 aircraft the number of business class seats will be reduced from 70 to 52.
On the 18 aircraft earmarked for refurbishment the number of business class seats will increase from 70 to 86, with an additional two rows of Club World seats.
This means there will be 66 business class seats on the main deck (with the remaining 20 seats on the upper deck). This will make for a very large cabin, so it will be interesting to see how this works in practice.
The number of World Traveller economy seats will be reduced to accommodate the extra seats. The number of First class and World Traveller Plus premium economy seats will remain the same.
The new larger cabin is expected to operate on routes with high business class demand such as New York, Boston, Chicago and Lagos.
NB. We should add we receive a lot of search enquiries about the condition of BA’s Boeing 747 aircraft, so it’s clearly a very live issue for passengers.
The trade union representing pilots of the airline TAP Portugal has called a ten day strike from Friday 1 May to Sunday 10 May 2015.
As yet, TAP has not yet published of operating flights during the period of industrial action. However, a minimum service will be set by an arbitration tribunal. We’ve no idea whether London is deemed important enough to require a minimum service level!
TAP has invited passengers booked on flights during the strike to rebook onto another TAP flight on an alternative date. TAP has not indicated whether affected passengers will be accommodated on other partner/rival airlines.
Update: TAP has published a list of minimum services that will be operated during the strike This includes a daily return service between London Heathrow and Lisbon:
Flight TP356 Depart Lisbon 15:00 – Arrive London Heathrow 17:40
Flight TP369 Depart London eathrow 18:45 – Arrive Lisbon 21:25
Other scheduled flights may still operate. However, the situation is likely to quite fluid. TAP has also published a list of flights over the next three days that are guaranteed not to operate.
TAP flies from London Heathrow to Lisbon, Funchal and Porto and from London Gatwick to Lisbon and Porto.
For those wishing to make their own alternative plans, alternative options include British Airways from London Heathrow to Lisbon and Porto and London Gatwick to Funchal, easyJet from London Gatwick to Lisbon, Funchal and Porto.