WestJet to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London Gatwick

WestJet will fly its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from London Gatwick to Calgary from Monday 29 April 2019, featuring WestJet’s first international business class.

London Air Travel » Canada

Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Business Class, WestJet Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: WestJet0

For the past two years, WestJet has been flying from London Gatwick to a number of Canadian cities.

It is fair to say it did not get off to the best of starts, with significant reliability issues with its fleet of Boeing 767 aircraft.

However, from next year, WestJet will radically improve its competitive position in London. At least on one route.

WestJet confirmed today, Wednesday 10 October 2018, that from Monday 29 April 2019 its daily flight from London Gatwick to Calgary will be operated with its new fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

By any measure, this will be a substantial upgrade. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will feature WestJet’s first international business class cabin. The cabin features fully flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, all with direct aisle access. WestJet also promises on-demand dining and a turndown service in business class. This will make WestJet extremely competitive against Air Canada and BA.

The aircraft also has a premium economy cabin with 2-3-2 seating and a self-service bar area and an economy cabin with 3-3-3 seating and in-flight entertainment. Full details of WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner are available on a dedicated microsite.

WestJet will also fly the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Paris and Dublin to Calgary later in 2019.
Continue reading “WestJet to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London Gatwick”

Aer Lingus launches Dublin – Minneapolis & Montreal

Aer Lingus is to launch new direct flights from Dublin to Minneapolis – St Paul and Montreal from summer 2019.

London Air Travel » Canada

Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal
Biosphere, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Aer Lingus continues its strong growth of transatlantic routes from Dublin with the launch of two new routes next summer.

The airline will fly from Dublin to Minneapolis – St Paul from Monday 8 July 2019 and Montreal from Thursday 8 August 2019.

Flights will operate daily. Minneapolis – St Paul will be operated with a Boeing 757 aircraft. Montreal will be operated with a brand new Airbus A321 neo Long Range aircraft, in respect of which Aer Lingus is yet to unveil interior images.

Whilst both routes are already served by direct flights from London, Aer Lingus passengers flying to Minneapolis – St Paul will benefit from US Custms & Immigration pre-clearance in Dublin.

There are ample connections to all flights from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow. If there’s one complaint we could make about timetabling it is that Aer Lingus’ flight arrives in Montreal close to BA’s own daily flight. If Aer Lingus had scheduled its flight earlier in the day, then Aer Lingus and BA would be offering a choice of departure times for passengers on a route where they have a lot of competition in Europe from Air Canada and Air France.
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Hôtel William Gray – Montréal

Our review of one of Montréal’s newest independent boutique properties: Hôtel William Gray, located in Old Montréal.

London Air Travel » Canada

Hotel Room, Hôtel William Gray, Montréal
Hotel Room, Hôtel William Gray, Montréal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

It’s a relatively quiet period in August, so it’s time to take a diversion from our usual flight path with some hotel reviews.

The city of Montréal has always had an independent spirit. This is non more so than with its hotels. Whilst all the major chains are represented in the city, none, bar the W Montréal, really stir any interest. There are, however, lots of interesting independent hotels. One of the most recent is Hôtel William Gray which opened in 2016.

Hôtel William Gray

The hotel is located at 421 Rue Saint Vincent in Old Montréal, which is convenient for all the major tourist spots.

It is within walking distance, though perhaps not with heavy luggage, from Champ-de-Mars metro station. Valet parking is available at the hotel.

The hotel comprises two historical buildings, Maison Edward-William-Gray and Maison du Cabinet-de-Côme-Séraphin-Cherrier and a new 9 storey building, which houses most of the rooms, built around an exterior courtyard.

The hotel features two external terraces (a very popular feature in a city that does not take its relatively short summer for granted), a spa, a fitness room and expansive event facilities.

As well as the hotel, the building features a public coffee shop Café Olimpico and the “Off The Hook” boutique.

Judging by the crowds at weekends, the hotel bars are clearly popular with locals but, importantly, don’t interfere with the guests’ experience.

The Living Room

One of the stand-out features of this hotel is its ground floor public lounge area, The Living Room.

Hotels have long tried to make their public lobbies into a design statement. This may not be the grandest or most capacious space you have seen in a hotel. But it is great example of just doing something really, really, well. There’s a wide variety of seating and high quality furniture you’d be happy to have in your own home.

The Living Room, Hôtel William Gray, Montréal.
The Living Room, Hôtel William Gray, Montréal. (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Continue reading “Hôtel William Gray – Montréal”

BA Club World Montréal – London Heathrow Reviewed

Here’s our review of BA’s Club World service from Montréal to London Heathrow.

London Air Travel » Canada

Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Following our review of London Heathrow to Montréal in BA Club World, here’s our review of the return flight from Montreal to London.

It’s a short overnight flight from Montreal, typically leaving at around 21:30 with a flight time of around 6.5 hours.

Pre-Flight

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

Salon Banque Nationale Lounge - Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Salon Banque Nationale Lounge – Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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.

Buffet at Salon Banque Nationale Lounge - Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Buffet at Salon Banque Nationale Lounge – Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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.

There is also a second third party lounge Desjardins Odyssey Lounge which is not available to BA passengers.

I couldn’t help but gaze longingly at the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge next door, and if there had been a repeat with overcrowding issues, it would be tempting to abandon allegiance to Oneworld and switch to Air Canada on this route.
Continue reading “BA Club World Montréal – London Heathrow Reviewed”

BA Club World London Heathrow – Montréal Reviewed

Here’s our review of BA’s Club World service from London Heathrow to Montreal.

London Air Travel » Canada

Biosphere, Île Sainte-Hélène, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
Biosphere, Île Sainte-Hélène, Montreal (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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

British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, London Heathrow Terminal 5B
British Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, London Heathrow Terminal 5B (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

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.

Seat 7A, Club World, BA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Seat 7A, Club World, BA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Continue reading “BA Club World London Heathrow – Montréal Reviewed”

BA suspends London Heathrow – Calgary for winter season

British Airways has suspended its daily service to Calgary for the winter from Sunday 28 October 2018 to Sunday 31 March 2019.

London Air Travel » Canada

British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (Image Credit: Heathrow)
British Airways has suspended its daily service from London Heathrow to Calgary for the winter season.

The last outbound and inbound flight operates on Saturday 27 October 2018. The service resumes on Sunday 31 March 2019. The affected flight numbers are BA102 and BA103.

No specific reason has been given for the cancellation. However, it is a reasonable assumption that unsatisfactory commercial performance is behind the decision.

BA started flying from London Heathrow to Calgary in December 2006, initially with a Boeing 767 aircraft. The route then changed to a Boeing 787 in July 2014.

Air Canada will continue to fly direct from London Heathrow to Calgary year-round.

Rebooking Options as at Wednesday 6 June 2018

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund.

Alternatively, passengers can also rebook to a date when BA is flying to Calgary.

Passengers can also rebook to an alternative BA destination in the US and Canada. However, any additional costs will be at your expense.

BA is in discussions with local airlines about rebooking arrangements. It is likely that further options will be announced in the next few days. Unless you would prefer a refund or to fly to another destination, we would recommend waiting until these have been confirmed before taking any action.

Passengers who need to change their booking should contact either BA or their travel agent.

Rebooking Options As At Tuesday 12 June 2018

BA has now secured a rebooking arrangement with United Airlines.

Passengers can rebook to Calgary by connecting to United Airlines from either Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Houston or San Francisco.

Clearly, unless you enjoy taking circuitous routings, Chicago O’Hare is the only logical option!

In all cases, passengers must connect from a British Airways flight from London Heathrow. As United Airlines does not offer premium economy, passengers booked in World Traveller Plus will be booked into economy on United Airlines.

Rebooking Options As At Tuesday 19 June 2018

BA has also secured a rebooking arrangement with Alaska Airlines.

Passengers can rebook to Calgary by connecting to Alaska Airlines from Seattle.

Again, passengers must connect from a British Airways flight from London Heathrow. As Alaska Airlines does not offer premium economy, passengers booked in World Traveller Plus will be booked into economy on Alaska Airlines.

Rebooking Options As At Wednesday 27 June 2018

BA has now secured a rebooking arrangement with WestJet.

Passengers can rebook to Calgary by connecting to WestJet from Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego or Vancouver.

Clearly, Vancouver is the most logical option, not least because you don’t have to deal with US Customs & Immigration.

Again, in all cases passengers must connect from a British Airways flight from London Heathrow. WestJet does not offer business class. It does offer premium economy. However, all BA passengers will be booked into economy.

In theory, in addition to the options above, passengers should be also be able to be accommodated on American Airlines. However, its flights to Calgary from the US are relatively limited.

WestJet launches London Gatwick – Halifax

WestJet is to launch a new summer seasonal route from London Gatwick to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Monday 30 April 2018 to Saturday 27 October 2018. Flights will be operated using a single aisle Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft.

London Air Travel » Canada

WestJet Boeing 737-800 MAX Aircraft
WestJet Boeing 737-800 MAX Aircraft (Image Credit: WestJet)

WestJet is to launch a new route from London Gatwick to Halifax in the summer of 2018.

The Canadian airline will fly from London Gatwick to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Halifax Stanfield International Airport) daily from Monday 30 April 2018 to Saturday 27 October 2018.

Flights will be operated using the single aisle Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft which, as pictured above, has a distinctive set of split winglets.

The aircraft has a single cabin with 168 seats. This includes three rows of WestJet’s premium economy cabin “Plus” in a 2-2 configuration (the middle seat is kept free). WestJet also promises 11 rows of extra-leg room seats with a pitch of 34 inches in a 3-3 configuration.
Continue reading “WestJet launches London Gatwick – Halifax”

BA adds Las Vegas and Toronto at London Gatwick

BA is to fly from London Gatwick to Las Vegas and Toronto from summer 2018.

London Air Travel » Canada

Toronto, Canada
Toronto (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways has today announced it is to launch a new summer seasonal route from London Gatwick to Toronto and reinstate its London Gatwick – Las Vegas route next summer.

BA will fly to Las Vegas three times a week from Tuesday 27 March 2018 on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday until Friday 26 October 2018. BA will fly to Toronto three times a week from Tuesday 1 May 2018, also on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday until Friday 26 October 2018.

Both Las Vegas and Toronto are served by BA at London Heathrow up to twice daily. BA has previously flown from Gatwick to Las Vegas.  However, the service was suspended last year. 

Toronto is BA’s first route from London Gatwick to Canada.  It is something of a surprise to see BA launch the Toronto from Gatwick, as it is not one of the stronger Heathrow routes due to a lack of presence by the Oneworld alliance in Canada.

However, there can be absolutely no doubt this is a move to take on the growth of low lost long-haul at Gatwick.  Las Vegas is served by Norwegian.  Toronto is also served by both WestJet and Air Canada Rouge.

Continue reading “BA adds Las Vegas and Toronto at London Gatwick”

Air Canada Rouge to launch seasonal London Gatwick – Vancouver

Air Canada Rouge will fly from London Gatwick to Vancouver three times on a summer seasonal basis from June 2017.

London Air Travel » Canada

Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300 aircraft
Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300 aircraft (Image Credit: Air Canada)

Over the past couple of years there has been significant growth in routes between London and Canada, notably with the launch of flights by Canadian airline WestJet this summer from London Gatwick to a number of cities in Canada.

Although WestJet’s entry into the long-haul market was far from smooth with significant technical problems with its fleet of 2nd hand aircraft, it is pressing ahead with its long-haul operation at London Gatwick.

Air Canada responded by launching flights operated by its budget airline Air Canada Rouge from London Gatwick to Toronto last year.

In the summer of 2017, Air Canada Rouge will expand its routes further, launching a direct route from London Gatwick to Vancouver.
Continue reading “Air Canada Rouge to launch seasonal London Gatwick – Vancouver”

BA withdraws First Class from Vancouver from Thursday 21 January to Monday 29 February 2016

London Air Travel » Canada

British Airways First Class Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways First Class Cabin (Image Credit: British Airways)

British Airways is to temporarily withdraw its First Class cabin from its daily flight from London Heathrow to Vancouver from Thursday 21 January to Monday 29 February 2016.

The airline will continue to operate the route with a Boeing 747.  However, the First Class cabin will be closed. 

The reason for this is that the route is being operated with a Boeing 747 that is not fitted with the latest First Class cabin

This is not the first time BA has done this. Readers may recall BA temporarily withdrew First Class from a number of routes including Cape Town, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Vancouver last year.

Affected passengers can either accept a downgrade to Club World business class or an alternative indirect routing to Vancouver via Seattle (with onward travel to Vancouver at the passenger’s expense) or another BA or American Airlines gateway in America (such as Dallas Fort Worth) with an onward connection on American Airlines.

Full refunds do not appear to be available.