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.
Canadian airline WestJet has today confirmed it is to launch summer seasonal direct flights from London Gatwick to no less than six Canadian cities: Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, St John’s, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Flights will operate from the week beginning Monday 4 May 2015 to the end of October 2015.
Flights to Vancouver will operate six times weekly, Edmonton will operate twice weekly, Calgary five times weekly and Winnipeg once weekly. Flights to Toronto and St. John’s will both operate once daily.
In total, this represents 28 return trips from London Gatwick total each week.
This represents a significant expansion in capacity between London and Canada, and significant competition to British Airways and Air Canada from London Heathrow and Air Canada Rouge and Air Transat from London Gatwick. This, combined with the expansion of Norwegian at London Gatwick means that the airport is carving out a niche for low cost transatlantic travel.
In the case of Winnipeg, WestJet’s service will also be the only direct route between the city and London.
All London flights, with the exception of flights to St John’s, will be operated by one of WestJet’s four Boeing 767-300ERW extended range aircraft.
Each Boeing 767 seats 262 passengers. The main economy cabin has 238 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Passengers in the main cabin will be offered complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks and the option to purchase hot meals. The cabin does not also feature seat back in flight entertainment. Instead, the aircraft will be equipped with WestJet Connect, the airline’s inflight entertainment and wireless connectivity system which can stream entertainment to your smartphone/tablet. Passengers are also offered one complimentary checked bag. However, seat selection fees will apply.
The aircraft will include a “Plus” premium cabin with 24 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and complimentary hot meals.
Flights are on sale now and to mark the launch, WestJet is offering special introductory fares which it claims are the lowest on the market for bookings made by Wednesday 16 September for travel between 6 May 2015 to 28 June 2015.
Vancouver is to join BA’s roster of Airbus A380 destinations from 1 May 2016 until 2 October 2016 as one of its daily flights to the Canadian city will be upgraded from a Boeing 747 to an Airbus A380:
Flight BA085 Depart London Heathrow 17:15 – Arrive Vancouver 18:40
Flight BA084 Depart Vancouver 20:50 – Arrive London Heathrow 14:00
This does mark the end of, temporarily at least, BA Boeing 747 services to Vancouver. The service will revert back to a daily Boeing 747 from 2 October 2016. There is no doubt that the Airbus A380 is a significant upgrade over the Boeing 747 in all aspects, particularly with regard to seating in World Traveller Plus, in-flight entertainment aircraft condition and overall cabin comfort.
Other BA A380 destinations include selected flights to Los Angeles, Washington, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Singapore, San Francisco and, from 25 October 2015, Miami.
For passengers looking to book specific A380 services we should note that schedules are subject to change and aircraft can also be substituted at short notice.
Update January 2018:
The Airbus A380 is next due to operate on this route from Tuesday 1 May 2018 to Sunday 30 September 2018. The route continues to otherwise operates with a Boeing 747.
Air Canada Rouge, the leisure subsidiary airline of Air Canada, is to launch summer seasonal flights from London Gatwick to Toronto Pearson airport from 19 May 2016.
Flights will operate up to 7 times weekly.
Air Canada Rouge also flies between Toronto and Manchester and Edinburgh on a summer seasonal basis. Air Canada’s domestic rival WestJet also announced this month that it is to fly between London Gatwick and as yet unspecified destinations in Canada in summer 2016.
Air Canada Rouge flights will be operated by a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with 24 Premium rouge seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 256 rouge seats in a 2-3-2 configuration.
Passengers travelling in the Premium rouge cabin have lounge access at the airport, a complimentary checked baggage allowance, complimentary food and drink and free use of a tablet for in flight entertainment.
Passengers travelling in the main rouge cabin have complimentary food and drink and can download an app to watch in flight entertainment on their smartphone or tablet. There is no seat back in flight entertainment.
We have no direct experience of Air Canada Rouge but we would offer the observation that 280 seats is a very dense seating configuration for a Boeing 767. By contrast, an Air Canada Boeing 767 with a traditional business class cabin has 211 seats. Such a dense configuration will have an impact on not only in seat comfort, but also at boarding, access to overhead locker space and washrooms etc.
Flights will be on sale at Fly Rouge from 2 July 2015.
Update: Here’s the timetable with convenient timings for the leisure traveller to maximise their holiday time.
Flight AC1925 Depart London Gatwick 12:00 – Arrive Toronto Pearson 15:00
Flight AC1924 Depart Toronto Pearson 22:10 – Arrive London Gatwick 10:15
Update (2): This route has been suspended from the 2018 summer season.
Canadian airline WestJet has announced it is to launch transatlantic services to Canada from London Gatwick in spring 2016.
The airline has yet to confirm which routes will be served (though Toronto seems an obvious choice) or any scheduling, pricing and product information, other than to say flights will be operated by Boeing 767-300 aircraft.
This will be welcome news for London Gatwick which has lost a number of transatlantic airlines to Heathrow over the past few years. It will undoubtedly use this as a case for a second runway at Gatwick.
One of the many things that are often lacking at airports in North America is a direct rail link from the airport to downtown.
Toronto is one city to gain such a link with the launch of the Union Pearson Express on Saturday 6 June 2015.
The new service will link Terminal 1 of Toronto’s main international airport, Toronto Pearson, with its main downtown railway station (Union Station), every 15 minutes with a journey time of 25 minutes on an elevated rail track. A return fare for an adult is CAD$53 (roughly £28).
British Airways completed its first long-haul passenger flight on the Boeing 787 yesterday, 1 September 2013, when BA93 departed London Heathrow Terminal 5 for Toronto Pearson airport.
The flight landed at approximately 14:55 local time and departed for London the same evening around 19:20 as flight BA92.
Flights to Newark on the Boeing 787 start on 1 October 2013. British Airways has yet to announce which destination will next be served by the Boeing 787. However, it is likely to be another transatlantic route currently served by a Boeing 767, possibly Philadelphia or Washington Dulles.