British Airways unveils initial images of its planned redevelopment of New York JFK Terminal 7

Late last year, British Airways unveiled a planned $60million dollar revamp of its home at New York JFK Terminal 7.

Today, the airline has provided further information of what, and what isn’t, happening with the planned development of the terminal which is to be completed over the next two years.

BA has confirmed that the development will include redeveloped general check-in areas, a new premium check-in area, a new food court post security, redeveloped First and Club World lounges and pre-flight dining facilities, and refurbished gate areas.

Passengers of other airlines which also use JFK Terminal 7, such as ANA, Icelandair, and Qantas, will also benefit from many of these improvements.

The Concorde Room which is for use by passengers travelling in First Class and Concorde Room Cardholders will receive, to use BA lexicon, a “refresh” after being refurbished a few years ago.

The airline has today issued images of the planned check-in and post security areas, but not the new lounges. A cynic might wonder whether BA has rushed out this announcement in order to maintain momentum after a recent PR event for its new London Gatwick lounges and First Wing at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

There is also no mention of redeveloping the immigration hall which can become extremely congested and is ill-suited to manage queues for both self-service kiosks and manned immigration desks.

It is also has to be said that the development is less ambitious in some respects than what was originally planned for JFK Terminal 7 before the 2008 financial crisis. Gone are proposals to create a “drive through” check-in for First Class and Gold Executive Club cardholders.
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British Airways officially opens its new “First Wing” check-in area at London Heathrow Terminal 5

British Airways First Wing London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Credit: British Airways)
British Airways First Wing London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Credit: British Airways)

Next year, BA will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5. The opening itself is a day BA would rather forget. Ever since Terminal 5 opened a perennial complaint has been the fact that in spite of the fact that three of its lounges in the South of the terminal (Galleries Club, Galleries First and The Concorde Room) are located immediately adjacent to the South security screening area, passengers are forced to take a circuitous route down a crowded escalator and past numerous shops and restaurants and back up a set of escalators to access the lounges.

The one exception is those who have access to the Concorde Room by virtue of flying First Class or holding a Concorde Room Card can enter the lounge via a special door next to the South Security screening area, which at opening was rumoured to have cost BA many millions of pounds.

All that has now changed, for some passengers at least. If you have passed through the South end of Terminal 5 over the past few months you could not have failed to have noticed a large construction area near to the Club check-in area. This is the new BA First Wing.

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BA’s lounge refurbishment programme for London Heathrow and airports in the UK, Europe, USA & South Africa

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

BA held a press event yesterday for a select number of travel journalists and bloggers (though someone at The Daily Telegraph clearly did not get an invitation).

Under the curious title of “#BAInvesting4U” journalists were ferried from London Gatwick to London Heathrow via a three and a half four flight on a brand new Boeing 787-900.

The whole event was something of a rearguard action in response to negative press coverage and a narrative of cut backs and service failures.

In truth much of what was announced today is known already: BA has opened new lounges at Gatwick, a new security channel for First Class passengers and BA Executive Club Gold Cardholders at London Heathrow, it’s adding WiFi and revamping its Club World service with a new seat to come with the Airbus A350 in 2019.

You can read BA’s take on yesterday’s announcements at ba.com

One point that did catch our attention is BA’s new lounge refurbishment programme.

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Qantas unveils its new Boeing 787-900 premium economy seat which will operate London Heathrow – Perth non-stop flights

Qantas has today unveiled its new premium economy seat which is due to operate on Qantas’ non-stop Boeing 787-900 flights between London Heathrow and Perth from March 2018.

At the time Qantas announced the launch of non-stop flights between London and Perth it kept details of its premium economy seats under wraps, whilst hailing it as revolutionary. Today Qantas has unveiled the seat and some aspects of the premium economy cabin design.

Qantas Boeing 787-900 Premium Economy Seat (Source: Qantas Airways)
Qantas Boeing 787-900 Premium Economy Seat (Source: Qantas Airways)

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Cathay Pacific opens its new business and first class lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3

Cathay Pacific has today opened its new first and business class lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

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United Airlines to introduce new “Polaris” business class flat beds on London Heathrow transatlantic flights

United Airlines has today announced it is to introduce a new business class seat called “Polaris” on its fleet of long-haul aircraft.

The new seat is a bespoke patented design for United Airlines by London based Acumen Design Associates and PriestmanGoode and is manufactured by Zodiac Seats.

The seat offers a fully flat 6′ 6″ bed and, in common with many other long-haul airlines, all seats will have direct access to the aisle in a 1-2-1 configuration. However, United will maintain the same seating density by combining inline and angled seats in the cabin.

All seats are forward-facing and each customer’s seat will feature a “Do Not Disturb” sign, mood lighting, one-touch lumbar support, storage areas, multiple surfaces for simultaneous working and dining, and a 16″ high-definition entertainment screen.

United Airlines also promises significant improvements to in-flight amenities and dining. The Polaris cabin will also feature a walk-up bar for in flight snacks.

The Polaris business class seat will be first installed in December 2016 on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and subsequently on Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. It will also be retrofitted to Boeing 767-300 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft. It will not be fitted to Boeing 787-8, 787-9, Boeing 747 nor Boeing 757 aircraft (which currently operate on a number of London Heathrow flights). United is yet to specify which London Heathrow routes will operate with the Polaris cabin.

United Airlines is also rolling out nine Polaris business class lounges worldwide.  These lounges will feature daybeds and pre-flight dining.  A Polaris lounge will be fitted out at London Heathrow Terminal 2 in 2017.

Other locations will include Chicago O’Hare airport, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York Newark, Washington Dulles, Tokyo Narita and Hong Kong.

This latest development does mean that all-aisle access business class seating is now becoming standard on most long-haul transatlantic airlines. The one exception being British Airways which seems intent on maintaining its primarily 8-across “yin-yang” seating in its Club World business class cabin.

There’s more online on a dedicated a microsite. There’s also more insight behind the design from Acumen Design Associates and and PriestmanGoode.

United Airlines flies from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to New York Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

 

The founders of Monocle Magazine debut the “Kioskafé” at London Paddington

Readers of Tyler Brule’s column in the weekend edition of the Financial Times, which for the initiated documents the travails of a life spent jet-setting around the globe, will know that a frequent target is the poor state of newspaper and magazine retailing in the UK.

One target has long been WH Smith. Specifically, its poorly lit and understaffed shops, the ill-targeted special offers, the self-scan check-outs and, in the case of its Heathrow branches, its parochial selection of newspapers and magazines.

Tyler Brule is not someone who isn’t afraid to put his money where his mouth is, nor to challenge convention.

Having long argued that print media is not dead, in 2007 Tyler Brule founded the magazine Monocle. As well as being a commercial and editorial success it eschews social media, does not carry out any research, charges more than the magazine cover price for a subscription and double the cover price for back issues.

Monocle has since extended its reach to shops, cafes (the London branch is at 18 Chiltern Street) and a 24 hour radio station, Monocle 24.

Tyler Brule is also the founder of the design agency Winkreative which designed the original brand identity of Swiss International Airlines, Porter Airlines, the cabin interior of British Airways Club World on Boeing 747-400 and 777-200 aircraft and the recently launched Union Pearson Express in Toronto.

The latest venture from Winkreative’s parent company, is the Kioskafe which opened in the past week at 31 Norfolk Place, opposite the Frontline Club and a short walk from London Paddington railway and Underground stations.
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