Posts Tagged 'British Airways'

British Airways Removes Inflight Meals

British Airways LogoFollowing a leak of information earlier this week, yesterday British Airways has confirmed that it will remove onboard catering in economy class (Euro Traveller) on flights shorter than 2.5 hr. from next week (3rd of August, 2009). Previously they used to serve a sandwich with a small chocolate bar on most of their flights – together with the famous waste-bag included in the meal package.

BA has also communicated that it will continue to serve breakfast on flights departing before 10 a.m. and offer free drinks and snacks. It will not sell food onboard and claimed it is “not unusual to make small changes [to inflight catering] to avoid waste and save money where it makes sense and it meets customers’ changing tastes.” British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Assn. said the airline is also considering cutting additional amenities such as chocolates in first class, hot towels in business class and pretzels in economy, the BBC reported. It expects to save £22 million ($36.1 million) annually as a result.

Even though the news have been communicated through the media, there’s nothing about it on the British Airways website. It seems like this must have been a quite rapid decision to be made, as the website still describes the Euro Traveller class today (July 31st) as “then once on board let our team of experts serve you complimentary food and drinks from our free bar service“. In the Inflight Meal section of the website, there is a mention of complimentary snacks in the Euro Traveller cabin, but no details. While you make a booking, the booking process does not provide any information about the catering for the flights at all, except linking the same travel cabin description as quoted above.

It will be interesting to see if this traditionally low-cost approach to short haul onboard services will spread to more “full service” carriers in these turbulent economic times or not. Iberia and Brussels Airlines for example only sell food on short-haul flights, while Lufthansa for example only offers a small sandwich with a chocolate bar. We are wondering if such amenities will ever return – even in better economic times…

by balint01

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Top 5 Airlines in 2008

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published its latest ranking of the world’s airlines in terms of passengers carried and passenger kilometres flown on scheduled flights for the year 2008.

International and Domestic – Number of passengers

Based on number of passengers carried on scheduled flights in 2008 and considering International as well as Domestic traffic, US and Chinese companies seem to rule the world with Southwest Airlines taking number one. However, if we would count Delta and Northwest as one entity (they merged in 2008), they would claim the number one spot (seen in line 0 in the table below). It should be noticed that the fifth position in terms of passengers carried has been taken by a Chinese air company (China Southern Airlines) – which also signals the ongoing growth of the Chinese domestic air travel market.

Top5 Airlines in 2008 in terms of Passengers on Domestic And International flights

International – Number of passengers

Looking at only International scheduled traffic in 2008 (excluding domestic), Ryanair has grown to be the largest International airline in the world. Mostly European airlines are included in this bucket, as most of their flights are international, even though the distances flown would in most cases match up with the US (or Chinese) Domestic flights. This just shows how strong the US airlines are on their domestic market and how weak they are on the international routes – in terms of number of passengers. It is interesting to note that Air France and KLM are a merged company since 2004, but operate their separate networks. Also interesting to see that 2 of the top 5 are low-cost carriers (Ryanair and easyJet). If we would consider European international flights as domestic (in terms of distance intra-European flights are similar in nature to the domestic flights within the US or China), none of the European airlines would make it in the top 5 – based on the number of passengers flown, even though Ryanair comes very close to fifth position China Southern.

2008 Top 5 Airlines (number of Passengers on International travel)

International and Domestic – Passenger kilometres

When looking at passenger kilometres flown, it gives a slightly different view of the same results. Such a statistic shows us all airlines in terms of passenger kilometres flown (passengers*kilometers flown) and theoretically levels out the difference between the European International flights and the US Domestic flights for example – which produce similar numbers in terms of passenger kilometres. On the other hand, this gives a chance for airlines flying mostly longer routes with less passengers to move up the list. (E.g.: a Budapest-London flight is 1 passenger or rougly 1500 passenger kilometres, while a Paris-Rio de Janeiro flight is also counted as 1 passenger, but rougly 9400 passenger kilometres.)

Top 5 Airlines in 2008 - in terms of passenger kilometres for Domestic and International flights

It is interesting to see that this view is still ruled by the US airlines, and the only non-US in the list is the merged Air France – KLM group, taking the fourth position. We are missing Southwest Airlines from this table, as they do not fly long-haul and fly only a limited number of mid-haul international flights to Central America thus their average kilometers flown per passenger is much lower than those big American airlines that also fly long-haul routes. It is also a notable change that American Airlines (considered to be the largest airline company for years) is passed by the new Delta Airlines (merged with Northwest) by as much as 35%.

It will be interesting to see these numbers for 2009 in a few months – where Delta will most likely hold the number one spot for overall passenger numbers as well as passenger kilometers, but Lufthansa may move up a little bit if they start to publish their numbers together with Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines. We are also looking forward to the much talked about possible British Airways – Iberia tie up, which would produce an Air France – KLM like congolmerate that could fight for a top 5 position in terms of worldwide passenger kilometers – considering Iberia’s long flights between Europe and South America.

by balint01

British Airways B747 with Special oneworld Livery

Following the special, oneworld liveries applied to some airplanes by Japan Airlines, LAN and Finnair, now the biggest European member of the alliance has also followed with a special livery on one of its 55 Jumbo Jets.

ba_oneworld_747_by_a_j_best2

The Boeing 747-400, registration number: G-CIVP (also known as “The V.P.“) has been given a new paint-job, displaying large “member of oneworld” titles on the front part of its fuselage. The letters of the smaller “member of” text from a distance look like if they were additional windows on the top floor. The large letters in “oneworld” are painted between the two floors of the Jumbo, with the top of the “d” vritually ending smoothly in one of the top floor windows.

British Airways or oneworld is yet to publish any press coverage about the special livery, or whether if other planes would follow, but “The V.P.” has already been spotted at Heathrow two days ago.

The first pictures are available on airliners.net.

by balint01

London Heathrow Terminal 5 Opens

The biggest construction work over the last years is finished and the largest standalone building of the UK has started its everyday business today. The UK’s flagship building is solely to be used by British Airways (BA), the UK’s flag carrier. BA promises that connections will be much faster (~20 mins), and also time spent at the Terminal while departing will also be significantly reduced (~10 mins), as they plan with most of the passengers checking in online before arriving to the airport and then “flying” through the Departures area very quickly. To allow this, 96 fast-bag drops have been installed with the same number of self-service check-in kiosks for those who had no time to check-in from their office, home or mobile phone. According to the website of British Airways, all passengers must be ready to fly (passed check-in and security) 35 minutes before their flights, which means on a normal operational day you can arrive at the airport only 45 minutes before your flight (but this is a theoretical minimum, we believe this means 55-60 minutes in reality…) – if you’re an experienced self check-in kiosk user or have used online check-in and do not have any baggages to check-in.

Terminal 5 banner on ba.com

A Green Building

Following the first idea about a fifth terminal in as early as 1982, construction finally started on the £4.3 billion pound project in September 2002 (5.5 years ago) and has been on time and on budget. 2006 Stirling Prize winner the Richard Rogers Partnership designed the 40 metre high, 396 metres long and 176 metres wide, 5 level Terminal 5. It is built between Heathrow’s two runways, on reclaimed land previously occupied by a sludge works. The project has successfully moved 9 million cubic metres of earth and two rivers have been diverted to create space for the new building. The area now is home to 30.000 woodland plants and 4.000 trees and is planned to have more in the next two years. On top of this green initiative, the building will be operated with as small environmental effects as possible:
  • Water conservation – 85 per cent of the water that falls on T5 will be collected and reused
  • Recycling – 97 per cent of the construction waste was reused and passengers can contribute by recycling their waste at special facilities around the terminal
  • Lighting – the predominantly glass constructed building allows in natural sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting (30.000 square metres of reinforced glass and 5.500 glass panels also guarantee the light and airy feel)
  • Heat – 85 per cent of the heat required by the building is provided by waste heat from the existing airport heat and power station

The terminal housing the longest baggage carousel system in the world will be able to handle 30 million passengers every year, raising the total capacity of Heathrow to 90 million from 68 million currently (while the airport was originally designed for 45 million…). The main terminal building is home to Concourse A, while the satellite Concourse B has been finished as well (with dedicated stands for the Airbus A380 superjumbo – already on order with BA), and is connected to the main building by an underground people mover system. The opening of Concourse C is scheduled for 2010. Alltogether, Terminal 5 will have 60 aircraft stands.

All sorts of traffic means are connected to the building, including Heathrow Express rail service as well as the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. 4.000 cars can be parked in the new Parking Garage, but there are bicycle routes up to the terminal as well, with free bicyle parking in car parks 1 and 1A.

BA will use Terminal 5 as the only one carrier, but Terminal 5 will not be the only one terminal used by BA, as they are forced to keep some of their services on Terminal 3. You can find the list of destinations served by BA and their Terminals here. There will also be a frequent coach service launched between Terminals 3 and 5 to allow BA passengers to easily transfer between the two terminals used by the British carrier.

The first flight to arrive is BA 026 from Hong Kong, piloted by BA’s first woman pilot, Captain Lynn Barton, due to touch down at 4.50am. She has described the role as “a huge honour”. The first flight to depart is heading for Paris at 6.20pm with a further 380 (what a coincidence with the A380…) flights due to arrive or depart at the terminal on its first day. The BA move will involve a convoy of more than 1,000 vehicles, including 360 baggage trailers, 240 cargo containers and 27 short-haul aircraft. More than 2,500 ground staff will also make the move, with another 3,000 to follow on the 30th of April.

Once airside, BA passengers will be able to kill time in an enormous shopping mall and a range of cafes and restaurants – the list of outlets includes Harrods, Prada, Bulgari, Wagamama, Gordon Ramsay, Paul Smith and Carluccio’s as well as Starbucks among many-many others.

by balint01

British Airways Boeing 777 Incident at London Heathrow

British Airways flight BA 038 inbound to London Heathrow, from Beijing, China today at 12:42 pm local time (12:42 GMT) has crash landed just a few meters off the beginning of Heathrow’s Southern runway (unlucky?). From another point of view, it crash landed just a few meters off of a congested two way road, just inside the boundaries and fences of Heathrow Airport (lucky!!).

BA Boeing 777 after emergency landing at Heathrow - by CNN.com

According to the first reports by BBC and declined to be commented by British Airways, the aircraft has lost some (or all) of its power and avionics systems while descending to the airport, and it equals to a miracle that the pilot managed to reach the territory of the airport by gliding this huge bird “nose up”, and not crash-land into the heavily populated residential areas of West-London. This is the FIRST Report, only a few hours after the crash, so as investigations will take place, the findings may change the descriptions of the cause.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped the aircraft, with 13 of the passengers (among them 7 British and 3 Chinese) reportedly being treated in a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

Scotland Yard has quickly stated that the incident is not terrorism related.

BA chief Willie Walsh, while praising the crew for doing an “excellent job,” declined to comment on the possible cause of the accident, which is being to be probed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). He further added that “The captain of the aircraft is one of our most experienced and has been flying with us for nearly 20 years,” he said.

What is known at this moment, is a few eyewitness explanations:

Eyewitness Neil Jones, who has a general aviation pilot’s licence, said the plane had been making a “very, very unusual approach,” and the engine sounded louder than normal. “The aircraft was banking to the left and it was coming in very low over the surrounding houses. The plane was significantly lower than it would normally be,” he told the BBC. “You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. He did a great job,” said Jones. Another witness said the Boeing had come in at a “funny angle,” and, with its undercarriage down, had slid along the grass in a “plume of smoke.” The plane had hit the ground with a “big impact and a loud noise.”

The 6 year old Boeing 777-200ER, registration G-YMMM, was built by Boeing in 2001 and is one of 43 in the British Airways fleet. The plane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 895 engines and had accumulated 23,476 flying hours as of Dec. 31, 2006, (according to data on the Web site of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority) and was immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles, including fire engines and ambulances, as a carpet of foam was sprayed. The wheels of the plane, which had a routine maintenance check in December, were still in the field where it crashed, several hundred meters from the runway.

Officials said delays were expected after one of Heathrow’s two runways was closed for almost two hours with an air exclusion zone imposed to help regulate traffic at one of the world’s busiest airports. The runway has since been reopened for take-offs only.

Update: first good resolution pictures on airliners.net:
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318128/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318132/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318205/L/

Update: Video of the Crew’s Press Meeting on Telegraph TV, so you know who made sure that such an emergency situation was handled as best as possible: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1137942530/bclid1155254697/bctid1381652074 

Update: In the preliminary report The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the flight had been normal until that point but then the Boeing 777 descended rapidly. The report states: “At approximately 600ft and two miles from touch down, the autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond.” This means that so far the first theory has been confirmed by pre-liminary investigation findings. This was the first ever crash involving a Boeing 777 aircraft, which is considered as one of the most advanced jets in the sky today.

by balint01

Flight Review: British Airways

We have been considering writing flight reviews for some time, and now finally here is the first one.

British Airways Logo

Route: BUDAPEST-London/Gatwick-ATLANTA
Operating Airlines: oneworld: British Airways and Malev Hungarian Airlines
Travel Date: 06NOV2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.ba.com, which was a very nice experience. The website provides you with lowest price options on and around the days you have searched for showing the options in an easy-to-understand, coloured format. After selecting (confirming) your travel dates, it gives you a detailed list of all the available flight combinations, also colored so that you can easily recognize the cheapest option. What I really liked about the flight descriptions, that it explicitly tells you operational information after or between the concerned flights. For example it would tell you “Warning – your connection will involve travel between airports by coach or bus, the cost of which is not included in your fare.” And this text would be displayed between those two flights, where one arrives at Heathrow, while the other leaves from Gatwick. Really easy to understand, and very visual. After selecting your flights and providing passenger details you can pay for your trip with your credit card and upon successful payment, you receive a confirmation email immediately (as expected). The site also takes you immediately to the “Manage My Booking” section, that provides very usefull information and allows you to manage your booking. For example you can save time at the airport by filling out the APIS data (required for entry to the USA) online, you can also add frequent flier number if you forgot to add it at the time of the booking, and can change or upgrade your flights right from here, but can check the online entertainment options, including the movies you will be offered, too.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

You can also follow a link from the “Manage My Booking” page to offset your carbon-dioxide emissions with Climate Care (http://www.climatecare.org/britishairways/calculators/) using a pollution calculator. For this particular return flight my emmission is 1,86 t of CO2, which costed me EUR 20,75 to offset. Climate Care has also sent me a British Airways co-branded Certificate to certify that I have offset the CO2 generated by my return flight.
(Being curious I have also checked the Lufthansa website partnered with myclimate.org, launched a few months ago, and to my surprise for the same route it calculated: 1,705 t of CO2, and suggested a compensation of EUR 34. Where the difference comes from, I don’t know…)

Check-In

To be in control of my seats, I chose to check-in online. It opens 24 hours before the actual flight (each flight opens individually). Unfortunately check-in for the BUD-LGW segment was not available on the BA website, as it is operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines. But for the British Airways flight, I could check-in flawlessly, where I got a pre-assigned seat, which I could change while using a seat-map of the actual aircraft that I was going to fly. The process is very straight forward, and easy to understand I think. After the successful transaction I printed my boarding pass on a normal A4 size paper, that included a bar code for later identification at the airport. The website also gave me check-in summary after completing it. Unlike some other airlines, BA did not replace this home-printed paper with a magnetic stripe “traditional” boarding pass at the airport, this was the only boarding paper I used to get on my flight.

Due to the above mentioned situation I also used the check-in desks at Budapest, where they checked me in quickly for the Budapest-London segment, but they had no information of my other already self-checked-in segment. They could not confirm if I actually have 35A as my seat or not, but she said she can not do anything with my second flight (the systems blocks her) and suggested that I look for a BA transfer desk at Gatwick. She could check-in my luggage all the way, though. Upon arrival to Gatwick I contacted BA Ticket desk in the transit area, and the lady there was also very nice, told me that indeed I have 35A, but even though my luggage was checked-in all the way in Budapest already, she does not see it in the system. So I gave her my bag-tag, which then she recorded in their system.

Malev B737-700 (HA-LOL)

1. BUDAPEST – LONDON GATWICK (BA 4450 operated by Malev: MA 612)

Aircraft: Boeing 737-700NG (HA-LOL), new, clean, comfortable aircraft operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived exactly on time.
Boarding: After a long-long queue at the security (airport’s responsibility) I had to rush to the gate, otherwise it was OK
Seats: Full leather seats in both classes, with average legroom
Flight Attendants: There were 4 of them, 3 young girls and 1 older purser. Two of the girls were very good looking, all of them were very friendly.
Meals: We got hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and a wurst as well as freshly warmed/heated buns. Also got orange juice and tea, could have gotten a wide variety of soft drinks, or wine or beer.
Entertainment: There are LCD screens above the seats per every three-four rows in the aircraft, which play Malev and Hungary PR material throughout the whole flight.

G-VIIF Boeing 777

2. LONDON GATWICK – ATLANTA (BA 2227)

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (G-VIIF), not so new, at some places worn-down aircraft operated by British Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
Boarding: The security at Gatwick was very long, I was happy I had a three hour layover so I didn’t have to run, and I could relax while standing in the line. It was confusing that when finally they put up on the screens that we need to go to gate 55, while walking there I caught the last few words of an announcement saying that passenger flying to Atlanta should proceed to gate 59. It doesn’t sound that bad, but the gates are on two different sides of Gatwick, so it would have caused a running excercise if the announcement proves true. As I wasn’t sure if it was about my flight (there was another flight to Atlanta about an hour after mine) I went to the gate which was on the screens – it was a good decision as that was our gate. After the gate-boarding pass check-in there were seats available for only about half of the passengers, so either be there early or arrive late! Other than that, boarding went smoothly.
Seats: Full leather seats with proper legroom, as comfortable as a regular economy seat can get. Tip: if legroom is important for you don’t get a window seat, as the entertainment cables go on the window seat’s chairleg, which reduces free legroom. It doesn’t really leave you the option to put a laptop bag under the seat in front of you for example.
Flight Attendants: They really did their job of serving meals and overlooking the passengers for security. That’s all they did. No special smile or service, dry English manner.

Main meal on BA2227  Snack Meal on BA 2227

Meals: Not so long after take-off we received a small pack of snacks with drinks and later on the main meal. The choice was chicken or pasta, I took the chicken with assorted vegetables (potatoes, broccoli and mashed carrots). The taste was good, just like that of the standard salad (with fish) and the blackberry pie. The Twix chocolate bar tasted as everywhere around the world. The bun was not fresh and not warmed, not tasty at all. The white wine was OK, but it’s probably not award winning, either. Shortly before landing we got another “meal” which was a small pre-packed sandwhich with a small carrot-cake with raisins and a pack of dried fruits. Drinks were served once again. During the flight if somebody wanted to get snacks or extra drinks, the kitchen in the back of the plane was always “open”.

Dangling armrest on BA   Dangling armrest on BA 2.

Entertainment: Every passenger in economy has their own LCD screen and built-in remote control in the armrest. My armrest was really worn-down and actually broken. The dirty looking plastic cover was living it’s own life, as you can see on the pictures above. It should be dangling around like this, it was annoying. Just like the fact that I tried 2 headphones where each had only one side working, then I put on my own headphones which just worked properly. As it is a Skype enabled one, the flight attendants spotted it and brought a third one to try, which finally worked on both sides! It may only be me, but I always get a half- or non-working headphone set on my long-haul flights at first… On the other hand, the radio stations were OK, and the movies, too. The movies start at un-announced times, all movies starting at the same time. I watched three of them: Die Hard 4, Ocean’s Thirteen and Knocked Up.
Amenities: Each economy passenger received a bag of socks, and toothbrush-toothpaste.

Overall Experience

Despite the minor glitches on the BA flight with the entertainment (armrest and headphones) I would take this flight again, I had a good time onboard both oneworld flights. A big advantage was the convenient schedule (leaving Budapest at 7:10 and arriving in Atlanta at 16:25) and the pricetag: this return flight costed USD 1072, with the purchase taking place exactly one week before the departure (so relatively late).

by balint01

British Airways Orders Airbus A380’s And Boeing 787’s

Airbus A380 in BA colors - by Airbus

 

 

British Airways has announced today what the airline industry has been looking forward to for a long time: the first orders to replace their long-haul fleet.

BA that has been using Boeing 57 B747-400’s and 43 B777’s and 14 B767-300’s for long-haul travels, have decided to place firm orders for 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to replace 34 of their older planes (20 B747 jumbojets and all 14 B767-300’s). This also means an increase of 2 planes in the fleet. The order includes options for a further 7 A380’s and 18 B787’s.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh told reporters the airline would use the A380 superjumbo to make best use of its limited take-off slots at London’s crowded Heathrow Airport and will be the first long-haul Airbus BA would ever use. It will fly on routes from London to Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa (Johannesburg) and the west coast of the United States (Los Angeles and San Francicso) and possibly to Indian destinations as well. The 24 mid-sized 787 Dreamliners, will be used to open up new routes and increase the frequency of flights on existing ones. The two types of new aircraft will be delivered between 2010 and 2014, with the first 787 joining the fleet in 2010 and the firs A380 in 2012.

He denied the company had experienced political pressure to buy the superjumbo, the wings and engines of which will be built in Britain. “There was absolutely none,” he told reporters. “There was no contact, be it formal or informal. The decision was made in the best interest of British Airways. In the engines, the choice of Rolls-Royce was because British is best.” He also added that environmental concerns were a critical consideration: “These aircraft set the gold standard when it comes to environmental performance. . .[and] will contribute significantly to our target of improving fuel efficiency by 25% between 2005 and 2025.”  BA took delivery of its first B747 jumbo on April 22, 1970, becoming just the fifth airline to get one and had used all types of the largest Boeing aircraft. That tradition will be broken now, as even though the new B747-8 is out on the market (and Lufthansa has ordered a few pieces of it as well), BA chose the A380.

BA said it was considering aircraft to replace a further 37 Boeing 747s and is examining the Boeing 777-300 ER, the Airbus A350XWB, as well as a stretched version of Boeing’s 787, the 787-10, which the planemaker has yet to launch to replace the remaining 747-400s. A follow-up order should not be expected before 2010 according to BA.

by balint01


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