June 2013

Does this grab you? British Airways is to trial a brand new, electronic baggage tag which, it is hoped, could soon replace the need for paper tags.

The new luggage tags have been designed by Designworks and simply require that the passenger scan the new baggage tag with their smartphone after checking-in; this then updates the baggage tag with the relevant flight details and an easy-to-read description.

Lewis Freeman, Designworks lead designer for the project, said: “This step into digital tagging of luggage is a huge leap forward enabling your luggage to become a connected object, providing a seamless experience for frequent travellers with British Airways.”

Thousands of bags are lost or delayed every year, often because existing paper baggage tags can become smudged or ripped, making the bar codes impossible to read.


lost luggage mountain

Lost luggage anyone?
Image courtesy of the BBC

As one of the biggest problems that airlines face, anything that can resolve, or least reduce, this problem will be eagerly anticipated.

British Airways bag tag





To celebrate the arrival of their first 787 Dreamliner, British Airways have launched introductory fares to both Toronto & Newark.

british airways 787Flights to Toronto commence on 1st September with lead-in fares starting at £619 in World Traveller, £1028 in World Traveller Plus and £2857 in Club World. Flights to Newark follow, commencing on 1st October, with lead-in fares starting at £444 in World Traveller, £787 in World Traveller Plus and £2505 in Club World.

Travel dates for these spaecial offer fares are from 21st October to 13th December and 25th December to 27th March. Fares are subject to availability and must be booked by midnight on 16th July.

Launching these new special offer fares for British Airways was Kim Cattrall, star of ‘Sex & The City’, who was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and lives in the US (although currently appearing on stage in London). “I fly regularly between London, Canada and the USA with British Airways and I love their service” commented the actress. “I need to be ready to work when I land, so to know that I can fly on their 787s and arrive feeling really rested and refreshed is a definite bonus for me.”

Cabin noise on the 787 is much less than on older aircraft types. Different pressurisation means the internal cabin altitude is the equivalent of 6,000ft, which is 2,000ft lower than on other aircraft. This leads to greater humidity, reducing the drying effect of the cabin air, so customers arrive feeling more refreshed. The aircraft’s smooth ride technology also provides extra comfort during any turbulence.

The bespoke lighting in every cabin can be set to reflect the time of day, helping to lull travellers to sleep at night and to wake them in the morning. Customers can also enjoy much larger windows, offering views of the horizon from every seat.

Mitch Preston is British Airways’ first 787 pilot to fly the aircraft from Boeing’s Seattle home to London. Preston said: “It was a real pleasure to fly the 787 home to Heathrow today – it’s a joy to operate, and a really smooth ride. It’s exceptionally quiet and the cabin environment, combined with the service customers would expect from British Airways, will make for a great experience. I for one can’t wait to welcome our customers on board.”

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British Airways today welcomed the first of its 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to its home base at Heathrow.

K65936The 787-8 series aircraft departed Paine Field in USA last night and arrived at Heathrow this morning where it was met, amongst others, by Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG. Commenting on the new arrival Mr Walsh stated: “The 787 is a tremendous, innovative aircraft which sets new standards for environmental performance and operating efficiency and I’m sure British Airways’ customers will love it. The 787 will become a mainstay of the British Airways fleet over the next few years.”

As we reported yesterday, the first two destinations to receive the new aircraft will be Toronto (from 1st September) and Newark (from 1st October). Flights onboard the new aircraft are now on general sale to both destinations.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

British Airways has a total of 8 787-8 series aircraft on order, all of which will be configured in a 3 class cabin. The new aircraft is set to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s, a mainstay of flights to the east coast of the USA and Canada.

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With British Airways soon to take delivery of both its brand new 787s and A380s, we look at the ‘forgotten’ addition to the airline’s fleet, the 777-300.

british airways 747For the last decade plus, British Airways long-haul fleet has been split between the 747-400 (just over 50 still in operational service), the 777-200 (just under 50 still in service) and 767-300 (21 in service). The 747s & 767s operate exclusively out of Heathrow while the 777-200 flies from both Heathrow & Gatwick and is split between 3 & 4 class configurations.

Many of these long-haul aircraft, but especially the 747 & 767, have been showing their age for some time now and are in need of replacement. British Airways placed orders for 24 Dreamliner 787s and 12 A380s in the mid noughties but delays to the introduction of both new models left the airline (like many others) having to alter their plans. Step forward the 777-300.

The Boeing 777-300 is a whole 10 metres longer than the 777-200 (longer even than the 747-400) and British Airways already has 6 aircraft operational with a further 6 on order. The existing 6 operational aircraft are set up in a 4 class configuration with 14 seats in First, 56 in Club World, 44 in World Traveller Plus and 185 in World Traveller; a total of 299 seats, the same as the airline’s low density 747-400. To the best of our knowledge, the next 6 aircraft will also have the same configuration.

Sating in Britsh Airways new World Traveller cabinThe 777-300 operates exclusively out of Heathrow and tends to be used on the airline’s most important routes (ie routes which can support First class) such as to Singapore, Sydney, Dubai, Hong Kong and selected US destinations. All 777-300s are equipped with the airline’s most up to date product across all 4 cabins. Passengers travelling in World Traveller & World Traveller Plus in particular will notice a significant difference between the seating and in-flight entertainment in the airline’s older aircraft with that provided on the 777-300. This new product will also be fitted on all British Airways new 787s and A380s as well as being retro-fitted to some of the airline’s 777-200s (but not those operating out of Gatwick).

British Airways A350 on order for 2017So will British Airways order any further 777-300s to add to its planned fleet of 12? The airline has some 120 747s, 767s and 777-200s to replace in the coming years and, so far, has ‘only’ placed orders for 78 replacement aircraft to be delivered by 2023 (42 787 Dreamliners, 6 777-300s, 18 Airbus A350s and 12 A380s). Even the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10 series, which British Airways ordered last week in Paris, doesn’t have the capacity of a 777-300; nor does the Airbus A350. British Airways could order additional A380s but we don’t feel that they will. With the failure of its extended 747-800 to win-over airlines, we feel that Boeing will soon proceed with a new, even larger version of the 777-300 (already known as the 777-x) and that British Airways will come-a-knocking.




British Airways is to launch flights between London City airport and Dusseldorf in Germany from 1st September.

Although British Airways have increasingly been promoting leisure flights out of London City (such as their new service to Granada in Spain), the airport is primarily used for business and Dusseldorf is one of Germany’s most important business centres.

Flights will operate up to 3 times a day (less at the weekend) using a Saab 2000.

Commenting on the new route, Luke Hayhoe, British Airways general manager at London City stated: “We have launched a number of new leisure routes from London City in the past couple of years. Now we are very excited to be going to a great business city like Dusseldorf which offers significant trade links with the city of London.”

British Airways A318 London City Airport

With British Airways taking initial delivery of its 787 Dreamliners in the next few days, it appears that Newark &  Toronto will be the first destinations to benefit.

To promote the new aircraft, passengers who book the introductory 787 fares on ba.com between 27th & 30th June will be entered into a free draw – the lucky winner earning 78,787 Avios points!

British Airways new 787-8 series aircraft have been fitted in a 3 cabin configuration split between World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World, with a total seating capacity of 214 passengers.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

New seating in British Airways New World Traveller cabinPassengers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus will enjoy the airline’s brand new seating and improved in-flight entertainment featuring larger screens and a much greater selection of on-demand audio and visual programmes. Passengers in Club World will benefit from the most up to date Club World product with the only recognisable difference being the 3 seats in the middle as  opposed to the usual 4.

British Airways has ordered 42 Dreamliners in total, split between all 3 models – the 787-8, 787-9 & 787-10 – with at least 24 of the first 2 models set to be delivered to the airline before the end of 2017. Initially, the 787 will be used to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s on existing routes (mainly medium haul routes) although, in the future, they may well be used to open up new destinations in Asia and South America.

On 4th July, British Airways will also take delivery of the first of its 12 A380s on order; this will make the airline the first in Europe (and second in the world) to operate both the 787 and A380.

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British Airways have released their latest video taken from this month’s Innovation Lab in the Sky.

The overnight flight from San Francisco to London on 12th June included 100 of the tech world’s leading innovators. Where will the next one take place – London & Africa?

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Following Delta’s purchase of 49% of Virgin Atlantic, the two airlines are determined to challenge the long held dominance of British Airways & American Airlines on flights between Heathrow & New York.

AMERICAN AIRLINES NEW LOOKAs with British Airways & American Airlines, the new Delta / Virgin Atlantic pairing is set to be granted anti-trust immunity which will allow the two airlines to co-ordinate slots and schedules as well as sharing revenue. The new joint venture is set to come into being in early 2014 and will be the first serious challenge to the British Airways / American Airlines partnership which accounts for around 50% of traffic between London & New York, the world’s single most important airline route.

Code sharing between Delta & Virgin commences on 3rd July with Virgin Atlantic placing its code on 91 Delta flights and the US carrier placing its flight number on 17 Virgin flights, including the new short-haul routes between Heathrow and both Edinburgh & Manchester.

Between them, the 2 airlines operate 23 daily flights between Heathrow & the US including 9 daily flights between Heathrow and New York JFK.

Delta’s President, Ed Bastian, has also indicated that they are seriously looking into new, direct flights between Heathrow & Seattle, a service that British Airways currently holds a monopoly on, although there was no indication of whether these flights would be operated by Delta or Virgin (we would assume the latter).

Virgin Atlantic




Effective from 1st July, all passengers arriving on a British Airways flight will be able to use their mobile devices as soon as the aircraft has landed.

British Airways appAt the moment, passengers are used to the pilot asking them to refrain from switching on mobiles etc until the aircraft has come to a complete stop at the gate. The change in policy comes after British Airways proved to the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) that there were no risks to safety.

The new policy applies to British Airways flights anywhere in the world although the policy on departures remains the same; passengers must turn off their mobile devices before the aircraft pushes back from the gate.

Commenting on the news, Ian Pringle from British Airways had this to say: “Customers will no longer have the frustration of having to wait until their plane has arrived at the terminal building before being able to use their mobile phones and other handheld electronic devices. Now they’ll have that extra time to phone ahead for that important business meeting, check their emails, or make sure someone is there to meet them at the airport.”

Previously, British Airways had also become the first UK airline to run its in-flight entertainment program from the moment passengers board, till the moment they left the aircraft.


first class at sunset

British Airways faces a seven figure repair bill after one of its own Heathrow employees allowed a scanning gun to get sucked into an aircraft engine.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5

The incident took place earlier in June at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, the aircraft involved an A320 that was being powered up before push-back. It would seem that an engineer left a tool on the outer engine cover which was then sucked inside as the engines were turned on.

The aircraft had been scheduled to fly to Bucharest, Romania and led to some 150 passengers being delayed for 3 hours before a replacement aircraft could be arranged.

A spokesman for British Airways said: ‘We are sorry that customers on our flight to Bucharest were delayed. We arranged for a replacement aircraft as quickly as possible to keep the delay to a minimum.’






In case you were in any doubt, it is definitely on between Boeing and Airbus with both showing the next generation of aircraft at the Paris Airshow.

Of course Boeing have a huge headstart, even with the problems experienced by the Dreamliner it will be years before it is challenged in the skies by the A350.

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However orders for the A350 are rolling in and Airbus have done well to get the A350 in the air and flying very carefully over the Airshow. Apparently it was only the third time that the craft had been in the air, and it was something of a surprise that it attended the Airshow. The fly past was part of a test flight of the craft which, we are told, is functioning exactly as expected.

The craft which is about 70% composite materials in flight showed off its lovely composite wings as it banked and then flew off into the clouds. Airbus claims the plane is around 8% more efficient than the 787. Bring it on, on we say, we would really like to see more energy efficient aircraft in our skies very soon, particularly at BA which has ordered 18 of the “mini-jumbos”. Energy efficient planes are a win all round as they are more profitable, and of course greener.

Here is a link to our coverage of the first flight.

In the last month British Airways has announced increased capacity to both Libya, Sierra Leone & Liberia.

In the case of Libya, as of 2nd September the airline will be adding a fourth weekly flight from Heathrow to Tripoli; the new Monday service is in addition to existing flights on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday. Flights depart Terminal 5 at 08:50, arriving in Tripoli at 13:25. Return flights depart Tripoli at 15:30, getting back into London at 18:15.

After the civil war in Libya, British Airways only re-instated flights to the capital in May 2012 and this additional service suggests that life in Libya is returning to normal. Previously, British Airways had faced domestic competition on the route from bmi; British Airways takeover of bmi ended that problem abruptly.

British Airways will also be increasing the frequency of its joint service to Sierra Leone & Liberia from 31st October with a fourth weekly service. As with Libya, flights depart Heathrow’s Terminal 5 early in the morning, getting back into London at 16:00, just in time to catch the all important final flights to the USA.

Unlike Libya, British Airways did not previously fly to either Sierra Leone or Liberia but ‘inherited’ the route from bmi after its takeover in 2012. News that it is now expanding its services will be welcomed by both countries, neither of which have a national airline capable of offering flights to the UK or USA.


Flights to Sierra Leone & Liberia will be operated by 767s offering World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the route receives a shiny new Dreamliner 787.

British Airways aircraft parked in front of Heathrow Terminal 5

Heathrow Terminal 5







Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG, has warned that its Spanish unit, Iberia, is in a critical condition.

iberia a319Speaking at IAG’s annual meeting in Madrid, Walsh stated that Iberia was losing 1 million euros a day and was now loss making across all its sectors, ie both short haul and long haul. In the past, the emphasis has very much been on Iberia’s short haul division, and the need to make significant structural changes to combat low cost carriers. The revelation that even the long-haul division, once one of the most profitable in Europe, is now loss making will be of great concern to all the relevant stakeholders.

British Airways Willie Walsh“None of us want to see Iberia disappear” stated Walsh,  ”however, that still remains a risk unless all parts of the airline work together to transform Iberia.” He then one again used the experience of Iberia Express, established in 2012, to showcase just what could be achieved if everyone agreed to managements proposals for change: “The airline was profitable within three months, is flying to the highest industry standards and achieving excellent customer feedback. It has also created 500 new Spanish jobs.”

His comments were backed up by the Chairman of IAG, Antonio Vazquez: “I repeat that there is only one path that can be taken to reach this goal: to restructure in order to adapt to the new environment and be able to compete under similar conditions to those of our direct rivals.”

So is there a chance that Iberia could be closed down? Possibly but not probably. Although its losses are undoubtedly hurting IAG, profits at British Airways mean the situation isn’t quite as critical as it would have been had Iberia been a stand alone business. In addition, expectations are that Mr Walsh will succeed in driving down costs at Iberia, just as he did at British Airways, allowing the airline to profit from an eventual upturn in the market.

British Airways daily 777 service to Accra






A bird strike is sometimes called avian ingestion if the bird is sucked into the engine.

When it happens it can cause major damage to an engine and it is a major hazard for aircraft. Because of this much effort is expended in mitigating the risk and because of this the incidence of birds strike is quite low.

Flock of birds around a plane

Flock of birds

Notwithstanding this, the estimated annual cost of damage to aircraft caused by birdstrike has been estimated at £1.2 bn.

So when is a plane at risk from bird strike and what can be done about it?

The majority of bird strikes occur in the transition between take off/landing and cruising altitude. At cruising altitude the craft is by and large above the altitude that birds fly.

 So what can be done about it?

Make the planes more resistant.

This can mean engine improvements to the engine and other critical parts of the plan. An engine is designed to safely shut down after a strike.

Manage the birds

Numerous strategies are employed to scare birds from the airfield and flight path. This includes electronic devices and even birds of prey.

Avoid the birds

This can involve choosing a flight path which avoids areas of high bird density when taking off and landing.


Boeing officially launched their new 787-10 series today with orders for 102 aircraft, including 12 from British Airways.

The orders for the new, stretched version of the Dreamliner, worth nearly $30 billion at list prices, came from Air Lease (30), GE Capital Services (10), Singapore Airlines (30), United (20) and British Airways (12). British Airways had already confirmed an option for a further 18 Dreamliners earlier this year so it is now apparent that 12 of those are for the 10 series; what is not clear is how the remaining 6 will be split between the 8 & 9 series.

The 10 series isn’t expected to be ready until 2018 so Boeing were busy showing off the existing 8 series in Paris with an Air India plane, showing of its paces. It does have a certain grace we must say.

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British Airways new A380 took to the skies over France yesterday as part of the Paris Air Show.

British Airways has orders for 12 A380s with the first aircraft set to be delivered to the airline in the first week of July. It will then be briefly based at Manston Airport in Kent for further tests and training before being introduced on short-haul routes within Europe as part of the airline’s crew familiarisation programme. Although the airline hasn’t advised which routes will be served as part of this process, most industry observers expect Paris, Frankfurt & Madrid to be the most likely destinations.

The first scheduled A380 service will be on 15th October between Heathrow & Los Angeles followed a month later on 15th November between Heathrow & Hong Kong. Future routes might include Sao Paulo, New York, Johannesburg, Lagos, Singapore, Tokyo & Beijing. British Airways will be one of the only airlines to offer a 4 cabin service with World Traveller, World Traveller Plus, Club World & First.

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After months of planning and preparation, British Airways first Innovation Lab in the Sky finally touched down in Heathrow last week.

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The Paris Air Show starts tomorrow and Boeing seems set to steal some of the focus away from the new Airbus A350 by confirming that it will proceed with the Dreamliner 787-10 series.

The 787-10 is set to be the largest aircraft in the 787 range (the 787-8 series is already in operation and will be followed shortly by the larger 787-9 series) with seating for up to 323 passengers. It is thought that Boeing had been waiting for enough blue-chip customers to place ‘orders’ for the aircraft before finally giving the project the green light.

Singapore Airlines has said that it will take 30 of the new aircraft while United & British Airways are also thought to be keen. The UK flag carrier already has firms orders for the 787-8 (which arrives this month) and 787-9, but earlier this month confirmed an option for a further 18 Dreamliners. The fact that the airline failed to specify which model the order was for, as well as stating that the aircraft were intended to replace its ageing fleet of 747s, points to at least part of this order (and the rumour is for 10 aircraft) being for the 787-10.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner



Following on from our earlier post, here is the official Airbus video of the A350′s maiden flight.

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Our earlier story is here.

The new Airbus A350 has made its maiden flight from Toulouse this morning.

The A350 is Airbus’ first, ‘new era’ aircraft, built from composite materials (both the fuselage and wing structures are primarily made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer) to significantly reduce weight and, as a result, fuel consumption. Airbus claims that the aircraft is 25% more fuel efficient than previous, similar competitor models although they are probably  referring to the Boeing 767.

There are two variations of the A350, the A350-9 series (the version that flew today) and the slightly larger A350-10 series which isn’t expected to be operational until 2016. The new aircraft will hold between 250-350 passengers and the launch customer is Qatar Airways which has orders and options for some 80 aircraft across the range. All Airbus A350s will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

The A350 was conceived as competition to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner which, despite its much publicised problems (3 years of delays followed by a 3 month grounding this year due to problems with its new batteries) has proven hugely popular with airlines around the world. Over 800 Dreamliners have already been ordered and Airbus was in danger of losing out in the wide bodied, twin-engine market if it did nothing.

British Airways has placed orders for 18 of the larger, Airbus A350-10 series which is scheduled to be delivered to the airline between 2017 & 2021, largely to replace its ageing fleet of 50 plus 747s.

British Airways A350 on order for 2017