Today, British Airways new A380 Airbus will begin flying between Los Angeles (LAX) and London Heathrow (LHR). Having just flown the airline on this very route, I have to admit that I wish it had already been flying last week! It’s welcome news for travelers between the two cities for many reasons, not least of which is seat comfort and electrical outlets for passengers in all cabins, which makes the 10.5 hour flight much more enjoyable.
For my recent trip to Kenya, I flew British Airways for the long-haul flights. On the way going, I decided to stop in London for a day and night to break up the travel and check out some of the new things happening in London before heading on to Nairobi. BA was my airline of choice for this trip primarily because they are one of a small few that have non-stop flights between Europe/Middle East and Nairobi (Swiss Air, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airways, and Emirates via Dubai are the others), but mostly because of the flight times.
Many of the international flights to and from Nairobi arrive or depart at odd hours, as in 2 a.m., which can make for an unpleasant start or end to a trip as we learned from our last journey there. But BA’s flight from LHR to NBO arrives at a civilized time around 9 p.m., and on the return, departs just shy of midnight, making that leg of the trip an easy red-eye flight to London, arriving around 6:30 a.m.
British Airways new A380 makes the airline the first UK carrier to take delivery of the double-decker, which is the world’s largest commercial jet. British Airways is also the first airline in Europe to operate both the A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They will be introducing the A380 as well for their flights to Hong Kong on October 22.
On the outgoing flights to London and Nairobi, I was lucky enough to get upgraded and experience the Club World (Business) class. Never get tired of flying business, any airline, any time. It just makes the travel so much more enjoyable, especially on long haul flights where sleeping is critical and a seat that goes to a flat bed makes doing so that much easier, not to mention that the food options are better and who can resist a glass of champagne before take-off?
I even discovered some new music in the in-flight entertainment — I listened to Rhye “Woman” for the entire trip as it was relaxing and soothing, similar to Sade, and that’s exactly what I need when I fly.
Now, that said, on the way home, no upgrades were available, so I was in the World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy) cabin. From Nairobi to London, it was a newer plane and the seats were comfortable enough that I was able to sleep for most of the 8-hour flight. However, on the final leg home to LAX, it was one of the older 747s, which had me missing Club World big time! The seats are just not as roomy or cushioned, the pitch is less so it’s hard to get comfortable enough to sleep, the food isn’t as appetizing, and the in-flight entertainment seems ancient, though I admit I enjoyed playing a few games of Tetris.
But the worst part was that there was no in-seat power. I had been planning to spend a good portion of the flight writing and editing photos, which is always a nice way to pass the time. But unfortunately, my laptop was out of battery three hours into the flight.
With the new A380s, this won’t be a problem. Power for all – hip hip hooray!
British Airways’ A380s will accommodate 469 customers across four cabins. Customers in First will be seated at the front of the main deck. The cabin will offer 14 seats and is evolved from the current First class with 30 percent more personal space and 60 percent more personal stowage.
Club World passengers can choose from 44 seats on the main deck, or 53 seats on the upper deck. These upper deck seats will feature a new 2:3:2 configuration across the cabin. The 55 World Traveller Plus seats will be located on the upper deck while World Traveller (economy) customers can choose seats on both the main and upper deck.
The aircraft’s innovative design makes it much quieter during take-off and landing and 16 percent more fuel efficient than a Boeing 747. British Airways has ordered 12 A380s for delivery by 2016. Three will arrive this year followed by a further five in 2014.
But, regardless of cabin or class or aircraft, long haul travel is never easy. We do it for the places we get to see, the experiences we get to have, and as someone once said, “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.” It never ceases to amaze me that in 24 hours, you can get halfway around the globe — wake up in Africa, and the next day you’re home in your bed, as if nothing had changed, except hopefully you, from the experiences, the memories, the new perspectives, and the journey taken.
For more info on British Airways new A380, visit the airline’s website, which features computer generated imagery (CGI) of the new planes. Two short films are also available on youtube to get a feel for the aircraft.
BA’s new “To Fly. To Serve” Campaign
Also last week, British Airways introduced their new ad campaign, of which John McDonald, British Airways’ Vice President of Marketing Americas, said, “We’re really pleased that we can showcase our latest campaign in the US market. It’s a beautifully made spot that highlights the essential ingredients that help us deliver a wonderful customer experience to over 100,000 customers a day – attention to detail, investment in product and service, engineering prowess and a focus on innovation to improve every aspect of the customer journey”.
The film was directed by Martin Krejci, with cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle, who won an Oscar for his involvement in Slumdog Millionaire. It features a vibrant soundtrack ‘Experience’ (Starkey Remix), by the acclaimed Italian composer and pianist, Ludovico Einaudi.
Here is the new British Airways ad:
Though we have to admit, our favorite BA promo is this one, in which South African rugby player Bryan Habana, who famously raced a cheetah, competes instead with one of the airline’s new A380s.
– Lindsay Taub