British Airways has unveiled a series of
investment plans designed to improve the overall travel experience
for customers. The investments include:
- First Wing direct security and lounge access
at London Heathrow;
- £400 million in Club World business class;
- Introducing Club Europe business class on UK
- New lounges;
- Latest generation Wi-Fi fitted on long-haul
and short-haul fleets over the next two years; and
- Self-service check-in and biometric boarding
gates to speed up the airport journey.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and CEO,
said, “We will invest and innovate where our customers value it
most, and differentiate ourselves with a unique on-board
experience and service. We’re investing in Club World, focusing
now on improved catering and sleep and in the future on a new
seat. We’re investing in the best Wi-Fi in the sky, new lounges
and direct access to security and our lounges for our First
customers, via our new First Wing at Heathrow. We’re also aligning
our business class cabin and service across all our flight by
introducing Club Europe on domestic flights.”
British Airways launched its exclusive new
‘First Wing’ check-in area for First customers at Heathrow
Terminal 5 on 5 April. It includes a dedicated two-lane security
channel and direct access to the Galleries First Lounge and
Concorde Room for the first time. The two new security lanes also
reduce the number of travellers passing through the current South
security lanes, helping to speed up the journey for Club World
customers too. A relaxed seating area is located after security
for customers to gather their possessions in an unhurried
The First Wing gives First customers and Gold
Executive Club members far greater privacy and exclusivity with a
dedicated combined check-in and Fast Track space.
The airline will be investing £400 million in
Club World business class which will enhance the experience of
dining at 38,000 feet and deliver a better night’s sleep when
flying with British Airways.
From June, new catering will be introduced to
the Heathrow business class lounges to improve food quality and
extend the breakfast service to 11am.
In the air from July, fresh new linen,
bigger pillows designed for sleep comfort, a soft mattress and
duvet to give customers all they need for a great night’s sleep
will be supplied.
From September, a new restaurant-style premium
dining service will begin in Club World business class, with
display trolleys allowing customers to select dishes from a choice
of freshly prepared starters and desserts served on new table
settings. A revamped service approach will be delivered to
customers with a new culinary boutique experience.
These changes will launch on flights between
London Heathrow and New York JFK, before being rolled out across
the rest of the long-haul network during 2018.
The airline is also looking at options for a new
seat in Club World with direct aisle access in 2019. Details have
not yet been released.
Club Europe Business
The changes in service style will also be
reflected in the Club Europe business class on short-haul flights,
including new crockery, cabin crew pouring wine and champagne for
customers and improved menus on board, which focus more closely on
the length and time of day of the flight.
Cruz said, “Club World and Club Europe are vital
elements of what we offer and play a big part in customer
satisfaction levels. We are the only UK airline to have both
short-haul and long-haul networks and we want to ensure that
customers connecting across our network get a consistent and
distinctive British Airways experience.”
First and business class customers will notice a
change in lounges too, starting with the new complex at Gatwick
Airport's South Terminal. With sweeping views of the runway, the
new First and Club lounges have 40% more floor space than the
airline's former lounge in North Terminal.
An investment of £88 million is planned on
lounge facilities in the US. New York’s JFK Terminal 7 will
receive over £52 million worth of investment over the next two
years; a refurbishment of the First and Club World lounges as well
as improvement to the customer experience at check-in, security
and the boarding gates.
Boston’s new lounge has just opened,
coinciding with the Airbus A380 starting on the Heathrow-Boston
route. The facility is 30 larger than the previous lounge, has
direct gate access and stunning views over the stunning Boston
Next year Aberdeen and Rome’s lounges will
be revamped, and the lounge in Geneva will be expanded. Further
investment is planned in San Francisco, Johannesburg, Manchester
and Chicago. London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 lounges will be revamped
over the next few years, starting this month with the flagship
Concorde Room for First customers, which will have new furniture
and a refreshed look and feel.
From this month, customers in all cabins will
start to enjoy the latest generation of Wi-Fi as it’s rolled out
across British Airways’ long-haul network. Short-haul Wi-Fi will
commence later in the year when British Airways becomes the first
airline to offer connectivity using Europe’s first ever 4G
high-speed inflight network with the aim of having 90% of its
total fleet connected by 2019. Customers will be able to use their
own devices to browse the internet, access email and check social
media. In addition, they will have the ability to stream video
content from popular sites such as Netflix and YouTube.
There will be a choice of two options: Simply
Connect or Connect Plus. Customers can choose whether they connect
for one hour, four hours or the full flight. Simply Connect
supports basic web browsing, email and instant messaging with
prices from £4.99 while Connect Plus provides a faster connection
speed supporting video streaming services from £7.99.
Check-In and Biometric Boarding Gates
Technology is also helping customers to simplify
and speed up their journeys through the airport, with the opening
of the airline’s first three automated self-boarding gates for UK
domestic flights at Heathrow Terminal 5.
The automated gates use facial recognition
technology to allow customers to simply scan their boarding pass,
before walking straight onto the aircraft.
Additionally, customers are now able to
self-service bag drop at Heathrow and Gatwick, enabling them to
label and drop off their bags before proceeding through security.
Alex Cruz, said, “It’s simple really – we need
to deliver what our customers value most, where they value it
most. We need to focus on enhancing premium - offering
contemporary service, improved catering and lounges and a
consistent experience. In economy, where we know that price is the
driver, we need to focus our efforts on delivering more seats at
the lowest fares and giving customers choices. We have an exciting
time ahead. Alongside these initiatives, we’re also making changes
behind the scenes to increase operational efficiency and
reliability through new technologies including automatic boarding
gates and a re-designed baggage arrivals process. And we’re making
a commitment to achieve the highest standards of cleanliness and
equipment reliability in all our cabins. Our customers will really
notice a step-change in their travel experience with us.”
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