British Airways – General Information
Founded in 1974, British Airways is the largest airline in the United Kingdom and the second largest in Europe after Air France - KLM, with more flights across the Atlantic Ocean than any other airline. Only in 2008, British Airways lost its high position as the largest airline in the UK, measured in passengers.
British Airways is a founding member of the alliance Oneworld (1998). Moreover, combined flights with the other members of Oneworld - American Airlines, Cathay, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev, Qantas, Royal Jordanian - British Airways has similar arrangements with Aer Lingus (flights from / to Belfast, Cork and Dublin ), Air China, BMI (for flights previously performed by British Mediterranean Airways and connecting flights from Leeds), Brussels Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Flybe, Loganair (for connecting flights in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow).
Main Headquarter and Flights
The main base of the airline is London Heathrow and Gatwick airports where there is an extended and dense network of flights to all parts of the world.
From the end of March 2008, British Airways moved about 50% of its activity at airport "Heathrow“at the new Terminal 5. Since the beginning of 2009 probably all British Airways flights from this airport perform from Terminal 5, with exception of the flights to Barcelona, Helsinki, Lisbon, Madrid, Bangkok, Singapore and Sydney, which will be directed to Terminal 3.
British Airways performs daily flights from Sofia to London (Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5) and back. The company flies three times weekly from Varna to London Airport, Gatwick (North Terminal).
For many years British Airways fleet consisted mainly of Boeing, but at the end of 1998 the airline ordered its first planes Airbus. However, for its overseas and the longest flights the airline uses Boeing 747-400. It is the largest "operator" of such machines in the world. In March 2006, the average age of the fleet of British Airways was 9.7 years, and currently the fleet of the British Airways consists of 231 aircraft Airbus and Boeing.
British Airways offers between two and four classes on international flights. World Traveller (economy class) and Club World (business class) are available for all flights. Most planes also offer World Traveller Plus (economy plus) and First (first class).
First class on long flights is only available for the planes Boeing 747, Boeing 777 and chosen Boeing 767. It has 14 semi-cabins with normal beds, power supply for laptop, personal telephone, and entertainment programs. Food is served on request, and at certain airports there are separate counters for check-in, otherwise the counters of Club World Class should be used.
Club World is the business class for long flights, which guarantees access to business lounges in many airports, as well as wider seats and a given number of beds in the plane.
World Traveller and World Traveller Plus are the two basic economy class offered on international flights by British Airways. The difference between the two is in the amount of seats – in World Traveller Plus they are wider, and a power supply for laptop is offered.
Flights within Europe
The food in the economy class Euro Traveller depends on the destination. Entertainment programs are offered only to airplanes having the right equipment.
Club Europe is the business class of British Airways, which is available for all short flights. The passengers have access to business lounges at almost all airports, as well as breakfast and afternoon tea during the flight. In Club Europe the seats are 5 instead of 6, 2 +3 configurations with a mini seat between the first and the second. The row can be rearranged in a 3 +3 configuration.
Frequent Flyer Program
The primary frequent flyer program of British Airways is Executive Club, as it is part of the programs in the alliance Oneworld. The levels of membership in this "club" are three - blue, silver and gold. To join the club, one must be 18 years or older, must have purchased a ticket or have traveled in one of the designated tariff classes for the last 3 months.
The advantages of the silver and gold card include access to lounges at certain airports, and special counters for bookings. Unlike other similar programs Executive Club has separate accounts for reimbursable miles with British Airways and for the loyalty points. Thus flying in a higher class, such as the economy class with more accommodative conditions, business or first class can get both miles and points given that the points are taken only for certain flights. Tickets with discounts for the economy class carry only 25% of the miles but no points. The Executive Club membership is extended annually upon presenting an appropriate number of points acquired. For example, to get the silver card one need 4 flights in the economy class with more accommodative conditions between the United Kingdom and East coast of the United States. The required amount of points for gold and silver card also varies across countries, which often makes some loyal customers of the company to change their address with one in Europe in order to qualify with fewer points. It is important to be understood that the recoverable miles expire after 36 months lack of activity by the passenger.
Another program of British Airways is called Premier program which gives way more benefits and even a golden card in the Executive Club. However, one only can enter with an invitation from the airline. Currently the members are around 1200.
With Frequent flyer card of Air France-KLM one can collect points from flights with the other airlines in the alliance.