By John Lampl
11:15 AM EDT, September 24, 2013
British Airways’ first A380 is to land at LAX on Tuesday, becoming the sixth international airline to launch service using the big jet.
The new jet, flying what British Airways is calling the "red carpet route," is expected to arrive at LAX at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. It is to depart from L.A. to London at 9:30 p.m., arriving at London's Heathrow the next day at 3:45 p.m.The A380, the largest commercial jetliner in service, will land at Tom Bradley International Terminal, which reopened Sept. 18. Nine of the 18 larger boarding gates at the terminal have opened and can accommodate the bigger craft and its passenger load.
The British Airways’ airliner carries 469 passengers in four cabins. First class will be at the front of the main deck and will offer 14 seats/suites. Business class (Club World) customers may choose from 44 seats on the main deck (2-4-2 seating configuration) or 53 seats (2-3-2 seating configuration) on the upper deck.
The 55 Premium Economy seats (World Traveller Plus) are on the upper deck. Economy customers (World Traveller) can choose seats on either the main deck or upper deck.
For first- and business-class passengers, British Airways has teamed up with the Langham Hotel, London. First-class passengers get a five-course tasting menu offering such dishes as poached lobster, seared scallops and braised pork belly, coupled with distinctive ingredients including goji berries and pak choi.
In business, the menu features a starter, main course and dessert. Customers may choose from such menu options as Oxspring cured ham, filet of beef with parsley crust and a milk chocolate bar with salted macadamia nuts.
Afternoon tea out of London in first class will offer a range of sandwiches, artisan pastries and warm homemade scones, inspired by the range of treats offered at Palm Court at the Langham, famed as the birthplace of afternoon tea over 140 years ago.
Why Los Angeles is so high on British Airways’ radar has to do with competition, partnerships and profile.
”Airlines must be very careful about what aircraft they put on what routes in today’s competitive climate,” said Henry Harteveldt, a San Francisco-based travel industry analyst. “In this case, the L.A.-London route exemplifies the high value and strength of British Airway’s trade and customer loyalty in Southern California as well as the success of British Airways’ joint business agreement with American Airlines as the two carriers can feed each other business at both ends of the route.”
Sean Doyle, executive vice president Americas, British Airways, said, the LAX-Heathrow service is the second most valuable route in the U.S. for British Airways.
The new aircraft also raises BA’s profile. “The A380 is garnering a lot of interest and attention in the travel agent and corporate travel manager community, both in Southern California and the U.K., said Frank van der Post, British Airways’ director of customer brands and experience.
“We are doing everything possible from special catering, new interior decor, innovative pricing and specially trained staffing at LAX so that the A380 will greatly benefit and enhance our position on this highly competitive route.”
And for travelers, it could mean lower fares. “With the approaching winter season combined with the increased capacity and lift, we’re hopeful for our customers that prices may actually come down as the airline will have so many seats to fill, especially in the business class and economy cabins,” said Rob Kovacs, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Cassis Travel Services of West Hollywood.
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