The first British Airways A380 is finally here (and how to book on the training flights!)

Well, after many years of waiting – and completely overshadowing last weeks delivery of BA’s first Boeing 787 – the first BA A380 landed at Heathrow yesterday after a short flight from the Airbus facility in Toulouse.

The first ‘proper’ flights will be to LA on 24th September, followed by Hong Kong as the second destination from 22nd October. (Plane No 2 is due in September and No 3 in October, with more to follow in 2014.)

This is the old PR shot:

A380 1

What we have seen in the last few weeks is the start of a major fleet renewal programme. The next few years will see the delivery of:

  • 12 x A380’s
  • 42 x Boeing 787’s
  • 6 x Boeing 777’s (Extended Range version)
  • 18 x A350’s

The downside of all this is the phasing out of the Boeing 747’s, although they will remain in the fleet for a good while yet, albeit in reducing numbers.

From the official statement:

Keith Williams, British Airways’ CEO, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first of our A380s to the fleet, joining our new 787s.

“These aircraft are the start of a new era for British Airways. Over the next 15 months, we will take delivery of new aircraft at the rate of one a fortnight as we put ourselves at the forefront of modern aviation.

“The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board.”

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 per cent more personal space and 60 per cent more personal stowage.

Club World (business class) customers 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 (premier economy) seats will be located on the upper deck while World Traveller (economy) customers can choose seats on both the main and upper deck. Customers travelling in both World Traveller and World Traveller Plus will be able to enjoy the new cabins and seats that have proved so popular on our 777-300ER fleet.

The aircraft’s innovative design makes it much quieter during take-off and landing and 16 per cent 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.

Both aircraft types will now begin a complex ‘entry into service’ programme, which will see pilot and cabin crew training taking place at Manston Airport in Kent, customer service trials at Heathrow and short-haul flying for both aircraft, including flights within the UK.

If you are interested in flying the A380, the current best rumour information on Flyertalk is that they will be replacing the Boeing 767 that flies to Frankfurt during August. (The timetable has been changed to show a 100 minute turnaround time, which is suspicious!)

Unfortunately, this flight departs Heathrow at 06.45! It lands in Frankfurt at 09.30, and flies back to London at 11.10, landing at Heathrow at 11.50. For now, it still shows as a Boeing 767.

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Comments

  1. James67 says:

    BA of old would have been a gamechanger with their a380 … this shows just how far they have fallen … 7 or 8 across in J compared to 4 on SQ and an even more impressive offset 4 on TG! BA clearly the worst a380 around, a retrofit must surely be inevitable already. Still, a good replacement for the fantastic 748s but BA needs more of them, 12 is a joke. I hope a350s will replace totally the horrible noisy 777s whicb has poor ambiance in all cabins but especially in economy with those airlines seating 10 across. As for 787, imo it is just too small and cramped for longhaul flights and with ongoing reports of safety issues I hope I dont have to fly it anytime soon. Keeping it a secret is a good idea.

    • To be honest I find NGCW very comfortable (though F is obviously better :-). Having to step over someone’s legs to get out isn’t great, but if it the seating density helps BA to compete with airlines that have a lower cost base that’s a small price to pay. It’s not really 7 or 8 across in the sense that the Ying Yang configuration provides greater width where you need it, across the shoulders and when seated upright, at the expense of less where you don’t.

      The SQ seats are often said to be too wide when seated upright, and you have to sleep diagonally across them due to a much lower seat pitch (55 inches vs 73 inches for BA) so your comparison is not quite a fair one.

      The 787s will be great for emerging destinations where BA would not be able to fill larger aircraft. Small does not necessarily mean cramped, though I agree 9 abreast in Y is not attractive for a long flight. The small J cabins on the other hand are a definite plus. Size wise the 787-10s will be more similar to BA’s 777-200 fleet than the A350-1000s, the latter making good replacements for most of the 747 fleet where the an A380 would be difficult to fill profitably.

      • James67 says:

        Actually I am in agreement with much of what you say. I too find CW rather comfortable and enjoy the privacy it offers when flying solo. But it does have a cramped feel affecting cabin ambiance. I have flew the SQ a380 J seat twice and to be honest I dislike ot. The seat pitch to width ratio actually feels somewhat peculiar. As an averaged sized person I found the seat uncomgortable. Ot had zero contpurs and I slid all over it. I guess larger build pax make like it though. The SQ cabin though feels more spacious with nicer ambiance. I guess I am just disappointed we got nothing new from BA. I will try Thai for first time later this year. I tjink theor seat and layout looks impressive for both couples and solos. In Decber I will get to try MH which seems much more convenyional.

  2. Jules Verne says:

    This seat (from the photos links above) doesn’t look good:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/businesstraveller/9206834315/in/set-72157634487851062/
    Two entertainment boxes underneath the one seat!..Really???!!

    • Definitely not good. You’d think in this day and age they would have found a way to shrink them and/or put them somewhere that doesn’t impede on already limited passenger space.

    • Is the photo is of the economy seat ? It must be.

      • Forget the above I can now view the picture better. I had a senior moment (wrong glasses)

      • Yes, looks like an upper deck economy seat with the side storage.

  3. Jules Verne says:

    Will be interesting to see how the people in the rear facing Business Class middle seat get served…looks like the crew will be doing a bit of leaning over the other passengers. I can’t tell if that would be a good seat or not.

    • I believe the correct way to serve the window seat is through the divider, so no different to now. You do get some crew peering round the back wall but that’s not how they are meant to do it.

      They push the button, divider goes down, serve, walk off, leaving you to raise it again.

      I think the problem will be which side serves the middle seat and you end up getting forgotten about.

  4. Lady London says:

    2:3:2 layout in Business Class? I like 1:2:1 better!
    Is any other airline putting more then 2 seats together in Business Class on the 380?

    • Emirates is 2x4x2 upstairs. However, the design is clever and the middle seats can be entered without climbing over the aisle passenger. The trade off is that the aisle seats have less leg room, to create a little walkthrough to reach the middle.

  5. Neil Clarke says:

    Going to miss the upper deck 747 experience though. I know people say it gets too hot and the 380 has an upper deck but its just not the same!
    Personally i will be booking as much 747 time as i can in the coming year because i will miss her.

  6. Thywillbedone says:

    Looks like same small PTVs in club…I have given up using these in favour of my iPhone as the pixelation is terrible and with reflections off the screen I start to feel I am going blind! New colour scheme looks better…hopefully the whole thing will feel less plasticky.