Behind at the scenes of the British Airways A350 arrival event

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This is the first of two posts about the British Airways A350 arrival event.  In this article I will focus on the event whilst the second article will be a closer look at the Club Suite itself.

To celebrate the arrival of the aircraft, and to give us our first glimpse of the new Club Suite, British Airways invited us down to Heathrow last Friday.  The plan was to catch the first A350 arriving from the Airbus factory in Toulouse where it had been completing its flight testing.

With Rob unavailable due to family commitments I headed up to Heathrow myself – although I didn’t get off at any of the terminals. Due to the busy nature of the airport the event took place at one of BA’s many aircraft hangars, which involves getting off at Hatton Cross and walking through an industrial wasteland to its flight training centre.

Unfortunately – as you may have seen – the original event was cancelled. Serious issues with the air traffic control radar operations meant there was congestion at Heathrow. This wasn’t helped by the leftover disruption from Thursday’s thunder storms. In the end, British Airways prudently decided to postpone the arrival of an empty A350 in favour of passenger services.

With the A350 on scheduled operations to Madrid from the 5th August, however, British Airways needed the aircraft (and its crew!) back as soon as possible. It was flown in with little fanfare on Saturday, as you can see in this video:

…. whilst the press event and aircraft walk-through was rescheduled for today (Monday).

This time, everything went to plan. We were shuttled airside to one of the BA hangars, which had been partitioned off. It was beautifully decorated:

BA A350 Arrival event

We were offered drinks and a light lunch before entering this large ominous looking black box:

BA A350 Arrival event

…. which was home to a 360 degree video projection and laser show. British Airways has very helpfully uploaded a video about it:

Sajida Ismail, head of inflight product, then gave a short speech.

BA A350 arrival event Sajida Ismail

Bringing the A350 into service understandably takes a huge amount of collaboration between departments, with engineering, logistics, design groups and product experience people all working together to deliver the aircraft.  The post delivery phase of a new aircraft launch requires a lot of work before it can enter service and the engineering teams managed to squeeze an already short schedule into an even tighter one to allow this press event to re-run.

After Sajida Ismail’s short speech the aircraft was towed from its stand at engineering:

BA A350 Arrival event

The 22 cabin crew and pilots who ferried the aircraft from Toulouse on Saturday also emerged for a quick photo opportunity:

BA A350 Arrival event cabin crew

It is always surprising how large these planes are. It is hard to get a good sense of scale from airport terminals but, standing on the ground, it becomes clear what behemoths they are. Here I am, next to the Rolls Royce engines:

BA A350 Arrival event

After a few minutes we were allowed to board the aircraft and take a look inside and – most importantly – our first look at the Club Suite! To read about our first impressions of the Club Suite on the A350-1000 please click through to part two of this article.

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First impressions of British Airways Club Suite business class on the A350!
British Airways A350 press tour coverage on our Instagram feed NOW!

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  1. Shoestring says:

    it’s just a public transport bus in the air

    • You must have some nice buses where you live!

      • Shoestring says:

        Fair play to those who like this kind of thing, I hope you got a load of free Champagne & canapes, at least

        • Robert says:

          What are you doing browsing around a frequent flyer/travel focused website? It’s clearly of no interest to you.

          • He likes points and this blog is called Head for Points not Head for Planes

      • Andrew says:

        Once you’ve lived on the Islands, you soon realise that an aircraft is just a form of public transport. No different from a bus or ferry.

        My friends daughter uses one to get to High School every day. (School Fares aren’t eligible for Clan points).

    • I suppose it’s a fair comment given the name of the company: Air Bus 🙂

      That said it’s a teeny bit more than that. I think it’s a beautiful bird and I love flying. The aeronautical engineering that goes into building these busses is a tad more complicated than Boris’s bus.

      It’s a complicated business and amazing that we can board one of these busses in LHR and less than 12 hours later arrive in another airport on the other side of the world. Just 100 years ago people thought it was incredible that it was possible to fly from Croydon to Paris in only 7 hours with a stop for a spot of lunch along the way. It was proportionately a hell of a lot more expensive too compared to the cost of a ticket in today’s Club Suite.

  2. Bagoly says:

    22 staff for a short-haul ferry!

    How many do the LCCs use?
    2 pilots and 1 cabin crew to check all the doors and ovens work?

    • 4.

      Do you know many UK based cabin crew Qantas has? For their grand total of two flights per day? 600. (Rhys and I were down at their crew training base last week!)

    • ChrisC says:

      it would have formed part of the training programme. Get staff used to the layout, noises and feel for the plane as soon as possible.

      Cabin Crew need to be certified to fly on particular planes. they can’t just turn up and start work.

      It’s the same for the LCCs as well.

  3. Plane spotters rule says:

    AV geekery at its finest. I will use this stat at the next anorak convention More please. 😀

  4. Lady London says:

    What have the Americans built that’s similar?

    this Airbus plane (and the A380) makes you proud to be a European !

  5. Concerto says:

    The orchestra playing in the video doesn’t sound all that great, quite ragged in places with occasional poor intonation. Could be because of the way the arrangement of the Flower piece is written, which isn’t too great either I thought.

  6. Michael says:

    Does anyone know the tail number of this aircraft?

  7. Plane Spotters Rule says:

    A first class bit of spotting sir I salute you

  8. john russell says:

    BA is due to take 18 A350-1000’s. Taking of buses, how many do you know that have to travel through -40f any weather and carry over 350 passengers, travel over 1million miles before finally b eing changed for another one? Far from a bus thats for sure and 1000% more reliable. Engineering at its finest-pity so many have not a clue about engineering.

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