5 July 2013
British Airways introduced the A380 and the B787 on 4 July.... Wexas's managing director, Steve Allen, had a sneak preview of the A380 and shares his reactions below:
The first of British Airway's order for 12 A380's arrived in the UK on Thursday 4 July, along with their first of 24 Boeing Dreamliners, the 787. BA has been on a serious shopping spree as it seeks to refresh its fleet with new-generation aircraft. And there's more to follow with 18 of the next generation A350 to follow and more B777s. Willie Walsh must be feeling good about the prospects for BA for the next decade or so.
The A380s will replace some of the carrier's 747s on key long haul routes, with Los Angeles and Hong Kong this Autumn. That said, BA will be using the aircraft on a number of short-haul routes as the newly trained ground and air crews operate in earnest. A bit of practise away from the simulators!
There are now more than 100 A380s flying with 10 carriers, and so the aircraft is well established, and also delivering proven economies of scale and efficiency. The B787s are a more recent introduction to the world of commercial flying, and like most major projects have come in late and over budget. Hopefully, the recent well publicised teething problems with the batteries are well behind us, and BA (and Thomson in the UK) will find that this new model performs as well as its larger competitor, the A380.
Both aircraft are surprisingly quiet as well as economically a step-up in terms of fuel consumption per seat mile. Key considerations as we debate where we will accommodate the airport capacity that is much needed in the South-East.
BA have configured the aircraft in a neat way, dividing the aircraft thoughtfully to reduce the impact of its size . The main deck is home for First Class, with 14 seats turning left, 44 Club World seats in the standard 2-4-2 formation, and then 199 World Traveller seats (economy). There are 2 sets of stairs providing access to the upper desk where there are five sections. To the rear of the aircraft there are 104 World Traveller seats in 2 sections in a 2-4-2 formation, 53 World Traveller Plus seats in its own 'premium economy' cabin in a 2-3-2 layout, and 53 Club World seats in 2-3-2 in the front 2 cabins.
The styling is very BA - muted greys and both professional and contemporary in look and feel. Neat touches include the introduction of seat-side storage for the middle business/first class area which replaces the ceiling bins - this increases the actual cabin space available opening up the space; the creation of one premium-economy cabin upstairs which makes it a little more special; the Club World layout upstairs means that the middle seat which looks to the rear is more private; the upstairs toilets to the front of the aircraft by the stairwell are larger providing welcome room to change (although First Class passengers will have to pop up the stairs to make use of this option...); the new Recaro economy seats do boost the legroom, and I can recommend seat 25D as this has a space in front and to the side in the main cabin (provides room for the crew quarters escape hatch and more importantly for those of us with longer legs!).
There are no 'wow' factor elements on board - it's just not the BA way - unlike some of their competitors who have added a bar and even showers. However, there's real pride and excitement amongst the BA teams who have spent the last few years preparing the aircraft for service.
The A380 is a biggie for sure, but on board you really don't feel this. I for one can't wait to fly on it to California or head out east. It's going to add to the pleasure of travel.
The first official flight will be a serivce from London Heathrow to Los Angeles on 24 September 2013. In the meantime, for a glimpse inside the new British Airways A380, watch the short film below: