British Ariways

A British Airways Boeing 777-300 is arriving at London Heathrow (LHR) (image courtesy Lasse Fuss)

British Airways to LHR

It’s been decades since any airline offered nonstop service from New Orleans to London. British Airways announced that direct service, MSY to LHR, is to start next spring:

The airline will provide year-round service to London’s Heathrow Airport starting March 27. The 10-hour flights will depart New Orleans on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 3:40 p.m. central time and arrive at 7:40 a.m. London time. Passengers will travel on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which holds 214 passengers: 154 in economy class, 25 in premium economy and 35 in business.

This is a big boost for Louis Armstrong International Airport. It means more jobs, as New Orleans becomes a point of entry from the UK. Passengers coming from Canada clear ICE before departure.

B787 Service

British Airways

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner (courtesy Spaceaero2)

British Airways plans to operate Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” jets for their MSY-LHR service. The B787s replace the current BA fleet of B767s. The Dreamliner is a wide body jet, like the 767s and 777s. Thirty-five business class seats means a lot of potential for frequent flyer upgrades. I’m not sure if BA works their upgrades like Delta, but if you have status and you’re in a “premium economy” seat, you’ll be the first to get upgraded. It’s always a pleasant experience to arrive at the airport and find out you’ll be sitting up front.

Paying Customers

Getting an upgrade from coach to “up front” is nice, but it’s not what the airline wants. The airline wants paying customers in those thirty-five seats in business class. That’s why San Jose got BA service to LHR last year, instead of MSY:

The London flight is the culmination of several years of talks between British Airways and local business and tourism leaders. Last year, the airline chose to add a daily London flight to and from San Jose, Calif., instead of New Orleans, a blow to local lobbying efforts.

So, this is perfectly logical. Many of the Silly Valley companies allow their employees to book business class on flights more than eight hours. Those SJC-LHR flights no doubt are filled with full-fare passengers up front. Don’t rule out MSY as good business potential for British Airways, though. In these days of telecommuting, tech-industry employees can avoid the high cost of living in the bay area by living in a more appealing city like New Orleans.

Bottom Line to the Road Warrior

A nonstop from New Orleans to London is a long flight, about ten hours. Some travelers like the idea of getting comfortable, having dinner, then sleeping for eight hours or so, waking up at Heathrow. Others would rather fly the hour or so to ATL, or three hours to JFK, and have a shorter long haul flight across the ocean. Being able to clear ICE in New Orleans is a significant trade-off. It will be interesting to see if the flights increase in popularity, and more days are added to the schedule.

Oh, and if your return plans include staying at an airport hotel near Heathrow Terminal 5, be sure to check out the The White Horse, on Bath Road. It’s been around since 1601.

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