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British Airways will fly its new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 to Frankfurt and Stockholm from next month, prior to their inaugural international debut in September.
However, don’t go looking for either of BA’s new jets to appear on the timetable. For the first few weeks the aircraft will be swapped into the schedule as to ‘surprise and delight’ passengers.
“Travellers going to Frankfurt for example will turn up at the airport expecting to get on an A320 and they’ll see an A380 instead” Frank van der Post, BA’s Managing Director of Brands and Customer Experience, told Australian Business Traveller.
“But we don’t want to sell (those aircraft) as such” van der Post explained, “so we’re just going to continue to sell the sector as an A320 and then sometimes replace it with A380, and the same with Stockholm and the 787.”
However, van de Post allows that once the airline “starts building confidence (in the aircraft) we may do something else.”
“The trials will run for about a month, and after two weeks when we feel more confident we make make a bit more noise about it.”
Once the trials are complete, British Airways’ Boeing 787 will begin flights between London and Toronto on September 1, while the Airbus A380 will start a daily London-Los Angeles service on September 24.
October 1 will see BA’s second Dreamliner slot into the London-Newark route, with a second A380 flying to Hong Kong from October 22.
The A380 and Boeing 787 will also be seen in UK skies this month, but those flights won’t carry passengers.
“We’ll do some domestic runs runs but that’s more for training and safety reasons” van der Post said. “For example, we need to make sure there are diversion airports and that we can handle them at those airports."
BA's 'on the ground' A380 trial
The very first trial of British Airways' A380 will take place this coming Monday, July 8, with a planeload of BA staff – although the superjumbo will remain firmly on the ground
"We will bring 469 volunteer colleagues in, get everyone boarded, then bring the aircraft around to the base, close the doors and do a complete 11 hour service, to go through the entire end-to-end process" van der Post told Australian Business Traveller.
"We'll do two meal services, test the entire service routine, ask everyone to play with the IFE and really take us through the paces. We will do another one at the end of july and we will do the same with the 787, and that will hopefully give us some learnings, so we will have enough time change some things before we start flying to LA."
Inside the British Airways Airbus A380
BA's twelve A380 superjumbos will carry 469 passengers across four classes.
Most notable about BA's superjumbo seating plan is that it splits business class over two decks – the first A380 configuration to do so.
The lower deck is the domain of 14 lush first class mini-suites, which BA promises will have "extra personal and stowage space" due to the A380's wider main deck compared to the current fleet of Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s.
Back behind the curtain will sit 44 Club World business class seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, followed by 199 World Traveller economy seats arranged 3-4-3.
Upstairs are a further 56 Club World business class seats in a new 2-3-2 layout over two mini-cabins.
There's also a compact World Traveller Plus premium economy cabin of 55 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, plus 104 more World Traveller economy seats arranged 2-4-2.
BA has released a video providing the first glimpse of its A380 cabin and seats.
As Australian Business Traveller revealed last year, the superjumbo offers "an evolution of the current seat" in BA's Club World business class seat rather than an all-new design.
This includes a 2-3-2 arrangement and the alternating backwards-forwards design.
Of course, first class is as swanky as ever.
The video also shows the slim-line economy seats of the Word Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins.
Inside the British Airways Boeing 787
BA's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will carry 214 passengers divided into the predictable mix of business, premium economy and economy, with the airline continuing the trend reported by Boeing of dropping first class.
35 Club World business class seats sit at the pointy end in a new 'triple' configuration of 2-3-2, the same as upstairs on the A380. The extra space to the side of centre seats also appears on the A380 upstairs.
That's followed by 25 World Traveller Plus premium economy seats laid out 2-3-2, and 154 World Traveller economy seats split 3-3-3.
David Flynn is attending the launch of British Airways’ Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 in London as a guest of British Airways.
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