British Airways is the national airline of the United Kingdom.  Their name and reputation are well known in Australia due to its previous long-term alliance with our own national airline Qantas Airways.  BA was formed in 1974 from a merger with four smaller airlines – British Overseas Airways Corporation, British European Airways, Cambrian Airways, from Cardiff, and Northeast Airlines, from Newcastle-on-Tyne.

British Airways operated the supersonic Concorde aircraft, and flew the world’s first Concorde passenger service in 1976 from London to Bahrain.  Following the Air France Concorde crash in Paris and a slump in air travel following the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001, it was decided to cease Concorde operations in 2003 after 27 years of service.  The final commercial Concorde flight was from New York to London.

British Airways Crew

British Airways Crew

Airline Alliance

British Airways is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, along with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways.


British Airways has been a long-time Boeing customer but in 1998 began ordering from Airbus also, starting with 59 A320’s.  In 2007, it purchased twelve Airbus A380’s and 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, marking the beginning of its long-haul fleet replacement program.  The majority of the airline’s long-haul fleet is now made up of Airbus A320’s, with 61 of these aircraft currently in service.  BA has its own engineering department to maintain its fleet.


British Airways serves over 160 destinations, only six of those being domestic routes. It is one of the few airlines to fly to all six permanently inhabited continents.  It also has codeshare agreements with many other airlines including airBaltic, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Finnair, Iberia, JetBlue, Loganair, Meridiana Fly, Qatar Airways, S7 Airlines, US Airways and WestJet.

Cabin Classes

Most short-haul flights offer Business and Economy Class.  Flights into London Heathrow are mostly operated by Airbus A320 aircraft with a small number of peak services to Glasgow and Edinburgh operated by Boeing 767-300ERs and configured in an all-economy layout.  All flights into London Gatwick are operated by  Airbus A319 or A320 aircraft in a one-class all-economy configuration. Business Class customers who are booked onto an all-economy aircraft are given pre-flight lounge access.  In-flight entertainment is only offered on 767-300ER and some A320 aircraft.

In 2012, British Airways launched a new mid-haul product for A321s. These aircraft have been designated to serve routes such as London to Almaty, Tbilisi, Baku, Amman, Beirut and Tel Aviv.  The business class on these narrow-body aircraft is different to the product operated on the rest of BA’s long-haul fleet: a 1–2 configuration of 23 seats is used to allow for enough leg room and space for flat bed seats. All seats are fitted with an in-flight entertainment system.

Long-Haul flights offer First Class, Club World (Business Class), World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy Class).

First is offered on all Airbus A380’s, all Boeing 747-400’s, some Boeing 777-200’s and all Boeing 777-300ER’s.  Over 80% of BA’s long haul fleet are fitted with the very latest First cabin and they are continuing to invest in the rest of their fleet. You can be certain to experience it on flights between London Heathrow and Lagos, New York JFK, Shanghai, Tokyo Haneda, Tokyo Narita, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo (subject to availability).

There are fourteen private cabins per aircraft each with a 6’6″ bed with quilted mattress, cotton duvet and pillow, a 15 inch tv screen and in-seat power for laptops and other electronic devices.  The amenities kit has a range of premium skincare products including eye gel, lip balm and moisturiser which come in a signature Anya Hindmarch bag, exclusively designed for British Airways First.  BA prides itself on its First Class meal service which is available whenever you’re ready.  Choose from an a la carte menu or a range of lighter options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.  On the ground, there are dedicated First Class Check-In counters at most airports, fast track security at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and New York JFK, fast track arrival at London Heathrow for non-EU passport holders, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance and access to a private concierge when flying through London Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York JFK (subject to being booked within fourteen days either side of your flight).

British Airways First Class

British Airways, First Class Cabin

Club World is the long-haul Business Class on Boeing 767, 777, 787, 747-400 and Airbus A318 and A380 aircraft and features 6-foot fully flat beds with memory foam headrest and quilted blanket, Elemis amenity kit and power supply for laptops and other electronic devices.  There’s also a personal ten-inch tv screen and noise-cancelling headphones.  The Club World cabins are configured with aisle seats facing forwards while middle and window seats face backwards.  On the ground there is dedicated check-in desks, priority boarding, fast track security at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and New York JFK, fast track arrival at London Heathrow for non-EU passport holders, priority boarding and extra baggage allowance.

British Airways Business Class

British Airways, Club World (Business Class)

World Traveller Plus is the Premium Economy offering provided on all long-haul aircraft except the Airbus A318, with wider seats and more legroom, full bar service, personal entertainment screen with noise-cancelling headphones, power sockets and extra baggage allowance.  You’ll also get a comfy cushion, blanket and amenity kit with toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks and eye mask.  There’s also an extra baggage allowance.  The World Traveller Plus experience is getting an upgrade with the new cabin now available on the A380’s, Boeing 787’s and Boeing 777-300ER’s.  Refurbishment is currently happening for the Boeing 777-200’s and 767’s.

World Traveller is the Economy Class offered on international flights to destinations outside Europe.  It has seat-back entertainment and complimentary bar service with your meals.  World Traveller also includes a few extra features including a comfy cushion, blanket, toothbrush and toothpaste — plus flight socks and an eye mask on request.  AV on Demand is on all A380’s, 747’s, long-haul 767’s and all 777’s and 787’s.  On the Airbus A380, AC power outlets are at every seat, accepting both UK and US plugs.  World Traveller is also getting a makeover with new cabin interior, seats with greater recline and 35% larger flat entertainment screen.  Just as with World Traveller Plus, the new cabin is now available on the A380’s, Boeing 787’s and Boeing 777-300ER’s.  Refurbishment is currently happening for the Boeing 777-200’s and 767’s.

British Airways World Traveller (Economy Class)

British Airways World Traveller Class (Economy)
Picture by: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

Airport Lounges

The Galleries First Lounge for First Class passengers and Emerald OneWorld members aims for an elegant, welcoming environment with entertainment and work zones offering internet access, printers, copiers and fax machines so you can continue to work throughout your time at the airport.  You can enjoy waiter service dining in the lounge before some flights. Pre-flight dining is available if you are departing from London Heathrow after 8pm and on selected overnight flights from New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, Toronto, Chicago and Boston departing after 6pm local time.

First Class passengers are also invited to the Concorde Room – a luxurious lounge exclusive to London Heathrow Terminal 5 and New York JFK Terminal 7, with discreet booths, full waiter service, private cabanas (Heathrow only) and a state-of-the-art business suite.

British Airways Concorde room

British Airways Concorde Room, Heathrow. Photo by Stuart Bailey

The Galleries Lounge is for Business Class passengers and Emerald & Sapphire OneWorld members.  Light meals or snacks are specially prepared for you, with some flights offering the opportunity to dine in the lounge, maximising your sleep on board.  There are work and entertainment zones for catching up on last minute emails, or at London Heathrow you can watch live sport or selected entertainment in the 20 seat cinema.  The Terraces Lounge is also for Business Class passengers and has similar services available.

British Airways and Elemis Spa have worked together to make spa treatments available at London Heathrow and New York JFK.  A complimentary 15 minute treatment menu is available if you are travelling in the First or Club World cabins or you are a Gold card member flying long-haul, when you use the lounges at London and New York.  Treatments can be booked 28 days in advance if you are travelling First Class and on a first-come, first-served basis for other passengers.

On arrival into London Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5, step off the plane and into the Arrivals lounge to get ready for the day ahead. Facilities include dining options, showers and a clothes-pressing service.  Access available to First and Business Class passengers and Gold Executive Club Member, arriving on a British Airways long-haul flight.  Capacity is limited so Gold Club Members are not able to bring guests in with them.  Open Daily from 5am-2pm.

Frequent Flyer Program

British Airways’ frequent flyer program is called Executive Club.

Fact Sheet:

Hub Cities: London Heathrow, London Gatwick
Frequent Flyer Program: Executive Club
Airline Alliance: OneWorld
Fleet Size: 295
Destinations: 183 (not including subsidiaries)