British Airways, the legacy option

British Airways has been flying to and from Nice since 1946. Now 66 years later, more Gatwick flights are added to their Nice-London routes.

British Airways Patrick Malval British Airways' French Director, Patrick Malval presenting the company to journalists in NIceAll airlines combined, London is the second destination out of Nice Cote d'Azur, after Paris.  In 2011 British Airways carried almost 550 000 passengers from here to Heathrow and London City (where 15 BA aircraft are based). The company expects to carry up to 620,000 pax between Nice and London in 2012.

Patrick Malval, BA's French Director, recently presented the airline and its offers at a press conference in Nice.

The Gatwick Connection

The new morning flight to Gatwick (dep 07h05) now allows easy connections to Caribbean and Florida destinations such as Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Tampa and Orlando as well as Mauritius and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Gatwick is London's second airport but the North Terminal was becoming dated so BA has invested £73m to make traveling a more enjoyable and efficient experience for their passengers there. The self check-in option is already used by 3 out of 4 passengers and the revamp prompted IATA to award Gatwick their "Gold Award" for modernisation. 

British Airways Gatwick ZoneABritish Airways Gatwick ZoneATerminal 5 at Heathrow (the UK's largest free standing building) holds the Skytrax top airport passenger satisfaction rating and, after a difficult startup, is now widely regarded as a quality benchmark for the world airport industry. The Skytrax poll studied the world's 388 leading airports. Heathrow also has the highest retail sales of any airport in the world and was again ranked "Best Airport for Shopping" in April by the independent World Airport Awards. Retail turnover at Heathrow topped £1.5bn in 2011. 

All together now

The IAG Group which owns BA and Iberia has just bought BMI and code shares with American Airlines. So now, whatever the route and whatever the IAG airline, Avios (air-miles in old-speak) can be cross used. Through-booking from A-Z across the carriers can be handled in one go on www.ba.com. The Iberia connection especially offers many South American destinations to the traveling public.

British Airways route GraphicThe British Airways Network

Show me the money!

The prevailing notion is that low-cost carriers such as easyJet invariably offer better prices than legacy carriers such as British Airways. Careful comparison - now very easy on line - shows this is far from true in many cases. 

If you only travel with a small hand bag, don't really care where you sit, find Heathrow inconvenient for your final destination and book just at the right time, the orange option is certainly not to be ruled out. But if, like me, you travel with both hand and checked baggage, like an aisle or window seat, find Heathrow or London City Airport convenient, have a long haul connection or aren't too keen on orange livery then you should be including British Airways in your search for the best value. In a surprising number of cases the legacy carrier is in fact cheaper or very little more for that extra comfort some of us value.

A recent report outlined in the Daily Mail showed that once ancillary revues and extra charges are added, budget airlines can cost families £87 more per booking than mainstream carriers. On the BA site, the price you see initially is what you pay for your chosen seat number with hand baggage and a 23kg checked baggage allowance (35kg in Business Class). On some budget carriers, the final ticket price is usually not nearly as transparent (think Ryanair especially) and it's not until you've navigated through the booking process that you really know how much you will pay.

British Airways, the numbers.

BA carries about 40 million passengers a year to over 140 destinations in 70 countries worldwide. The airline's premier destination out of Heathrow is New York with a flight between the two cities almost every hour (18 a day). The fleet consists of 250 aircraft with 50 on order, including 12 Airbus 380s. BA employs over 41,000 people. The 1211 pilots flew 345,655 flights in the past year alone for a total of 321 million miles.

The British legacy carrier's annual turn-over is over £8bn and around £5bn in investment has been earmarked for expansion and development. 

Queen's Jubilee and London Olympics, here we come!

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Links:
British Airways
London Heathrow Airport
London Gatwick Airport
London City (LCY) Airport
Daily Mail comparison article

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