A Major Upgrade Is Coming to Some British Airways Flights This Summer

Jun 6, 2018

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Last month we learned that British Airways wants to wet lease three A330 aircraft from Qatar Airways this summer to reduce operation disruptions caused by ongoing engine issues with some Boeing 787s. Qatar Airways owns a 20% stake in IAG Group, the parent company of British Airways, and has leased BA A320s during a strike last year, so this request was not completely out of the blue. Additionally, the carrier has a lot of spare short-haul aircraft at the moment, due to the suspension of its flights to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

We now know that Qatar Airways has been approved by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to fly for British Airways and will operate the following routes:

  • BA157/156 London to Kuwait from June 9 – June 30, 2018
  • BA79/80 London to Muscat from June 9 – August 20, 2018
  • BA143/142 Delhi to London Heathrow from June 9 – August 20, 2018

These flights are normally operated by British Airways’ 787-9s with first class, business class, premium economy, and economy, but Qatar’s A330s which will be used for these routes only have have economy and business class. To compensate those affected by the aircraft changes, the airline will refund the difference in fare and offer the following:

  • 700GBP in travel credits or 140,000 Avios (worth $2,100 according to TPG’s latest valuations) per sector for those downgraded from First to Business
  • 400GBP in travel credits or 80,000 Avios (worth $1,200 according to TPG’s latest valuations) per sector for those downgraded from Business to Economy
  • 20,000 Avios (worth $300 according to TPG’s latest valuations) per sector for those downgraded from Premium Economy to Economy, but only for those who with at least Bronze Executive Club status

Alternatively, first, business and premium economy passengers who don’t wish to fly on a Qatar Airways-operated flight may cancel their tickets for a full refund.

Overall, these are great news for anyone affected by the equipment change — including for those in economy. Since British Airways will use the aircraft on a wet-lease basis, Qatar Airways crew will be operating the flights and passengers will experience superior food and beverage options onboard. A TPG contributor flew British Airways the last time it wet-leased planes from Qatar Airways and described it as a real upgrade for passengers.

If British Airways will be getting the -300 variant of the A330, business class passengers can expect fully flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration (British Airways’ Dreamliners have a 2-3-2 configuration). However, if its the -200s, business passengers will find themselves with angle-flat seats.

British Airways originally requested to lease the aircraft through September 30, 2018 so it’s not yet clear what will happen after August 20th.

Featured photo by turbo83 / Getty Images.

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