In other premium news, British Airways launched its exclusive new ‘First Wing’ check-in area for First customers at Heathrow Terminal 5 on 5 April. It includes a dedicated two-lane security channel and direct access to the Galleries First Lounge and Concorde Room for the first time. The two new security lanes also reduce the number of travellers passing through the current South security lanes, helping to speed up the journey for Club World customers too. A relaxed seating area is located after security for customers to gather their possessions in an unhurried atmosphere.
The First Wing gives First customers and Gold Executive Club members far greater privacy and exclusivity with a dedicated combined check-in and Fast Track space.
The airline will be investing SGD696 million (£400 million) in Club World business class which will enhance the experience of dining at 38,000 feet and deliver an excellent night’s sleep when flying with British Airways. From June, new catering will be introduced to the Heathrow business class lounges to improve food quality and extend the breakfast service to 11am. In the air from July, fresh new linen, bigger pillows designed for sleep comfort, a soft mattress and duvet to give customers all they need for a great night’s sleep will be supplied.
From September, a new restaurant-style premium dining service will begin in Club World business class, with display trolleys allowing customers to select dishes from a choice of freshly prepared starters and desserts served on beautiful new table settings. A revamped service approach will be delivered to customers with a new culinary boutique experience.
The changes in service style will also be reflected in the Club Europe business class on short-haul flights, including new crockery, cabin crew pouring wine and champagne for customers and improved menus on board, which focus more closely on the length and time of day of the flight.
First and business class customers will notice a change in lounges too, starting with the new complex at Gatwick Airport's South Terminal. With sweeping views of the runway, the new First and Club lounges have 40 per cent more floor space than the airline's former lounge in North Terminal.
From April, customers in all cabins will start to enjoy the latest generation of Wi-Fi as it’s rolled out across British Airways’ long-haul network. Short-haul Wi-Fi will commence later in the year when British Airways becomes the first airline to offer connectivity using Europe’s first ever 4G high-speed inflight network with the aim of having 90 percent of its total fleet connected by 2019.
Customers will be able to use their own devices to browse the internet, access email and check social media. In addition, they will have the ability to stream video content from popular sites such as Netflix and YouTube.
There will be a choice of two options: Simply Connect or Connect Plus. Customers can choose whether they connect for one hour, four hours or the full flight. Simply Connect supports basic web browsing, email and instant messaging with prices from SGD8.70 (£4.99) while Connect Plus provides a faster connection speed supporting video streaming services from SGD13.90 (£7.99).
Technology is also helping customers to simplify and speed up their journeys through the airport, with the opening of the airline’s first three automated self-boarding gates for UK domestic flights at Heathrow Terminal 5. The automated gates use facial recognition technology to allow customers to simply scan their boarding pass, before walking straight onto the aircraft. British Airways colleagues will still be on hand to help customers who need a little extra assistance.
Additionally, customers are now able to self-service bag drop at Heathrow and Gatwick, enabling them to label and drop off their bags before proceeding through security.