British Airways to trial virtual reality entertainment on flights to New York

British Airways will be bringing First customers a 3D cinema in the skies through virtual reality headsets on select flights, photographed at London Heathrow on 25 July 2019
(Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

British Airways customers will be transported to their own 3D cinema in the skies as the airline exclusively trials a new virtual reality headset in a UK first.

From now until the end of 2019, customers travelling on select flights in First from London Heathrow to New York JFK will be able to enjoy a selection of award-winning films, documentaries and travel programmes in 2D, 3D or 360° formats.

The headsets from VR eyewear specialists, SkyLights, allow customers to fully immerse themselves in 3D view regardless of the position they are sat in. The experience even works when they are lying fully flat.

British Airways is the first UK airline to trial the technology and has worked with experts to select a range of therapeutic programmes, including guided meditation and sound therapy, specifically designed for customers who have a fear of flying.

Sajida Ismail, Head of Inflight Product at British Airways, said: “We are always looking at the latest technology to enhance our customers’ experience on the ground and in the air. Virtual reality has the power to revolutionise in-flight entertainment and we’re really excited to trial these new glasses as they should create a unique and memorable journey for our First customers”.

The AlloSky virtual reality headsets are designed by SkyLights, a former alumni of British Airways’ parent company IAG’s Hangar 51 start-up accelerator programme.

Earlier this year, British Airways trialled the technology at Heathrow Terminal 5, giving customers a glimpse of the Club World cabin through virtual reality.

2019 is British Airways’ centenary year. The airline has launched BA 2119: Flight of the Future, a first-of-its-kind exhibition at Saatchi Gallery throughout August, British Airways’ birthday month. The exhibition, in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, is based on global research commissioned by British Airways to identify what aviation could look like in the future. It is also showcasing Fly, a virtual reality experience tracing humankind’s relationship to flying from the earliest imaginings of Leonardo da Vinci and his ornithopter, to the Wright Brothers’ success on Kitty Hawk and the first passenger flight to Paris. Users can also experience Concorde, the brand new A350 and the imagined flight of future.

British Airways is investing £6.5 billion for its customers over five years, including the installation of the best quality Wi-Fi and power in every aircraft seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline has introduced its Club Suite, a new business class seat with direct aisle access. British Airways is also hosting a range of activities and events throughout the year to explore the future of sustainable aviation fuels and the aviation careers of the future.


Cathay Pacific Announces Senior Management Changes

© Image Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific announced today the following management changes, effective from 19th August

  • Mr. Augustus Tang appointed Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Mr. Rupert Hogg.
  • Mr. Ronald Lam appointed Chief Customer and Commercial Officer, succeeding Mr. Paul Loo.  Ronald Lam will remain Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Express until a successor has been appointed.

The Board of Directors of Cathay Pacific announced that it has accepted the resignation of Rupert Hogg as Chief Executive Officer and Paul Loo as Chief Customer and Commercial Officer.  At a Board meeting today, Augustus Tang was appointed Chief Executive Officer and Ronald Lam was appointed Chief Customer and Commercial Officer.  The Board of Directors believes that it is the right time for new leadership to take Cathay Pacific forward and that Augustus Tang and Ronald Lam, both of whom are highly experienced executives with long careers at Cathay Pacific, are ideally suited to lead the company.

John Slosar, Chairman of Cathay Pacific, commented, “Augustus Tang and Ronald Lam have the experience and depth of knowledge of aviation and our people to be strong and effective leaders of Cathay Pacific at this sensitive time. Hong Kong is a fantastic home for our airline.  It is a world class city and has a premium airport which is the biggest international passenger and cargo hub in Asia.  Cathay Pacific has a relentless focus on standards of safety and care, and an unrivalled reputation for customer service.”

Mr. Hogg stated, “It has been my honour to lead the Cathay Pacific Group over the last three years.  I am confident in the future of Hong Kong as the key aviation hub in Asia. However, these have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company.”

Mr. Slosar added, “Rupert Hogg and his team executed the three-year Transformation Programme which has been important to Cathay Pacific’s recovery and provides a strong platform for continued development. However, recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure.  This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority.  We therefore think it is time to put a new management team in place who can reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights.  Cathay Pacific is fully committed to Hong Kong under the principle of ‘One Country Two Systems’ as enshrined in the Basic Law.  We are confident that Hong Kong will have a great future.”


Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft has landed in London

© Image Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft has landed in London for the final finishing touches before its inaugural flight.

Named ‘Red Velvet’, it will be painted with one of the airline’s new flying icons and will fly to New York for the first time in September.

Red Velvet is the first of 12 Airbus A350 aircraft that the airline has ordered, with the second – Mamma Mia – due to arrive soon. Both aircraft will operate flights between London and New York .

Why Red Velvet?

You might be wondering where the name Red Velvet has come from. Virgin Atlantic has always given its planes unique names, based on the official aircraft registration codes.

Liz East, from Virgin Atlantic’s design team, explains how aircraft receive their names: “Once we have a confirmed order of new aircraft, the internal brand team are given the task of looking at both potential names and registrations. It’s a bit of a complex process and not as easy as just thinking of a list of fun names (though that helps!).

“It’s no good coming up with a fabulous name if there’s not an available registration that will work with it. With all our registrations starting with G-V that leaves three letters to play with. Sometimes we can spell a word beginning with V – for example, G-VAST, Ladybird. But the majority of the time we just have three letters to make a connection to a name. Plus, the last two letters will be the aircraft’s unique call sign, so cannot be the same as the last two letters of any other registration in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.”

© Image Virgin Atlantic

Red Velvet’s registration code is G-VLUX, so the team were in search of something uniquely red and luxurious. Inspired by the afternoon teas served onboard, they came up with Red Velvet – the perfect luxury treat.

Read Richard Branson’s blog on naming planes to find out more about the history of plane names at Virgin Atlantic.

Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more and book your seat on an Airbus A350 now.

© Image Virgin Atlantic


Well done – British Airways Holidays has stopped selling tickets for SeaWorld and other attractions that feature captive wild animal


British Airways Holidays has  announced a new long-term partnership with leading international wildlife charity Born Free

British Airways Holidays has been working with Born Free over the last year to develop a new animal welfare strategy which launched on August 8, 2019.

© Image

The strategy, which outlines British Airways Holidays policy in relation to wildlife, sees the travel company commit to never promoting the captivity of wild animals and discouraging its hotel partners from doing so.

© Image BA

All attractions where captive wild animals are central to the attraction have been removed from its website,

While it will continue to offer customers the opportunity to book rooms in certain hotels that keep wild animals onsite, customers will not be able to book tickets for any animal attractions through British Airways Holidays. These hotels will be clearly labelled as keeping wild animals onsite in captivity to allow customers to make an informed choice when booking their holiday.

Claire Bentley, Managing Director of British Airways Holidays said:

“Our customers tell us they have concerns about wild animals being kept in captivity, and increasingly see animal performances in particular as outdated.  We are delighted to have worked with Born Free to develop our new strategy which allows our customers to make more informed choices and we are contacting all our hotel and attraction partners about our new approach.”

The new policy is being announced at the same time as Born Free launches its new global online alert system, giving customers the opportunity to report captive animal suffering. Supported by British Airways Holidays, Raise the Red Flag not only allows people to make the charity aware of potential cases that may require its help but will also raise awareness of sites animal lovers may want to avoid, both in the UK and abroad.

© Image C Sillero

Dr. Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity, at Born Free said:

“We are delighted that as part of our new and exciting partnership, British Airways Holidays has committed to supporting both the creation of a new sanctuary space for rescued wild animals and to support our new initiative Raise the Red Flag.

Raise the Red Flag allows members of the public to make Born Free aware of captive wild animal welfare concerns, while equipping people with the tools to take action. It’s the first time any major travel company has truly supported an active initiative to help wild animals and we applaud British Airways Holidays for taking this bold stance.”

Further details of the new sanctuary space for rescued big cats in South Africa will be announced later this year.


Reflecting from the MD-80 cockpit at American Airlines


Capt. Tom Senning preparing for the inaugural takeoff at Santa Barbara Airport. © Image American Airlines

It has been more than 30 years since the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 made its debut into the commercial aviation industry. And, over the course of its history, the beloved aircraft transported millions of American Airlines customers to destinations across North America. And as the aircraft covered a lot of ground, it played a major part in propelling the culture, growth and performance of American.

In the early 1980s, former American Airlines President Robert Crandall struck a creative deal to help the struggling aircraft manufacturer rise above its lackluster sales performance. It was essentially the turning point for both McDonnell Douglas and American Airlines, as the deal laid the initial groundwork for where we are today. At the time, American was adjusting to its new model with Dallas-Fort Worth being a central hub and needed to reprioritize ideas concerning its immediate growth.


American Airlines MD-80 with its iconic brushed metal finish © Image American Airlines

While American had already reviewed the MD-80 and wasn’t interested, the aircraft maker needed a deal. The McDonnell Douglas sales team and Robert Crandall met to devise a plan that could benefit both McDonnell Douglas and the airline. The deal was unique and allowed the airline to grow very quickly, hire more team members and expand its domestic operations — all the while, providing the initial interest needed to encourage other airlines to also reconsider the aircraft — thus launching the beginning of MD-80 sales.

The introduction of the new fleet eventually energized the airline’s workforce of pilots and with the aircraft, they logged a successful track record of navigating the skies and making lasting memories along the way. The pilots loved the reliable aircraft. American’s fleet grew to 362 active aircraft, at one point making up 40% of the airline’s fleet. With that growth, the number of pilots at American Airlines also grew.

The inaugural flight

On May 2, 1984, Capt. Tom Senning and First Officer Doug Ebersole, two Santa Barbara, California, locals, flew the inaugural passenger flight from Santa Barbara Municipal Airport to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Doug admits that he had to pull some strings to obtain the honor to be included on that first flight, as staffing is based on seniority. At the time, he was a relatively new pilot and Tom was No. 23 among the 30 licensed MD-80 pilots, having more than 18 years of experience.

“I’ll never forget that day, Capt. Tom offered me the take off,” Doug said. “It was so clear and beautiful. I wanted to impress the crowds and allow the cameras to capture the perfect takeoff. In the midst of the excitement, I forgot one of my audible commands —’gear up’ — until Tom reminded me after I was in the air and well into the turn. At that point, what would have been perfect photo, was a photo of the plane ascending with the landing gear still in its extended position.”


David Clark preparing for takeoff inside the MD-80 cockpit. © Image American Airlines

Though it wasn’t a picture perfect takeoff, the day’s festivities marked an important moment, in a new chapter of the American Airlines growth story, and at the same time piqued interest in an aircraft that had initially struggled to secure any commercial airline sales. The MD-80 eventually became a game changer for American Airlines as it reached new heights.

It’s a pilot’s airplane

If you ever get a chance to talk to a pilot who has flown the MD-80, they will tell you that it is a “pilot’s airplane.” It has unique characteristics, like the standby compass affixed to the back wall of the cockpit that is only visible via a mirror above the main control panels. Even with the quirks of the aircraft, MD-80 pilots have a great sense of pride, because they can experience firsthand the energizing, manual nature of flying a plane.

“It is very old school, there aren’t any modern computer screens affixed to the controls,” said Flight Operations Director David Clark. “The steering columns are connected to a cable that goes directly to the flight controls. You can feel it give and pull throughout each flight, and it is a thrilling experience that pilots trained on newer aircraft may never experience.”

Customers usually don’t get a firsthand view of the cockpit. And, to anyone who isn’t a pilot, the sight can be overwhelming. The MD-80 cockpit interior is one of the last commercial aircraft primarily made of round dials to gauge every aspect of the aircraft. Check Airman R.D. Johnson said the manual operation of the aircraft was gratifying.

“Every captain has a special bond with the aircraft, as it’s very much like watching an old movie. It’s a sense of nostalgia that speaks to the rich history of our airline and the skill required of every pilot,” said Check Airman R.D. Johnson. “In its prime, the MD-80 was very responsive and had what we considered state-of-the-art technology. Though it’s now outdated in comparison, we perfected the craft of flying on this plane and enjoyed every minute of it.”

A cargo hold full of memories

As the news began to spread of American’s plan to retire the fleet Sept. 4, many pilots reflected on the memories they created behind the controls of the plane. Whether transporting celebrities from Los Angeles to New York City, chartered flights of professional athletes, or flying families of fallen soldiers to attend the annual Snowball Express, the aircraft played an important role in the lives of customers and team members.

“People always ask me what I think of the airplane,” says MD-80 Fleet Capt. Greg Kunasek. “I love the airplane, it’s my second home. I raised my family on this aircraft as we took many trips throughout the years. My kids grew up seeing the brushed metal finish, which will forever be recognized as an iconic piece of our history. It will definitely be missed.”

For many seasoned American Airlines pilots, flying the MD-80 has been considered a rite of passage. To fly the airplane that played a pivotal role in the growth and expansion of the network was an honor in itself. After all, it was a game changer for the airline, and our pilots were navigating from the cockpit the entire time.

“As for parting words,” said Greg. “We’ve had many highs and lows throughout the MD-80’s history, and many of our customers and team members hold memories they’ll never forget. Whatever we choose to remember about the aircraft, the last 36 years was certainly time well spent.”


Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines rolls out new cabin crew uniforms

  Turkish Airlines
© Image Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines cabin crew, whose new uniforms take to the skies, redefines elegance in the sky. The cabin crew will now greet passengers with “welcome onboard” dressed in new uniforms on long haul flights of the national flag carrier.

The new cabin crew uniforms of Turkish Airlines, flying to the most countries in the world, were designed with the aim of celebrating the airline’s 85th anniversary and will be visible on the entire cabin crew on the long haul flights of the flag carrier as of today.

The new uniforms in flag-red and anthracite gray colors, which were rigorously tested on long-range flights in different climates, have been tailored to 25,000 employees in order for cabin crews to serve passengers comfortably.

Inspired by many classical details in Turkish culture, from the currents of the Bosphorus to the artisanal glassware, ceramics and calligraphy patterns produced by local artisans, the cabin, cockpit, ground handling personnel and flying chef uniforms came to life under a single design in order to give their passengers a holistic brand experience.

Turkish Airlines
© Image Turkish Airlines

In his statement regarding the new uniforms, M. İlker Aycı, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines said; “The elegance and comfort of our cabin crews, which constitute the most important element of our unrivaled service quality, are of great importance for our brand that continues to fly at the top of its industry. I believe that our brand’s presence in the skies will be much more impressive when the new cabin uniforms, which bear elements of our culture, are combined with the elegance of our cabin crews.”

Italian haute couturier Ettore Bilotta designed the new cabin uniforms, which were specially sewn by Vakko, and the main fabrics were produced by Altınyıldız, based on the compliance of Turkish Airlines with flight standards.

Turkish Airlines
© Image Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines
© Image Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines

© Image Turkish Airlines