Last week in travel: British Airways celebrates 100 years

The centenary celebrations are followed by pilot strikes announcement, while pet owners travelling to Britain might face four-months-long waiting period, and Disney opens Star Wars hotel 

United Kingdom’s flag carrier managed to reach quite an impressive jubilee. On Sunday, 25 August, the carrier celebrated precisely one hundred years since its first scheduled commercial flight.

Back on that day in 1919, a flight operated by the airline’s predecessor — Air Transport & Travel (AT&T) — took off from Hounslow Heath — very near to what we now know as London Heathrow — and landed in Paris

British Airways celebrates 100-year-anniversary of its first commercial flight — British Airways Last week in travel: British Airways celebrates 100 years
British Airways celebrates 100-year anniversary of its first commercial flight — British Airways
 

The airline decided to celebrate the event with their passengers. 

“From that first customer who flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919 in a single-engine De Havilland DH4A to the millions who choose to fly with us every year on more than 800 flights a day to 200 destinations around the globe — we thank them all,” said BA’s chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz.   

Customers flying with BA on international flights during the weekend were greeted with bunting and decorations. Those on short-haul services received Hotel Chocolat giveaways, while on long-haul flights customers were served menus from Michelin-starred British chef, Tom Kerridge

Younger flyers travelling through Heathrow Terminal 5 and Gatwick on selected dates this summer can pick up a limited-edition backpack by a personalised children’s gift brand — My 1st Years. They will receive a special branded luggage tag and a pin badge in their Skyflyers Packs.

BA pilots announce September strikes

Despite the festive atmosphere, British Airways also has to prepare for certain disruptions. Pilots united under the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) have announced industrial actions for 9,10 and 27 September.

Balpa claimed they had prepared several packages that could have resolved the months-long dispute but BA did not accept them.

“It is clear following discussions with members over the last few days that BA’s most recent offer will not gain the support of anywhere near a majority of its pilots,” the union said.

“In these circumstances, with a 93 per cent vote in favour of taking industrial action, and with no prospect of any further meaningful talks, we have no choice but to call this action.”

Balpa estimated the walkouts would cost BA around £120 million. 

In a statement, BA said: “It is completely unacceptable that Balpa is destroying the travel plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action.

“Balpa has given us notice that they will strike on 9, 10 and 27 September. We are extremely sorry that after many months of negotiations, based on a very fair offer, Balpa has decided on this reckless course of action.

“We are now making changes to our schedule. We will do everything we can to get as many people away on their journeys as possible. However, it is likely that many of our customers will not be able to travel and we will be offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights.”

Pet owners might face four-month wait for travel between France and UK after Brexit

Not only humans can be affected by the farewell British citizens decided to give the European Union in a referendum. The impact of Brexit might take its toll on pets as well. 

Pets might have it more complicated to travel between France and the United Kingdom — Shuttersatock
Pet owners might have it more complicated to travel between France and the United Kingdom — Shutterstock
 

According to a warning issued by the British government, pet owners travelling between France and the United Kingdom might face possible four-month registration process that would allow their animal companions to travel with them.

The authorities warned pet owners: “To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU after Brexit, you should contact your vet at least four months before travelling to get the latest advice.”

So, for instance, if anyone wants to travel between the EU and UK for Christmas and take their pets as well, it would be better to start planning the trip right now. 

Disney to open Star Wars hotel

Visitors to Disney’s Star Wars-themed land in Orlando will soon be allowed to extend their stay in the galaxy far far away by two nights. 

The park will kick off a new concept of a Star Wars hotel where guests will board a “legendary ship with an unparalleled level of service”.

The experience would resemble taking a cruise. Guests will check in at a terminal at Walt Disney World and enter a launch pod for a simulated trip into space to board the Starcruiser.

 

“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World Resort will be a new, first-of-its-kind vacation experience where guests will check in for a two-night adventure aboard a glamorous starship called the Halcyon,” Disney said in a press release.

“Once onboard, guests will interact with characters and become active participants in stories that unfold around them on their galactic journey.”

Disney said that every room will have a stellar view — a digital screen that looks out into the cosmos. However, the company hasn’t revealed many details about the hotel yet. For instance, we don’t know when it would open, how many rooms it will have or its galactic prices.

Tokyo airport to install fully-automated baggage drop units

As the highly anticipated sports event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is slowly approaching, the major airport of Japan’s capital has decided to make travelling easier. 

The Tokyo Narita airport is getting 72 Auto Bag Drop units that will allow passengers to check their bags without assistance in all four terminals.

 

The airport has signed a contract with Sydney-based ICM Airport Technics, which specialises in self-service baggage solutions. 

According to ICM’s website, Series 7 that will be installed in Tokyo is a fully automatic bag drop product that uses biometrics. 

The units match a facial scan with a passenger’s passport details. Simultaneously, it checks a bag’s size and weight. 

Narita is not the only airport to use automatic baggage drop units. 

According to ICM, the company’s Auto Bag Drop units are installed in several airports across the Asia-Pacific region. This includes Singapore Changi Airport, Shanghai Pudong international airport and Auckland airport.