British Airways was founded in 1974 by the British Government as a consolidation of four UK airliners. This UK airline operated as a state company for almost 13 years before becoming privatised in 1987, before expanding further by acquiring a number of smaller regional British airlines including British Caledonian which at the time was considered the second airline of the UK. It is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance, which includes other large airlines Cathay Pacific, Quantas and American Airlines. With its impressive fleet and recognised standards of service, British Airways remains one of the most popular airlines both in the UK and worldwide. The number of domestic and international flights to and from destinations as well as the size of the fleet makes this flagship carrier the largest British airline, coming second only to easyJet in terms of number of passengers carried annually. Other notable competition for British Airways is Virgin Atlantic Airways, with the two maintaining a heated rivalry since Richard Branson’s airline was founded.
The main hub for British Airways is at London Heathrow Airport, with the company being based in nearby Waterside. London Gatwick is also an important airport for BA, as all of the airline's international flights fly into London - with travellers able to connect to further UK destinations by transferring in London. At London Heathrow Airport, the majority of their flights are operated through Terminal 5. Servicing over 160 different destinations, which includes six domestic, British Airways is one of the few airlines in the world that offers scheduled routes to all six permanently inhabited continents across the globe. In Europe, this includes many major European capitals and popular locations all over such as Berlin Tegel Airport, Florence, Stockholm Arlanda, and Zurich.
British Airways offers an extensive range of services from complimentary tea, coffee, drinks and snacks for all guests on flights, to premium lounges and personal in-flight entertainment. For long-haul flights, meals are served and can be arranged online in advance in the case of special dietary needs. Whether flying First or regular Economy, British Airways always offers comfortable leather seating, and complimentary newspapers are available on most flights. The Executive Club offers frequent travellers the opportunity to earn points for flying that can be used towards upgrades and a variety of travel rewards.
The airline is also well known for its comfortable and inviting lounges, with 60 dedicated BA lounges and 90 partner lounges across the globe. These lounges include the Business Lounges, First Lounges for first class passengers, and Arrival Lounges for guests who would like the opportunity to freshen up after a long haul or overnight flight. At London Heathrow Airport and New York JFK guests can also purchase luxurious spa treatments while they wait to board their flights with the Elemis Travel Spa. First Class and Club World travellers or those with Gold Executive Club membership can choose from a free 15 minute treatment if travelling to or from London and New York.
A variety of classes are offered by British Airways, from the comfort of standard economy to the luxury of their business class. The four main travel classes available include Economy, Premium Economy, Business and First. Within the Economy class you'll find World Traveller, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic tickets that offer good value and all-inclusive fares as well as in-flight entertainment, power outlets on select planes, and complimentary food and beverages on all flights. Premium Economy is available through World Traveller Plus tickets on select long distance flights and offers the same great benefits of Economy with the added bonus of wider seats that offer more recline as well as extra leg room. Business also offers a selection of tickets with Club Europe for flights within Europe, Club World for flights to non-European destinations, and Club World London City for flights between London City and New York. Luxury in this class offers frequent travellers extra room to work as well as flatbeds on long haul flights, gourmet food options and access to BA lounges. The most elite class of course is First, which offers tickets on select international journeys. The luxurious offerings that can be found with these journeys include private suites, personalised service, flat beds for sleeping on long-haul flights, gourmet cuisine, and access to lounges and spas. All tickets can be purchased as one-way, but usually offer better value when booked as a return journey.