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American releases revamped amenity kits

American Airlines is introducing new onboard amenity kits for premium cabin customers in partnership with Shinola and D.S. & Durga.

These thoughtful and creative partners will help keep memories of customers’ travels top of mind, even when customers aren’t flying 35,000 feet in the air.

Clarissa Sebastian, Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience and Onboard Products for American Airlines, said

American often seeks brands that are rooted in creativity, especially those that celebrate travel before, during and after the actual journey. D.S. & Durga and Shinola underscore what we value in our partners at American — the ability to inspire connection with people or places that matter and experiences that enrich us.

Founded in Detroit, Shinola is a luxury design brand with an unwavering commitment to crafting products that are built to last, including world-class watches and premium leather goods. The new amenity kit bag was meticulously designed exclusively for American to get customers from place to place in style, while also offering the functionality to be repurposed post-flight to collect keepsakes or organise essentials for future journeys.

New York-based D.S. & Durga are perfumers known for ‘transportive’ fragrances with rich narratives. The amenity kits include aromas Rose Atlantic and Radio Bombay in lip balms and lotions. Rose Atlantic is inspired by summers on the New England coast with aromas of wild rose and the salty sea. Radio Bombay is described by the perfumers as a journey to the old days of Mumbai as ‘hot copper tubes warm the soft wood releasing the blooms of musk, cream, peach, ambrette, coco and cedar distillates’.

The new amenity kits, which are pouches of personal care items wrapped in sustainable packaging that American provides for premium customers on long-haul international and transcontinental flights, begin rolling out flights operating between the United States and Heathrow. This includes service to Heathrow from Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Charlotte, New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle.

The kits will roll out across other long-haul international and transcontinental flights throughout the summer.

Shinola has a reputation for assembling world-class clocks with an affinity for unique design. As an extension of AA’s partnership, Shinola is creating a desk clock featuring a dial made entirely from the original metal of American’s iconic, but now retired, fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft.

The MD-80s were the long-time backbone of American’s fleet, carrying customers for more than 35 years before it was retired in 2019.

Each dial is unique and bears small markings from the aircraft’s decades of service. Clock dials are hand-cut and re-polished under the watchful eye of Moto Art in California, with final assembly in Shinola’s Detroit factory.

Shinola is creating a limited 1,000 desk clocks, and later this summer, Shinola wall clocks will be featured in select Admirals Club lounges.

Uneven effect of Covid-19 shakes up the lists of busiest airports

Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings – covering passenger traffic and aircraft movements for 2020 – showing the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by 45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6% which shows that the impact of the pandemic and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.

According to the preliminary data, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind.

Seven of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in China with three in the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remained depressed because of travel restrictions.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World said,

The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face threat. The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only 8.9%, to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 2016 levels (110 million metric tonnes).

For airports, revenues are tightly correlated to traffic levels but, like many other capital-intensive businesses, a large proportion of airport costs remain fixed and do not fall at the same level as traffic throughput and revenues during the crisis. Even with reduced operations, the closure of terminals and staff layoffs, this imbalance remains.

Airports in China occupied seven of the top ten positions in 2020. Atlanta slipped to second position, having seen a reduction in passenger traffic of 61.2%. Chengdu and Shenzen both moved up 21 places, Kunming 29, Xi’an 30 while Shanghai moved up 37 places.
Dubai retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport in 2020. Amsterdam and Heathrow swapped places. Istanbul and Doha both moved up eight positions in the table.

British Airways demonstrates Covid-19 safety at the airport and on board

British Airways has released a video highlighting the measures introduced at the airport and onboard to keep customers safe during the pandemic.

In the video Head of Global Sales Mark Muren interviews Dr Mike Harrigan, British Airways’ medical lead, on the measures in place including:

  • Asking customers to check-in online, download their boarding pass and where possible self-scan their boarding passes at the departure gate
  • Requiring customers to wear a facemask at all times and bringing enough to replace them every four hours for longer flights
  • Social distancing markers and hand sanitiser stations placed throughout airports
  • New ordering system in lounges to reduce contact
  • Cabin crew wearing PPE and a new food service, which reduces the number of interactions required with customers
  • Providing customers with a personal protection pack including a sealable disposal bag, hand sanitising gel and an antibacterial wipe.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures and HEPA filters

They also discuss the latest research from IATA which showed that since the start of 2020 there have been just 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight (that includes confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled, which is just one case for every 27 million travellers.

If you have any questions about Covid-19 safety at airports or on board, or if you simply want to discuss your plans for your next British Airways flight, please contact your GTM Account Manager.

Heathrow set for Zero Carbon

Heathrow has announced it has become one of the world’s first major aviation hubs to become carbon neutral, for its infrastructure, and the first to target “zero carbon” by the mid-2030s.

Following investment of over £100 million in improving Heathrow’s energy efficiency and generating and purchasing renewable energy, Heathrow has reduced carbon emissions from airport buildings and infrastructure by 93% compared to 1990. The remaining 7% of airport infrastructure emissions – including those from heating – will now be offset through tree planting projects in Indonesia and Mexico certified through the Verified Carbon Standard.

Offsetting will be an interim measure to reduce carbon emissions today, while Heathrow works towards becoming a zero carbon airport. Contributing to further carbon savings, this year Heathrow will be focused on ramping up improvements to sustainable transport links and ensuring it meets its target to transition all of Heathrow’s cars and small vans to electric and plug-in hybrid.

Marking the milestone, the airport is announcing a further investment of £1.8 million for 2020 to kick-start UK nature-based carbon saving projects.

The additional investment from the airport will help to kick-start the restoration of natural UK carbon sinks – including peatlands, woodlands and farming soils – which have been estimated by the Committee on Climate Change to have the ability to help save 43 mega tonnes of carbon annually by 2050, if significant investments are made. Heathrow can’t create this saving alone though, and will use its position to encourage others within the aviation industry to invest in similar initiatives up and down the country.

At Ledmore near Ullapool, a new native woodland creation project will be the first to receive new funding from Heathrow. In partnership with Forest Carbon, the project will cover 87.4 hectares and will help explore opportunities for woodlands to deliver effective UK carbon offsetting alongside a range of other benefits including biodiversity and better soil and water quality.


Matt Gorman, Stewart Arbuckle and Dr Helaina Black, testing soil at Dundee carbon farming project

Ledmore adds to an existing portfolio of natural carbon capture projects Heathrow has supported since 2018 – worth over £270,000. These include a regenerative farming pilot project near Dundee; the restoration of Little Woolden Moss peatland, west of Manchester; and the planting of new woodlands at Henry’s Wood in Carmarthenshire. The airport hopes to use some of these projects to offset a small amount of its hard-to-tackle emissions over the next few years and show that UK natural climate solutions would make good options for CORSIA commitments – an international agreement to deliver carbon neutral growth in aviation from 2020.

Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye, said:

Making our infrastructure entirely carbon neutral is a significant milestone and a testament to the determination of our airport to help spearhead a new era of sustainable aviation. Our sights are now set on working with the global aviation industry to deliver on net-zero by 2050, at the latest. We can and will cut the environmental cost of flying whilst keeping the benefits of travel for future generations.

This news follows a commitment from the UK aviation industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, through an international approach, working with governments around the world and through the UN.

Heathrow will be rolling out an action plan for a critical decade – called ‘Target Net-Zero’ – that backs the UK aviation industry’s commitment. The plan will outline how Heathrow will decarbonise the airport’s infrastructure and play a role in supporting the entire UK aviation industry to get to net-zero carbon emissions, by working with its partners on the ground and in the air, to develop sustainable aviation fuels and electric aircraft.

Heathrow to finalise airport expansion proposals

Heathrow has announced it will launch an eight-week public consultation to finalise its proposals for airport expansion following the recent decision by the UK’s aviation regulator, the CAA, to cap early spending on the project.

Capping spending has prolonged the construction period of a new third runway and means Heathrow will need to undertake refreshed modelling of key aspects of the plan – including public transport to and from the airport – to evidence that Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) targets can be met.


Heathrow has outlined its timeline for submission of expansion planning application towards the end of 2020

The consultation will run from April through to June ensuring that communities can review and feedback.

Heathrow will be writing to local authorities in the coming weeks with more information, offering them the opportunity to feedback on their approach to consultation. Responses will feed into the final planning application, to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate towards the end of 2020.

Heathrow’s submission to the Planning Inspectorate will detail how the airport will expand and connect all of Britain to global growth, whilst meeting the requirements of the ANPS. It will also restate Heathrow’s commitment to ensuring an expanded Heathrow meets strict environmental targets, delivers tens of thousands of new high-skilled jobs and honours commitments to local communities.

If Heathrow’s plans are approved by the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, the third runway is expected to open between early 2028 and late 2029.

Heathrow’s Executive Director for Expansion Emma Gilthorpe, said:

This country is ready for a decade of infrastructure delivery underpinned by expansion at Heathrow. We are keen to ensure our plans continue to be supported and shaped by local people as we prepare to deliver the economic boost Britain needs.

A spokesman for the airport confirmed that, in the coming weeks, Heathrow will announce dates and locations for consultation events as it also prepares to become one of the first major international airports to operate carbon neutral infrastructure.

Contact your GTM Account Manager when you need to book flights to or from Heathrow.

British Airways trials robots to guide passengers through the airport

British Airways has announced that from this year it will trial AI-powered autonomous robots at its home at Heathrow Terminal 5 to help customers navigate through the airport, freeing up the airlines’ hosts to help customers with more complex queries.

The cutting-edge robots from tech company BotsAndUs are programmed to interact with passengers  in multiple different languages using the latest translation technology to answer thousands of questions, including real-time flight information.


British Airways has announced it will trial state-of-the-art, fully autonomous robots in 2020.

Additionally, using geo-location technology and dozens of advanced sensors to constantly monitor a 360˚radius, the robots will move around the airport terminal freely and safely, escorting customers to specific locations.

To complement its investment in technology and automation, last year British Airways launched a multi-million pound investment in enhanced training for colleagues as part of its First Contact Resolution Programme at Heathrow. The programme empowers customer service agents to use their expertise, initiative and judgement to solve customer queries on the spot using a suite of specialised apps on iPads.

Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ Head of Innovation, says the combination of automation and personalised customer service will define the airport of the future:

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use automation to help our customers enjoy a faster and smoother journey through the airport and beyond. These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate. In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.

Andrei Danescu, Founder of BotsAndUs, added:

We are very excited to partner with British Airways. The trial will pave the way for other new and interesting services we can provide to improve the customer journey as we work together to re-imagine the airport experience.

Contact your GTM Account Manager next time you need to fly on British Airways.

British Airways reunites family for a very special occasion

As its centenary year drew to a close, British Airways waved its magic wand for the 100th time to take a very deserving customer on the trip of a lifetime to Australia to surprise her uncle on his wedding day.

Cheryl Lawley, 36 from Nuneaton, contacted the airline in early 2019 to share her story. In 2016 Cheryl was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer and after undergoing a 14-hour operation, Cheryl woke to find her uncle, Ben, unexpectedly by her bedside. Ben had travelled from his home in Melbourne, Australia, to nurse Cheryl and help care for her three children, aged 16, 10 and 9.

After returning to Melbourne, Ben announced that he was engaged to marry his partner of 14 years, Andrew, but given Cheryl’s circumstances she would be unable to attend. Until BA Magic stepped in!

British Airways organised for Cheryl, her partner Adrian, 31, and children Mia, Ashdon and Carson to fly to Melbourne, with lots of surprises and adventure along the way.

Departing from Heathrow Terminal 5, Cheryl was given the VIP treatment with a Heathrow Personal Shopping experience and Elemis spa treatments in preparation for the wedding, before the family embarked on their 22-hour journey to Australia in the comfort of British Airways’ business cabin, Club World.

When they arrived, the family were gifted with a suite at The Langham Melbourne, which has been named as the number one hotel in Australia. 

On the day of the wedding, Melbourne’s leading hair and make-up artist, Jemma, was on hand to pamper Cheryl before she went to surprise her uncle as he got ready for his wedding.

Cheryl said:

When I wrote to BA Magic to ask for help in getting me to Australia so I could be there for my uncle on his important day as he was for mine, I didn’t expect such an unforgettable adventure. British Airways has helped create memories for us as a family that we will always cherish and be grateful for.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said:

Cheryl’s story touched our hearts, so we wanted to do everything possible to help surprise her uncle on his big day. Throughout 2019, to say thank you to our customers, we committed to 100 acts of kindness and this marks our 100th act. We are delighted we could end the year making this special trip unforgettable for such a deserving family.

Helping to surprise Cheryl’s uncle on his big day was part of the airline’s commitment to mark its centenary year with 100 acts of kindness as part of its #BAMagic100 campaign. Following its launch in 2017, the campaign saw the airline arranging surprise proposals, reuniting loved ones, arranging money-can’t-buy experiences and creating holidays of a lifetime.

If you want to book a flight on British Airways, please contact your GTM Account Manager; and if you would like to take advantage of Heathrow’s Personal Shopper Service, please click here:
https://boutique.heathrow.com/en/contact/personal-shopper.

British Airways rolls out First Contact Resolution Programme worldwide

British Airways is rolling out its First Contact Resolution Programme across every airport it operates to, following its successful launch at Heathrow last year.



British Airways is extending its First Contact Resolution programme to colleagues around the world following a successful roll out at Heathrow

First Contact Resolution empowers airport hosts to use their expertise, initiative and judgement to solve customer queries on the spot, without waiting for management approval. This allows them to provide instant solutions and peace of mind for customers and send fewer issues to Customer Relations colleagues. 

All staff worldwide are now being further empowered to use their skills and initiative to do the right thing for any customer at that moment.

Sumer Adlakha, British Airways’ Customer Service Manager in Delhi, Mumbai & Maldives said:  

The new approach has been welcomed by the whole of our airport team and our customers. It gives us the ability to own and resolve a problem without having to ask customers to call or email our Customer Relations team which is time-consuming for them. They’ve told us they love that our agents are using their own knowledge and skills to resolve issues and particularly enjoy the personal touch we are able to give in each situation.

Tom Stevens, British Airways’ Head of Airport Operations said: 

We’ve seen a fantastic response to the First Contact Resolution programme at Heathrow, which is about going back to basics and emphasising the age-old concept of ‘treating others as you would want to be treated’.  The roll out worldwide will provide consistency for our customers, giving everyone the unique and personal attention that they deserve, wherever they are in the world.



First Contact Resolution enables staff to assist and resolve any customer issue at the airport rather than refer travellers to Customer Relations teams

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management said:

From time to time, travel plans go wrong. GTM is always on hand to help if plans need to be changed at the last minute. But sometimes passengers need the kind of immediate assistance that can only be provided at the airport. So it’s great that passengers know they can rely on the knowledge and skills of British Airways staff and that First Contact Resolution is being rolled out, worldwide.

The roll out of First Contact Resolution is a part of British Airways’ £6.5 billion investment in customer experience over five years. This includes taking delivery of 73 new aircraft including A350s and 787s, refurbishing long-haul aircraft with new cabins, introducing new, redesigned lounges, new dining across all cabins, new bedding and amenity kits for First, Club World and World Traveller Plus, best quality on-board WiFi for every aircraft and access to power at every aircraft seat.

The next time you need to fly on British Airways, contact your GTM Account Manager.

Great news if you’re flying on United…

We are always looking to find ways to make our clients’ travel experiences the best they can be. 

And, thanks to our relationship with United Airlines, we can now offer Global Travel Management clients a free upgrade on their next trip.

If you’re planning a journey on United’s network in the next few weeks, here are two different ways we can add extra value to your trip.


The United Club lounge at London Heathrow is just one of the network of award-winning United lounges
  • First, if your flight ticket does not include access to a lounge, we can provide you with a free premium pass, giving you access to United’s award-winning lounges. United has a network of more than 50 United Club locations around the world. United Clubs are the perfect spot for United passengers to relax and recharge, featuring complimentary Wi-Fi, wellness rooms and specially-curated local food and beverage offerings.
  • Second, if your flight is in United’s economy class, we can provide you with a no-cost upgrade to United’s Economy Plus seating. United’s Economy Plus cabins offer you more legroom, more space and a more relaxing flight.  Stretch out with more room to work and relax, sit near the front of the cabin so you can exit the plane easier at your destination… and more! 

United’s Economy Plus seating offers more legroom and more space to work and relax

So, the next time you need to take a flight on United – or a flight with another carrier on a United route – call your GTM Account Manager. We can let you know if your trip qualifies for one – or both – of these free upgrades.

This opportunity is strictly limited to a small number of GTM clients booking United flights.  But, while the offer is still open, please contact your GTM Account Manager the next time you need to fly on a route served by United.  We can then let you know whether you can benefit from a free lounge pass or a free Premium Economy upgrade. 

British Airways touches down in Islamabad

British Airways today landed in to Islamabad as it began its first service between the UK and Pakistan in 10 years.

Crowds greeted the aircraft in Islamabad as both the Union Flag and Pakistan’s national flag were waved from the cockpit roof hatch. British Airways has officially opened an office in Islamabad for the airline’s local dedicated team, which is testament to the investment the airline is making in the country.

On board the first flight from London was Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, he said:


Brem: The atmosphere on board our state-of-the-art 787 aircraft was spectacular

Today is a great occasion for British Airways as we resume flights to Islamabad after a decade.  The atmosphere on board our state-of-the-art 787 aircraft was spectacular, as was the warm welcome on the ground. British Airways has a proud history of flying to Pakistan – we first operated flights to Islamabad in 1976 – and we couldn’t be more excited to be back.

The International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said:

The relaunch of British Airways flights between the UK and Pakistan after more than ten years will be a major boost for trade between our two countries. It is no surprise that it is an iconic British airline that is the first western airline to fly return to Pakistan, a symbol of the strong and growing relationship between our two countries.

Fox: strong and growing relationship between our two countries

I congratulate the British Airways team, the British High Commission and the impressive efforts of the Pakistani government for making this happen. We are confident that British Airways will act as a catalyst to bring even more British companies to one of the world’s largest markets.

Flights will run three-per-week on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from London Heathrow, operated using a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner with World Traveller (long-haul economy), World Traveller Plus (long-haul premium economy) and Club World (long-haul business class). 

British Airways’ Boeing 787 on arrival at Islamabad, celebrating with the Union Flag and the flag of Pakistan

British Airways’ long-haul flights include extremely generous hand baggage allowances – one large cabin bag with a small laptop or handbag – complimentary food and drink, online check-in and free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. Customers landing in London can connect on to British Airways’ network which includes over 30 destinations across North America, with over seventy flights per day to the US through the airline’s joint business with American Airlines. Customers can also connect to over thirty countries in Europe.

Customers travelling can expect bespoke services to enhance the on-board experience including a halal meal option in every cabin, while the airline will also ensure sauces in every meal do not include alcohol or pork. As with any British Airways flight, customers can also pre-order a range of special meal options including vegetarian and vegan options.

British Airways is amid a £6.5 billion investment for customers, including the installation of the best quality WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft.

For more information about flights to Islamabad – or any other destination on the British Airways network – contact your GTM Account Manager.