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£5 drop-off charge introduced at Heathrow

Heathrow has announced the introduction of a ‘Terminal Drop-Off Charge’ across all terminal forecourts from 1s November.

A Heathrow statement said:

As travel slowly restarts, the charge, initially proposed last year, will prevent a car led recovery and reduce airport-related traffic whilst protecting jobs at Heathrow, which has suffered a £3bn loss due to the pandemic.

Drivers will be charged a £5 flat-fee per visit to the terminal drop-off zones. This change is part of Heathrow’s updated Surface Access Plans and long-term sustainability strategy. Income generated from the scheme will contribute towards new sustainable transport initiatives at the airport. Additional revenue raised by the charge will help to lower overall airport charges. In future, the airport hopes to introduce, a new data-led, multi-modal Sustainable Travel Zone (STZ) that aims to provide passengers, colleagues and the local community with more sustainable transport options. The STZ will take the place of the previous Free Travel Zone, with further details expected next year.

The Terminal Drop-Off Charge will be managed through Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems – similar to those used for the London Congestion Charge and Dart Charge – and will apply to all vehicles using Heathrow’s terminal drop-off facilities.

Blue Badge holders will be eligible for a 100% discount. Passengers will have the option to pay the £5 charge in advance, or by midnight the day after making the drop-off. Payments can only be made by card, either online or by an automated telephone service.

Passengers will continue to have the option to travel to the airport via more sustainable means such as Heathrow Express, TFL Rail, London Underground, bus or national coach services. Those driving can also be dropped off for free at Heathrow’s Long Stay car park facilities, which all offer free regular shuttle buses to the terminals.

Heathrow Director of Surface Access, Tony Caccavone, said:

Covid-19 has devastated the aviation industry and our recovery remains stunted by on-going travel restrictions. This charge, first proposed last year, will help us protect the business financially, whilst preventing a car-led recovery and ensuring we remain on course for our long-term goals of providing sustainable and affordable transport options as passenger demand returns.

Chair of independent Heathrow Area Transport Forum and Former London Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross said:

The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on Heathrow and this charge will help to prevent a car-led recovery and contribute towards new sustainable transport initiatives. Measures to encourage passengers into public transport are key to the airport’s long-term sustainability as it seeks to ‘build back better’. I look forward to working with Heathrow on these future initiatives as the airport recovers from the devastating impact of Covid-19.

Heathrow works with British Airways and partners to demonstrate how aviation is moving towards the “Perfect Flight”

Britain’s aviation industry has come together to operate a net zero flight.

The short flight – British Airways BA1476 from London Heathrow to Glasgow Airport – was powered directly by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), provided by bp, blended at 35% with traditional jet fuel in accordance with technical aviation specifications. The remaining emissions produced by the flight were offset.

The aim of the flight was to show how far the aviation industry has progressed in its efforts to decarbonise over the last decade. Several factors within the journey were calibrated to achieve minimal emissions – from British Airways’ Airbus aircraft being pushed back by electric Mototok vehicles powered by Heathrow’s supply of 100% renewable electricity, to flying on the most direct routing and optimal flight level.

The flight was operated by an Airbus A320neo, the quietest and most fuel-efficient short-haul aircraft currently in British Airways’ fleet.

Air traffic controllers at NATS directed the aircraft on its continuous climb from Heathrow and descent into Glasgow, avoiding any levelling off, which causes an increase in fuel burn. The most direct routing was provided by NATS as well as the most optimal flight level and the aircraft was able to land without airborne holding; techniques that successfully saved fuel and reduced emissions.

The flight achieved a 62% CO2 emissions reduction compared to a decade ago – 34% from efficient aircraft and operations, 28% from the use of sustainable aviation fuel and the remaining 38% offset using high quality, verified carbon offsets.

This move towards the ‘Perfect Flight’ showcases a number of the solutions that can help to reduce emissions associated with flying. The industry can use sustainable fuels, reduce fuel consumption by using more efficient routes in the air, and utilise electric plug in power while on the ground to make flights more sustainable. Airports can also follow Heathrow’s lead by offsetting remaining emissions, using natural solutions such as tree planting and peatland restoration to remove carbon.

SAF is a proven technology that can work across the world to decarbonise aviation. While the solutions exist, the UK Government needs to urgently implement policies to scale up SAF, encourage the production of sustainable fuel and have the right price incentives for airlines to use it. This includes setting escalating mandates that requires a minimum of 10% SAF use by airlines by 2030, which British Airways and its parent company IAG committed to recently, increasing to at least 50% by 2050.

Heathrow has been at the forefront of advocacy and change on reducing carbon emissions in the aviation sector. In addition to incorporating the first shipment of SAF into its fuel supply system back in June, the major airport has been running on 100% renewable electricity for almost 5 years, with ongoing plans to switch from gas heating by the mid-2030s, becoming fully zero carbon. 90% of the airport’s cars and small vehicles are electric, with £7m invested in electric charging points. Heathrow’s one of the best-connected airports in the country by public transport with Crossrail soon connecting travellers through central London in addition to the tube and Heathrow Express.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye told us:

The Perfect Flight shows that the solutions to deliver net zero flight exist, we just need to scale them up. The faster we scale up supply and use of sustainable aviation fuels, the faster we can decarbonise aviation and protect the benefits of flying in a world without carbon. What is needed urgently is for Government to introduce policies to increase the supply of SAF and to provide the right price incentives for airlines to use it.

British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, Sean Doyle said:  

This flight offered a practical demonstration of the progress we’re making in our carbon reduction journey. By working together with our industry partners we’ve delivered a 62% improvement in emissions reductions compared to a decade ago. This marks real progress in our efforts to decarbonise and shows our determination to continue innovating, working with Governments and industry and accelerating the adoption of new low carbon solutions to get us closer still to the Perfect Flight of the future.

With BA Better World, we’re making progress on our journey to a sustainable future and have adopted a range of short, medium and long-term initiatives to get us to net zero emissions. Together, we can build a future for aviation that delivers the wonders of air travel while reducing the impact on the environment.

Airbus’ Executive Vice President Corporate Affairs and Communications, Julie Kitcher, told us:

The A320neo is a great example of how far our industry has come.  It meets all the ICAO environmental standards thanks to advances in engines, aerodynamics, cabin and flight operations. The A320neo burns 20% less fuel, which means less CO2, compared to its predecessor and is 50% quieter. 

BP Aviation Division CEO, Martin Thomsen said:

We are honoured to join forces with British Airways on this important initiative. At bp we are focusing on working with hard-to-abate sectors, such as aviation, as part of our ambition to be net zero by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get there too. By working collaboratively with industries, we can help to accelerate decarbonisation and we believe SAF will be one of the key solutions to fulfil this for the aviation sector.

Glasgow Airport CEO, Derek Provan said:

This flight demonstrates the progress the industry has made during the last decade and how we can work collectively to decarbonise aviation. As one of the UK’s largest airport groups, we are committed to achieving net zero by mid 2030s. This involves decarbonising our own infrastructure, including the roll out of fixed electrical ground power (FEGP), which is powered using 100% renewable energy sources.

NATS CEO, Martin Rolfe said:

Live demonstrations like this show just what is possible and are an important step on the aviation industry’s path to net zero by 2050. We can learn a lot from flights like these, as they help us understand how to redesign the airspace over the UK and play our part in making flying sustainable for the future.

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.