British Airways

British Airways testing robot bartenders in two lounges

More airport robots are coming to serve you.

A Briggo robotic barista serves up specialty coffee drinks from two automated Coffee Haus spots in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) and from one located in San Francisco International Airport (SFO) adjacent to the security entrance inside Terminal 3.

Now comes word that throughout February, a robot bartender will be serving drinks at the British Airways lounges at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

BA has installed the Barsys 2.0, a smart automated cocktail-making machine. Customers order a drink by clicking a button on a screen. Then they place a glass on a small conveyor belt and the robot bartending machine does the rest.

No doubt, without the witty bartender banter.

British Airways’ First and Club World customers traveling from San Francisco and Newark will be able to sidle up to the robotic bar and choose from 30 cocktails and a variety of customizable drinks. Two special cocktails are on the menu: one called Silicon Galley; the other Echo-Whiskey-Romeo.

Not visiting either of these British Airways lounges this month? Looks like you can buy your own robot bartender for under $1000.

Here’s how it works.

British Airways’ souvenir marmite

British Airways has teamed up with Marmite to sell souvenir-sized jars of the popular-in-some-places breakfast spread made with brewer’s yeast.

The airline discovered that airport security officials at London City AIrport confiscate jars of Marmite more than any other branded item and that more than 2000 jars of Marmite are expected to be taken from travelers this year.

To make sure Marmite-lovers won’t go hungry when they travel – and because British Airways is having fun celebrating its centenary year – the the carrier is selling souvenir-sized jars of Marmite to its passengers.

For now, 70 gram, travel-friendly special edition jars of the spread are being sold exclusively on board.

Don’t fancy Marmite? Don’t worry.

British Airways will be releasing a series of other centenary edition foods in partnership with British brands during its milestone year.

The airline has a partnership with Scottish craft brewers, BrewDog, who have created a transatlantic IPA for customes and has a deal with luxury British watchmaker Bremont for a limited-editiod watch made with metal from the Concorde.

Cool new/old liveries in the air

Courtesy British Airways

Last week at Heathrow Airport, British Airways debuted a retro -liveried Boeing 747 (registration: G-BYGC) painted in the iconic design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).]

BA 100 will remain on this Boeing 747 until the plane is retired in 2023. And by then, British Airways, like most commercial carriers, will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet. To find out where you might spot the plane in person, check Flight Radar.

BOAC 747 Taken: 18th February 2019 Photo: Stuart Bailey

There’s another retro livery to look for this week.

Courtesy Austrian Airlines


An Austrian Airlines A320 aircraft (registration OE-LBO) is flying with a livery from the 1980s, when Austrian Airlines re-entered the intercontinental flight business, “after a very long break,” the carrier notes.

Courtesy Austrian Airlines

The design has an angular logo arrow, grey aircraft belly and the traditional red-white-red flag on the tailfin of the aircraft.

“Considering the colorful era of the 1980s, it was, all in all, a restrained branding on the part of Austrian Airlines”, said Isabella Reichl, Head of Marketing for the countrey’s national carrier.

The carrier says the the retro look is a homage to the destinations of Tokyo and New York. Th plane’s first appearance is in Vienna today.

Fancy a fast trip to London & Paris?

Tower Bridge at night

A few month’s back I was invited – actually, challenged – to visit Paris and London in just four or five days.

“Not possible,” I insisted. But I was willing to give it a try.

Here’s a slightly edited version of the story I wrote for Travel + Leisure with some ideas for how to do it.

Getting there and back

To make this fast trip work, fly into one city and out of the other, and book a seat on the high speed Eurostar train to travel between the two.

Plenty of airlines fly between the US and both London and Paris and it is possible to find deals on a one-way or open-jaw ticket using tools on airline comparison sites or a knowledgeable travel advisor.

British Airways currently offers up to 50 flights from the U.S. to London each day, depending on the season, from 26 U.S. gateways and will be adding flights from both Pittsburgh and Charleston to London in April 2019. The airline allows passengers to cut the cost of flights by using Avios points towards payment.

Air France currently offers more than 150 flights a week to Paris from 12 U.S. cities and is adding Dallas/Fort Worth as its 11th U.S. gateway on March 31, 2019. The French flag carrier offers flash fares to Paris (and other destinations) about once a month, so sign up to follow the carrier’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Eurostar trains make the trip from city center to city center, between London’s St. Pancras International Station to Gare du Nord in Paris, in just over 2 hours for a little as $60 each way. Eurostar ticket pricing fluctuates like airline tickets, with the lowest prices usually offered for midweek travel. Be sure to hold onto your boarding pass: it offers 2-for-1 entry to many museums and exhibitions in both cities.

Where to stay; what to do

Coal Drops Yard

In London, there are lots of hotel to choose from right near St. Pancras International railway station, which is steps from the British Library and its many free events and exhibitions. Nearby is the Wellcome Collection, a hip and free science and health-themed museum that markets itself to the “incurably curious.”

Coal Drops Yard, built in 1850 to handle the eight million tons of coal delivered to London each year, has been transformed into the city’s newest trendy destination. Located in King’s Cross, just a few minutes’ walk from St. Pancras, the shopping and dining center boasts more than 50 stores, restaurants and cafés, including the flagship store of Wolf & Badger, which gathers cool offerings from independent brands, and Casa Pastor, serving Mexican-inspired tacos, alongside mezcals, Mexican beers and imaginative margaritas.

For convenience and a hefty dose of the historic, splurge on a two-night stay at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, inside St. Pancras station. The “Seat to Suite” package includes lounge access as well as a concierge escort between your room and your seat on the Eurostar train, which departs from St. Pancras station.

If you’ll be heading back to the states from Paris, choose a hotel in the city center that offers easy access to museums, café and other top attractions.

The newly renovated 97-room Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel, near the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre in the city’s historic 1st arrondissement is a good option. Book a breakfast-included package (croissants galore!); seek out nearby “hidden gems” suggested by the hotel’s “Navigator”; and let the front desk book you a seat (preferably at the chef’s counter) in the hotel’s popular-with-locals Balagan Restaurant, which serves an ever-changing menu of Israeli-inspired Middle Eastern meals.

You can save time by combining touring and fine dining by having lunch or dinner at (or on) Ducasse sur Seine, chef Alain Ducasse’s new restaurant on an electric boat offering diners a 90-minute cruise on the Seine. Or board the Bustronome, a restaurant inside a double-decker bus that drives by many of the city’s top sights during a three-hour tour. (There’s a London version of this as well.)

You may not get your fill of croissants, baguettes, macarons or other French pastries during a quick two-day visit, but you’ll learn some professional French bakers’ tricks to take home during a gourmet walking tour or a French breach-making class organized by a local tour group such as Meeting the French.

Santa’s flight plan

British Airways has shared a preview of the flight plan the Jeppesen charting company has prepared for Santa for the evening of December 24th. 

For those who aren’t well versed in reading flight plan charts,
BA says that the chart shows the approach for landing Santa’s sleigh back at the North Pole, having completed deliveries around the world.

The chart shows that on approach, the sleigh will descend to 2,500ft on a track of true North between SANTA and CLAUS. The sleigh will further descend on the final stages of its approach from COMNG to TOWNN, but in the event that the weather conditions are not good enough to land then Santa will climb back to an altitude of 2,500ft before turning right at MSLTO. That will lead to KSSNG where he will hold until the weather improves.”

Here’s some more detailed information about the plan: 

“With Rudolph’s nose lighting system, the sleigh has a ‘decision height’ of just 250ft which will help Santa manage any bad weather, resulting in a safe landing. Safety is obviously a priority for Santa and his team, so the plan warns that reindeer and elves will be on the runway and that reindeer games could slow down ground operations. Other aircraft are advised to look out for the blinding red nose.”

“We’ll be cheering on Santa and his reindeer on December 24 as he flies around the world,” said Simon Brooks, British Airways’ senior vice president sales, North America, ” He has priority over the skies that night so customers traveling should look for the sleigh and wave to Santa.”

My favorite parts of the flight plan are the ‘Hot Cider Deice Pad” and “Letters to Santa Drop Zone,” and that little elf, but the whole darn thing is charming.