Eased UK COVID rules see a surge in British Airways bookings

August 05, 2021
BA's flagship lounge in New York JFK Terminal 7. Picture: Stuart Bailey / British Airways

British Airways has reopened its flagship US lounge as bookings to America surged by 95 percent due to eased UK COVID restrictions for fully-vaccinated international travelers.

In another sign of the demand for international travel that has built up during COVID restrictions, the UK announcement prompted BA to add thousands of seats to US cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as well as to European cities such as Berlin, Geneva.

It said this followed a “huge interest” in travel to London since the UK government announced the lifting of quarantine restrictions for international visitors.

READ: Qantas to stand down 2500 as border closures continue.

“Within a couple of hours British Airways saw bookings from the US surging by 95%, following the recent UK Government announcement mainly from cities such as New York and Los Angeles in the USA, and European cities such as Berlin, Geneva and Hamburg.’’ the airline said.

“The additional flights will play a key part in kickstarting the British economy by welcoming much-needed tourism back to cities all over Britain.”

The response is seeing flights between New York-JFK and London Heathrow increase to 21 services per week (up from 17 per week) and services between Los Angeles and Chicago rise to 10 per week (up from seven per week) from August 16.

From August 23, flights between Seattle and London Heathrow will increase to seven services per week (up from four per week), and Los Angeles will further increase to 14 per week.

The airline said it planned to further broaden its schedule between the US and UK throughout September and British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle is hopeful other travel corridors will be established as the UK’s COVID cases fall and vaccination rates rise.

The increase in demand prompted BA  to reopen its flagship US lounge, the Galleries Club lounge at New York’s JFK airport, from August  1.

Part of a phased lounge reopening plan, the lounge is available to customers traveling in first class, Club World and eligible cardholders ahead of flights to London Heathrow.

“After the news about the change in entry requirements for US customers into the UK, we expect to host more customers who need to travel and so we have decided that it is the right time to open our flagship lounge in New York,’’ BA brand and customer experience director Tom Stevens said.

“We are looking forward to welcoming some of our American customers back to London from next week and bringing Britons who reside in the US home for much-needed family time.”

The British carrier recently reopened domestic lounges in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.