LONDON — On July 4th, British Airways accepted its first of twelve Airbus A380s from Toulouse with a double delivery event, including the 787 . At the time, BA moved up the inaugural date of its A380 inaugural LHR-LAX service from October 15th to September 24th. BA was quite forthright that passenger carrying crew familiarization short-haul flights within Europe would happen prior to the official inaugural. Most speculated that the city pairs would be Heathrow and Madrid given BA’s holding company International Airline Group being registered in Madrid, not to mention it being sister-company Iberia’s hub.

BA pulled quite a surprise when on July 31st, the first 4 A380 flights popped up on BA’s reservation system indicating flights 902, 910, 903, and 911 on Friday August 2nd would be do the honors. BA’s flight 902, normally operated by a Boeing 767-300 would be subbed for the A380.  The even bigger surprise was the destination – Frankfurt, not Madrid! Given the 767-300 replacement in capacity, the LHR-FRA routing made sense. RoutesOnline.net captured the following flight details and reported it first.

  • BA902 LHR0645 – 0930FRA 388
  • BA910 LHR1430 – 1715FRA 388
  • BA903 FRA1110 – 1150LHR 388
  • BA911 FRA1855 – 1935LHR 388

Based on the inventory, BA would only offer 243 seats for sale, the 767-300s capacity (44 Club World and 199 World Traveller). In fact, the entire Upper Deck including First Class and World Traveler Plus were off limits for sale and for the flight.

British Airways A380 Seat Map. The upper deck seating was not for sale, but was basically off limits for visits, though a few ended up making it upstairs. (Credits: SeatGuru)
British Airways A380 Seat Map. The upper deck seating was not for sale, but was basically off limits for visits, though a few ended up making it upstairs. (Credits: SeatGuru)

With no advanced warning to passengers and press, some AvGeeks rushed to LHR T5 to be on the inaugural flight. There was no fanfare, event, or special service on any of the 4 flights. First to Fly founding member Isabelle Chu, a travel agent who has flown many A380 inaugurals managed to make the flight all the way from Perth, Australia and was kind enough to send us these photos. BA’s first Airbus A380 G-XLEA operated the first service. According to accounts, the only noticeable difference in service was the flight crew’s PA announcements and a letter at each occupied seat explaining the equipment change. The aircraft departed at 6:49AM BST for the 90 minute flight to Frankfurt. The 477 mile distance is surely one of the shortest revenue generating flights ever for an Airbus A380.

This letter was handed out to each passenger of the first revenue BA A380 flight on August 2, 2013. Before the September 24 official LHR-LAX inaugural, BA is using the flights on inter-European flights for familiarization such as LHR-FRA. (Credits: British Airways
This letter was handed out to each passenger of the first revenue BA A380 flight on August 2, 2013. Before the September 24 official LHR-LAX inaugural, BA is using the flights on inter-European flights for familiarization such as LHR-FRA. (Credits: British Airways)
BA's A380 flight 902 takes off on its maiden revenue flight. (Credits: Author)
BA’s A380 flight 902 takes off on its maiden revenue flight. (Credits: Author)

Club World Business Class Cabin


 

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 World Traveler Economy Class Cabin


 

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Videos of British Airways A380 First Flight LHR-FRA via YouTube

Video Tour of British Airways A380 on July 4th Delivery Day

We will keep you up to date as BA operates additional familiarization flights leading up to the September 24th LHR-LAX inaugural.

 

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