British Airways Will Add Flights To Oakland In March 2017

Wow, British Airways is on a roll. A couple of weeks ago British Airways announced that they’ll be adding flights between London Heathrow and New Orleans as of March 2017. Then last week British Airways announced that they’ll be adding flights between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale as of July 2017.

Well, now British Airways is announcing yet another new US route, which will represent service to their 25th US city.

British Airways will fly to Oakland

British Airways will be launching 4x weekly flights between London Gatwick and Oakland as of March 28, 2017.

On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the flight will operate with the following schedule:

London Gatwick to Oakland departing 10:20AM arriving 1:15PM
Oakland to London Gatwick departing 2:45PM arriving 9:25AM (+1 day)

On Tuesdays the flight will operate with the following schedule:

BA2279 London Gatwick to Oakland departing 11:25AM arriving 2:20PM
BA2278 Oakland to London Gatwick departing 3:50PM arriving 10:30AM (+1 day)

The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, featuring 40 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 219 economy seats.

British-Airways-Business-Class-777 - 3
British Airways 777 business class

British Airways’ California coverage is getting quite impressive. The airline flies to Los Angeles (twice daily), San Diego, San Francisco (twice daily), and San Jose, and will now add a further flight to Oakland.

ba-california

If you’re interested in booking this flight, keep in mind that British Airways has a policy where they make two business class award seats available as soon as a route becomes bookable, so you should have no trouble snagging award seats on this flight. The flight is already bookable, and we’re seeing two business class and four economy class award seats per flight.

british-airways-fare

The catch, however, is that British Airways’ business class product isn’t great, and there are also hefty carrier imposed surcharges of $800+ roundtrip on award tickets, so it won’t be cheap.

british-airways-a380-club-world-10
British Airways 777-200

Alaska Airlines has a bit of a focus city in Oakland, and they partner with British Airways. So it’s certainly possible that they’ll hope to pick up some connecting passengers for their flights to Hawaii. However, that’s not really a unique opportunity, given that there are already lots of other airports where British Airways customers can connect to get one stop service to Hawaii.

What I don’t get about this route

British Airways’ last US route announcement was between London Gatwick and Fort Lauderdale… a route served by Norwegian. Now they’re launching London Gatwick to Oakland… also a route served by Norwegian.

Does British Airways really think they can compete with Norwegian on price, and for that matter do they even really want to try? I’m not sure I see the upside for British Airways here. British Airways’ cost structure is significantly higher than Norwegian’s, and generally the people who fly Norwegian aren’t people who would otherwise be loyal to British Airways. Norwegian’s 787s have 69 more seats than British Airways’ 777s, the plane is cheaper to operate, and their cost structure is much lower otherwise as well.

So do they want to protect market share while taking a loss, or what are they hoping for here? A lot of British Airways leisure destinations out of Gatwick do quite well for the airline, given that they’re fairly high yield leisure destinations and not served by other airlines. But trying to compete directly with Norwegian on US routes just seems sort of silly.

Bottom line

Despite British Airways blaming Brexit for some service cutbacks, they sure are growing their US route network. Three new US route announcements in just two weeks is a lot. While I get New Orleans, as it’s actually a unique destination, I don’t really understand British Airways replicating Norwegian’s US routes, as there doesn’t seem to be much upside for them.

What do you make of British Airways launching flights to Oakland?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. London is a big city, and depending on where you live, getting to Heathrow is a real pain if you are a business traveller whether it’s economy or biz and you likely won’t fly Norwegian. This makes smart economic sense to BA.

  2. Why, seriously why. We’ve got A380’s and 777’s flying out of SFO and 787s flying out of SJC. Both those cover SF and Silicon Valley. Oakland is the lesser airport of the three, and I kind of view it as the budget one (perhaps unfairly).

    Of course I might just be bitter about being downgrade from First to Business on the SJC-LHR route…

  3. Finally! BA be showing our blighted city some of the respect we deserve! Clara Bingham and I plan to be on the inaugural flight!

  4. As an Oakland local this is great news. The two counties that are served by the Oakland Airport (Alameda County and Contra Costa County) have a combined 2.7+ million people. Oakland and the East Bay are certainly on the way up economically. There should be sufficient revenue to sustain the route, particularly for the front of the plane as presently Oakland is a budget airline airport (Southwest, Norwegian, etc.) and I don’t have a choice but to go to SFO or SJC for an international business class seat.

    San Francisco and San Jose are both great airports but getting to either can be a traffic nightmare (every bit as bad as driving to Heathrow). I live 25 miles from the San Jose Airport and the drive can easily take 1.5 to 2 hours. What a relief this Oakland-London route would be.

    Very exciting if it works!

  5. I’m surprised, I would have thought that UK holiday maker traffic might be down with the low value of the pound oversea’s. Guess I was wrong…..

  6. It sure seems like a lot of capacity. But, as an East Bay resident, I’m excited to take this flight. The East Bay is vast and many residents would prefer to use OAK. It’s easier to get to, easier to park at, far fewer weather-related delays, etc. I only ever fly out of SFO if I have to. SJC is too far away and is a must-drive and I don’t really consider it an option unless it’s absurdly well-priced.

    I read another blogger speculating that BA is trying to take advantage of the wealthier East Bay suburbs? There are plenty of them.

  7. I think OAK is trying to shed the budget image, although most people I know in the East Bay just think of it as a Southwest terminal and nothing else. They’re even building a lounge in Terminal 1 soon, so it looks like they’re trying to attract more premium customers.

  8. OAK is just as convenient to downtown SF as SFO and also taps the entire East Bay. Google says both airports take 36min to downtown SF by Bart. Before BART was extended to SFO, smart business fliers knew it was actually easier to fly into OAK if headed to meetings in SF.

    Does anyone know if there is an airport code where you can search all three Bay Area airports similar to NYC or LON?

  9. This is all just a play for Steph Curry’s affections.

    Seriously, they are trying to put Norwegian out of business. Good for us in the bay!

  10. Subsidy/guarantee from the airport authority? That sort of thing has driven these routes over the years.

  11. Heathrow is just out of slots. Unless you cancel a route of your own or pay tens of millions for a new slot.

  12. I’m seeing Roundtrip prices from the UK starting at 377 GBP = 460 ISH USD.

    That’s a pretty good fare. I would rather do that than Norwegian.

  13. BA could give 2 shits about OAK and FLL..its all about crushing Norwegians yields. They will run at a slight loss if need be to spank DY and try to force them out. Drive down yields and suddenly LGW does not look as attractive to DY, and most certainly will have them rethink that hefty 787 purchase.

    Go back and look at what BA tried to do to VS back in the early 90s, and even further back to the 80s where PA, BA and TW ganged up and forced Laker into liquidation.

    Norwegian cannot hurt the big guys with 2-3 flights to each US destination per week. BUT, they are gearing up for daily and thats where corporate contracts come into play.

    Premium Economy is now the most profitable cabin around, and DY has a better hard product than BA and VS…so its a problem. A BIG PROBLEM, and they are going to cut off Norwegians balls before they get too big.

  14. my overall comment on the FLL article also applies here:

    “Of course, BA havent just opened the route on a whim. They have a lot more “professional” people than us arm chair CEOs look at the routes and the data. In fact BA are currently advertising for a “Finance Analyst-Routes” whose job will be to decide on new routes etc. Lucky maybe you would like to apply!!!”

    Yes BA have just launched two routes to compete against DY. There will be a myriad of reasons and data for this decision. Suggesting they might lower them to LCC standard is too simplistic and misses the point that during the UK a school holidays DY are often as expensive (or more expensive) than BA by the time you add luggage, food etc

  15. As an Oakland native, I love this. I have been low key jealous about all of SJC’s expansion (BA, Lufthansa, Air China) and am happy to see someone other than Norwegian flying long haul into Oakland. I almost don’t see the point though, as lets be real, Oakland is not exactly the most popular destination from Europe, and getting to SFO is not much hassle from the east bay. Despite this, taking BART into the city (San Francisco) takes no effort from OAK with the newish airbart connecting the airport to the main lines, so it does make some sense.

  16. @Kiwi: very insightful comment. Lots of Chevron personnel in San Ramon who travel internationally live in the East Bay. Flying out of Oakland is much easier and more highly desirable than SFO.

  17. Keep in mind that Norwegian fly Dreamliner 3x weekly from Oakland to London Gatwick. I don’t think BA will get enough market since Norwegian is too cheap. (Despite BA provide more service)

  18. Contrary to some guy above, OAK has always been the bigger airport then SJC. And it’s closer to downtown SF then SFO. And it can be connector for north bay residents. Throwing in Contra Costa county and the north bay, Oakland has a wealthier catchment than SJC. The weakness had always been the backwards airport authority and a total lack of investment in terminal 1, not the demographic. Airlines have been leaning on OAK to do this for years and break the reliance on WN

  19. Btw, Norwegian is cutting OAK-LGW. So this makes even more sense. Norwegian is actually increasing overall service at OAK, but ditching OAK-LGW in favor of OAK-BCN. They’ll add OAK-BCN in addition to OAK-OSL and OAK-ARN.

  20. I recall flying non-stop from OAK-LGW on World Airways in 1973.on a very early 747. Although I think it usually had to stop to re-fuel at somewhere like Shannon, Gander or Bangor, at least west-bound.

    The more things change . .

  21. As a Bay Area resident, I actually think OAK can make sense. As other people have pointed out, LOTS of people live in the East Bay, including lots of premium travelers. But, many people in the North Bay (Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and even Marin to some extent) like to fly out of OAK as it can be easier to get to than SFO in terms of traffic.

    But I wonder if the OAK flight will pull people away from SFO and BA might have to cut one of its SFO flights at some point. Or maybe downgrade one of them to a 787.

  22. OAK beats SFO hands down if there’s ever any weather issues. If I have to rely on the schedule I definitely fly OAK if given the choice.

  23. Hey Ben,

    Allow me to preface my response by saying that OAK is my favorite Bay Area airport to depart from (SFO A Concourse is next on my list). Easy accessibility, nice people, and TSA checkpoints that flow smoothly…especially if you have TSA PreCheck. And, I am among those who feel that this route will work – both for BA and East Bay residents.

    What I don’t understand is your assertion that this will make great connections on AS routes to Hawaii. If you take a look at Alaska’s schedule, you’ll find that all their flights to the Islands leave OAK while that BA B777 is still over northern Canada. So, this means that a bunch of jetlagged European passengers get to sample the lovely hotel scene around the airport before they have to rise at 00:dark:00 for a flight to paradise (as an example, Alaska’s only flight to OGG on 3/31 is at 07:15).

  24. In terms of competing with Norwegian, I’m not sure that the cost delta is as big as you might think. Aside from fact that BA’s crew costs at Gatwick are lower than at Heathrow, with fuel not too expensive, the all-in cost of operating a, I’d imagine, full amortized 777 against an, expensively leased, 787 may not be that different.

    And given that IAG is better placed to absorb losses than Norwegian for a while, it may just be a plausible strategy to drive them out of town.

  25. As a new(ish) Oakland resident, world traveler and Oneworld frequent flier, having BA and hopefully other international carriers to follow start flying out of OAK is music to my ears. While the airport does not have the glamor quotient and lounge facilities (yet) that SFO does, it’s ease to get to from most parts of the East Bay, lack of weather-related delays and cancellations and simplicity of use, make it a terrific and likely preferred alternative to it’s much larger and sexier cousin across the bay.

    As a business and leisure travel advisor with an increasing East Bay clientele, I’m even more thrilled about this new routing. While BA’s business class offering is subpar, just having them offer flights out of OAK is going to be welcome news for wealthy travelers out of the region. Sometimes convenience is more important than comfort so to that end, BA’s got it right. Let the planning begin!

  26. Good news; i could have used this new route when i was travelling to UK often over the past few years. Now, when do the flights to Asian destinations start pleaaaaase?? :^)

  27. This route to Gatwick was a smart move on BA’s part. It gives the traveller direct connections to many European cities served by the budget airlines (eg. Easyjet) based in Gatwick. BTW,I might be wrong but it looks like Norwegian will no longer operate this route next year?

  28. We are looking forward to our trip in early May. Downside is that BA does not currently show WiFi being available on this itinerary. They say it is coming soon but no date given.

  29. We are using the LGW to OAK service in Club in April. To be honest it was only because of a departure change last year on a Jet Blue service from SFO that moved to OAK due to fog that we realised how convenient OAK was via the train. Also, we have been looking to use our Avios and Amex 241 voucher to the West Coast but SFO / LAX / SJC / SAN all never seem to have any premium availability. However, OAK is wide open – there were 8 seats available when I booked.

    The last few flights with BA have – with one exception – been pretty mediocre, and as I said, we are using Avios, otherwise would be looking at routing via LAX on the AA 777-300 as that is a much more pleasant experience than BA. But for now, we have got not too bad a deal especially with the 241 voucher.

    Would anyone be interested in a trip report?

  30. My wife and I are flying the OAK to LGW route June 1st on British along with our 8-month old daughter. Originally I had planned to go on Norwegian, but believe it or not, when you add up the costs of baggage, seat reservations, etc. the price came out cheaper on British Airways. I do prefer the 787 Norwegian plane, but the kicker was that BA is MUCH friendlier to families — they waive the seat reservation fee and automatically give you first choice of bulkhead seats where there are baby basinets. Norwegian, meanwhile, would not let me choose a bulkhead and requires a parent with infant to be in a window seat (!?) Seems very strange and a bad idea both for the parent and surrounding passengers. So at least for families British is competitive 🙂

    Anyway, looking forward to getting reports of the first BA flights soon. So yes, please give a trip report!

  31. One has to keep in mind that BA is refurbishing their entire Gatwick fleet of 25 777-200’s, as they densify their fleet. They expect the to finish all by 2018.

    BA’s Gatwick based Triple 7’s seat count will go from 280 to a whopping 332. Remember this a 200-series, not even a 300-series. Yikes! Now I feel like I am flying United’s New 777-333ER to China — in Economy. Cruel, cruel, cruel Mr. Munoz!

    The greatest increase will be in Premium Economy (old 24 to a doubling of 48.) As noted by OP — where all the is. I don’t think the refresh includes the newest iteration of PE – but everyone in economy and PE will have larger screens (thanks BA for keeping everyone else up on the way over….)

    Business class will reduce from 40 to 32 (for our Uber folks) while economy at 10 abreast seating will increase economy to 216 to 252.

    Of course this is all to gain a competitive seat/mile cost advantage close to Norwegian.

    These are older planes with less lease and operational cost (except maintenance)- So it just might work or not. (Remember CALlite or Song ((I really did love Song)) anyone?) Just kidding – this is just a sub-fleet.

    Going daily will get them the lift to make to play around with their revenue management and ancillary fees.

    Also, me thinks, it will be hard for Norweign to compete with daily flights to Gatwick. Even if it’s just O &D or you happen to be going to the beach in Spain, Italy or France. In fact, you could do a Avios Tiers run by using BA from OAK to a code-shared Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong if you can stand BA’s to fly in PE for 22 hours. (Side note: I still want to check out all the noise about Cathay Pacific’s PE (Idea noted!) Plus ++ as noted look at all the feed from other airlines into OAK, who are between Seattle (hello Bakersfield!) and San Francisco.

    My one and only and last experience with Norwegian (hey I love to fly and check out new things and just for the record it was in their plus seats…just saying) was a 6-hour connection on the way over with an overnight on the way back due to the operational nightmare caused by the high utilization of its 787’s. (Just for the record it was in their PLUS seats.)

    In addition to the complete chaos it throws into the schedule when their lovely new 787’s have a computer glitch that causes a delay +++. ( It happens a lot)- no really A LOT-

    “All things 787: Dispatch Issues: (http://nyc787.blogspot.com/search?q=dispatch+rate)
    HT: http://nyc787.blogspot.com

    I really don’t think east bay flyers are going to take this flight over the Atlantic, then take a hike the Gatwick Express or Bus to catch a connection at Heathrow do you?…. Wait, I take that back. I know some fellow flyers that catch Ryan to really keep their airfare low. They will see much more of the world than I, but so much more of it will be kinda uncomfortable. (Disclaimer: Views of this commenter do not reflect the positions or opinions of One Mile At A Time Blog 🙂 ) Wait, I think I TOTALLY represent the lay-flat position’s and opinions of this blog….

    I digress.

    All this to say to my fellow East Bay BA Flyer – catch the ride before 2018 and it will be an acceptable flight before it turns into “a fo’ real “Norwegian Experience”

    PS- My hope– low $2000’s BA Club Prices. Even though I know it’s not the best out there by a long shot, I always <3 the tea and scones…..

    Thanks for reading this far.

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