FYI, here's something that appeared in a local paper. Looks promising!
By Ronald W. Powell
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 27, 2000
The tolling bell of Big Ben and the changing of the guard at Buckingham
Palace could be a couple of hours nearer to San Diego County residents
next year when British Airways is expected to launch nonstop service
from Lindbergh Field to London.
The daily flight would replace the current British Airways route, which
requires a stop in Phoenix on the way to London's Gatwick Airport and
on the return trip.
"We're 99 percent sure we're going to get it, but we don't have a start
date," said Rita Vandergaw, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Unified
Officials of the Port District, which operates Lindbergh Field, have
been in talks with the British airline for several months.
British Airways officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Besides the convenience of direct access, port officials and travel
agents hope the nonstop flight is a sign of recognition from air
carriers that San Diego is coming of age as a transportation center.
Excluding service to Canada and Mexico, Lindbergh Field has no nonstop
A short runway and the physical obstacle of Point Loma are part of the
problem. Aircraft such as the 400-passenger Boeing 747, which provides
service to London through Phoenix, cannot take off fully loaded with
passengers and cargo from Lindbergh. And it is not in the financial
interest of airlines to send partially full planes on transcontinental
But British Airways is planning to use the newer, smaller Boeing 777
for the nonstop London flight, according to port officials. That
aircraft can carry 330 passengers and a full load of cargo when taking
off from Lindbergh.
Thella Bowens, the Port District's senior director of aviation, said
British Airways officials are confident there are enough business
travelers to support the daily nonstop flight. While tourist trade is
seasonal, business people travel year-round.
Those in the travel business like the idea of a more streamlined
Eric Munro, president of Travelwise International, a Midway-area travel
business, said the current daily flight to London creates hardships for
Federal regulations require that passengers returning from overseas
must submit to inspections by the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration
and Naturalization Service and agriculture inspectors at the point of
entry into the United States. For San Diegans returning from London,
that means a two-hour delay in Phoenix while their bags and the
jetliner are inspected.
"It's not a nightmare, but it's an inconvenience," Munro said. "You
have to take out all of your bags from where you've pushed them into
the overhead bins."
Munro said the nonstop flight would make it easier for San Diego County
residents to connect in London to flights to other points in Europe.
With a healthy mix of business people, seniors, students, teachers and
European immigrants, he is confident the service can be successful.
"I think it can sell here," Munro said. "We're a big city that now has
a lot of high-tech companies. They do a lot of traveling."
Sue Buettner, branch manager for Hillcrest's Carefree Vacation travel
agency, said she believes the San Diego region has grown enough to
support the nonstop flight.
"We're still regarded as a sleepy Navy town," Buettner said. "When you
ask (the airlines) about providing more nonstop flights, they say we
already have Los Angeles and San Francisco. They want to know why we
need another gateway (airport) in California."
She called Great Britain a "hot destination" and said the nonstop
flight would make it easier for her and other travel agents to sell
tickets to London.
Dave Evans, assistant manager at Little Italy's Princess Pub and
Grille, said such service would make it easier for him to visit his
mother and sister in his native Liverpool. Evans said he has not been
home since he moved to San Diego four years ago.
"The flight to England is 12 hours, and a nonstop flight would make it
easier to travel," he said.