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ClassicLover
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British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Thu Apr 16, 2020 5:16 pm

For all the pictures that go with this report, please click here!

Some airlines have been operating a skeleton service lately, with just a few flights to get people home. Others have grounded their fleets entirely, waiting for the travel restrictions to be lifted thanks to the current global pandemic. Flights are few and far between, and those that are operating have a vastly different on board service to usual. Then there's the ground experience...

A person I know had to travel to Australia from the UK in early April on one of the last British Airways flights from London Heathrow to Sydney prior to the suspension of services. Let's just say it was a very different experience to usual and you can read about it here.

This post was written by my friend Adam Beaufort, and not by me, however since reports on actual flying this month are going to be rare, I thought it was well worth sharing.

--

I feel like I need to start with a small disclaimer. This is in no way a review or reflection of the quality of the typical British Airway’s product or service. I fly BA often, and on the whole am very satisfied with the quality of the service I receive. However, for what is sold as a £4,000 Club World experience (or 150,000 Avios points), it was nothing short of Ryanair in a flat bed.

I had originally planned to fly on the BA15 LHR to SYD in May. After the announcement that the route would be temporarily suspended from the 7th April I made the last-minute decision to move things a bit earlier. It’s hard to imagine that only a month ago there were over 50 carriers all competing for capacity on the iconic Kangaroo Route. Today only Qatar remains, for the purpose of repatriation.

Arriving at Heathrow, my expectations of a ghostly and deserted airport did not disappoint. Normally at 7:00pm, Terminal 5 would be in the peak of widebody traffic, with A380s going out to Hong Kong and Johannesburg, plus the ten or so 777/787s. A quick look at the departure board told me the BA15 was tonight’s only operating flight.

Image

After whizzing through security (no surprise there), I had little else to do except wander aimlessly around the empty terminal, imagining myself in a sort of mashup between ’28 Day Later’ and ‘Up in the Air’. The lounges were all, of course, completely closed, and the one and only shop open was Boots. Having been pre-warned about the impending onboard catering, I stocked up on a few of Boots’ finest sandwiches. Every single one was reduced to 50p. I was slightly disappointed when I got to the gate, as I had optimistically hoped to see a few homemade Ned Kelly style PPE kits adorning my fellow passengers, currently trending Twitter.

BA15 – London Heathrow to Sydney via Singapore (LHR-SIN-SYD)
00 April 2020
Boeing 777-300ER – G-STBA
Seat: Club World 12A
Departure: 21:30 Arrival: 05:10+1


The boarding process was very simple, with passengers respectfully monitoring their own 2 metre spacing on the airbridge without the need for adult supervision or hazard-tape floor marking. My partner and I had 12A and 12B, though we could have taken our pick of virtually any of the Club seats. There were only about 30 passengers in total. Four in Club, four in World Traveller Plus and 20 or so in World Traveller. I remember a former Flight Attendant telling me the required ratio of Cabin Crew to passengers should be 1:50. A quick calculation put our flight at 1:2. The First Class cabin had been roped off, with the CSD informing me it was being used for Crew Rest.

A quick introduction from the cabin crew gave us some pretty disappointing insights into what our journey would entail. First and foremost – there would be no service trolley, and no service of alcohol. At all. Apparently, the service of alcohol creates a risky level of proximity between passengers and cabin crew. I couldn’t help feeling that there was a cost-saving element behind this decision by BA.

Image

Second, we would not be allowed to disembark when we arrived in Singapore. We must remain on the aircraft, increasing the onboard time to a total of 22 glorious hours.
And third, the food for the journey had been specially prepared in advance and packaged hygienically. I’m sorry, but no gourmet menu should include the adjective ‘hygienically’. And it would be the same service regardless of cabin class. After take-off, we treated ourselves to an orange juice and a sparkling mineral water (because YOLO) and received dinner. Dinner comprised of a chicken tikka wrap, a dairy milk, a small packet of lemon biscuits, and a bottle of water.

Image

Given that normally at this point one would be tucking into a Do&Co appetiser, with either a second glass of Besserat de Bellefon Champagne or perhaps a G&T, the experience was overwhelmingly average. The cabin crew did their best to keep our glasses topped up, but honestly there are only so many orange juices I can get through. The coffee served after ‘dinner’ was in the typical half-portion sized “This drink is hot” cardboard cup. I am normally a big fan of the Union Roast served in Club, and even drink it at home – but I am 99% sure this was a cheap or instant substitute.

Making the bed was expediated by the fact that British Airways have removed all the bedding, except for the pillow and the duvet. The White Company mattress topper, as well as the blanket, have both been omitted. Incidentally a good friend of mine continues to refuse the mattress topper, considering it a ‘waste of time’. I just cannot understand how that’s the case on 15 hour flight. We continue to agree to disagree.

Image

Some other notables – all the High Life magazines have been removed from the cabin. This annoyed me slightly as it’s my go-to reading for the long taxi to Heathrow’s 27 facing runway. I also noticed that the onboard inflight entertainment had been dramatically reduced. I only counted about 20 films in total across all the categories. A few were returning titles I had also seen in January.

For breakfast, we were told that there would be a little ‘treat’. Since I wasn’t holding my breath, I was not too disappointed when a microwaved pizza arrived. It wasn’t actually too bad. However it is the kind of thing I would normally associate with a €6 price tag on a Ryanair flight. The experience was further jaded when I popped my head into the galley and saw everyone was eating a full cooked English…

Image

The Singapore layover was relatively dull, as we were confined to our seats with no lounge to relax in. The turnaround took approximately two hours, during which a single passenger embarked. We commenced our final leg to Sydney with the fresh crew. Dinner time again, this time a chicken roll and a KitKat. The only notable difference from the previous leg was this one came in a slightly fancier plastic bag (with drawstring).

Image

Australia is currently enforcing strict quarantine protocols for international arrivals. Everyone is required to spend 14 days in isolation in a government supplied hotel. As we disembarked off the airbridge, we were guided through a series of corridors to where a ‘pop-up’ health screening assessment was to be undertaken. Anyone showing a high temperature or symptoms of COVID-19 would then need to have a swab taken. Instead of going through the usual eGates for the border, the Border Force officers came out to us in full PPE and performed individual face-to-face passport checks.

Duty-Free was, unfortunately, very much closed. From there, we were escorted to where minibuses were waiting to take us to our designated hotels, and our luggage would follow on after (for us, this was 2 days later…) Despite media coverage of previous passengers being quarantined in the Hilton and the Shangri-La, our final destination would be a rooms-by-the-hour hotel in downtown Chippendale. But that’s another review all together.

Like I said at the start, this is not a reflection of British Airways’ typical product or service. The big ‘however’, though, is that British Airways are still selling all four classes at their usual prices, with a Club seat to Sydney priced at around £4,000, and First Class at £7,000. I spoke to a fellow passenger from Economy who had asked about the price of an upgrade to Club at check-in and was told it was over £2,000 per passenger, despite the cabin being virtually empty.

There is no variation in food between cabins, no alcohol service and no lounge access. The only difference was a seat versus a flat bed. I am completely at a loss as to how British Airways are maintaining a premium fare but without maintaining any premium onboard products. Even considering the loss of exclusivity, I couldn’t help feeling it would make more sense to move all the passengers into the Club cabin and use the whole situation as a marketing tool for the flat bed experience.



Thank you all for reading a rare report of a flight during the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you enjoyed this report by my friend. Remember, if you want to see all the pictures, please click here and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
planemad1
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:01 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Thu Apr 16, 2020 6:48 pm

Interesting report. I'm surprised BA are still charging that amount for Club and First though considering everything. I would have chosen not to fly though unless it was absolutely vital given everything that's been going on. I would love to see a report on the hotel in Chippendale lol.
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Fri Apr 17, 2020 8:49 am

You are completely at a loss as to why BA are changing a premium to lie in a bed with some degree of isolation from others rather than be potentially sandwiched in a middle seat in economy, really?

As for the catering, come on have you been living under a rock. Most of aviation services have been massively scaled back notwithstanding the fact most people want minimum interactions with ground staff and cabin crew onboard. Nobody be quaffing champagne for a very long time.

The very notion of letting everyone sit in Club World, for a PR stunt, why would they need to do this when people like you pay the fare? Oh and would that not annoy people like you that have paid the fare and suddenly see the masses sit in a cabin they haven’t paid for?
 
kimimm19
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:34 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:29 pm

Yes, the fact that BA have not discounted their prices for premium classes when there is no premium services (not entirely their fault but still) is pretty ridiculous.

Sure they're losing money quite a lot, but this is the time where they could reward people for actually still booking with them (as they probably absolutely have to).
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:09 pm

kimimm19 wrote:
Yes, the fact that BA have not discounted their prices for premium classes when there is no premium services (not entirely their fault but still) is pretty ridiculous.

Sure they're losing money quite a lot, but this is the time where they could reward people for actually still booking with them (as they probably absolutely have to).


There probably won’t even be the department that handles revenue or marketing still operating within the airline, if it is it will be at a vastly reduced manpower level, give them
a break. When flights and competition re start we will see some great deals on premium cabins.

As to your comment of no premium services, other than catering on and off board, what else has changed? If you look you will probably still be able to get a pretty low fare for F/J, FYI £4000 for a flight to SYD is pretty low so they probably are reduced already.

BA has/are very clear on what to expect on and off board take some ownership for being aware of what’s going on in the world, adjust your horizons accordingly.

As to being ‘rewarded’...be grateful they are still flying to help people get home or professionals who still need to travel. At this time all airlines are having to deal with the biggest change to have ever affected them. Give them
a break and applaud those still in the air.
 
jrfspa320
Posts: 563
Joined: Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:43 am

Thanks for writing up!
Sad seeing T5 so quiet, such strange times. Glad your friend made it back.
 
kimimm19
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:34 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:10 am

Baexecutive wrote:
kimimm19 wrote:
Yes, the fact that BA have not discounted their prices for premium classes when there is no premium services (not entirely their fault but still) is pretty ridiculous.

Sure they're losing money quite a lot, but this is the time where they could reward people for actually still booking with them (as they probably absolutely have to).


There probably won’t even be the department that handles revenue or marketing still operating within the airline, if it is it will be at a vastly reduced manpower level, give them
a break. When flights and competition re start we will see some great deals on premium cabins.

As to your comment of no premium services, other than catering on and off board, what else has changed? If you look you will probably still be able to get a pretty low fare for F/J, FYI £4000 for a flight to SYD is pretty low so they probably are reduced already.

BA has/are very clear on what to expect on and off board take some ownership for being aware of what’s going on in the world, adjust your horizons accordingly.

As to being ‘rewarded’...be grateful they are still flying to help people get home or professionals who still need to travel. At this time all airlines are having to deal with the biggest change to have ever affected them. Give them
a break and applaud those still in the air.



There are plenty of people still working remotely.

What else has changed, oh well the no lounge access for instance which the report writer stated. Doesn't matter if £4000 is 'pretty low' as other than recline, you have just as much room in cattle class without any neighbours and can even lay down across seats.

I won't applaud airlines like BA who have consistently degraded their service over the years and expected people to pay a premium because of their positioning and market share. Give me a break. No private airline is running flights out of the goodness of their hearts. They're expected to shuttle the essential traffic.
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:55 am

It’s your choice what cabin and price you pay its also clear that the service won’t be the same pre Covid-19.

Investment in lounges, new aircraft, new suite, new bedding, improved catering, yes I can see the service has been degraded in premium cabins over the years.

I am grateful they are still flying, yes of course they are being paid for it they aren’t a charity after all. I’m grateful for the people in the airport, on the plane and in the offices still making it possible. I’m grateful that the flight I have to be on is still operating otherwise I don’t know how I would be able to continue my role which is impossible to work from home.

The days of moaning and groaning about service levels and prices really do need to be put on hold until this pandemic is sorted. Every airline is adapting, some quicker than others to a new world. Give them a break/don’t give them a break, I’m really not interested.
 
seansasLCY
Posts: 1077
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:25 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:55 pm

Baexecutive wrote:
It’s your choice what cabin and price you pay its also clear that the service won’t be the same pre Covid-19.

Investment in lounges, new aircraft, new suite, new bedding, improved catering, yes I can see the service has been degraded in premium cabins over the years.

I am grateful they are still flying, yes of course they are being paid for it they aren’t a charity after all. I’m grateful for the people in the airport, on the plane and in the offices still making it possible. I’m grateful that the flight I have to be on is still operating otherwise I don’t know how I would be able to continue my role which is impossible to work from home.

The days of moaning and groaning about service levels and prices really do need to be put on hold until this pandemic is sorted. Every airline is adapting, some quicker than others to a new world. Give them a break/don’t give them a break, I’m really not interested.


Another of those who believe we owe BA. BA is an airline. It’s demonstrated no loyalty to its passengers. Not even extending executive club membership for those unable to fly. Plenty of other airlines continued to operate flights to get people home without cutting all extras or providing some service. BA have demonstrated their lack of care throughout this incident. They removed the refunds page from their website so they can keep money that passengers were entitled to.

I thought it was a great review. I flew with SAS at the beginning and thought the crew were excellent given they had just heard they would be closing down services.
 
GregB145
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:55 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Sun Apr 19, 2020 1:46 am

Having just had to put my dad out on a BA flight back from Sydney to UK a couple of weeks ago, I was disappointed by the service extended by BA. During the booking process it was stated that as a premium economy passenger he would get a three course meal etc. The fares had not dropped either, they were certainly charging for those seats.
After booking, it was only on reading facebook posts from the UK Hi Com facebook page, that we realised that BA with its ever decreasing levels of standards have really used it as an opportunity to extract the urine. The other airlines serving the route have managed to keep the service up with a hot meal. The crew on the BA flight also had hot meals. Therefore, BA using the excuse of hygiene to serve wrapped meals is disingenuous as best. The wrapper will hold and carry the virus. A tray meal having spent an hour or so in an oven will not...... Yep, I get the Covid 19 is going to have an impact etc, but I feel that BA had a very convenient excuse, nothing gets in their way in the race to the bottom ;)
 
Ted65
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:58 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Mon Apr 20, 2020 7:36 am

The abbreviated meal service is in place to protect the crew and passenger by reducing the amount of interaction.
The removal of alcohol is a sensible move, passengers can behave irrationally when sober....re complying with safety instructions from crew for example.....bring alcohol into the equation not such a good a idea.
Re the cost it works out at @ £2.60 a mile. A single one stop journey on the tube is £2.40 using contactless as the cheapest option.
 
Ted65
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:58 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:54 pm

Ted65 wrote:
The abbreviated meal service is in place to protect the crew and passenger by reducing the amount of interaction.
The removal of alcohol is a sensible move, passengers can behave irrationally when sober....re complying with safety instructions from crew for example.....bring alcohol into the equation not such a good a idea.
Re the cost it works out at @ £2.60 a mile. A single one stop journey on the tube is £2.40 using contactless as the cheapest option.


I meant to add, the crew receive a hot meal as BA has a duty of care to their employees. The crew are working a 15 hour duty and require a hot meal.
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:58 pm

Ted65 wrote:
The abbreviated meal service is in place to protect the crew and passenger by reducing the amount of interaction.
The removal of alcohol is a sensible move, passengers can behave irrationally when sober....re complying with safety instructions from crew for example.....bring alcohol into the equation not such a good a idea.
Re the cost it works out at @ £2.60 a mile. A single one stop journey on the tube is £2.40 using contactless as the cheapest option.


Seems like a pretty sensible move to me probably backed up by the fact a lot of caterers or airport staff will have reduced their levels too.

There will always be that whinging type of person on this site that can’t see outside their sphere, the world is against them ‘why me’ type.

I was waiting for the underused ‘race to the bottom’ quote...not seen it in a week ;)
 
planemad1
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:01 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Mon Apr 20, 2020 5:40 pm

Baexecutive,

I appreciate everything you say. However charging 4k for business class in the current climate is just taking the piss, even if it is all the way to Australia.
 
GregB145
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:55 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Tue Apr 21, 2020 2:08 am

Baexecutive wrote:
Ted65 wrote:
The abbreviated meal service is in place to protect the crew and passenger by reducing the amount of interaction.
The removal of alcohol is a sensible move, passengers can behave irrationally when sober....re complying with safety instructions from crew for example.....bring alcohol into the equation not such a good a idea.
Re the cost it works out at @ £2.60 a mile. A single one stop journey on the tube is £2.40 using contactless as the cheapest option.


Seems like a pretty sensible move to me probably backed up by the fact a lot of caterers or airport staff will have reduced their levels too.

There will always be that whinging type of person on this site that can’t see outside their sphere, the world is against them ‘why me’ type.

I was waiting for the underused ‘race to the bottom’ quote...not seen it in a week ;)


More than happy to see and I have seen the world outside of a sphere that most of you will never get to see and should be quite glad that you haven't had to either. Nice try for a bite btw.
However, crew interactions handing out a hot meal or a cold meal are essentially equal, especially when stuck inside a metal/carbon fibre tube for the best part of a day. If they can source a hot meal for the crew for duty of care, they could easily have sourced a hot meal for the passengers. Singapore airlines is managing it from the same hubs....
 
Baexecutive
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 9:29 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Tue Apr 21, 2020 8:07 am

More than happy to see and I have seen the world outside of a sphere that most of you will never get to see and should be quite glad that you haven't had to either. Nice try for a bite btw.
However, crew interactions handing out a hot meal or a cold meal are essentially equal, especially when stuck inside a metal/carbon fibre tube for the best part of a day. If they can source a hot meal for the crew for duty of care, they could easily have sourced a hot meal for the passengers. Singapore airlines is managing it from the same hubs....[/quote]

Thank you for your reply. I don’t work for an airline, airport or catering however I’m guessing there is a valid reason for no hot meal service, guessing its to do with distancing and hygiene, preparation of meals in the aircraft, cooking and presenting etc. I believe the catering is pre packed and minimises contact.

A cursory glance at other airlines including Europe’s 5 star Lufthansa will give you a bit of insight into a similar reduced offering (think they are offering bottled water - no soft drinks). Not sure about what’s going on with Singapore airlines, if they offer a hot meal service that’s great.

Not going to reply to any more comments as it looks
like another BA bashing with the armchair CEOs turning up which is getting old, in reality it is a trip report with my comments included. My comments centred around the fact the airline has been transparent in the service offering and pricing, if it’s too expensive it’s
very simple, don’t pay it. Get some self awareness and take ownership for your decisions in life.
 
737max8
Posts: 587
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:13 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:42 am

A full row of economy seats sounds more comfortable to me!
The thoughts and opinions expressed in my comments do not represent that of any airline or affiliate.
Flown on: 717 733 734 735 736 737 738 739 7M8 744 744ER 752 753 762 763 772 773ER 788 789 A220 A319/20/21 A332 A333 A339 A343 A346 A359 A388
 
VSMUT
Posts: 4016
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:40 am

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:40 am

Baexecutive wrote:
Not going to reply to any more comments as it looks
like another BA bashing with the armchair CEOs turning up which is getting old, in reality it is a trip report with my comments included. My comments centred around the fact the airline has been transparent in the service offering and pricing, if it’s too expensive it’s
very simple, don’t pay it. Get some self awareness and take ownership for your decisions in life.


What a load of crock. The criticism is from people who can afford it but don't want to pay a fortune for a degraded service exactly the same as provided in the cheaper rows, which stinks of being a cost-cutting move rather than Covid-19 related. You couldn't even come up with a valid reason why Singapore can offer service on the same routes as BA, or why the virus somehow means less movies on the PTVs.

Just because we have access to a lot of money for our travels doesn't mean we are a charity to help keep BA afloat.
 
mywaterbroke
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2015 7:22 pm

Re: British Airways Club World on the 777 from London to Sydney is not the same during a pandemic!

Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:38 pm

Interesting comments on this thread. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion but given I’ve flown London to Sydney in Business Class many times with LH/LX in combo with SQ or even with EY/EK sometimes for less than £2k in the non-COVID19 days, I’d be absolutely FURIOUS if I paid £4K and they served me this on a 24h flight to Australia. Prepackaged meals, reduced entertainment, no lounge, basically a very limited service along with BA’s claustrophobic seat, all for the price of a small car. I genuinely wouldn’t even care what their excuse is, virus or not. When LH had the catering strikes and served their Business Class pax prepackaged eco sandwiches on euro flights they, at the very least, sent out emails and text messages in advance to warn us so we could bring our own food or dine in the lounge. This was usually followed by a compensation (in my case 150 euro vouchers) and even then that was deemed unacceptable. If I were the author and I knew of this level of service in advance I would think a thousand times before I would cough £4K for a Business Class seat. And I’m sure BA know this. He at least seemed chilled about it. If I were forced to take this flight during COVID19 and KNEW in advance about this I’d take the cheapest economy seat and enjoy the same catering and service as business class, minus the seat, for probably quarter of the cost. But if BA were transparent I doubt anybody would pay them this much for Business Class. They need to adjust cost to level of service and share a warning at booking stage in advance so you don’t end up feeling conned but who here thinks they’d ever do that. And to those on here making excuses for BA: sure, I get the situation and am not against protecting the crew and prepackaging food and not serving alcohol. Just don’t not tell me and then charge me this much for it. Just you wait until it’s you paying this much.. for that! Shocking to say the least....

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