British Airways Launching Service to… Charleston, South Carolina?

British Airways announced new London Heathrow service to Charleston, South Carolina which will operate twice weekly between April 4 and October 24.

It’s seasonal service. It’s just twice a week. And it will be operated by a Boeing 787-8 with 35 business class, 25 premium economy, and 154 coach seats. Boeing 787 aft fuselage parts are manufactured at Boeing’s North Charleston site.

The city of Charleston says that in 2017 total outbound Europe traffic totaled 110,000 passengers or “about 2,100 a week.” Not all of those to London, of course, and not all will be willing to fly British Airways.

The Thursday/Sunday schedule will be as follows:

    London Heathrow – Charleston, 5:20 p.m. – 9:20 p.m., British Airways flight BA221
    Charleston – London Heathrow, 10:50 p.m. – 11:50 a.m., British AIrways flight BA220

Charleston, South Carolina is Often Viewed as a Quaint Tourist Destination

While the service was announced as going on sale tomorrow, awards are bookable on American’s website — and British Airways generally makes at least two business class award seats available when they load schedules. So right now space for 2 award passengers is wide open on the days BA operates the flight, the better to extract egregious fuel surcharges from customers natch.

British Airways and American Airlines (along with Finnair and Iberia) are part of an anti-trust immunized joint business venture. They coordinate schedules and pricing on transatlantic flights and share revenue.

Over the summer American’s Vice President – Planning Vasu Raja said we should expect moves like this one,

Increasingly what you’ll see with us at Heathrow, BA will do things such as flying to more cities outside our hubs. They’ve flown recently to Austin, to Nashville, to New Orleans. They’re going to probably do more of that stuff.

Charleston, South Carolina is definitely ‘more of that stuff.’ Doing it with a twice-weekly 787 makes sense too, thin international routes are what the 787 is built for. And doing it seasonally makes sense to start. I’ve reached out to ask whether Charleston is providing subsidies for their first transatlantic route.

I don’t see Charleston service growing the way that British Airways Austin service — which also began with a 787 — has grown. But new flights and experimentation are always welcome, even in the era of $70 a barrel oil.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My guess is that BA’s motivation is less Charleston to LHR traffic than the opposite as Charleston has become such a hot tourist destination.

  2. I wonder if BA coordinated this with Boeing to get cheaper airplanes. Boeing builds 787s at the non-union plant in South Carolina (with poor results). Even if this is costly and inefficient, it allows Boeing to squeeze the unions in Seattle. Boeing can point to Charleston as up-and-coming in collective bargaining negotiations. In exchange, BA may be getting a discount. Just speculating.

  3. Complete insanity. The world of aviation is really crazy. So Charleston, SC gets a non-stop to London but a city the size of Phoenix, AZ – ranked 5th most populous in the nation – has nothing other than, thankfully, BA also. And just for the record we really do appreciate that flight. Thank you, British. But why no non-stops to the continent? Lufthansa, Turkish, Air France…..where are you guys?

    I don’t want to go to LAX or Dallas or Toronto to get to Europe.

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