Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is getting its first service from an Airbus A380 next week, as British Airways (BA) has plans to fly the jumbo between ORD and London Heathrow (LHR). The service, which begins on May 8, will replace one of two daily Boeing 747-400 (744) services that BA currently flies between the two cities.
“The addition of the Airbus A380 for direct service from O’Hare to London is great news for travelers in Chicago and around the world,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans said in the news release. “Chicago is always looking for ways to offer our passengers new and improved options for international travel. Thanks to our partners at British Airways, we will bring more visitors directly to our city on one of the largest and most exciting aircraft in the world.”
British Airways and partner American Airlines operate a combined six daily flights between O’Hare and Heathrow. An addition of the A380 in place of a 744 will carry 20% more passengers across the Atlantic.
“We’re delighted to be the first airline to offer regularly scheduled service on the A380 between Chicago and London,” Simon Brooks, British Airways’ Senior Vice President Sales North America, said in a statement. “For those traveling for business to London or customers heading to Europe on vacation, this is an exceptional start to their travels.”
The A380 that BA will operate on this route seats 469 passengers across four cabins. Included are 14 first class suites, 97 lie-flat business class suites, 55 premium economy seats, and 303 coach seats.
British Airways flight BA295 will depart London at 10:50 for Chicago. The return flight, BA294, leaves ORD at 17:0 and arrive at LHR at 7:20 (+1 day).
Though this is the first regularly scheduled A380 service at ORD, it isn’t the first time that an A380 has visited Chicago. Emirates flew a one-off A380 service to O’Hare in 2016 to test if the airport was ready to accommodate the jumbo at that time. In 2997, Lufthansa flew an A380 to O’Hare while completing technical procedures required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Chicago is the fifth US city to receive service from BA’s A380. Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco currently have A380 service, but flights to Boston and Miami are seasonal.
Chicago O’Hare has had a runway capable of handing the A380 since 2013, but has lacked a gate capable of handling the double-decker until recently. Though shorter than the 747-400, the A380 is wider. Its two decks also span the entire length of the aircraft, instead of the 747’s partial upper deck.
Another runway capable of handling the A380 is under construction, and should be completed by 2020. In addition, a second A380 gate is under construction as part of the expansion of Terminal 5.
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