UK travellers will soon be able to fly non-stop to New Orleans thanks to a new direct service from British Airways.
Starting on March 27, and with four departures a week, the flights will utilise BA’s new fleet of state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
The launch, following four years of negotiations, according to tourism chiefs in the US city, comes weeks after Telegraph Travel declared New Orleans one of the 17 destinations UK airlines should “wake up and launch direct flights to”. BA flew non-stop from Gatwick to New Orleans in the early 1980s, but currently Britons must fly via another US hub, such as Atlanta or Miami.
The new service will depart Heathrow on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 3.40pm, arriving at 7.40pm local time. The return journeys will leave New Orleans at 9.10pm, arriving in London at noon the following day.
The Louisiana city will become BA’s 23rd US destination and is expected to prove “a bit hit” with both British tourists and business travellers, the airline said in a statement.
Only a handful of countries – Panama, Mexico and Dominican Republic – can boast direct links with New Orleans. The UK will become the fourth, while Germany – courtesy of Condor Airlines, which will begin flights from Frankfurt in May – will be the fifth.
“New Orleans led the nation with 37 per cent growth of our international traveller base in 2015,” said Stephen Perry, president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The new partnership with BA will drive the brand of New Orleans as a world destination not only in the UK, but throughout the European continent.”
What does the Big Easy offer? Jazz and blues music, trips to historic sugarcane plantations, and the Mardi Gras festival, for starters. It’s also a good base for excursions to unspoilt beaches and cruises down the Mississippi.
Anthony Horowitz, writing for Telegraph Travel last year, described it as “America’s maddest, most extraordinary city”.
“The clouds were low, blocking out the surrounding high-rises. I felt as if I were walking into a cross between 19th-century Paris and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. There were people everywhere, enjoying themselves in the street, many of them carrying oversized cocktails in plastic cups. Snatches of jazz, of course, coming from courtyards, from clubs, played by buskers – brilliantly – at every corner. A profusion of wrought-iron balconies. Gas lamps burning above the doorways. Old-fashioned shops full of things you don’t need but will probably buy: masks, voodoo products, bad art, antiques, hot sauces, even sexually explicit cakes. Quirky wooden houses that suddenly give way to mansions, such as the Supreme Court Building, taking up a whole block.
“Inevitably, I found myself in Jackson Square, named after the US president who beat off the British in 1812. There are tarot-card readers everywhere. A magician performs the cup-and-ball trick. Crowds stream in and out of the bars and restaurants. More jazz. Two black kids are tap-dancing on manhole covers. A woman passes me – rolls of fat squeezed into Lycra – wearing a feathered mask. I sneeze and an old guy taps me on the shoulder. ‘God bless you, buddy.’ The square is grassy. It’s a nice place to be.”