London-bound? British Airways returns to San Diego with nonstop flights

A British Airways Boeing 747 flying into San Diego airport
A British Airways Boeing 747 passes over Interstate 5 with a backdrop of the downtown San Diego skyline moments before arriving at San Diego International Airport from London.
(Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The popular flights to the United Kingdom were shut down in March of last year as the COVID-19 pandemic widened and overseas travel nearly ground to a halt


Following a more than 18-month absence due to COVID-19, British Airways has decided it’s time to resume flying between San Diego and London.

Starting Oct. 13, the airline will launch nonstop flights three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The flights to the United Kingdom will depart at 7 p.m. and arrive in London the next day at 1:25 p.m. The nonstops from London to San Diego will leave at 1:45 p.m. and arrive here at 4:55 p.m.

British Airways had to suspend service in March of last year because of the widening pandemic. It is the first airline to resume nonstop service to Europe from San Diego. Japan Airlines restarted its nonstop flights to Tokyo in March of this year, also at a less frequent pace than before the pandemic. Lufthansa has yet to resume its nonstop flights between San Diego and Frankfurt.

It is not known if or when British Airways will expand its San Diego flights to daily service. The airline had been operating daily nonstops since 2011 until the pandemic shut down the popular flight.

“We are beyond thrilled to hear that British Airways will resume their flights between San Diego and London in October,” said Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President and CEO. “London is the largest demand market between San Diego and Europe due to the robust business relationships between the two cities and provides San Diegans a convenient hub to connect to destinations across Europe and beyond.”

It should be noted that before boarding a flight back to the U.S. from Europe, all air passengers, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to post on its website advisories on travel to overseas destinations. For the United Kingdom, which it identifies as being among a number of countries with a “very high risk” of COVID-19, it says to avoid travel there. However, it advises that travelers should be fully vaccinated if they choose to go to the United Kingdom.

British Airways points out that it has taken a number of steps at the airport and on board to ensure the safety of customers and crew. On board, the carrier is cleaning all major surfaces, including seats, screens, seat buckles and tray tables after every flight. It also notes that the air on all flights is fully recycled once every two to three minutes through HEPA filters, which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters at an efficiency rate equivalent to hospital operating room standards.

“We can’t wait to welcome our customers back on board our San Diego flights, and we are honored to be playing our part in reuniting families and friends with their loved ones after such a long time apart,” said Marie Hilditch, British Airways’ head of North America sales.

“The safety of our customers and colleagues has always been at the heart of everything we do. We know some customers won’t have flown for a long time, we can assure them we have a range of COVID-19 measures in place to provide stress and hassle-free travel.”