This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Passengers flying out of the Oakland airport usually see a lot of just one type of airplane: the Boeing 737, and mostly in the colors of Southwest, the biggest airline at OAK. There isn’t a lot of airplane variety at the airport on the other side of the bay from San Francisco, despite a relatively big number of yearly passengers. About three-quarters of those 13.6 million passengers fly Southwest, and Southwest only flies 737s.
So it was a big surprise when keen-eyed TPG reader Sam Engel spotted something very unusual when flying into OAK on Tuesday: an Airbus A380, in the colors of British Airways,
What was the biggest passenger airplane in the world doing at an airport normally frequented by humble 737s?
Did the big Airbus divert from its intended destination, San Francisco, because of the runway construction causing disruptions, our reader wondered? And if so, what did its passengers — 469 of them, assuming a full plane — do? How did they get to San Francisco if their plane did not go to SFO?
So we did some quick digging, and found out that the big bus didn’t divert to Oakland because of construction. It went there as a consequence of the pilot strike that crippled British Airways operations worldwide on Monday and Tuesday. At one point on Tuesday there were no British Airways planes in the sky, anywhere in the world.
Since BA could not fly its long-haul planes back to the UK during the strike, it ferried some of them for temporary parking to airports with available space. In the case of Oakland, it would also be cheaper than parking at a major international gateway like SFO.
We looked at the flight logs of the airline’s A380s, and sure enough the one with registration G-XLEG was ferried from SFO to OAK, after disembarking its passengers, on Sunday evening. That’s where our reader saw it: his photo clearly shows that it was parked at a remote stand.
Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 showed that the plane flew to Oakland on Sunday as BA9154 — flight numbers that high usually indicate special or charter flights — and back to San Francisco as BA9155 on Tuesday, after spending two days parked. The schedule then showed it was expected to serve a London to Boston flight on September 12, presumably after going back to London from San Francisco as a scheduled flight with passengers on September 11.
The Oakland A380 wasn’t the only case of a British Airways long-hauler ferried to a different airport during the strike. Ryan Ewing of aviation news site Airline Geeks spotted others, for example a Boeing 777 and another A380 spending the strike period at Washington Dulles.
Featured photo courtesy of British Airways
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers 40,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points as well as a slew of other valuable benefits like lounge access, hotel elite status and a digital subscription to The Times and The Sunday Times for Primary and Platinum Supplementary Cardmembers.
- Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £6k in your first 3 months of Card Membership
- Up to 99 free Supplementary Cards - one complimentary Platinum Employee Cards and 98 Complimentary Gold Employee Cards
- Global Lounge Collection - Access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries, including The Centurion® Lounges and membership of Priority Pass™
- Hotel Status at Hilton, Marriott Bonvoy™, Meliá Hotels International, Radisson Hotel Group, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts – enjoy benefits such as complimentary upgrades, early check-in and late check-out, enhanced loyalty points, complimentary Wi-Fi and more
- The Times and The Sunday Times annual digital subscription (£312 value per Card) – available for Primary and all Supplementary Cardmembers
- Fine Hotels and Resorts – Enjoy a collection of over 1,000 hand-selected iconic 5-star properties worldwide. Receive complimentary benefits worth an average total value of £400 per stay.*
- £150 statement credit for every booking with onefinestay (unlimited use)
- Dedicated Account Management Team