British Airways i360 is a 162-metre (531 ft) Observation Tower on the seafront of Brighton at the landward end of the former West Pier. The tower opened on 4 August 2016. From the fully enclosed viewing pod, visitors experience 360-degree views across Brighton, the South Downs, the English Channel and on the clearest days it is possible to see Beachy Head 17 miles (27 km) to the east and the Isle of Wight 41 miles (66 km) to the west. British Airways i360 was designed, engineered, manufactured and promoted by the team responsible for the London Eye. The attraction cost £46 million to build. The owner of the site, the West Pier Trust, hoped in 2014 that a successful i360 would lead to the rebuilding of the historic West Pier. The i360 carried its 1,000,000th passenger on the 11am flight on 11 March 2019.
Plans were submitted in June 2006 and were approved by Brighton and Hove City Council later that year. The off-site construction of the sections of the tower began in 2008 in the Netherlands, and work on reconstructing the arches beneath and east of the pier to allow the tower construction began in November 2012. Work on the tower itself began in May 2014, with the attraction being scheduled to open in 2016. The Dutch steelwork specialist Hollandia prefabricated the cylindrical steel sections of the tower, known by the team as cans. The column is 4 metres in diameter, and with a height-to-diameter ratio of 40:1, it is the world’s slenderest tall tower. The glass passenger pod was designed and built by cable car specialists POMA, which also built the London Eye capsules. The passenger pod is 18 metres in diameter and holds up to 200 people. The viewing pod travels from street level to a height of 138 metres before returning to beach level. The pod provides a 360 degree view through curved glass and is heated and air-conditioned, with full wheelchair accessibility and bench seating. English Heritage felt that the plan would “provide an outstanding feature on the seafront, and a worthy companion to any successor to the West Pier”.
The glass viewing pod is fully enclosed and spacious – it’s 10 times the size of a London Eye capsule. There is room for up to 175 visitors to stand at the edge of the pod and look out, or to move around and see the view from different angles. The Sky Bar on board the pod serves Nyetimber sparkling wine and other drinks from Sussex, so you can raise a glass of something special while taking in the views.
The friendly in-flight crew will welcome you on board, point out landmarks and answer any questions. The pod is heated and air-conditioned to ensure year-round comfort.
A viewing map is available and a multi-lingual app can be download before you board. The app has ‘pre-flight’ information about how British Airways i360 was built, as well as an in-app viewing map and a children’s section with fun facts and a treasure hunt. The content can be enjoyed in a choice of languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin.
At the end of your flight, the pod descends into the beach building where there is a restaurant and gift shop leading out onto Brighton beach.