Review: British Airways – The All Business Class Flight in A318 – London City to New York
(Deutsche Version des Artikels) After all my First Class flights in the past weeks and months, today I had a Business Class flight that was one of a kind, with not really comparable products. It’s about the British Airways flight from London City (LCY) to New York, with stopover in Shannon. Why there was a stopover and why this flight can be interesting to Londons and Germans will be told here.
It started, as always, at Berlin Tegel. Check-in, today at A05 again, is uncomplicated as always: Luggage check-in, receiving boarding ticket, continuing to the British Airway lounge. Talking to the very pleasant personal at Check-in and in the Lounge is almost wistful, since Tegel will be shut down soon and the new capitol airport won’t have a British Airways lounge. The new lounge will be operated by (the new) One World partner AirBerlin. It’s especially sad because on one side one’s known personally in this lounge after the years and on the other hand a personal service in a big lounge is simply impossible. Adding up, there are the short waiting times. Even if I haven’t passed security check-in and passport control 30 minutes before takeoff, like today, it absolutely doesn’t matter. Also this will be something impossible to handle at big and packed airports. But let’s stop the moaning and go on with flight BA 991 to London – seat 1D, as usual.
After a little delayed breakfast with salmon and bagels, we land in London on time, and I quickly move to passport control. There is not too much going on today, so I get along in short time. What I do not understand is why there is a fast track for Non-European citizens, while there is none for Europeans. However, entry is proceeding fast, if you have the new passport (the one with the photo symbol up front), since you can Check-in at the machine. Passport scan, look into the camera, open doors and go. When it’s packed, this can save up to one hour and counts for everyone, whatever which class they are in.
Luggage arrives quickly, my chauffeur is expecting me with a nameplate and so I’m in the car 20 minutes after landing in order to get to London City Airport (LCY). For those, who fly from Frankfurt it is even easier: Not only is Heathrow directly approached by British Airways, but also London City, which spares time on transfer. To my surprise and my driver’s, too, transfer time is short today, with 1:20 h.
London City Airport:
The big advantages for Londons that fly in different directions from London City, is accessibility. Not even 15 minutes away from the financial district, the aiport is located more than centralized. Another advantage is the short Check-in time: Takeoff is at 4 p.m. and you can’t even check in up to 25 minutes, sometimes 15 before it. That’s what I call effective flying.
Just entering the airport has something cozy. Luggage is checked in quickly and I’m continuing upstairs by escalator. Boarding ticket is scanned and the doors to security check open. Security check is preceded quickly, friendly and efficiently. If you like to shop, eat something or surf the Internet, you find lots of opportunities. Wi-Fi is available for free everywhere, all you have to do is register. 90 minutes before takeoff British Airways opens the gate lounge.
This particular area with almost 35 seats is located directly underneath gate 24. The machine is ready and you get a fantastic view, accompanied by a little drink, snack or coffee. If you like travelling and aircrafts, you will love this place. Service is quite attentive, which makes the time fly. A shortage after my opinion is the missing plugs at the seats, which is rather unfavorable when laptop or other gadgets “scream” for power.
The short way to the plane, almost 50 meters away, can be done by foot. We’re flying to New York with a special equipped A318. This airplane is perfectly prepared with 32 comfortable Business Class seats for the flight from LCY – JFK, which are arranged in a 2-2 arrangement.
That’s right, there is only space for 32 passengers in this machine, which is why not only boarding but also other service were realized so quickly. Today it’s double the speed, because there are only 15 more passengers on flight BA 003. Therefore I got the whole row for my own, from seat 6B to 6A, 6K and 6J.
The first part – let’s go to Shannon:
After I was handed a first beverage and explained the security instructions, the plane rolls up on track to Shannon (SNN). The stopover has different reasons: First, it was necessary to refuel the little A318 in order to get over the big lake, and second the proceeding of entry formalities. At Shannon airport there are two special areas for immigration into the US. Here we get done, what would have been required in the US: finger prints, picture, short questions and so on. As you can imagine, it’s going quite fast with 30 people and is therefore much more comfortable than queuing at JFK. Especially there, it’s not getting better: The bigger planes become (A380, Dreamliner etc.), the more passengers have to be preceded. This problem is being avoided on the flight. We arrive as “domestics” and have neither passport control nor customs in New York.
After takeoff there already is a little appetizer. Today I chose “sliced ham hock with piccalilli and toasted rye bread”.
Hardly eaten we prepare for landing in Shannon. Ways are short and effective. All passengers have to take their hand luggage, which is being check by American security control. Exceptionally, fluids mustn’t be packed out, only laptops. It takes 30 minutes and we are at the gate again, where British Airways has created a nice little seating area, just for All-Business Class flights to New York. And there we are back in the machine, after it was refueled.
The second part – New York JFK and the seat in detail
Since we will spend the next 6:45 hours in here, it’s time to have a look at the seat. Other than the Club World seats used in BA planes, which are ordered in opposite direction, we’re looking ahead. Seats are sufficiently broad, comfortable and provide enough privacy to sleep restfully for my taste. As inevitable with such an arrangement, passengers sitting aside the windows have to cross their neighbors, respectively their feet. But because there is a little space between the seats, it’s rather uncomplicated. At the back of the seat (which is a solid pod with movable rest) you find several shelves for magazines and the typical stuff one carries around. In the middle there are two bride shelves inside the partition of the front seat, where my Macbook finds a perfect place. Also under the footboard, which can be extended to a bed, there is room for shoes and such.
The middle armrest does not only divide the two seats from each other, but also bear 4 sockets in total. Therewith you can reload several devices and none has to wait. The sockets are suitable for European as well as American devices, so you don’t need an adapter. A little shelf in the inside of the middle armrest keeps enough space for the water bottle.
On the backside adjudges a little partition that can be moved to the front when sleeping. Reading light is mandatory and the seat can be sufficiently adjusted. No nick-nack, but enough place to sit comfortably. Prepared positions are saved (for takeoff and landing, eating, lounge) or you can adjust it after your needs.
Besides a pillow you are also handed a big and soft blanket, so that sleeping is less of a problem, if wasn’t writing this article ;-).
When it comes to entertainment, British Airways follows a different way. Instead of fixed screens, the guest received iPads. These offer a series of movies, tv shows and games and come with an iPad bag. Like that I can decide for my a movie or game on my own and sit or put the iPad on the back shelf of the seat in front of me. The only thing I’m missing is a nice Flight Map / Air Show
There is one specialty on the flight: After approaching the height of more than 10.000 meters and until entering the American airspace, diner is served: GSM Mobile Phone availability to send and recipe text messages and (slow) use of the internet access.
After having the appetizer in the first part, it continues with a salad. Green salad with a delicious dressing and thereto roasted bread of two different kinds.
My main course decision fell on the beef. In particular I got the following from the five-course menu:
„Roasted fillet of beef with horseradish and mustard crust, parsnip and thyme mashed potatoes and Madeira sauce“.
The main course was also quite tasty and after a shot while it came to dessert. The selection is a little narrow, since there is only Baileys cheese cake or cheese. I went by cake. It was okay, but nothing special and the crème aside was a little boring.
If you decide to work first and eat later, you can get the British Airways working dinner, which is about a „Club Ploughman‘s with potato salad and pickled onions garnished with pea shoots.“
The choice of whine during the flight consists of two white and two red wines. If you want to know which ones exactly there were, have a look at the picture of the menu.
If you prefer Champaign, you get a Taittinger Brut Reserve NV pure, or served as Kir royale or Buck’s Fizz Cocktail. Even if I hadn’t tried it out this time, it’s really delicious – I already had it on my Qantas flight to Austalia.
Shortly one and a half hour before landing in New York I got another little something to eat. Beside sandwiches of different kinds they also offered “Smoked duck with rosary goat’s cheese”, which I took. Also warm dishes were served: „Mini jackets with smoked haddock“ or „Broccolli Stilton quiche“.
Besides the typical alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, British Airways also served a neat choice of tea. Among that were green or black tea, but also peppermint of camomile.
Hardly eaten I had to change already. It’s not looking so good to leave the plane in pajamas ☺. We landed on time, so I got off rapidly and went on to the luggage band (which doesn’t take too long with so few passengers, since most of them carried hand luggage). And off I went to the city. I never entered the USA so fast and I have been there a couple of times.
It was an absolutely interesting and nice flight. I can now add LCY and Shannon to my airport list. The flight qualifies ideally for people that need to be in London before, or have to keep on travelling from London City to another destination. British Airways operates Amsterdam, Barcelona, Billung (maybe for a visit of Legoland?), but also destinations like Chambery, Copenhagen, Faro, Genf, Frankfurt, Madrid, Zurich or Stockholm from London City.
Seats and on-flight entertainment are sophisticated, you sit comfortably and a IFE with the iPad is something different.