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Carfield
Topic Author
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British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:55 pm

Club World London City Shuttle in 2018 – Really lackluster

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Full photo album:
http://s1213.photobucket.com/user/Carfi ... eApril2018

British Airways operates a really unique flight between London City Airport and New York JFK using a single A318 and this flight is obviously special because it takes over the old flight numbers 1 and 2 from the Concord generation. In the heydays, there were two weekday frequencies with two dedicated A318s. London City Airport is a unique airport located near Canary Wharf, the heart of the world’s financial center, which is convenient to many corporate travelers working in the finance sector. Hence, it is also known as the “Bankers’ Shuttle.” Of course, City airport poses unique challenges to any operators, not to mention transatlantic flights with a short runway and crowded apron space. This flight can only operate nonstop from JFK to London City, and on its way back, it has to stop in Shannon for a fuel top up. Someone at the BA team comes up with a great idea and decides to take advantage for the Pre-clearance facilities in Shannon, and during the stopover, all (crews and) passengers clear custom and immigration, and the flight will be treated as a domestic one after its arrival into New York JFK. The A318 operates on this flight features 32 business class lie flat seats and three cabin crews take care of you. BA is quite ambitious in the beginning and this service has a certain glamor to it. There was a small lounge setup at the gate for this flight and it made sense with two daily flights. However, under the “great” leadership of Alex Cruz, the former CEO of Vueling, everything has to be streamlined and reflect its core as a “LCC inspired premium airline”. The lounge was no longer available and you got a restaurant coupon instead. The onboard service is just regular Club World (and no even the newly enhanced meal services featuring on the JFK-LHR flights, despite this flight was being catered by Do & Co), and I actually think Open Skies, BA’s French subsidary, which will become history after this summer, has the best BA branded Club World service. The London City flight, unfortunately, did not go this way. The saving grace is the “White Company” branded bedding with mattress pad, duvet and a light blanket. The service was of course pretty personalized with three cabin crews looking after 32 passengers, which don’t always happen. There were only fifteen passengers on my flight, and all indications seem to lead to the eventual conclusion that this service will come to an end.

April 18, 2018
BA 1 LHR-SNN Lv0940 Arr1100 Airbus A318-100 G-EUNA

Check in area at LCY:
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I arrived at London City Airport a bit earlier than expected but my goal was to check out that “special” lounge. I wanted to take some pictures before the crowd arrived. Of course, I should have read FT reviews and headed to airport later. Anyway, the check in line was not busy at all, but apparently only one agent could work on the New York flight. The display in the back also showed that only one counter for the New York flight. Since the agent was assisting a previous guest (not even heading to JFK), I had to wait for her. I asked for a pair of seats and the agent gave me a choice of row 3,4,5 or 6. She also told me that I could use my boarding pass for a free hot breakfast in the Pilots’ restaurant located in the main area after passing security. When I asked about the lounge, she told me that it had been converted back to a regular gate. She told me that I did not need to go to the gate till 40 minutes prior to departure.

Security was easy, as the early morning rush period was over. To give London City airport credit, there isn’t really much space for them to work on. Plus, there is really no space for any lounges so everyone has to wait in the main seating area.

Here is the pilot restaurant with its breakfast menu.
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I did not partake in any breakfast because I had already gotten breakfast just forty minutes ago. I just made some last-minute shopping and spent most of my time looking at planes.

Plane-spotting is cool at LCY and they have plenty of seating and large windows along the corridor, which allow closed up view of various regional jets and turboprops.

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Gate 21
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Well here is the gate for gate 21 and the only thing that tells you that it is special is this table with newspapers and magazine – not even a big selection.
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Then there are regular seats but windows are fine with me.

At 9:20am, we got some bad news. The turnaround manager informed us that our new departure time would be 10:25am. The reason was that the driver for the catering truck just discovered that his license had expired this morning, and it took them a while to issue him a new one. Since the JFK flights got the special DO & CO catering (while other get the NatWest catering), we really had to wait. The truck also had all the special beddings for the flights too. However, with a light load, the delay was really minor.

Catering truck finally made it to the plane…
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G-EUNA – Baby Airbus and somehow the “big” bird here at LCY
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Boarding finally began at 9:49am and eight minutes later, door was closed.
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Some cabin shots
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1AC
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Each seat has a pillow and white company bedding bag.
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Seat features
Divider with a personal reading light
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Literature drawers
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Footrest
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Power plug #1 and small side storage bin (glasses and small items)
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Power plug #2
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There was literally no pre-takeoff service because things were moving quickly here at LCY. The startup was done at the gate, before heading to runway. Because of the size of our plane, we can’t really taxi like other regional jets. We basically headed to the nearest runway intersection, headed down the runway and then back-tracked for our takeoff run. The captain had warned passengers about the unusual takeoff power, so no one would be surprised.

Great view of the tarmac, as we headed down the runway!
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Landing sequence of this EMB-190
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Backtracking
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We took off from R/W9 at 10:10am for our quick one-hour flight to Shannon. We stayed at 38,000ft for the short flight towards Shannon.
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Departing London
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Literature pocket – safety card, High Life Magazine, duty free catalog (but there was no duty free service), and unique seat guide for these A318 seats
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With a short flying time, the cabin service was fairly limited. Menus were first passed out and then one of the F/As took beverage orders.

Beverage – no alcohol for me yet, as I still need to clear custom at Shannon, but most passengers went with champagne
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Then the F/A passed out starters from lunch and you got to choose after seeing both choices.
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Most passengers went with vegetarian sushi, including me. BA should go back to two savory items.
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Of course, F/A reminded everyone that there was no soy sauce, which was a big “No” in my book, and the plate came with wasabi and ginger. The sushi was fine for a Western carrier but not sure if I am a fan of it. It is a bit too fusion for my taste.

No reason for wasabi and ginger (as we are not eating fish and need to clean palate in between)
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Seat in recline position
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The rest of the flight went by quickly and we began our descent at 10:52am.
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It was a rainy day here at Shannon.
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We landed on R/W24 at 11:11am and parked at stand 34 three minutes later.
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A United’s Boeing 757-200 next to us
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Shannon Airport was a bit different from my previous visits many years ago and the transit procedure was simple. Two agents led us to the transit area, which we all had to go through the typical security check. It was annoying and they made you take off your shoes here.

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But with fifteen passengers and every lane being opened, things went smoothly. Then you immediately entered the duty-free area, which features cheaper duty-free alcohol and cigarettes. I wish I know about the possibility to buy duty free goods at Shannon. You did not have much time to slowly browse around but if you know what you need, you have time to buy those products even on a delay situation like my flight. I got some smarties for my godson. During the flight, they told passengers with checked bags to wait for the announcement before going through the pre-clearance area. They had to unload all the bags first, in case custom needs to open your bags.

The pre-clearance area was actually not too busy, despite a few flights were departing at these same hours. There was also a military charter flight but these soldiers went through different channels.
Last edited by Carfield on Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2188
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: British Airways's Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:55 pm

BA 1 SNN-LCY Lv1150 Arr1405 Airbus A318-100 G-EUNA

Special waiting area – just some fancy couches
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Our plane waiting for permission to reload bags
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I love these big windows.
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Boarding call was made at 11:41am and at 11:48am, door was closed.
There was some light rain, so despite passing some unique planes, I did not take any pictures.

We took off from R/W24 again at 12:03pm for our six hours and forty minutes flight crossing to New York JFK. As captain said, we basically caught up some times at Shannon and would arrive early due to favorable wind. We left the Irish coast shortly after takeoff and then stayed at 39,000ft during the cross across the Atlantic Ocean. We then cross the northern part of Newfoundland and then towards Fredericton of New Brunswick, and then we traveled along the coast of Maine at 38,000ft, and then crossed into Lynn, Boston, Providence, Warwick, Westerly, and then into JFK.

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Leaving Irish coast
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Amenity kits by the White Company were passed out, along with hot towels.
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IPads were then handed out, along with the F/A taking our main course order. Since I planned to sleep and had my own laptop, I decline the IPads and noise-cancelling headsets. However I notice many passengers have to change their handsets.

Beverage was first served with a bag of roasted almonds, which looked extremely cheap, despite the bag says that it is specially packaged for Club World. Any premium airline should find this kind of packing unacceptable.
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Here is the wine list:
Champagnes
Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV
Champagne Castelnau Brut Reserve NV
Champagne Castelnau Brut Rose NV

White Wines
Albarino 2016, Eidos de Padrinan, Rias Baixas, Spain
Glen Carlou Chardonany 2016, W.O. Paarl, South Africa

Red Wines
La Font du Loup “Signature” 2016, Cotes du Rhone, Rhone, France
The Hedonist Shiraz 2016, McLaren Vale, South Australia

I had the South African Chardonnay, which was drinkable.
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Lunch was soon served and here is the menu transcript:
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Salad
Fresh seasonal salad with beetroot and goat’s cheese, served with vinaigrette

Main Courses
Beef cheeks and rack of spring lamb with aubergine Parmiagiana, baked new potatoes and rosemary jus

Caramelized black cod with wok-fried vegetables and wasabi mousseline

Homemade ricotta agnolotti with sautéed mushrooms, green asparagus and cherry tomato

Main course salad of Severn and Wye hot smoked fillet of salmon with cucumber ribbons, creamy celeriac and lemon olive oil dressing

Desserts
Caramelized apple tarte Tatin with vanilla anglaise
Cropwell Bishop Stilton and Applewood Cheddar with mango chutney
A selection of fresh fruit
Chocolates

Really typical Club World service, and as I noted earlier, this Banker Shuttle does not offer a slightly upgraded Club World experience like its French subsidiary airline, Open Skies.

Salad is fresh and I like beets!
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DO&CO Butter
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Breads are fairly typical of all BA flights, long or short haul!
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Then I had the beef and lamb entrée, which was lovely.
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For desserts, you only get a choice of fruit, cheese, or dessert, but given our light load, I am sure you can have all three options.

I chose the apple tart, and it was nice that they actually served it warm.
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Do & Co chocolate – coconut white chocolate raspberry truffle and almond crusted milk chocolate truffle
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After lunch, I took a short nap.

Here are the beddings – mattress pad, duvet, and thin blanket.
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Bed in full flat mode
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This mattress pad is strangely designed! I am sure I am doing it right but no one seems to bother to help.
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For the rest of the flight, the F/As sort of leave the passengers alone. The three F/As, with the exception of Tony (I might give Tony more points because he looks really good on that fitting white shirt), are obviously experienced F/As working these London City flights. They were polite and served the passengers efficiently. I could not say anything bad about them, but they were also not extraordinary. However, most passengers possibly wanted to be left alone on these flights.

With a shorter flying time than normal, our F/As started the final afternoon tea service fifty-five minutes prior to arrival. The service was typical BA and I chose the sandwiches. You were encouraged to only have tea, coffee, or water as beverages, but they did top up drinks.

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Descent soon began at 1:03pm New York time and it was rather choppy due to the rain along the coast.
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A final hot towel service was offered at 1:18pm New York time.

We landed on R/W31R at 1:40pm and then parked at gate 1 ten minutes later. Unfortunately, the ground staffs were not ready for us and we all sat on the plane for another ten minutes before allowed out.

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Wet weather
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Final glimpse of G-EUNA – of course gate 1
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Bags were already waiting for us at the baggage claim because of our delays in deplaning.
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In conclusion, I am glad that I have this opportunity to give these London City flights a try. London City Airport is a fun airport to fly in and out of, and compared to Heathrow, it is much simpler and easy to deal with. Yes, I am a bit bumped by the “enhancements” by Cruz but given the flight is possibly under death watch, I am not surprised. I am just happy that I did not pay for this flight. The fares are really high most of the times and many promotions exclude this London City flight. I don’t know if I will go out of my way to fly this flight in the future, but at least I flew it. With its typical light load, these seats are still better than the current generation of Club World seats, that are simply pathetic. I think there are plenty of rooms for improvement and BA should make the catering a bit more interesting and premium, but once again, most bankers are just happy that this flight still exists. The flight attendant service can honestly be better and maybe a dedicated crew to work on these City flights will be good. Plus these passengers pay a premium to take this London City flight. I remember there used to be much noise about some all-business-class airlines attempt to start the London City to US service using the C-Series jets but did not hear much about it. BA will possibly hang on to this route a bit longer, till the competition arrives and/or these A318s finally age out.

Carfield
 
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jaybird
Posts: 427
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:23 am

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:54 am

Thanks for the trip report - sounds like a very interesting experience.
 
airzona11
Posts: 1880
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:44 am

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:24 pm

Want to try and get a flight on LCY-JFK while it still exists. Like you show, if you want more luxury/refined, LHR-JFK has the options, this had the convenience appeal.
 
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TPX101
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Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:58 am

Brilliant Trip Report, very detailed! Thank you for posting it.
 
richierich
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Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:27 pm

Great TR, it's a shame this flight is on death watch. Such a unique city pair (+SNN).
That footrest is looking very tired and worn...
None shall pass!!!!
 
Akashg5
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2018 6:38 pm

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:13 pm

Fantastic trip report, thanks for all the detail.
It will be interesting to see how possible competition on this service would affect BA's presence.
 
DDR
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Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:09 pm

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Sat Apr 28, 2018 4:50 pm

Very nice trip report. Thanks for all of the details and the great pics. I like these niche services. The A318 is a cute little plane. I'm surprised that they serve the appetizer on the short leg to Shannon, seems like warm nuts would be acceptable.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2188
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:51 pm

DDR wrote:
Very nice trip report. Thanks for all of the details and the great pics. I like these niche services. The A318 is a cute little plane. I'm surprised that they serve the appetizer on the short leg to Shannon, seems like warm nuts would be acceptable.


Well BA does not really have a history of serving warmed mixed nuts on Club World. Even today, they served you a bag of nuts, as featured in one of the photos. BA basically just served the appetizer that usually comes with the main meal first on this short segment. They actually did not serve any more or less food compared to a typical transatlantic flight. Since most intra-European flights, even on this relatively short one, feature a meal, they can't get away with just a mixed nuts service. Plus they no longer have a lounge at LCY. Mixed nuts might be too little food.

Carfield
 
DDR
Posts: 1738
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:09 pm

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:09 pm

Carfield wrote:
DDR wrote:
Very nice trip report. Thanks for all of the details and the great pics. I like these niche services. The A318 is a cute little plane. I'm surprised that they serve the appetizer on the short leg to Shannon, seems like warm nuts would be acceptable.


Well BA does not really have a history of serving warmed mixed nuts on Club World. Even today, they served you a bag of nuts, as featured in one of the photos. BA basically just served the appetizer that usually comes with the main meal first on this short segment. They actually did not serve any more or less food compared to a typical transatlantic flight. Since most intra-European flights, even on this relatively short one, feature a meal, they can't get away with just a mixed nuts service. Plus they no longer have a lounge at LCY. Mixed nuts might be too little food.

Carfield


Thanks for the explanation. It looks like a great flight.
 
theobcman
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Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:16 am

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:25 pm

Nice & detailed report ! One thats on my list before it disappears.

There is one thing .... to call BA Club World on normal fleet "Pathetic" is a bit over the top ?! Yes they are first generation dated product but IMHO seated at a window these seats still give more privacy than other OW partners (AY/CX/AA/QR). Still very comfortable for lounging/sleeping and with all new isle acess next year on A350 will just make it better !
 
aeromoe
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:34 am

Re: British Airways' Lackluster London City JFK BA 1 April 2018

Wed May 23, 2018 10:38 pm

I love this trip report...thanks for taking the time to post with all the great photos. I've photographed the BA A318s at JFK several times...priced the trip on BA website...envied the folks who get to make the trip...enjoyed reading your report.
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