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BA001 London City Airport to New York’s JFK flight review
A few years ago, British Airways resurrected the flight number previously reserved for the premier Concorde supersonic service for a twice daily all-business class flight between JFK and the tiny London City Airport in the Canary Wharf area of London (in the Financial District).
It’s intended for the business traveler popping into London or New York for a day or two. London City Airport (LCY) in London’s E16 postal code is just 10 minutes to Canary Wharf and not much further to Bank and beyond. Compare that to Heathrow which is about an hour (or more) by taxi to the Bank / Canary Wharf area by taxi and a bit more by Heathrow Express (HEX) to Paddington and onward travel by Tube. Beyond that, LCY’s small size (it’s the size of a small town airport) and serves only New York on this one flight beyond Europe means extremely quick check-in outbound from London and likewise on Customs and Immigration when arriving at London City. In fact, one must only arrive 20 minutes before the flight even with checked bags! Compare that to suggested arrival times of 2 hours before departure at LHR. Someone with a meeting in London could arrive in the morning from the overnight JFK-LCY flight and be at the office quickly and rested – even catching an afternoon flight back to NY if needed.
Prices on the route are only about 10% higher than LHR flights so again, for a business traveler, it’s a reasonable option.
I, however, was not paying $5,000 ++ for my ticket. I was redeeming my American Airlines miles for the experience – mostly because it was the only flight available for miles on the date I needed. The one way flight set me back 50,000 miles (Note: now 57,500) and about $500 in BA’s somewhat extortionate “surcharges” on miles redemptions. Given that round trips in this market in summer run well over $1,000 in coach, I was still pleased to have the option.
Check-in at LCY was indeed easy. For a 9:45am departure I left my nearby aLoft Hotel eXcel (a great choice in the area with a DLR station) at 9am, paid all of 8 pounds for a taxi and arrived at the airport at 9:06. By 9:!5 I was checked in, by 9:25 I was through security and at 9:32 I was one of the last to board my flight after stopping at the departure gate for a quick (complimentary) pastry and coffee.
Wheels were up at about 9:47 (try getting that on an LHR departure!) and we made a quick ascent, necessary given LCY’s one short runway.
And it’s this short runway that is the rub on New York bound flights. After all the time gained with the LCY location and short checkin window, we’d have just a one hour flight (which has a drink and snack service) to Ireland’s Shannon airport for refueling and custom’s pre clearance. Now, I give you that the whole process was VERY efficient and simple. Land, depart with hand luggage, wait 10 mins in a penned area for word that all checked baggage had been screened by customs and OKed, and then through US Immigration. The whole process was about 45 minutes but the entire extra stop adds about 1.5 hours to the blocked flight time over an LHR departure. For many passengers, clearing customs in Ireland is great as queues in NY can be extensive. But if you are like me and travel frequently abroad (and are a US Citizen), you have really no excuse to not have Global Entry – which means no queue on landing at JFK regardless. Of course, this pre-clearance is a real benefit for non-US passengers who do not have this option – and therefore it’s close to a wash with customs clearance time.
Onto the plane. Which I’m on now, about 5 1/4 hours into total flight time.
The configuration of this Airbus 318 jet is 2 x 2, 16 rows, 32 total seats. A bit of a dated layout as you are definitely in close quarters with your neighbor and you will have to do some gymnastics to get over your sleeping neighbor, but overall very nice. I must note that the plane is amazingly clean – it looks brand new still.
We have 3 cabin crew and service is flawless. Every member of the crew has been friendly and genuine in their attempts to keep everyone happy. Very personal and attentive. After reboarding at Shannon, meal service began with the entree (I had the stuffed chicken breast with carrots, potatoes, and leeks out of the 5 options offered) which was followed by cheese and biscuits or a fruit platter. The food was definitely a notch above standard airline fare and on par with premium class meals I’ve had on other long haul flights – although not quite up to the level of a Singapore or Cathay Pacific.
The provided entertainment is a 1st Generation iPad loaded with a fairly small selection of movies. Here, BA could do better. Why not more of a selection on a 9 hour flight?
Before landing, we’ll have high tea and then land at JFK as a domestic flight
Overall? I’m quite pleased despite my quibbles. The cabin is very spacious and relaxing – although I confess that with a few hours still to go, I’m ready to land….
Note: This is a repost of a review from 2014. Things have likely changed since then but it should give you an idea of this particular flight. Please leave a note in the comments if you’ve had an updated experience.