Airlines

My Flight: British Airways BA1 business class service from London City to JFK


British Airways Business Class London City – New York JFK Review

 

For ages I had been wanting to try this flight with British Airways for quite a few reasons – it has the Concorde’s flight number (BA1), it is a single class service (40 something passengers in business class) and with its stopover in Shannon (Ireland), one gets to clear US immigration and customs procedures, which can save hours when you land in the USA (in this case, New York’s JFK airport). The fact that it departs from London City was also interesting (an airport which I never use as it is almost 2 hours from where in live, but perfect for those working in the City).

This flight departs from London City airport and makes a brief stop in Shannon, Ireland. Here, you clear US customs and immigration and then arrive into JFK as a domestic passenger.

This flight departs from London City airport and makes a brief stop in Shannon, Ireland. Here, you clear US customs and immigration and then arrive into JFK as a domestic passenger.

So on a recent trip to the USA (to San Francisco, to be precise), we decided that the potential cons (longer travel time to airport and a longer flight to NYC) would be lost in what would be a long travel day. And I have to say, it was worth every minute.

 

Check-in

Check in at London City airport

Check in at London City airport

To say it was a breeze, would be an understatement. BA operates more and more flights from London City Airport, but the JFK route has its own check-in desk. We had no one ahead of us and were done in exactly 4 minutes, I kid you not. The staff were chatty and asked if it was our first time on this service. When we said yes, he briefly explained what we should expect – a gate lounge from where we would board the plane (and not your normal BA lounge), and that after 1h from departing from London, we would be stopping over in Shannon (in Ireland), where we would leave the plane and clear US immigration and customs procedures, which would speed up our arrival at JFK as we would land as a domestic flight. Exciting stuff!

 

Security

Security was possibly one of the quickest we have ever experienced and I do not recall if there was a fast track lane or not (I think not). It was all over very quickly, and it wasn’t a problem at all.

I was very curious about this gate lounge!

I was very curious about this gate lounge!

 

The Lounge

We walked around the shops for a bit (not too long as there weren’t many) and made our way to the gate, where we expected to have breakfast. My love for BA breakfasts is well documented (they do possibly the best bacon sandwiches in the world) and I have to say, I was disappointed with the selection – I did not know that is was just a boarding lounge with a bit of food and for breakfast, you could only choose between pastries, muffins and cereal. There were no cooked items at all, I am afraid. The drinks selection was absolutely fine, but we were actually quite hungry and had I known, I would have had breakfast in other places at the airport.

The Gate Lounge at London City airport

The Gate Lounge at London City airport

Obviously everything was spotless, but I did feel I missed out on the usual BA Heathrow Lounge experience. I know I wasn’t at Heathrow, but…

From the lounge, the 40 something passengers (there weren’t seats for everyone) boarded the plane via bus (for a 1 minute ride as the plane was quite close by). This was the most democratic flight experience I ever had – everyone was flying in the same class, with the same privileges. Result: proper queuing, no noise, no rushing. It was pretty perfect.

Possibly one of the most civilised flights ever...

Possibly one of the most civilised flights ever…

 

The Flight

Not your usual cabin!

Not your usual cabin!

–          Welcome

We were welcomed by the purser with the usual ‘Welcome back Mr. and Mrs. O’Reilly. BA has recently stopped checking boarding passes on planes (in routes/places where there are at least 2 previous BA ID checks), and this will be one of the service aspects that will go. It is that brief moment where the cabin crew glances at your boarding pass which then allows them to greet you by name. A glance at the passenger status gets you the welcome back. We were very pleased we had it!

Boarding took about 15 minutes all in, it was so quick (and quiet!!)

On your seat, you will also find a very thorough guide that explains all that will happen on the flight, especially the stopover at Shannon Airport.

–          Amenities

Ahead of our seats, we all had a coat hanger, which I thought was a very good idea. Usually the crew comes around in business class to get your coats seat by seat, but this certainly made it easier.

We got the standard his and hers Elemis amenity kit (you can see more details about it on a previous flight review).

–          Drinks service 

We were not offered a pre-flight drink – because it wouldn’t make sense, to be perfectly honest. On this service, boarding takes next to nothing and surely we had to be entertained on our short hop to Shannon airport.

Taittinger makes me happy, what can I say!

Taittinger makes me happy, what can I say!

During our first flight, the crew took our orders for lunch (to be served after the Shannon stopover) and we also had canapés and the first drinks trolley visit, which offers champagne (Taittinger Brut and Castelnau Rose). Not sure about the new rose choice – but it was sad to see Taittinger rose disappear. You can also order from the full bar, which includes a selection of gin, vodka or whisky, liqueurs, beer, juices and soft drinks. From the gin selection, I honestly still think that the gins (Tanqueray and Gordons) should be different from those served in economy (on other flights). I can’t comment on the other spirits as I don’t drink them.

– The Shannon Airport experience

After a short hop from London, we landed at Shannon airport in Ireland. We had to leave the plane, take all our personal belongings with us (including passport and US customs form) and head to the airport terminal. Those with checked luggage were asked to have a seat in a pre-determined area, whereas those with hand luggage only could proceed through immigration. After a brief wait, we were told to proceed though security. There were no queues and it did not take long at all. We then went through US immigration, in the same style that we would in the USA, minus the queues.

Something interesting happened – our luggage tags were checked and we were asked to visually identify each of our suitcases via a computer screen. I am not quite sure how this was done so quickly (while we had that short wait).

All done within the hour, very efficient.

All done within the hour, very efficient.

We then made our way to the BA departure gate before we boarded our flight again. The airport has very limited shopping and something worth noting.. the flight will not have duty-free on board. I hadn’t figured this out until later on and it was a shame as I actually planned to buy some items! You know now!

–          In-flight dining

 After we got back on the plane, we were served lunch. My choice was grilled rack of lamb which was fantastic, whereas Mr. O went for the garganelli pasta with oxtail ragout, which was also very good.

Wine choices were also good – Chateau de Thayvenay, a lovely Sancerre from France or a Clos Pegasse Chardonnay from California as whites and a Barbera d’Asti superiore from Italy or Cartlidge & Brown Pinot Noir, also from California, as reds. I tried the sancerre and the pinot noir and they were very good.

Couldn't fault the food on board.

Couldn’t fault the food on board.

To end the meal in style, I had a selection of cheese, paired with Port, which included Lincolnshire blue and cheddar.

90 minutes before we landed, we had afternoon tea, which is possibly one of the simplest meals an airline can serve, but certainly one of my favourites. I always start with the scone (served with jam and clotted cream, of course!) and then have a couple of bites of the sandwiches. I cannot fault the food options in any way.

The Club Kitchen which I love, was also available, so you can help yourself to snacks, sandwiches, salads and fruit in between meals. I am afraid to report that I slept for the rest of the flight and forgot about the chocolate stash and did not make a visit on this occasion.

–  In-flight entertainment

The future of in flight entertainment? Possibly!

The future of in flight entertainment? Possibly!

On this flight, we didn’t have the usual TV screen. We were handed an iPad which was pre-loaded with various TV and Film choices. It worked really well, it was easy to place the device on the cocktail table and I really liked it. The selection of programmes was good, albeit limited (only 20 films, for example).

–          The seat

Fully reclinable (180 degrees) seats, which were roomier than normal Club World seats.

Fully reclinable (180 degrees) seats, which were roomier than normal Club World seats.

The cabin looked smart, and the seats were different from the usual Club World cabin. For once, they all faced forward – I personally do not mind either option. They obviously reclined to a fully flat bed, and we had a nice pillow and throw.

Useful details...

Useful details…

We also had a 3-in-1 plug which worked on UK, USA and European devices, which was quite clever, but no USB ports. I also have to mention as this was an Airbus A318, we had control of the ventilation system (like on a normal short haul flight), which I loved. On long haul planes (and I do not speak plane, so bear with me), you can never control the air, which I do not love.

 

Final thoughts

The most civilised flight ever, in my opinion.

The most civilised flight ever, in my opinion.

I have to say, it was one of the most civilised flights I ever had. There were never queues to the loos, everyone was smiley and quiet (very important) and the whole journey was a breeze. The stopover in Shannon adds a bit to the journey, but that is offset on arrival as you head straight to the baggage claim at JFK as a domestic passenger and that can save you hours. Service was friendly (we had a 3-strong crew on this flight, and they were quite busy!!), the food was good, and we landed early, which is always a bonus.

The only issue for me is the fact that the service departs from London City, which isn’t convenient at all – but then again, I have Heathrow 30 minutes from home, and I am not the target audience of this flight. For businesspeople based in the City, you can get in and out of the airport in 15 minutes and be at your office, which I am sure is priceless.

Until the next flight…

xo

Mrs. O

 

Factbox: A return flight from LCY to JFK costs from £2600 per person including taxes. To find out more about this service, click here.


View Comments (34)

34 Comments

  1. Swisswife

    September 9, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Great Post – I fly City to Zurich every month and often look at this flight on the departures board and wondered how it would be. I did the Singapore to Newark Business only flight – when it was still running and that was amazing.. I might have to sacrifice the Champagne Lounge at Heathrow and give this flight a try soon….

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 9, 2015 at 10:16 am

      I think it is a very civilised experience (minus the lounge)! Do try it 🙂

  2. John

    May 15, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Very interesting review, which I found because I was in Shannon earlier today and was intrigued to see BA001 scheduled to depart to JFK, so googled it on return home.

    I’d just add that the same US pre-clearance is available to Aer Lingus passengers flying from UK regional airports to the USA (mostly via Dublin, but a few through Shannon). I did this from Bristol to JFK, back from Boston a couple of years ago and it worked perfectly – though the first leg is on a very non Club class turboprop!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      May 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      I read that the other day, and it is so good for Irish passengers!

  3. William

    October 28, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Sounds lovely! Reminded me so much of the Doha-London Qatar Airways all-business flight. Thanks for the review
    William recently posted..Postcards from MalaysiaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      October 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

      One I have yet to try, but really want to!

      • William

        October 28, 2014 at 11:56 pm

        Haven’t tried BA001 but Qatar Airways’ all-business is top notch! Faster boarding and deplaning, feels more private and I wish it was longer!

  4. MissLilly

    September 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I never had a business flight before, but really enjoy the lounge access and the fast track boarding. Seems really comfortable, same as you I really have to try that flight 🙂
    And yes, even in economy LCY is quite a fast airport, but LHR is so much more convenient for me location wise.
    MissLilly recently posted..It’s all about food – The Ox BristolMy Profile

  5. the lazy travelers

    September 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    this looks so nice and relaxing. also, i cannot believe that’s airplane food! though… i probably would have skipped the lamb 😉
    the lazy travelers recently posted..foodie break: @dineatharvestMy Profile

  6. Laura (@cocktailsandgelato.com)

    September 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    As regular travelers between Europe and NYC/Boston I can’t recommend the brief stopover in Shannon highly enough. Last summer was our first time and we will definitely be doing it again. Clearing customs in the US is a nightmare and on our last flight from Mexico into the US they had 3 customs agents working and 20 booths not open. Anyone complaining was told it was due to budget cuts and to count ourselves lucky we weren’t on line in the non-US citizens section. They had been on line for almost 3 hours. . . Shannon is definitely worth it, and I feel like nobody knows about it (we were heading to Ireland anyway) so thanks for sharing!
    Laura (@cocktailsandgelato.com) recently posted..Cocktail du jour: Aperol NegroniMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I wished they opened Global Entry to other citizens rather than just Netherlands and South Korea! I would pay any money just to save the time!

  7. Becky Padmore

    September 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Great review, I love that they give you an iPad for entertainment nice touch!
    Becky Padmore recently posted..The best alternative cruises for travel snobsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 8, 2014 at 7:14 am

      It was really quite interesting – but it did come with limitations. I flew back on another BA flight and the choice was very different. A price to pay for the peace and quiet? Maybe!

  8. Antonella

    September 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Nice review! I flew Air Canada from London to Detroit via Toronto a few years ago. I cleared US immigration at Toronto airport. It was quick and efficient. I didn’t know about it until I went to board the Detroit flight. I’d recommend it if you fly from Heathrow.

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 8, 2014 at 7:15 am

      That is very interesting to hear! These secret US immigration points. NYC isn’t the worse for BA as they almost have their own terminal, but LA or MIA, in my experience, can be horrendous!

  9. Janice Stringer

    September 5, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Hi Ana,
    This was a really thorough review – which left me without any doubt to the benefit of flying this way.
    The only thing I don’t understand, is why you can clear customs in Ireland. Could you explain?
    Thank you.
    Janice
    Janice Stringer recently posted..Skin Diving- A Great Family Alternative to ScubaMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 6, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      It is something quite fascinating. I don’t know what the agreement is, but there is a part of Shannon airport (at least!) that is US territory, so in effect, you enter the USA when you do it there (it has all the American set up, with real American immigration and customs officers). They are set up to welcome each flight so it is very quick – saving you hours when you arrive in NYC.

  10. Lux

    September 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Looks fancy! You sure had a great time as seen in your pics.
    Lux recently posted..Envy KillsMy Profile

  11. The Luxe Insider

    September 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Boarding is strange, they didn’t have any hub available ?? I hate to board directly from the tarmac (coming by minibus…) especially for long flights.
    The Luxe Insider recently posted..2014 Best Travel BlogsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      There are limitations with the format, but it is just a couple handful of people (compared to a normal airplane), so it is kind of OK.

      • Francois

        September 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        By the way the iPad device for entertainment is truely impressive! It is for sure the future.
        Francois recently posted..Upgraded to Etihad Airways Pearl Business ClassMy Profile

        • @mrsoaroundworld

          September 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm

          I thought so too, but came with space limitations (for programmes… very limited selection), but I am sure it can be addressed in the future!

  12. Julia

    September 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    This was really interesting to read! I always try and fly Aer Lingus or the like when I’m flying to the US, specifically so that I can do the customs clearance in Ireland (it is *so* much easier and I find the customs staff to be friendlier!) and I have always had the on-screen baggage ID thing. I was a bit weirded out by it at first, but anything that heightens security is alright by me. It was nice to hear about the food and in-flight entertainment options and definitely looks civilised overall! Although I do agree with you that it’s nice to have the big business class lounges in the airport where you have more food options and slightly more space.
    Julia recently posted..My Favourite New Zealand CitiesMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 6, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      The lounge was something I missed, but not the 300 passengers!

  13. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    September 4, 2014 at 1:59 am

    It’s funny that you’ve written about this, as I only heard about the service for the first time a week or two ago! It sounds like bliss and it must be so much easier since everyone is in the same class. On the flip side, I find that boarding for budget airlines is a simpler process for the same reason – no zones, no confusion. Being from the north of England, London City is by far and away the most convenient airport for me, although as you know, there agent many route options available. Also, that bag identification thing at Shannon is crazy!!! They didn’t have it last year when I connected there for a flight to Boston. A bit spooky, really.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..An Obligatory Temple Photo PostMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

      I thought the bag identification was fantastic.This was done by the US immigration agent and I can’t believe how quickly they processed everything!

  14. Jayne

    September 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Another fair and frank review Ana (i laughed at your comment about not speaking plane as I am the same!) It sounds like this is a great service for business people looking to speed up the immigration process and arrive in NYC in a dignified manner. Shame the lounge is not so good at City but at least the food on board looks fab. Thanks for sharing.
    Jayne recently posted..The Perfect Day In BrisbaneMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      September 4, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thank you, Jayne! There is no lounge per se, but again everything makes sense. Except the Gordons gin… seriously?

  15. James Dalton

    September 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    great review, thanks

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