Back in 2015 I had the pleasure of flying on British Airways BA001, the all business class service from London to New York. With just 32 seats on the Airbus A318, it is the closest you’ll get to a private jet. The service is still operating today and I would recommend giving it a go for the cool factor alone. I hope you enjoy this review written at the time!
BA001 – London City to New York via Shannon (LCY-SNN-JFK)
16 July 2015
Airbus 318-112 – G-EUNB
Seat: Club World 1A
Departure LCY: 09:45 Arrival SNN: 11:00
Departure SNN: 11:50 Arrival JFK: 13:55
This article should have been titled, “Why would you cross the Atlantic any other way?” as this was a great experience! I’m definitely a convert and you will see why in this report. Let’s get straight into it then, shall we?
I planned to see friends in Washington D.C. in 2015 and was debating which flights to choose. After a Facebook status update debating some options, I had some advice from a BA crew member who told me that I’d be mad not to give the Club World London City service a try. The British Airways web page for the service definitely had me tempted.
Taking The Plunge
32 seats? Stopover in Shannon? It all sounded good to me. Noodling around online with flights made me realise that the price was the same, only I would be out an overnight hotel stay in London as the BA001 left too early for a connecting flight. I decided to do it! I would be travelling on an aircraft roughly the same size as a De Havilland Comet 1 (the world’s first passenger jet) with roughly the same amount of seats.
There was the bonus of a fuel stop in Shannon (how 1950s!) – so it all promised to be a throwback to yesteryear with a modern twist. I flew over the night before from Dublin to London City, overnighted at a yacht hotel (Sunborn London) and headed from there to London City Airport in the morning.
London City Airport
Check-in was a breeze as there is a dedicated desk for the service to New York. In actual fact, the check-in hall was heaving with people and the only desk without a queue was my one, so I checked in quite swiftly. Once done, it was up the escalators and to security. There is no Fast-Track so it was join the fairly large queue or nothing. However, the queue moved fast enough and off to the gate I went. On the way, I caught sight of my babybus waiting for me.
The gate is dedicated to this service and has a lounge. The lounge has 32 seats exactly. It promised to be a busy flight as the lounge was almost full. Several BA passengers not on the BA001 attempted to use the lounge, however they were turned back at the entrance.
While waiting, I had a champagne, a banana smoothie and some fruit. A couple of people and I got chatting together – one was a FlyerTalk veteran who was on his way to Honolulu on a mileage run and had taken the BA001 many times. It was a friendly atmosphere and it seemed a lot of the people were heading on holiday.
Boarding BA001 to New York via Shannon
Boarding was called about 10 minutes before departure and it was up the front steps and into the aircraft. The cabin crew were in a great mood and welcomed us on board. This is what row 1 looks like.
Legroom was ample. I was lucky enough to have no-one sitting beside me, which was a great bonus. The manual safety demonstration was given and it was followed by a very sprightly take off.
Once airborne, the service began and on this leg from London City to Shannon it featured the Canapes course. Of course, this is with a drink – Champagne for me, please!
The canapes were quite delicious, but I couldn’t tell you what each one was because the one thing I left on board was the menu! It was a great day for flying and here’s the view from 1A.
It’s only an hour or so to Shannon and soon we were descending and landing in Ireland.
A grey and slightly wet day awaited us, but since we weren’t actually going outside, it did not matter.
The Shannon Stopover
We were advised that once we landed that passengers with hand luggage could go straight through pre-clearance. The rest of us would wait until we were called. About half the people went straight through and half waited in the BA holding pen.
Of course, we were waiting for the sign to change. It didn’t really matter because a guy came by and told us when it was time to go through. As is typical with US style security, we were screened again with the benefit of including removing our shoes and joined the general queue.
It didn’t take long to get to the front (there’s no rush!) and as usual I was finger printed and had some chit chat with the officer before being allowed through. The only difference is that they have taken a photo of your hold luggage and you need to confirm that it is yours on the screen.
The aircraft was docked at a gate virtually right outside the pre-clearance exit, so we were told we were allowed to go straight back on board and so I did. It was raining a bit by this time. Soon everyone was on board and it was a much longer take-off run this time to get us airborne and out into the Atlantic.
Lunch Crossing The Atlantic Ocean
We were provided with the standard British Airways amenity kit. Once everything is taken out, the cover forms a cotton bag for putting your shoes into.
We were offered post departure drinks and this time I went with a Kir Royale and a sparking water. Nuts, as usual, were provided.
Everything was nice and leisurely and after gazing out the window thoroughly enjoying the experience, it was time to eat lunch. The tray appeared as per below and you can see the various other pieces – butter vinaigrette and the bread I selected from the basket.
There were four selections for main course – I believe it was beef, chicken, fish and something vegetarian. It irks me still that I left the menu on board!
I chose the chicken on this flight and it was okay – a trifle dry, and probably the only thing about this whole trip that was slightly disappointing. I had a white wine to go with it and as you can see, more sparking water. It wasn’t bad at all, and I ate all of it of course. I do like my food!
Dessert on the other hand was stunning. For this chocolate and banana extravaganza, I had a glass of red wine.
It was so good that I stopped half way to get a picture of the inside of it!
By now I was pleasantly tipsy and was struck at how nice the colour of the wine was in the sunlight coming through the window.
On Board Entertainment
The in flight entertainment on board is via iPads handed to any passenger who wishes to use one. Wondering how this would be, it turned out to be very acceptable all round. Browsing revealed three movies I’d like to see, and I settled for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I probably got through about 45 minutes of the film, when the guy from FlyerTalk popped by for a chat.
As I had a seat free, I invited him to have a seat. We chatted, we drank, other people passed by and said hello and chatted… it was a bit of a party flight up where we were. The Captain said hello and we asked her a few questions when she took a short break – I never got back to the movie, let’s put it that way.
Sweets and Afternoon Tea
At various points I did remember I had a Trip Report to write, so I did get some other photos such as the bulkhead pattern in front of row 1. Chocolates appeared at one point and I took a picture of those on the foot rest, killing two birds with one stone.
Macaroons were delivered in little boxes as well. Finally, as is usual on the BA001, there is afternoon tea served before landing.
As you can see by the angle, I was three sheets to the wind by this stage and didn’t get a photo of the scones or a close up shot. Since I’m a huge fan of scones, I most likely was too busy eating them all.
We landed into New York JFK, disembarked and I headed off to change terminals and to join my connecting American Airlines flight to Washington D.C. I had a superb flight all round and would do it again with no hesitation!
That ends the article written in 2015. Officially referred to as the Club World London City service, BA001 continues in operation. One of the two Airbus A318 aircraft that operate the route has been sold, so it is now just BA001 and BA002, with the second daily BA003 and BA004 services cancelled. After the flight above, I returned on BA004 and that review is here.
The product has not been updated, so nowadays it is lagging behind the more modern Club World currently being introduced by British Airways. Also, there is no pre-flight lounge any longer at London City for BA001, as the gate is used for other flights too now. Depending on the economics, BA will either cancel the service altogether or upgrade it in line with the others. Time will tell, but if you want to do it, I’d do it sooner rather than later.
Have you flown on the London City to New York service? What was your experience like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Featured image by Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia via Wikimedia Commons.
BOAC de Havilland Comet 1 from Zaggovia via This Day In Aviation.