British Airways runs a twice daily service from London City to New York’s JFK airport, using a specially modified Airbus A318 in an all-business class configuration. Our Star Reviewer, Kyle, checked it out.
City Airport is the 'boutique' airport of London. It's easy to get to, small, and never too crowded. This particular flight has a dedicated check in desk, which means no waiting in line to check bags and get boarding passes. The only improvement would have been a fast track through security, which wasn't offered. That said, thanks to the size of the airport, we were still through security in under 10 minutes.
BA001 has a dedicated gate, which BA have turned into a Lounge of sorts. While it doesn't have the amenities of some of the larger, flagship lounges, it has a certain charm, especially as you're sitting and staring out the large glass windows at your aircraft. There was an attendant working in the gate area, bringing passengers coffees and drinks, as requested. There was a spread of breakfast foods, which felt pretty standard for lounge fare.
Boarding was easy, as there are only 32 seats on the jet. They made an announcement in the gate area, and we all walked out to the waiting plane. The crew were pleasant, and helped promptly with bags and coats. When we landed in Shannon to refuel and process our USA pre-clearance, the BA staff were extremely helpful in making sure we knew where to go, and getting us back on the jet afterwards.
The Cabin, Seat and Service
There's nothing quite like this flight, short of flying private. With such an intimate cabin, and such large seats, it really does have a luxurious feel. The seats are larger and wider than the traditional BA business class seat - when laid out flat as a bed, I could stretch out full length and not feel cramped. The one downside would be privacy - if you are traveling solo, you sit side by side in the 2-2 cabin configuration, so you are sharing your space with your neighbor. As ever, good BA crews deliver some of the best service in the sky, and the crew on this particular flight was no exception. From referring to passengers by their name, to making sure the table settings were just so - everything had an air of good British taste and class.
Food and Drink
For the main meal, I had the chicken. The presentation was top notch, but it was still airplane chicken. The deserts were top notch, and I had to resist asking for a second helping!
For in-flight entertainment, they offer you an iPad loaded up with lots of media. I used mine to play music in the provided noise-canceling headphones. It didn't have as many films as some IFE systems do these days, but still provided an OK selection of current releases.
Thanks to the pre-clearance stop in Shannon, there is no beating this flight. It felt quite strange to walk right off a transatlantic flight, and into the main terminal for baggage claim. Not having to brave the immigration hall at JFK made this the 'killer feature' of this trip.
Without a doubt, the best way to travel between NY and London. Even in first class on BA from LHR, you still have to deal with the crowds and the bustle of Heathrow, being in a large aircraft with hundreds of other passengers, and making your way through US immigration. This flight removes so many of those stresses that I landed in JFK feeling fully refreshed, and not drained they way I so often do after a long flight.