Why BA is flying high from London City to New York

A 20-minute check-in, wi-fi and mobile access, and a flat bed on offer on British Airways' business-only class flight to the Big Apple. Richard Burton reports

By Richard Burton on 18 November 2009 in News

Business travellers have welcomed British Airways' new London to New York route which took off recently from City Airport.

Flights have been running twice daily via a couple of twin-engined Airbus A318s since September 29 and the airline says bookings have so far exceeded expectations, despite the £2,000-each-way price tag.

Key benefits were flagged as the 15-minute check-in at City, which itself is a mere 20 minutes from the financial hub of Canary Wharf, and a new mile-high wi-fi service called Onair which allows passengers to use phones, Blackberries and laptops throughout the journey.

Another was immigration clearance at Shannon airport, which means a speedy exit at JFK, a virtue contrived from solving the problem of having to take off from City’s short runway light on fuel and refuelling properly 45 minutes later in Ireland .

Many first-timers have given it good reviews with several bloggers and others responding to BA questionnaires vowing to use the service again.

One said: “It's the best thing BA’s introduced since Club World flat beds.” Another praised the “sense of space” on the 32-seater plane adding: “You feel like being in your own living room.”

Yet another told BA: “My CEO is a regular traveller to NYC and after my positive feedback will be trying the service. My tweets on Twitter seemed to be well read, with 1220+ views of one of them alone.”

The Onair service is useful, kicking in as soon as the plane reaches 10,00ft – a climb of usually about ten minutes – and worked well throughout my seven-hour flight last month.

The food was reasonably up-market on the outbound flight, thanks to a partnership with Roast, a restaurant based at Borough market in South London, although on the return I had to make do with a fairly so-so meal at JFK and a light snack onboard as the Gulf Stream tailwind whisked me back a tad quicker to London . The wine was free though and cabin crew weren’t stingy in sharing it.

And there was a perk. Passengers get complimentary access to the health club at the Marriott hotel a few stops down the DLR line at West India Quay to freshen up before heading into the office.

It’s not cheap but it does everything it claims to: I checked in about 20 minutes before take-off, was taken a short walk to a small airside room where the plane was parked a few feet away like a giant limo, slept peacefully with my head in the clouds and took a stroll of – wait for it – 12 whole minutes from the tarmac to the cab rank at JFK. 

BA have high hopes for this service. So far, it seems to be flying.

Have you flown on this route? Let us know what you think?


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richard burton, London

I guess a little noise was inevitable, given the size of the plane. I managed to sail through that with the help of the entertainment system, the headphones and an entire act of Cosi Fan Tutti. But at least the noise was that of the plane, not an economy class conga!

18 November, 2009

Mia Sanders, UK

I had the pleasure of flying on BA's Airbus A318. I enjoyed the experience, the ease of transfer and appreciated the ability to stay connected to my office.

I did find though that turbulence interrupted connectivity on occasion and at timesthe flight was a little noisy.

Still, the flat bed was comfortable, and overall no complaints.

18 November, 2009

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