British Airways Club World London City is the premium all business class service between London City Airport and New York JFK. It is operated by an Airbus 318 configured with just 32 lie flat seats which makes for a very exclusive flight. The service uses the old Concorde flight numbers (BA001 to BA004) to further emphasize this and until recently members of the British Airways Executive Club earned first class level tier points on the flights.
British Airways are reducing the frequency from 11 times per week to just 6 from 30 October 2016. This means the BA003 and BA004 will no longer operate, so for posterity here is my review of BA004.
BA004 – New York JFK to London City (JFK-LCY)
27 July 2015
Airbus 318-112 G-EUNB
Seat: Club World London City 7K
Departure: 21:45 Arrival: 10:15 (scheduled) 09:30 (actual)
I was originally scheduled to fly on BA002; however, I received a phone call from British Airways advising me the flight was cancelled due to one of the Airbus 318 aircraft going for annual maintenance. Flight cancellations happen when there are just two aircraft running the service. An Arrivals service is offered at London City airport and you need to advise check-in at JFK if you wish to avail of this. My check-in guy had no idea what I was talking about but one of the staff passing by told him what to enter into the computer so that all would be in order.
The Babybus to London City
The flight was around half full and I was the only one boarding the flight. It is an unusual feeling to be the only one being scanned at the desk and walking down the aerobridge alone. On board I noticed almost everyone had the seat next to them free apart from me and perhaps one other person. The person beside me slept the entire flight so it was no big deal. Water bottles are placed at each seat prior to boarding.
I really like the lighted blue strip along where the seat numbers are. It looks very classy! The divider between seats does not provide much privacy compared to the usual Club World seat. The individual light in seat is much less strong than the personal light above you so it is handy for use in the middle of the night as it causes less light pollution. Pre-flight drinks are offered and I took a Champagne.
The seat controls are easy to use and there is no massage function. This is no big deal as the seats are exceedingly comfortable. Coat hangers are provided at each seat and the crew collect these before take-off. Any garments are stored in a closet and returned prior to landing.
Leg room is ample and despite the fact the person beside me slept the entire flight I had no trouble stepping over him to get out when I wanted to. The seat pocket contains a guide to the seat, safety card, the inflight magazine and headphones for the inflight entertainment. Overhead of course are the usual signs for no electronic devices, no smoking and fasten seat belts.
The cabin looks quite nice from the back and I love the blue stripe of the seat numbers heading off into the distance – it looks very cool.
Our glasses were collected, we had the safety demonstration and after a little bit of a journey around JFK we took to the sky. The Airbus 318 has quite a sporty take-off run which is quite enjoyable. Outside, it was a beautiful clear night for flying.
The moon was providing plenty of light – it’s just a shame that a phone camera renders it so poorly.
A Mile High Toilet
After take off it was time to visit the loo. This is standard British Airways right down to the floor pattern and Elemis products for your hands.
There was nothing particularly special about the basin apart from the fact it has an electronic mixer tap and is quite clean.
Hand towels are provided and interestingly there are also little paper cups. Are these for urine samples? I would be reluctant to use them since they are right beside the toilet itself.
It is interesting to see the sign prohibiting mobile phone use. I wouldn’t have thought people would try to make sneaky phone calls but obviously people do.
Entertainment on the service between New York and London City is provided via iPad. The crew, who do a remarkable job of speaking quietly throughout the flight, distributed these to those who wanted them after take-off. The available languages are English and French so I imagine that the iPad entertainment is also the same on OpenSkies.
High Life Entertainment on British Airways is usually filled with a decent selection of new release movies and this flight was no exception. I finished watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I had only half finished on BA001 a week or two beforehand. Once it finished I chose to watch Chappie.
Drinks service is the first order of business and I took a Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne. Nuts are always also provided to go with your drink. The green lights above are the lights at the device charging points which are provided at each seat.
The menu has the meal billed as a Champagne Supper and there were three options. Toasted panini with pulled pork and Cheddar cheese, Rigatoni pasta with sauteed aubergine, black olives and a cherry tomato sauce or my choice, which was Tapas plate featuring salmon tartare, asparagus with prosciutto and Parmesan and beef tataki on a peperonata.
Quite frankly I was still pretty stuffed from my gorging in the lounge which is why I chose the lightest option. It all tasted fantastic and looked good too! For dessert, there were also three options. Chocolate, A selection of fruit or my choice, which was Kilchum Krystal Cheddar and Wisconsin Mountain Blue cheese with quince paste. This was also very good.
The crew noticed I kept turning on the big bright light above my seat and one of them reminded me of the small light in the seat beside me in a very polite way. I needed the brighter light to get a decent picture, but I was good at turning it straight off and eating in the dim. Both galleys have two sets of curtains between them and the cabin in order to deaden sound and prevent light from seeping into the cabin. It is very effective and should be used around all galley’s as nothing is worse than light and sound and crew bustle in the middle of the night.
Once my movie was finished I had a nice snooze for a couple of hours. The seat is quite comfortable to sleep in and actually feels more spacious than the usual Club World seat. I find the padding to be superior also, so it was a comfortable night for me.
Breakfast is Served!
In hushed tones and basic sign language, the crew began the breakfast service. The breakfast on this flight made my Top 5 Airline Breakfast Meals list. The Starters offered are Chilled fruit juice, Fresh pear and elderflower smoothie, Fresh seasonal fruit and Bircher museli with cranberries. I chose the museli, selected a Danish from the basket offered, and accompanied it with a coffee and the smoothie.
Next up is the Main Course and the choices were Traditional British breakfast of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, back bacon, mushrooms, grilled tomato and rosti potatoes or a Poached egg on a caramelised onion tarte with wilted spinach and mustard Hollandaise. I chose the latter – and this was breakfast magnificence!
Delighted is an understatement. It was superb in every way so kudos to the team! I dislike flights that serve breakfast because invariably breakfast consists of some horrible egg thing and a bunch of overcooked vegetables. This was just great! The service also had a “City Breakfast” option allowing you to be woken 20 minutes before landing to eat during descent or, as it says in the menu “on your journey into the office”. This was a light meal consisting of Chilled fruit juice, fresh fruit and Breakfast pastry. I believe this option has since been removed.
Landing at London City is always quite sporty as it has a 5 degree glideslope instead of the usual 3.5 degrees so I always enjoy it! We landed 45 minutes early into nice cool London. Buses collect you from the aircraft and take you to the terminal. London City does not have many flights requiring immigration clearance so this takes about 15 seconds.
There is no arrivals lounge at London City Airport. Instead British Airways arrange for you to be taken to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel nearby where you can shower and freshen up. You need to go to the desk near the terminal entrance to have your name checked and then you are escorted to the car that takes you and other passengers to the hotel. I shared with one of the passengers from my flight.
On arrival the Concierge provides you with a card and you go up to the spa and join a line of other passengers. I was asked to wait in a relaxation room until one of the spa suites with a shower was available.
Eventually a shower was available so I showered, dressed and went on my merry way.
I would take this service every time if I had the choice. The fact there are a maximum of 32 passengers makes everything so much less stressful and generally a lot nicer. The seats are really comfortable and the iPad entertainment is totally fine. Service from the crew is a cut above the usual British Airways service in comparable cabins. The pilots and the cabin crew are all very senior on this route and they actively bid for it. The Pre-Flight Supper in the lounge was much better than I expected also. Thanks for reading and if you have any comments please leave them below.