Fifteen years ago Concorde graced the skies between London and New York, holding the prestigious British Airways flight numbers BA1, BA2, BA3 & BA4. Unfortunately since the retirement of Concorde in 2003 you can no longer fly to New York in a mere three hours. Today flights from the UK take around eight hours to reach the United States. A few years back British Airways launched their Club World London City Service between London City Airport and New York’s JFK airport, adopting Concorde’s flight numbers. Initially running twice a day, but now just once a day, the British Airways Club World London City Service operates an all business class Airbus A318 featuring just 32 flat bed seats.
The outbound flight takes around 9 hours, slightly longer than a direct flight due to a short stop at Shannon in Ireland. This strategic stop isn’t just to refuel but also to allow the passengers to pass US immigration in advance of landing in the US. By passing US immigration in Ireland it allows the aircraft to arrive into the domestic terminal in JFK, so passengers avoid the lengthy immigration queues at JFK’s international terminal. On return the flight departs from gate 1 in Terminal 7, located right next to the Concorde Room. Gone are the days when the passengers were able to board Concorde directly from the Concorde room. I’ve wanted to try this flight out for a while now, so when I decided to visit New York for a city break just before Christmas it was no surprise that I chose to return home on British Airways Club World London City Service.
British Airways Club World London City Service
On the ground
On arrival at terminal 7 JFK the Club World London City passengers are invited to check in at the British Airways First Class check-in area; which was a nice touch. At check-in you are asked if you would like to use the arrivals service in London. As the arrivals service is located at a nearby hotel it must be booked in advance. I decided to give this a try as I had not flown this service before. After check-in you can pass through fast track security and can then access the British Airways galleries club lounge. As this as a night flight back to the UK it’s classed as a sleeper service and you are en encouraged to dine in the lounge before boarding. This is a great idea, however when I boarded the flight I found out that you are still offered a meal on board, which I wasn’t aware of when I decided to dine in the lounge.
However you dress this flight up at the end of the day this a business class flight and not a first class flight, but given this flight’s prestige, an invitation to the Concorde lounge would be a fitting nostalgic touch… just a small hint in case Alex Cruz is reading!
On board BA0002 to London City Airport
With a capacity of just 32 passengers boarding is extremely quick and generally starts just 30 minutes before take off. My flight departed with just 17 passengers and so boarding took no time at all. After boarding you are offered the usual warm towel and handed a dinner menu. You are also given a breakfast menu so you can choose in advance whether you want to dine on board 75 minutes prior to landing. If not you can opt to sleep for longer and have a breakfast box to go. I opted to dine on board prior to landing in London.
As I had dined in the lounge prior to my flight I opted for just a light meal on board before getting some rest. I enjoyed beef carpaccio, lamb cutlet’s and then a small serving of cheese and biscuits with a nightcap before getting a few hours sleep. The onboard entertainment is a available in iPad form for those who want it, but I declined for this night flight so I could get some rest. Due to the small number of seats there is at least one overhead bin per passenger as well as small areas around the seat for personal possessions. Each seat is equipped with power and there is also onboard wifi should you require it. Prior to landing I was awoken with a glass of fresh juice, a smoothie and a fruit platter.
Arrival at London City
Upon arrival we were bussed the short distance to the terminal and in just a few minutes we had passed through passport control and our luggage was already waiting at baggage reclaim. After retrieving my baggage I went to the British Airways desk to check in for the short trip to the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf Hotel where you can enjoy the British Airways arrivals service.
On arrival I was shown to the spa where I had use of a treatment room to shower and freshen up for the day ahead. I was then shown to the breakfast room where I could have anything from the breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet was extensive – much more than you would normally get in a regular British Airways arrivals lounge. You apparently also have use of the gym and spa, but I didn’t use these facilities during my visit.
My Final thoughts on the British Airways Club World London City Service
Overall I really like the British Airways Club World London City service, it was a very nice flight back from New York, especially if you just want some peace and quiet. The only thing that deters me from using this service more often is that London City Airport it located on the opposite side of London to where I am based so it meant a two hour car journey home upon arrival. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t use it again as I loved the exclusivity of the flight, but maybe next time I would disembark from the plane and go straight home, or to work, rather than use the arrivals service because even though it was a nice experience it wasn’t the most productive use of time.