British Airways launches flights from London City (LCY) to New York (JFK)

As the UK officially and tentatively climbs out of a nasty economic recession, British Airways (BA) recently launched an all-business class flight between London City Airport and New York JFK on the 29th of September 2009.

The 2 daily flights served with an Airbus (A318) aircraft (largest aircraft type presently permitted to use LCY airport) will require a 45-minute refueling stop at Shannon on the outbound journey. BA are stressing that the stop is actually an advantage as Shannon has full Customs and Border Protection facilities, meaning passengers are permitted a complete pre-clearance at the airport, meaning in reality that they will arrive in the US already as a domestic passenger, thereby avoiding the often extremely lengthy US immigration process.

At this juncture the first few flights are reported to be reasonably full, although only time will tell whether this gamble will pay-off, especially considering the delicate prevailing economic conditions. The target market is of course the "Business Traveller" and typically flights for this market are booked on demand with 2 weeks or less notice, so its too early to know whether this business model will work.

Passengers on the new BA business service will be the first to be allowed to send SMS's and emails in addition to being able to use the Internet via an in-flight mobile communications service provided via OnAir.

One fascinating detail of the launch flight is that it bears the most prestigious flight number available, being BA001, originally used by the great Concorde! There are also reports that BA claims a mere 15-minute check-in will be the norm at LCY, which is a far cry from London Heathrow’s bog standard 45 minutes.

In terms of creature comforts the new service features 32 fully-flat beds in a cabin specially designed to psychologically feel spacious and contemporary. The in-flight dining was created in partnership with Roast Restaurant (based at London’s Borough Market), to draw on their expertise of creating menus that feature the very best of British produce and regional specialties.

Passengers that land into London City will be able to take advantage of complimentary Health Club access at the London Marriott (located in West India Quay) to destress and refresh before heading off for presumed business meetings or tasks.

A daily return service (minus Saturday - note that LCY is closed from 12:40 on Saturday to 11:00 on Sunday), since the 29th of September 2009 was launched, which will be increased to 2 a day from mid-October 2009.

Departs LCY at 1250 and arrives JFK at 1715.
Departs JFK at 1830 and arrives at LCY at 0715 (following day).

Departs LCY at 1600 and arrives at JFK at 2025.
Departs JFK at 2150 and arrives at LCY at 1025 the following day.

Early lead fares for the new BA route are starting from approx. £1999.60 return (including taxes, fees & charges).

In summary, London to New York is always going to be a highly popular route and this is as luxurious and convenient as it gets. In balance though, it may take some convincing that the Shannon stop is really a plus, especially if one has to go through the rigmarole of getting on and off the plane and it still has to be a gamble to launch such a service in a fragile economic climate.

Grant Holmes
Perpetual Traveller