British Airways’ All Business Class Transatlantic Service In 10 Pictures

Good morning from London! I just flew what I consider to be the coolest British Airways flight out there. I’m talking about British Airways’ Club World London City service, which is their all business class A318 flight between New York JFK and London City Airport.

British Airways launched this service almost a decade ago, and I flew it shortly after launch, so was curious to see how it has changed in that period.

If you’ve ever been at JFK and have seen the British Airways A318 parked there, you may have asked yourself “is that plane lost?” or “can that plane really make it across the Atlantic?”

While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I wanted to share my initial thoughts in this post. What a cute, spectacular, little product.

The flight has just eight rows of seats in a 2-2 configuration. On this particular flight there were only 18 passengers, so most people had an empty seat next to them.

British Airways uses pretty standard fully flat forward facing seats for these flights, which are different than their usual Club World seats.

As far as the 6hr45min flight itself goes, I have nothing but good things to say. It really almost feels like a private jet. There are three flight attendants, so on this flight there was one flight attendant for every six passengers.

On top of that, almost everyone just sleeps the entire way on this flight, so in reality only three of us had dinner. That’s a 1:1 flight attendant to passenger ratio. The food was the same excellent DO & CO catering I recently had on British Airways.

To start I had a cream of mushroom soup and salad.

Next up I had the antipasti plate.

For the main course I had the grilled salmon.

For dessert I had a blackcurrant and lime dome.

There was also a breakfast service, which consisted of the choice between fruit or yogurt with granola, plus a breakfast sandwich. Alternatively they have a little box you can take with you, should you want to have breakfast on the way into the city instead.

The food was excellent, and service was both friendly and efficient. Given how few passengers there are, service is customized to a higher level than you’d find on any other British Airways flight. For example, even though I partook in the entire dinner service, it was done less than an hour after takeoff.

The bedding on this flight was British Airways’ excellent standard new bedding.

Unfortunately this flight doesn’t have wifi, and entertainment consists of iPads with movies and TV shows loaded on them.

What an awesome experience Club World London City is. Am I slowly turning into a BA fanboy, or what? 😉

All that being said, I do question the profitability of this route. British Airways has already gone from having two of these A318s to having just one, so now there’s at most 6x weekly service. My flight was nowhere near full, and based on looking at the fare buckets for most dates, it doesn’t seem like this flight is regularly sold out.

Can the airline really make money flying fewer than two dozen passengers across the Atlantic?

What do you make of British Airways’ Club World London City flight? Would you want to cross the Atlantic on an A318?

Comments

  1. What a spectacular experience I am dying to try myself. Thanks for the pictures, @Lucky.

    I’ve often heard the baby bus flight is never more than half full, however according to one of the slides from their recent IAG Capital Markets Day event BA plan on keeping the A318 for long-haul ops up until 2023.

  2. As I understand it, the second flight was withdrawn because of US immigration changes at shannon, which made the outbound less attractive for business travelers. It was a longer flight with no time saved at immigration as that still had to be completed at JFK.

  3. How do you book this? Whenever I search JFK-LCY BA kicks me to JFK-LHR/LGW or sends me a message that they don’t fly to LCY out of JFK.

  4. I’d like to try that one too actually. Quite the exclusive service.

    LCY is perfect for arrivals, you’re in the City within 20mns on public transport!

  5. @criced : if the upcoming “Crossrail” actually delivers on its vision, then LHR won’t really be all that inconvenient from Canary Wharf.

    And for a biz pax, the high frequency JFK-LHR service allowing them to pick the time they want could easily outweigh LCY’s proximity but lack of flight time choices.

  6. Hey…Lucky, I flew BA Airbus Baby last year. Fantastic flight…with 11 people on board. Like a privat jet. If you fly western direction there is a short stop in Shannon/ Ireland with US Immigration. After landing in JFK BA Baby Airbus is handled like a domestic flight… only 10 minutes from plane door opening to breathe fresh air…real luxury.

  7. @Jack : for a rather-short overnight flight that is barely longer than a red-eye (and heaven forbid, strong tailwinds), you think those business folks wanna be up all night cranking decks on Wi-Fi instead of trying to get some sleep ?

  8. LCY is closed from Lunchtime Saturday to Lunchtime Sunday. Part of the original planning permission for the airport. LCY have made no moves to change this either.

    The flight has plenty of preset periods of inoperation such as over Christmas and Easter and almost all of August so depending on when people want to fly it may not be available because of these preplanned dates. It’s also not a 7 day a week service.

    It does have wifi – it’s called ‘on business’

    The reasons the seats are different from the usual CW ones is that BA didn’t fit the CW seats but just accepted the J seats that came from Airbus. They didn’t come with IFE either hence the need for iPads. A BA CWLCY pilot told me that a couple of years ago when we were chatting. I actually prefer these seats to ‘proper’ CW.

  9. In the 10 years since you took that original flight, it appears as if your writing’s gotten marginally better. Kudos!

  10. Nice review. I’ve always had this route/plane on my bucket list. I wonder why Google Flights doesn’t see it as a non-stop although it’s listed that way. Seems odd even with any technical stops considered.

  11. I remember the first time I saw the BA A318 at JFK. I was a kid and I thought that plane was lost.
    I thought the same thing this summer when I saw a Qatar A320 in Orlando alongside a Qatar A350 (and Qatar dosen’t even fly there). The A320 was there for a private flight and the A350 was diverted from Miami.

  12. @lucky – I’m not sure if you were aware of this, but apparently British Airways has Lie Flat Seats for Club Europe on some A321’s for longer flights!

  13. I’ve done this flight a few times from jfk and love it. Only negative in the London city terminal which is small and packed always. There is no lounge at the terminal so if you’re connecting it’s not great. BA does have an arrivals lounge at a nearby hotel but something is needed in the terminal. Otherwise a top flight to take.

  14. Finally another BA fanboy. I have always loved BA ever since I was born. This recent renaissance for BA is fantastic. I really hope this learns to a complete turnaround for BA and making them the world’s favourite airline once again

  15. For three of us this past June I booked BUD-LHR in J and LHR-JFK in F. I was disappointed it was the only routing I could arrange with my miles because of all the bad ‘blogger press’ about BA and the Concorde Room. It wasn’t JAL F for sure, but I had a great flight, the FAs were awesome on both sectors, food was delicious and I wanted for nothing. Was I so happy because of my uber-low expectations or because it was great? I don’t know, but I was thrilled with my BA experience.

  16. I flew BA (baaaa ) JHB to LHR to LAX upper deck business A380. Coffin seats where half the passengers have to try to step over someone who WAS sleeping.

    Yes, a different product, and different tin, but enough to convince me to never B-Again.

    The world’s favourite airline. Not any more, not for a long long time.

  17. Looks like a lovely flight. Will probably go once the Elizardbeth line opens to directly to LHR from Canary Wharf.

    There are companies that book x amount of seats for each flight, guaranteed to them whether they show up or not. So if the flight goes half empty its fine, or they can fill with non-revs.

    AA has the same thing for example on JFK-LAX in F (which explains previous postings on here about sometimes empty cabins or filled with non-revs).

    Hotels in London (and around the world) do the same thing. I stay at one spectacular condo hotel in London (not giving the name out since it will be even more sold out than usual)…and as a repeat special guest I have chatted with the sales manager a few times. The hotel was sold out during my last never ending visit back to the UK, and so she told me I could be listed and explained that they have 3 MAJOR corporations that have x amount of rooms guaranteed to them nightly all yearlong…these rooms can be released to other guests after 5pm if they do not confirm a need for that night. The rooms are already paid for! Yes I had to pay, but I’m always given 30% off so it works well.

    So just because premium cabins are not full, does not mean they are not profitable. Plus there is ALWAYS standby cargo/docs etc to fill up the hold to maximum take-off weight.

  18. Looks like a good flight, probably also because the mini -Airbus is dramatically more comfortable than the noisy 737’s.

  19. @W

    Yes, BA have some long-haul configured A321s that feature the Vantage business seat, with 3 seats per row (two seats on one side and a single ‘throne’ seat on the other, alternating left and right).

    These A321s were originally ordered and configured by British Midland International Airways before BA bought them out and inherited the order.

    They don’t fly on ‘Club Europe’ routes, but rather medium-haul international routes including Tel Aviv, Beirut and Moscow.

  20. Jordan – just to advise that non revs are not allowed on this service (unless duty travel specially authorised by senior management) and it doesn’t take cargo. Not altogether sure about the guaranteed seats for corporates either, but I stand to be corrected on that.
    Otherwise you’re spot on about not needing to be full to make a profit, especially when fares on this particular sector are not discounted in the same way as the LHR-JFK services It’s all about the yield….

  21. @ robert

    I agree! The cabin was half as wide, the seats were half the size, but the journey-time – half as long – made up for everything!

  22. @ A Comsumer … and it was so much fun … especially when that speedometer thing hit mach 2 … probably the only time in my life I will see the curvature of the earth from 57K+ ft. Too much fun … those beautiful birds are retired now though .. a sad loss for us all.

  23. Interesting concept. Almost like a longer replacement for the defunct Concorde, and suffering from the same problems the Concorde had re not enough fliers (at the end of its run). I wonder if it would do better on a longer route though- business people willing to pay more for a longer, quieter flight where they could actually sleep more than four hours (the flight from London to NYC is so short!).

  24. Yeah I have not been tempted by this due to the cost and it is a very subpar replacement for Concorde. Also with Crossrail due to be completed next year now, the advantages of LCY will be greatly diminished versus the premium charged to fly from/to there.

  25. vlcnc – of course it’s subpar when compared with Concorde. It’s a unique product in its own right and one that is not intended as a replacement for Concorde. It’s business class, not Concorde or even first class. It simply shares the same flight number as Concorde.
    BTW, I also believe very strongly that once Crossrail is finally open and with all the current plans for pretty significant expansion, LCY will go from strength to strength!

  26. I flew JFK-LCY on Tuesday night … looking at the date, we might have been on the same flight!

    BA upper deck and LCY are pretty much the only BA flights I’ll take in J … very occasional a three class 787 if price is right. If you want to keep things in perspective get back in a middle seat on an eight across, four class 777 (to somewhere other than NYC, where the crews are normally exceptional).

    John

  27. The breakfast box sounds like a thoughtful gesture, but I would hate to be in a situation like the Delta passenger fined $400 by agriculture for bringing a plastic wrapped apple from the plane. Any concerns of this happening based on the ingredients in the breakfast?

  28. @retired. BA.com, they accept major credit cards

    @David. It only flies weekdays, and no service on occasional days and holiday weeks (e.g. Christmas/ New Year week’s)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *