BA1 – London City to JFK

Last month I travelled on the BA1 flight from London City to New York (JFK), for the first time since its flight time had changed to the morning. BA still operate two flights a day for most of the year – summer and Christmas/New Year are the exceptions – but only the early flight gets preclearance during the refuelling stop in Shannon.

I had stayed the night before at the Hilton Docklands and taken the Ferry, Bus and DLR to the airport.

The plane was waiting once I had go through security. Security had both sides open and there were long lines, at least for City Airport. About 15 minutes to get through – a breeze by the standards at Heathrow of course.

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The lounge had a slightly different assortment of food as it was a morning, but as I had breakfast at the Hilton, I only had a coffee and juice.

I was first in the lounge, but it quickly filled up. I could not secure an empty seat next to me as there were only three on the whole plane. We boarded quickly enough and I took my seat on the aisle in Row 1. Oddly, the closet which used to be in front of Row 1 was missing – I would find out why later in the flight.

The removal of the closet meant that the space above Row 1 was full of life rafts. In addition, the curtain which used to block off the loo which is in the cabin has been removed meaning that light from it enters the cabin when the door is opened.

We left slightly early and arrived in Shannon on time. In flight the crew served drinks and the starter Chilled Meats or Seasonal Fruit Plate.

The major difference about the transit at Shannon is that there are other flights leaving at the same time as BA transits. A USAir flight was just announcing final boarding when we arrived at US Immigration. There was a queue, for the first time I had seen, at US Immigration but this was only of about 5 minutes. I used the only working Global Entry booth which is located on the far side of the immigration hall. (There are only two and one was out of service). I still had to wait to have my receipt checked at an agent handling other passengers, but was through in 7-10 minutes. The change of time and being scheduled to transit at the same time as other US flights leave does not appear to have unduly changed the positive experience of BA1.

The small waiting area served well whilst I waited to reboard.

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Reboarding started well before most passengers were through Immigration. Whilst waiting, an Aer Lingus flight was called to go through US Immigration.

Once we took off from Shannon the rest of the meal was served:

Salad, and the best bread I have ever had on a flight:

Drinks were served at the same time from the trolley.

I had the Beef as my main meal which was tasty, hot and well presented:

(Other options for the main course were Corn-Fed chicken, Concorde Crab Cakes, Macaroni with pomodorino tomato and basil sauce, Prawns in Marie Rose sauce/smoked salmon and potatoe salad)

Dessert was a nice cheesecake:

Other choice was Cheese and Biscuits.

After this the entertainment iPads were handed out and I had a nap after watching a movie.

I woke and popped to the loo and had a chance to ask the staff about what the story with the closet was. One of the crew explained that she had been on the aircraft when the problem occurred and so had experienced it first hand. Apparently the lift raft stowed in the closet had decided to inflate for no apparent reason nor human intervention. The popping sound of it opening was very odd, and clearly it destroyed the closet in the process. I am told that a new closet has been ordered and may even have been fitted by now. This will free the luggage space above row 1 and remove the slighly odd spacing.

During landing at JFK we experienced a go-round. Apparently as were approaching the runway nearest the BA Terminal, there was a sudden change in wind and the pilots felt it unsafe to land so we overflew JFK, and turned to land at another, more distant runway.

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A bit of excitement!

Arriving finally at the Terminal, I found that there is now an exit to the left of the TSA security lanes which takes you out on the departures level meaning that you can just cross the road to get to the AirTrain station. I saw the baby bird parked next to a Jumbo on the way to American and my flight to San Francisco.

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