You know it’s going to be a good flight when you click with one of the flight attendants as soon as you board the plane. In preparation for the rest of this post you may care to watch the video below:
I had checked in for my flight in Dublin but they could not manage to issue the boarding pass for the London City to JFK segment. On arrival at City, there is no transfer facility at City and so you have to exit customs and then go back through security for your connection. It’s amazing how much you take connections for granted.
There is a special lane at BA check-in at City for the New York flight and they seem to have withdrawn the staff who used to man a desk outside the main entrance. There were three people in the queue which was not moving very fast. I was served after about 10 minutes by a member staff operating the self-checkin desks. They took a few minutes to sort out my ticket and then issue the boarding pass. Minus the BA Executive Club number! This was sorted fairly fast and I was back through security again fairly quickly.
BA operates a small lounge at LCY and just for it’s JFK passengers. Since I was here last it’s had a revamp – well in truth they have just rearranged the chairs.
It does make the seating more efficient in truth.
There is a reasonable selection of food and drink, but most people were just having coffee for the 0930 departure to JFK. There is a nespresso machine which at least makes a decent cup.
Newspapers are available in the lounge, not on the plane so you need to take them with you.
Fairly soon we were ready for the short walk to the aircraft from the door that leads directly from the lounge. Both doors were used, front and back, for boarding.
I had originally booked the aisle in row 2 with the plan to ask to be moved back at check-in so I could get a couple of seats together. In the end my seat was broken so they moved me to the window and although the seat was fixed by take-off I did not get a seat mate. This is a nice win as it gives one seat for sitting and one seat for sleeping.
The plane is 8 rows, all business class, set up 2-2. Flyertalk affectionately called it the Baby(air)bus and this is how it feels.
As you can see the leg room is large and the seat goes flat such that the seat cushion joins the footstool you can see above.
My row was standard with two seats set up with pillows and blankets on arrival.
As soon as I sat down the flight attendant appeared to check whether I needed anything or whether she could hang my coat. We both commented that the flight was not boarding very fast and I confirmed that I was happy with everything.
Fairly soon afterwards we were ready, in fact a few minutes early, and the captain taxied us to the east end of the single runway that is City Airport. Whilst waiting to leave another BA flight landed:
We had lined up with the runway and after the usual engine revving, the captain released the brake and we took off towards the west. A turn right lead us over the Olympic Park and Stratford. It was a bright clear day as you can see. You can see how the Olympics running track is being converted to a soccer (football) stadium.
The crew were in the aisle fairly quickly with menus and amenity kits. The Flight Attendant at some point dropped something near my seat, and said ‘Two Soups’. And that was the moment we realised we had a common language – Victoria Wood, Julie Walter and Acorn Antiques. The actual Two Soups reference comes from another sketch which you can watch below:
The flight attendant was neither hard of hearing nor especially clumsy, but we both recognised that there can be a comedy moment even in the most mundane settings. Plus she was from Birmingham, and is nicknamed ‘Mrs Overall’ by her colleagues because of her accent.
A drink came from the trolley, and as I prefer to navigate US Immigration sober, I stuck to soft drinks.
The menu is below:
The starter comes on the City to Shannon leg, which is usually about 1 hour long. I choose the canapes:
They were tasty and enough to keep hunger at bay. The flight attendants also took meal orders for the next segment.
Landing at Shannon included a 15 minute delay – a first for me on this service – and we were told that a VIP’s plane was landing so they had to keep the runways clear. Now, I have come across this when the US President land – in fact over the years I have had one or two delays – Clinton and Gore in Hawaii, Bush at Heathrow spring to mind. I do hope the US Secret Service don’t track these things.
Fairly soon were were landing at Shannon and taxing to the gate used by BA.
Other flights to the US leave from adjacent gates.
A 5 minute walk (with a view of the VIP’s plane – it turned out to be HRH Prince Charles, leaving for the UK after his visit to Ireland), and we were in the newly laid out US Immigration hall. You have to take off shoes and take out laptops before you get to Immigration and whereas, when BA001 started, you were the only passengers here, now there is a queue. It took around 10 minutes to get through. There are no x-ray arches so it is fairly fast once you get to the machines.
They appear to have built more additional immigration kiosks and relocated the Global Entry machines. (The GE machines are at the end of the Crew Line on the right of the hall as you face the booths). Whilst using the GE machine, a US Immigration Officer who was floor walking, called over to check I was OK, and then told me to sneak through and see her when I had my GE receipt. Great Service.
Fairly soon I was back airside to the new area that BA has designated as their lounge for the one hour transit stop.
After about 10 minutes we were back onboard with a new Flight Crew but the same flight attendants.
Settling back in my seat I was ready when lunch arrived:
The salad was fresh and tasty, but I have to reserve my praise for the lamb. I tend to find that Lamb keeps it flavour very well at 30,000 feet and this was no exception. Lentils are a long way from my favourite, but the dish was all round my most favourite airline meal for a long time.
Dessert was OK but the ice cream was rock hard. Two sweets were handed out in little boxes. I got smuggled an extra one.
Champagne, wine and soft drinks flowed through out the meal and the crew were about all the time checking that everything was OK. Super service.
“Mrs Overall” didn’t drop anything once.
IPads are delivered with a reasonable selection of movies and TV, but my 4am start in Dublin was taking its toll and I slept for a few hours before we landed at JFK.
I watched Kingsmen, which I had heard awful things about but actually enjoyed – even if it is targeted at 16-24 year old men in my view.
I skipped the afternoon tea, although you can read about it in the menu further up the post.
At JFK we came in to the familiar Gate 1 and I was out of the airport and at Federal Circle for the bus to the Hilton in about 20 minutes.
All around a great flight made special by the Flight Attendant.