As part of the deeply discounted BA sale tickets offered at the start of December, I booked a trip to San Francisco over New Year. This featured my favourite flight (London City Airport to JFK, Via Shannon), and then some American Airlines segments within the US. These would help me requalify for BA Gold, one of my 2012 plans.
For those not in the know, BA operates (usually) two flights per days from London City Airport (LCY), to New York JFK. On the Eastbound leg, the flight stops in Shannon to refuel. This however, has the advantage of being able to pre-clear US Immigration in a very civilised way. When you arrive at JFK you come in as a domestic flight and can be in a cab in five minutes.
The plane that BA uses is an all-Business Class (Club) configuration with 32 seats. (8 rows 2-2, AB/JK)
Check-In and Lounge
I checked in online 24 hours before and upon arrival introduced myself to the BA employee near the entrance to the LCY Terminal. This was where the whole ‘Evicted for Emin’ saga started. That is covered pretty well in that post so I won’t go in to it again.
After the pretty fast and friendly security at LCY I was in the lounge. Despite being there 90 minutes before (you really only need to be there 30 minutes before), it was pretty packed. An usual mix of business people, families and clearly rich middle aged couples were present. BA were only operating this flight twice in the week, and only one flight on each day. I think this accounts for it being more packed than normal.
Upon boarding I was greeted by a very friendly Purser – I recognised her from my first trip on the flight. I settled in to 1K and was pleased when 1J remained empty at take off.
The take off is fun, as the runway at LCY is quite short and they power the engines and then take off the breaks. You take off over the London Olympics site and the window seat offered a good view.
BA serve starter and a drink between London and Shannon.
The seats are fully flat beds with plenty of legroom:
Arrival and Departure from Shannon
On arrival at Shannon there is a five minute walk to US immigration and customs. If you have checked bags you have to wait for them to be processed before going to the processing area.
Before getting to the INS staff you have a further security check but there is no arch so shoes come off, but not belts, wallets etc and you do not need to take laptops out of the bag. Very civilised.
You next proceed to US Immigration where they do the normal checks but with a charm that you could say is the Irish rubbing off. I joked with the inspector about their portfolio of picture of me taken over the years.
After this you exit the processing area there is a small seating area to wait until the plane is ready for reboarding.
On Board – SNN to JFK
I took a moment on reboarding to take a couple of images of the cabin and seats:
The cabin is refreshed during the short stop.
After take off the staff start the meal service with a drink, followed by lunch and cheese/desert. About 90 minutes before landing they do an Afternoon Tea service of sandwiches or salad.
On my flight the staff were great – attentive, professional yet friendly and very efficient. I really enjoyed the flight and would give it 4 stars, despite the seat issue.
On arrival at JFK, I was out, across the other side of the terminal (you get in at Gate 1, and the exit is by Gate 12), and on the Airtrain in about 8 minutes.
A really good flight, made so by the crew and the speed of Immigration. Whilst it takes longer to fly this way I still prefer it as my favourite way to the USA.
Avios Points Earned
BA credit Executive Club and Avios points as if it were First Class, making it very rewarding for travellers.