For the first time in quite a long time we flew out of London City Airport last Friday.
Before I continue, I should say that only a fool should try to fly out of City at peak hours on a Friday night. Trying to do it when most flights are delayed due to bad weather across Europe is positively certifiable. The terminal was like a refugee centre for people fleeing from persecution in the banks of Canary Wharf.
As there is no lounge at London City, I also had to reaquaint myself with the joys of airport catering. In the case of City, this goes beyond your standard price gouging as very few passengers are spending their own money – I don’t think I have ever paid £4 for a takeway yoghurt before.
There are, however, some good reasons to fly British Airways from City. There are even some reasons to book Club Europe if there are no Euro Traveller Avios seats available:
Reason 1: leg room
Following the reconfiguration of the British Airways short-haul fleet at Heathrow and Gatwick, there is now substantially better legroom on the new Embraer 190 fleet out of City.
I accept that the photo below does not look hugely generous. However, you need to remember that I am 6’2′ and there is still space between my knees and the magazine pocket. I simply cannot sit like this on a BA short haul flight now except in Row 1 or an emergency exit row:
Reason 2: good food
Take a look at this plate of sausages, beans, mash, salad and cake. Fancy that? Tough, you can’t. This is what you get on London City Club Europe as the kids meal!
Out of Heathrow or Gatwick in Club Europe, kids get a sandwich, a bag of Mini Chedders and a pack of M&M’s ….
Big people in Club Europe get a MENU (yes, a MENU, on a BA short haul flight) with a CHOICE (yes, a CHOICE) of HOT (yes, HOT) dishes. On Friday night it was either :
honey and ginger chicken with bok choy and water chestnut rice (pictured below) or
line-caught roast fillet of sea bass with chateau potatoes, sugar snaps and lime butter
This was a flight to Switzerland which, out of Heathrow, would only have got me a ‘take it or leave it’ cold salad.
You’ll note that Heidsieck Monopole champagne is also still alive and well on BA if you fly out of City!
Of course, BA has little choice but to spend a few £££ extra on the food in Club Europe. After all, you don’t get anything else! No lounge, no empty middle seat, no priority boarding (50%+ of the passengers have BA status so they can all board in the first group!), no extra overhead space (a side effect of not having the empty middle seat). The only other benefit apart from from tier points and a handful of Avios is sitting at the front.
The reason we did it was that we had little choice. The kids were in school on Friday so our flight options were restricted to whatever we could get in a small window of departures between 6pm and 7pm. Any later than that and our 5-year old is liable to become unpredictable …..!
Reason 3 (for a couple or family of 4): 2 x 2 seating throughout
The Embraer fleet is 2 x 2 seating throughout. If you are on your own, this is a negative in Club Europe as you don’t benefit from the empty middle seat. As there were four of us travelling it didn’t make much difference.
For a couple or a family of four, 2 x 2 down the back in Euro Traveller may well be preferable to 3 x 3 out of Heathrow or Gatwick. You are guaranteed full rows to yourself.
So, what did I learn on Friday?
You should avoid City Airport on Friday nights if you can!
British Airways is more than capable of serving good food, with menus and a choice of hot main courses, in Club Europe when it really wants to
You can still find acceptable leg room on BA short haul if you head to Newham
2 x 2 seating offers real benefits over 3 x 3 to certain customer groups
Bring your own yoghurt to eat in the terminal ……!
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