British Airways to drop one of the two London City to New York flights

British Airways announced yesterday that it is to drop BA3 and BA4, one of the two return flights to New York operated from London City Airport.  The last flight will be 29th October.

These flights are a bit of an oddity, to put it mildly:

The aircraft used in an Airbus A318 short haul plane

It contains 32 flat bed seats in a conventional ‘all forward facing’ layout

Catering is also different (generally seen as ‘better’) than Heathrow or Gatwick services

The aircraft stops in Shannon to refuel because a fully loaded A318 cannot get off the runway at London City.  The return flight is direct.

The real selling point of the service was that you could clear US immigration in Shannon whilst the aircraft was being refuelled.  This meant that you landed as a domestic passenger at Kennedy and simply walked out of the terminal.

Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, pre-clearance was withdrawn from BA3.  There were no other flights departing from Shannon to the US in the evening and BA was unwilling to pay the cost of keeping the US immigration team in place.  This was a big blow for the service because passengers still had to queue for immigration in New York as well as sit around at Shannon on the way.

BA A318

I imagine that a few other things have contributed to the axeing of the service:

Until April 2015, you earned 210 tier points each way on the London City flights compared to 140 tier points out of Heathrow.  This made the flights attractive if chasing status.

Many heavy US flyers now have Global Entry which allows them to skip immigration desks.  You can now apply for Global Entry as a UK citizen too, with interviews taking place in London.  US pre-clearance at Shannon is no longer a benefit for these people.

There is continued pressure on travel costs at the Canary Wharf banks and this service relies on a large number of the 32 passengers paying full price.

It isn’t clear what will happen to the A318 aircraft but I doubt BA will be looking at starting any other ‘all business class’ routes from City or indeed Heathrow.

I flew this service once, back in September 2010.  It was, unknown to me, the 1st anniversary of the service and there was cake and champagne waiting for us in Shannon during the refuelling stop!  I enjoyed the food and the seating.  I would still like to cover BA1 again for Head for Points if the opportunity comes up.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

What credit card should replace your Diamond Club Visa or MasterCard?
More cheap Australia and New Zealand sale deals from Qatar Airways and Etihad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. This is only a temporary change. The two aircraft are due for their D-checks which takes 2 months. Hence the service is resuming as normal mid next year.

    • That is not how the BA press release reads. It says the service is ending with the start of the Winter timetable.

      • Rob, we heard that BA3 is “probably stopping” and “may run another east coast service”, I’ve only just finished my training for this service so am a bit gutted, staying current will be tough as we have to fly into city once every 35days.

  2. Cuchlainn says:

    OT ( sorry ) – BAPP Amex related : coming up on 7 months into 1st year with BAPP Amex (£150 fee) and £11500 cleared through it with £1500 still to pay off on 1st Oct – 1 x 241 sitting in my BAEC A/C and I have referred my better half also for BAPP Amex (£195 fee) and already received my 9000 Avios for referral.
    As I have been added to her new BAPP Amex a/c as a supplementary should I either :
    1. Cancel outright my BAPP Amex a/c and reclaim approx £60+ ( 5 months pro-rata on £150 annual fee ) and then get her to refer me again in 6 months to start ball rolling again ?
    Or 2. Ring Amex up and drop down to free BA Amex card a/c but store it away, recoup my refund of approx £60 as above and wait 5 months till my new Amex year starts again ( approx 10th Feb ) ?

    • You will not be able to get the bonus again while you hold the blue card. You need to cancel the BAPP.

      • Yep – only get another sign up if cancel either the BA blue or BAPP then wait 6 months. I.e you can’t have held an Amex issued Amex in last 6 months to get another bonus.

        • Cuchlainn says:

          Thanks mark2 and Gengis – I presume Amex then send your pro rata annual fee refund back to your bank then ?

          • David2910 says:

            Don’t you lose the voucher if you cancel?

            • David2910 says:

              Sorry, ignore, answered later on on this thread

            • No

            • Tom Murray says:

              I might as well pile in with my OT query…..sorry 😉

              We have AMEX BAPP. Mine and my wife also has one on my account. She also has Amex gold in her own name. Can I now refer her for her own BAPP?
              Thanks, Tom

            • @Tom – if your wife does not have either a BAPP (I guess not) or a BA Blue in her own name (i.e. supplementary cards are irrelevant), you can refer her for a BAPP. She’ll get 26k avios after spending £3k in first 3 months and you’ll get 9k avios a few days after her application is approved.

            • Tom Murray says:

              Ok Genghis thanks :) – so just to be sure, her BAPP card on my account and her own BA Gold are irrelevant?
              Thanks again for the help

            • I presume you mean Amex Gold? Irrelevant in so far as getting a bonus yes.
              (Or the fact that she is a BA GCH is also irrelevant)
              However, the fact that she has other credit cards may be taken into account in the credit assessment by Amex but both myself and my wife have had (and continue to have) many many cards at the same time all with quite high limits and have never been rejected.

  3. Flew BA1 last week. My favourite BA service, better than first imho if you don’t have anyone sat next to you.

    Must admit the catering seemed to have gone downhill compared to when I did it 2 years ago.

  4. Financial Times article about the change yesterday suggested a new all biz class entry at City – Odyssey

  5. Is there ever much avios availability?

    Thinking of using the 241 next year to fly out to the US in F and return in CW LCY if that were an option.

    • We got BA2 back from JFK in March – booked not long after the flights were released and before the Avios devaluation. 40,000 Avios plus a 2-4-1 so pretty good value! I guess they release 2 seats as reward flights as they do for other flights though no idea how long they stick around for. Really enjoyed the flight though it was fairly bumpy at times – more so than you’d get in a bigger plane.

      Main downside was we were connecting to Edinburgh and the couple of hours at City was less pleasant than being in Galleries in T5. No shower for a start. Worth it for the experience anyway, I’d say.

    • Booked about 8-9 months in advance with a 2 for 1, just before the avios devaluation. There was lots of availability for mid-Dec at that time. It was great, although the return flight was diverted to Gatwick (not that uncommon apparently) which kind of messed up the plan to be back in the office before 9am.

  6. Global Entry interviews in London? Only if they have just restarted and you have new info. They have not been available in UK since a very brief period at the start of the scheme – I had to go to EWR.

    • Through September at the US Embassy.

    • Sorry – 2 months from end of September.

    • I applied in UK and had the brief, very courteous interview in Washington DC on a trip 2 weeks later where immigration (arr on VS into JFK T4) was already taking under 5 mins because of dedicated/empty queue for all connecting pax with previously used ESTA.

  7. The other thing is that immigration at JFK has improved massively – the hour long queues have disappeared since the arrival of the automated immigration machines at T7. I took the late flight into JFK a few weeks ago and was dreading the queues (which normally made me take other carriers) but got through in less than 5 minutes.

    • Yes, immigration returning to the UK is much worse than the US – esp when you have Global Entry as even with these new automated machines there can be a customs queue that it also helps you skip :) Pre-clearance definitely of less use wires GE though.

    • No queue, straight through as a first time ESTA , just the other day. Really impressed, in spite of the officer looking about 12, mumbled at us, was surly and hostile.Looked as if he was trying to find a way not to stamp the passport!

  8. OT ( also sorry ) – BAPP Amex related. I have obtained my BA 241 (valid for 2 years) after spending £10k in 3 months. My plan is to cancel the BAPP card and then reapply in 12 months for another bonus.

    I presume the BA241 sits in my BAEC regardless of the fact I have cancelled my BAPP and there are no issues so long as I use an AMEX to pay the taxes when I use the 241.

    I do not wish to down grade to the free BA card as that will prevent me from getting a bonus in 12 months time.

    Can experienced HFPs people concur there are no issues with my plan – thank you

    • Yes: your plan is fine.

    • Only issue ‘could be’ if you cancel a flight that was booked using that 2-4-1.

      • Thanks for your reply why would / could that be an issue – my understanding is that the BA241 once issued is linked to my BAEC account so if I book a flight using the BA241 and then cancel the flight the BA241 is reattached to my BAEC account with its original expiry date.

        Would someone be kind enough to concur that my assumptions are correct – thank you.

  9. With the opening of the Global Entry programme to UK travellers and the screening in London was doing some digging and Amex Platinum in the US offer Application Fee Credit on both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck – anyone know if this is available on the UK versions of the card?

    • No it isn’t. There’s lots of other benefits they get with the US card – no forex fees, airline credits, etc. They get much higher interchange rates the to pay for it though.

  10. BA have now cancelled 2 flights to New York I was due to fly in the space of a month, I was on BA 177 which for some reason got cancelled on the day I was due to fly in November, I rebooked onto BA3 and now BA have rebooked me automatically onto BA1. Actually quite pleased abour changing from BA3 to BA1 much better times for me.

    I only booked onto BA3 as the agent told me she could only rebook me onto a flight that had Avios availabilty (I used Avios to book BA 177) and that was the only flight which had availabilty on that day. Wasn’t sure if I was given correct information by the agent, if BA cancel a flight I would have thought they should rebook you onto any flight of your choice to the same destination on that day regardless of Avios availabilty.

    • Following cancellation of BA4 on 30 Oct, BA initially re-booked me on BA1 – which leaves too early for me to connect from LAS with AA) – but immediately agreed to re-book me on AA106 instead.

      BA1 outbound, (vastly improved) AA return; what’s not to like?!

      • AA hard product excellent, just hope no delays as they won’t give you any help (and will be ineligible for EU261)

        • They probably won’t give you any money but they’ll certainly help…

          • No they won’t, unlike EU airlines (or non-EU carriers departing from the EU) they have no duty of care obligation. Best you can hope for is a $12 voucher if many hours delay. If overnight delay you might be lucky and get a discounted hotel voucher, but they seem to have limited quantities of these and when they run out that’s it. Assuming they even decide in advance that it is going to be delayed until the morning and don’t just delay you by an hour or two at a time over the course of the night, as happened to me! They’ll rebook you on other flights of course, but that isn’t always an option.

            • We were on AA100 from JFK to LHR which was delayed several times and then cancelled. We were near the front of the rebooking queue and we’re reaccomodated on the first BA flight the next morning and put up in the JFK Crowne Plaza. We were given dinner and breakfast vouchers for the hotel too.

              Both of us are BA GCH and we were flying in J.

            • Nice. Sadly my experience as GCH in J on AA JFK-LHR was woeful – 2h rolling delays through the night (total over 10h), nothing apart from $16 voucher, eventually got 25k AA miles out of them. Their treatment of vulnerable elderly customers in particular was atrocious – at least my friend and I could go to the Flagship Lounge once it eventually reopened in the morning. Spent hours trying to sort rebooking and luggage too. Overall appalling service. I liked the in-flight product though but would be vary of taking them eastbound now.

    • Very poor (although glad it worked out for you) – if they cancelled then it should be on any flight with availability in that class of cabin, regardless of whether Avios seats available.

    • Um I think they have to rebook you regardless of how you paid for the flight

  11. OT – slightly BA related – I’m flying CW from T5 next Wed, can I book a session at Elemis beforehand? If so how? Exec Club website only has option to book if you’re flying first. Thanks

    • You just have to rock up I’m afraid. My wife and I will chance it next Sat too…

    • Unless you’re GCH?

      • Thanks for that. I love airports and will happily turn up 4 hours earlier and see if they have a slot.

        • If you’re that early and can’t get a slot, try T5B as they seem to have much better availability… just make sure you get to the right part of T5 on time.

      • Nope, GCH can’t book in advance either – however they do get access to treatments if flying longhaul economy (not that I’d fancy that!)

  12. OT: it sees that ANA have grounded their 787 fleet again, reportedy engine problems this time.

  13. OT (sorry) – received an email this afternoon from telling me that I have won 18,000 avios in the Tesco Clubcard August Statement Conversion competition – would have preferred a Conversion Bonus, but this is a good second best!

    • nice one

      they fracked us over in July

      I’m not bitter about not winning (my a/c)

      but I also sent over something like £500 for my wife & instead of sending it to as I instructed (and the competition) they sent it to BAEC

      they have both a/c details – so it must be manual mistake – but how did they make that error???

      so we missed out on the opportunity to win, a bit like somebody taking your lottery money then not actually giving you a lottery ticket

      no, I wasn’t mistaken or ‘confused’ by the mother’s milk

    • Wow, fantastic! Well done :)

  14. O/T

    My brother has just obtained his 241 voucher. He believed you can pay cash for one flight and use the voucher for the companion. I’ve told him I thought it was use avios for one ticket, use the voucher to obtain your companion ticket taxes not included etc. Can anyone clarify for me does it allow you to use avios or cash for your companion?