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

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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Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, pre-clearance was withdrawn from BA3.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.

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Comments (56)

  • Justin says:

    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?

    • Alan says:

      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.

  • Simon says:

    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.

    • dps says:

      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?!

      • Alan says:

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

        • Callum says:

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

          • Alan says:

            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.

          • ee says:

            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.

          • Alan says:

            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.

    • Alan says:

      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.

    • Oliver says:

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

  • krys_k says:

    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

    • Genghis says:

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

    • Genghis says:

      Unless you’re GCH?

      • krys_k says:

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

        • Lee says:

          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.

      • Alan says:

        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!)

  • Jmes67 says:

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

  • Tuppy says:

    OT (sorry) – received an email this afternoon from avios.com 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!

    • harry says:

      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 avios.com 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

    • Alan says:

      Wow, fantastic! Well done 🙂

  • Nick says:

    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?